Neo-punk five-piece Cabbage are a much needed voice in British music right now. The Mancunian band use the anarchic principle of direct action to rally the nation against the apathetic and nonchalant, which is sorely needed in a year which has shown the world our capacities for atrocity and distinctly anti-human behaviour.
Lyrically Cabbage are known for their incisive, but humorous satire. Recent single Dinner Lady distils the moments of restraint and release that is the essence of working a mundane job. Opening with a subtle but enticing drum beat, guitar lines reminiscent of the band’s surf rock and punk influence chime with healthy reverb and distortion. There is a distinct marching tempo to the track; the drudgery of the canteen shift.
The venomous delivery of the lyrics married to the manic chorus owe much to the relevance of lived experience that impacts the band. “You can only write with true intent if you write about what you know. I don’t see the point of picking up a pen if it doesn’t correlate to some lived experience.” The band’s vocalist, Lee Broadbent, explains. “Even if it’s reading a paper and smashing your house up because of the blatant propaganda printed in black and white. That’s an experience.”
We treat our music as a protest, it’s our form of activism
The track itself has a peculiar history of its own, one they describe as a creation through direct action. “We treat our music as a protest, it’s our form of activism. Art itself was and is the main impact on society and today music is so self-serving that it’s lost this meaning. Our lyrics are topical, about what affects everyone not just ourselves. The more challenging and unspoken a subject is, the better it is to act as a perfect trigger to experience, reaction and action.”
The intrinsic ethos and diversity of the Manchester music scene has been important to Cabbage and their political stance. “We hope that a subculture can be drawn in and we can be a small part of something big, something as simple as a band culture that stops fucking caring about themselves only, and stands up to social inequality. I’m not saying bands all need to be political and wave their hammer and sickles at any given opportunity, but the beige reality is so odious that something has to give.” When pushed about what this means in a society saturated with social media, Lee is emphatic in his response. “It comes at a time where we’re almost the ‘rejected’ generation. Social media should be utilised and not be a religion, narcissism should be murdered by collectivism, there’s really not a lot of hope out there to be honest, and I think it’s time for us to rebel.”
With Dinner Lady in the open and a gig at Ku Bar in Stockton on Friday 18th November, there is a sense of purpose propelling Cabbage forward. I asked Lee what direction the band were heading in next, and his measured and precise response was simple, but significant: “Far left.”