TRCH Full Monty

Sleaford Mods

8 September 14 words: Jared Wilson
"I’ve definitely saved a special bit of hate for people who make crap music and pretend it’s brilliant"
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Sleaford Mods. Photos: Simon Parfrement

Tell us about Andrew. What is it that makes you such a good combo?
I met him about three or four years ago. He was playing a record upstairs in The Chameleon, his remix of the George Michael song Careless Whisper, which I liked. Then we talked a lot about music. He’d seen me before, playing solo at JamCafe under the name of Sleaford Mods. After that we started making music together. The music changed a lot when he came in. Before that I was very angry and misogynistic. I was trying to get across what I was going through at the time, but deep down I was aware of the fact that what I was saying was out of order. I just wanted to communicate that I was dysfunctional and quite amazed at how low I’d gotten in my life. There were a few things that I needed to be educated on and over the last few years, thanks to good friends and my good wife, I have been.

You’ve gone from relative obscurity to interviews with the broadsheets and national music press over the last twelve months. How did that happen?
We had to wait until we were ready… until our music was ready. From the beginning I really resented people sucking up to those who would write about them or help get them exposure to a label. I really resented that as they weren’t thinking about the music, they were just thinking about the career of it all. So we tried not to do that. There are people that have helped us though, like Steve Underwood at the Rammel Club and Simon Parfrement. We always knew what we were doing was good, but I guess we were just hoping for a fairytale to come true. And it fucking did.

You’ve been compared to Suicide, The Fall, John Cooper-Clarke, The Streets and the Pet Shop Boys. Does this mean anything to you...
I’d never heard most of them before. Apart from The Pet Shop Boys, but that’s just because Andrew wears a baseball cap, and The Streets, who I actually really like. Original Pirate Material was a good album which I used to listen to a fair bit. I mean in truth, it was shit, but it worked - which probably is a bit like us. People have said Wu-Tang too, which I really like as I have listened to them a lot. But as for the rest, to be honest I’ve only recently started to have a quick listen when people mention that we sound like them. And i’m not that fussed by any.

As the band grows do you think there’s a danger of attracting the kind of fans that you despise?
I don’t think I can really despise any fans - especially not our own. You can’t really despise the public. I save my wrath for bands and musicians I don’t like repping us, such as Miles Kane. He tweeted to say he was a fan. So we send him back a message that said, “this music was born out of a hate for pretenders like you. You can either leave gracefully or I will block you.”

Quite a few American musicians have vocally shown support for the band recently including Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth), Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre), Craig Finn (The Hold Steady). What is it that they see in your music, which on the surface feels very British?
Anton is a lovely bloke and I think he’s very interested in English culture as a whole. He even did an album back in the nineties with the Union Jack on the cover. We’ve been speaking a lot and we’re releasing a record with him. I went to meet him at the Rescue Rooms when he was playing there in June. I’ve also been listening to a lot of his stuff since, which I hadn’t really heard until a couple of weeks ago. It’s been getting me back into guitar music. I’d seen the film Dig! before, but that was all. I don’t really know any of the others. I’ve never even heard of The Hold Steady. Are they any good?

I can’t say I’m a big fan. So what went down at Rough Trade on Record Store Day when someone from the crowd took offence and tried to grab the microphone off you?
We were playing outside the front of the shop and there were a lot of homeless people out there. This guy was just one of the thousands roaming the streets. Before the show we were in the pub having something to eat and we saw him walking up and down the road and talking to himself. He wasn’t really bothering anyone, but then when we started playing he was accusing us of being racist. All of a sudden he tried to take the mic and so I calmly took it back off him and told him to leave. He did it to the band afterwards as well and eventually the police came. I felt a bit sorry for him really. Poor guy was just roaming the streets because he had nowhere to go. It’s sad. Just another product of our society.

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Tell us about something that’s pissed you off recently…
I hate empty statements. I bought the NME today because we’re in it and read about Sergio Pizzorno from Kasabian saying that he and Noel Fielding are talking about playing live shows together and how it will sound like a British Wu-Tang Clan. Jesus man, do you have any idea of what you’re saying!?! Do you have any concept of what the Wu-Tang Clan were and where they came from? It’s not a laughing matter. I don’t like people who try to pretend to be something they’re not. But I’ve definitely saved a special bit of hate for people who make crap music and pretend it’s brilliant.

It’s been noted that you write a lot of songs about bodily fluids. Any reason for that?
It’s a big part of life that not many other musicians will touch. And it’s such a big contrast to what most music is about. But it is real life. The minute you walk out of the toilet there’s loads of advertising and false images bombarding you. And you’ve just been for a big shit.

Do you think you’ll ever write a love song?
Never say never, but you can convey everything about love in just one word or one sentence. That’ll do, there’s no need to continue. The impact of it comes from the few words you say about it and then people get it. When I first started writing generally, I'd get words down but I was always worried that people wouldn’t get it. Then eventually I saw that people did get it and knew what I was on about. That spurred me on even more...

You had a go at Paul Weller for being ‘drunk on past glories’ but you’ve signed up  to support The Specials. Do you think there’s a contradiction there?
I can see why people would think that, but I don’t think there is. I love Paul Weller to bits, which is part of the reason I talk about him. But he was asked whether he thought his peers of that era stood up with him now and he basically said no because they hadn’t made as much music as him. I strongly disagree. I don’t think he’s done anything decent for about sixteen years. I think Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros were just as good as any of Weller’s solo stuff. And I don’t think albums like Wild Wood stand up to London Calling or Never Mind The Bollocks. Those albums eclipse all of Weller’s solo stuff in a second. Wake Up The Nation was released a couple of years ago, and it’s just not very good. To me he looks like someone who’s not in touch with himself as a songwriter anymore...

So what about The Specials?
The guys from The Specials would never big themselves up like that. They still carry the shadow of Coventry around with them, even though they haven’t lived there for god knows how long. They’re certainly not cappucino kids. They’re just touring their classic material because so many people want to go and see them play it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Who are your favourite other Nottingham acts?
Grey Hairs are alright. Kogumaza are alright. I like a bit of White Finger. I think the thing I like about all of them are that they all believe in it. It’s probably not music I’d go out and buy, but if I was going to go out to see a band in Nottingham, it would be one of those.

How much of what you’re like on stage is an act?
I can be a bit of an arsehole at times in real life, but it’s obvious that when I get on the stage I’m performing. As Andrew said, if I was to walk around behaving like that in real life it would be fucking stupid. I do get angry a lot and I have got a temper, but these days it’s channelled into music. I’ve only hit people twice in my life and it’s one of the most depressing experiences ever. It’s horrible and nobody wins. On those occasions it’s taken me weeks to get over it and I just felt ashamed myself.

Owt else you want to say?
I want people to know that if I hear anyone else call us chavs then I’m going to go up the wall at them. It’s an elitist term and that’s why it’s so offensive. But we are proud to be from Nottingham and living here has given me Sleaford Mods. This is my adopted city and I love it to bits.

Sleaford Mods play at Spanky Van Dykes on Saturday 13 September.

Sleaford Mods website

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