Older, wiser but far from settling down in any form. It feels as if Nottingham-based two-piece SLEAFORD MODS just got started with showing the world what they got. Their forthcoming ninth full-length English Tapas is the first one Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn are releasing on acclaimed independent label institution Rough Trade Records. And although they finally gained the critically acclaim they deserve over the course of the past years there aren’t any ambitions to step away from the beloved formula.
No epic production, no additional musicians or a proper hit singles. Andrew is still producing the lo-fi laptop beats and is making now attempt to actually perform them on stage while Jason rants about pretty much every topic that deserves to get roasted. In their commercial refusal SLEAFORD MODS remain what they’ve been stigmatised anyway by the music press since their breakthrough: as the last remaining forces of British punk spirit, deeply grounded in the working class roots of their protagonists. And you can’t value that attitude enough these days.
While being a furious and frantic hurricane of words on stage, Jason Williamson is quite a polite gentleman in real life. Well, anything else would have surprised us. And since the SLEAFORD MODS are not a usual band, NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION didn’t want to bother Mr. Williamson with another usual interview after two days of countless promo talks. Instead we went for a round of ‘Lucky Dip‘ and let the man pick various topics from our hat of suggestions. This is what he had to say about a few of them.
Well, if it’s about equilibrium in a sense of relaxation there’s plenty of things where I find my inner peace. I’m exercising a lot, go to the gym, go running and all these things. I’d like to rest and there’s nothing wrong about good sleep. Family time, of course and that’s basically it. I’ve chosen a relatively healthy lifestyle, gave up drinking and drugs a while ago. I found peace in doing this and things are a lot more settled now.
We weren’t bothered about the whole label thing first but we needed to push the music forward and doing that independently would have meant a lot of work. So, we got to the point where we needed a bit help. And we’re quite happy about the deal, they take a cut from the record but leave us alone apart from that. Still, I told them that I wouldn’t mind an external opinion every now and then. (laughs)
Initially it was difficult to combine the family man with the lifestyle of a musician. But ever since I gave up drinking I managed to be less of a wanker (laughs). Well, I’m still a wanker but not a big one as I used to. I’m less easily pissed. The transition from a full-time worker to a, let’s call it, normal society citizen and to someone working in the entertainment industry really took a while.
Oh, fucking hell. (extended eye rolling) Can we skip this one? (laughs) I mean, it’s still a pretty place, at least a few parts of it but you need to find these parts first and then need the money to survive in these parts. When I talk with friends and fans I sense this feeling of uncertainty and also powerlessness. There’s a plain hate on all that false information and wrong accusations. There’s so many levels of information these days and people don’t know how to react towards them.
I like a lot of Grime, I must say and get influenced by some of the stuff. It’s a great form of music and I tend to listen to the stuff from the early Nowties more than the new one from SKEPTA and STORMZY. I’m a bit suspicious when it comes to the new stuff as it’s been taken over a lot by the industry. And that’s not entirely wrong but I just don’t know what to take from it. It’s its own little world partly which got nothing to do with me although it would be interesting to explore it a bit more.
The best thing about my musical partner is that he gets on with it. The worst thing about him: If he goes without any weed for a while he goes fucking mental. Aside from that he’s great.
We don’t have any plans to extend our line-up. We just keep it as it is and the trick is to actually accept that. Once you start getting nervous about this you make the wrong moves. On this album we slightly changed a few things. The beats are more sparse and minimal. I, for example, sing a bit more and the lyrics are a bit more introspective. I needed to discover my singing voice first in a way that it worked with the lyrics. We pushed it on every album but it had to feel right which it does on English Tapas.
Any advice for young people? Phhh. Maybe just live your life and be honest with yourself, especially as an artist. If your passionate about it then connect yourself with this passion, don’t fall for the illusion of grandeur, fame and wealth. Stick to the bare bones of your art.
I’m optimistic about the future in a domestic sense, making sure that there’s a foundation for my children. You know, good education from us, not specifically the school system. Regarding myself I’m pretty happy where I am right now with all my relationships being tight and the music being good. But when I look outside my front door it doesn’t look that bright, right? We’re still in the very early days of this right-wing mentality that is gripping us. It’s unsure yet whether this will flourish even more or whether people will fight back. It’s a confusing issue right now and I’m not having that much faith in people at the moment. But that can change pretty quick. The only peace you can actually find is in yourself. You can’t want the best for the entire world, trust me.
All Photos shot by Jana Legler.
English Tapas will be released via Rough Trade Records on March 3, 2017.