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Eric Davidson connects with Jason Williamson, the voice of Sleaford Mods, ahead of their highly anticipated performance at Body&Soul this weekend. He discusses the placid masses and how the revolution isn't coming any time soon.
“Are you going to cart your family down to London and start kicking off? You’re not going to do that, are you? Nobody will. It was the residents and the people connected to them that were kicking off.”
Since Sleaford Mods officially formed in the late 2000s, Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have become emblems for modern British punk.
Embodying the idea of the genre, while sounding lightyears away from what it sounded like in its heyday in the 70s/80s, is no easy feat, but that’s down to the duo’s attitude and no gimmicks approach to their craft.
They released their latest studio album ‘English Tapas’ on Rough Trade Records in March of this year, and have recently worked with British institutions like The Prodigy and Leftfield.
We called Jason Williamson a couple of days before himself and Andrew were set to touch down in Ireland to play at Body&Soul Festival at Ballinlough Castle.
He gives his opinion on the Grenfell Towers tragedy and says the revolution is anything but imminent.
I’m going to avoid talking about the election with you, because I know the latest record is a lot more introspective and you’re probably fucking bored talking about it. But after making a more personal record, do you find yourself getting the urge to discuss what’s going on around you more?
I still do talk about stuff that’s going on around me, but yeah there are more inward looking tunes this time. I do it because it interests me though, if it’s not interesting me at the time I won’t write about it. It’s whatever you feel is a valid subject for the song.
The new stuff I’ve been writing (Post-‘English Tapas’) has been again about things that are going on around me, just trying to communicate the day-to-day… Things are a bit boring aren’t they? Life goes on, it potters on, and you might be happy and you might be doing this or that, but there’s always this thread of creeping boredom.
It’s a melting pot at the minute, there’s so much going on you can’t help but take notice of it. But at the minute I’m just being a spectator, and not necessarily writing too much.
And how have you found the reaction has been to the more personal material? With more political songs, it’s easy to rouse an already angry audience…
I’ve not been playing much of that really. Some of those songs really aren’t gig songs. They’re not fast enough, or they’re not busy enough for a gig. If we release an album there might be around 12 songs, but only four or five of them will be worthy of playing live.
At the same time, where do you stop with that? When do you start sacrificing what you want?
You went full time with the Sleaford Mods project only relatively recently. How has your audience changed in that short time?
There are a lot of differences. You get a lot of lads, you lots of hipsters, you get a lot more women, a lot more younger people. Which is fantastic.
You get a cross-section of people, which is really good.
I was speaking to the band Ho99o9 yesterday and I feel like they’re the only other group comparable to you guys in terms of how they speak and the lack of sugar coating. They discussed black rage and the rage of the disenfranchised in America. It seems the divide isn’t all that different in the UK and the US at the moment. Do you see some sort of revolution coming in either countries? Or are people too placid?
I don’t know really. I don’t think so at the minute. It should have kicked off in London last week after what happened, but it didn’t.
These things take time. We’re really ran by fear, so standing up to the people that control us is quite a nightmarish scenario. A lot of people feel powerless that’s what we’ve been made to feel like.
Why do you think Grenfell didn’t open as many people’s eyes as it should have? Why didn’t more people stand up?
People have their lives to live, haven’t they? You can sit there and you can feel sadness and anger, but what are you going to do? Are you going to cart your family down to London and start kicking off? You’re not going to do that, are you? Nobody will. It was the residents and the people connected to them that were kicking off.
Obviously there were a lot of people helping them, but a movement of anger or an uprising is just not going to happen. I’d be very surprised.
Most people hate the government with a passion, but that’s not enough to motivate them to anything more than continue hating them and carry on with their lives.
I read in an interview recently that you said there are 40 year olds still doing coke and drinking vast amounts of lager on their own but the euphoria is gone. Do you think those distractions are a major issue in subduing people?
Yeah course they are. There’s still a big chunk of society, younger people who do that. You’ve got all of that tied up with consumerism, people’s responsibilities in terms of property, jobs, they have to pay the bills… They’re not going to rise up. They’re too laden with stuff that’s been shoved on top of them.
It would take a succession of things, something like what happened last week to happen twice a week, before there would be a major uprising. People don’t want it! People want calm, people want peace. They don’t want to rise up, they just want to get on.
Catch Sleaford Mods at Body&Soul this weekend, June 23-25 2017. Click here for tickets.