In these bleak and troubled times, not many band names resonate with the current zeitgeist like Teesside’s alt-goth band The Golden Age Of Nothing, who, like all good princes of darkness are interested in death, misery and cups of coffee (according to their Facebook profile at least).
The first thing I ask frontman Graeme Wilkinson is where the dystopian name comes from.
“It’s inspired by a Rowland S Howard song called The Golden Age Of Bloodshed but we just didn’t want to steal it completely. Then it was going to be The Golden Age Of Everything but we thought that was a bit naff. So eventually, The Golden Age Of Nothing it was: it’s much more nihilistic. And funny too. Consequently, we found a strange album by a singer called Nora Keyes called Songs To Cry By For The Golden Age Of Nothing. Check it out, it’s bizarre.”
The band release their new album Monuments in April, which contain notes of The Cure, Merzbow, Primus & Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but as Wilkinson explains, they are “influenced by pure ignorance of what people think of us.” Going deeper into the themes of the album though, Wilkinson notes, “The general theme is things that are gone or lost and the effect this absence has on what’s left behind. We’ve got stuff about David Bowie, Brexit, the Japanese surrender in World War II, Alzheimer’s disease, love, all the good things life has to offer basically.”
The addition of guitarist Mike Elliot to the band adds “a loud and noisy squall of prettiness”, Wilkinson tells me. This prettiness is a definite evolution of their sound and contrasts with the sinister plodding beats of opening track Idiot Lament, opening up the song and in turn giving it an eighties neo-noir feel. This new musicality also complements like on the hauntingly beautiful Little Worm, which sees the waltz of guitar and vocal interrupted by sporadic blasts of distortion. Overall, the album is a rich, contemplative body of work with a more cinematic feel than previous releases.
Their love of art, literature, film has been prevalent in their past song writing; something that Wilkinson points out is changing. “Lyrically the new songs are much more abstract than our previous stuff. It still comes through though: my favourite song on the new album, The Dead City, is inspired by a book called Some Of The Dead Are Still Breathing by Charles Bowden which basically asks how can a person live a moral life in a culture of death.”
Alongside moonlighting as promoters for their alt/goth night Spellbound house at the Westgarth Social Club in Middlesbrough, this new release cements their place in the North East Goth scene, which as Graeme points out is not necessarily a good thing. “I imagine calling ourselves a goth band was probably a bit silly, even though we are one. It certainly doesn’t seem to have done us any good on Teesside where we tend to have to put our own gigs on these days, or maybe everyone just thinks we’re dreadful… who knows?”
Monuments is released Friday 21st April. The Golden Age of Nothing play Westgarth Social Club on Friday 28th April and Little Buildings on Saturday 29th April.