INTERVIEW: Sleaford Mods | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Alasdair McLellan

With latest album Spare Ribs freshly released, Sleaford Mods‘ Jason Williamson opens up about the anxieties of making a new record. “It’s not hard to come up with the words or the rhymes, but it’s a long process in making them worth saying. Writing itself isn’t challenging but making it good is, there’s no point putting it out if it doesn’t mean something and isn’t saying something worth saying.” Discussing the fears of living up to previous releases by the band, he elaborates: “I used to be 25, skint and full of anger. That was what fuelled the music I was making, but now I’m a 50 year-old bloke who’s got a bit of money to spare and isn’t so full of those emotions.”

With the band having developed their own formula, the ‘Sleaford Mods mould’ has always been a progression of rudimentary and raw sounds. No exception to the rule, the band’s latest release contained all the profane and venomous rampages barked over sparse but cutting beats, that fans have come to expect. Maybe more so than ever before, Spare Ribs is painfully frank; cutting no corners and marching onwards, tearing the filter off and supplying a desolate and pained commentary of the North. The abrasive, dense sounds of working-class rage that defined albums like Divide & Exit or Key Markets is found here once more, but with traces of new nuances and flavours peppering the mix.

Anarchy needs to exist. You have to be careful of it though, a voice from the North immediately becomes a representation of it

Talks of energy, atmosphere and connection all stem from anecdotes of being on stage, performing. “Realising you’re a 50 year-old man jumping around like a twat, you learn to play on your strengths. I’m no Brad Pitt, but you get what you get and plough on.” The savvy, streetwise lyrics and machismo that narrate working-class Northern culture would become far less compelling delivered without Williamson’s authenticity. Spare Ribs jabs an honest finger at the South, with tracks like Elocution spitting a sarcastic and bitter dig towards the upper classes. Detailing the impacts of the pandemic and Tory Britain from a Northern perspective, the bleakly poignant anecdotes of Thick Ear and Mork And Mindy drone over repetitive and effectively monotonous beats, casting a troubled portrait of a betrayed society.

Anarchy needs to exist,” he says, pondering on the current indie rock scene. “You have to be careful of it though, a voice from the North immediately becomes a representation of it.” A starry eyed Williamson recounts the sound of Manchester that inspired him, the “cool and edgy sounds” that bit back against the South and forged their own identity. “I think we’re lacking that now, we need teenagers to be writing music that gives the rest of us a voice.”

An instant playfulness springs into his voice when he discusses the upcoming tour and the joys of live music. “That constant flow of exhibitionism is where I’m at my best, it’s where everything comes together. We’ve had 18 months off, who does that? This isn’t the 90s!”

Sleaford Mods play O2 Academy, Newcastle on Wednesday 24th November


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