We had a chat with Jason from Sleaford Mods after their mind-blowing performance at The Plug in Sheffield to get some nitty gritty…
Sleaford Mods, giants of electronic punk, are currently touring their new album Eton Alive, and of course Sheffield was a memorable show. It was packed, full of lads and their Dads apprehensively awaiting to hear stories that ring true about their own lives and experiences.
There’s nothing in the UK music industry right now as relatable to the raw life experience of the working class masses as Sleaford Mods. The stage set up was simple: one bloke with joggers and a mic and another with shorts, laptop and beer in hand and zero pretence or ponce. Vocalist Jason Williamson gives nothing but blood sweat and spit from the moment he walks on, all the way to the bitter end, spurting violent rants about household politics, governments and their consequences, shit situations, and postmen. Whether this is your thing or not, there’s no denying that Jason is a lyrical and poetic master of performance.
We had a chat on the phone with Jason after the show to ask him some mind searching questions about Sleaford Mods and it’s as entertaining as you’d expect. Enjoy!
You talk about the working class and being at rock bottom, do you think that automatically puts you in the category of being a “politically driven band”?
Erm, yeah, course it does, yeah. People want to pigeon hole you and people need to know what they’ve got in front of them. They need to describe it to themselves, they need to put it somewhere so that they can identify us. It’s just the way things are interpreted and also its easier to then navigate the selection you’ve got, you know?
Is there a sense of responsibility now that you’ve been given a platform to be heard and would you class yourselves as a voice of the working-class masses?
No! I earn quite good money these days. I am working class, that’s the thing, and I always will be because that’s just the way I am. It could be argued against and it could be argued for, but the only responsibility is to write good music. I don’t feel there’s a responsibility to talk about politics, if I don’t want to talk about it I won’t.
You’ve got to be responsible in a sense that you’re making it intelligent; if you are going to talk about it, you have to understand it. I don’t really talk that much about politics because I don’t understand it, I just talk about the politics of people’s lives or really bad policies. But I also talk about the emotional results of it, the psychology and my experiences of seeing people and being in situations which are largely shaped by the government. So, yeah, as long as you’re doing something that you understand, that is the main responsibility that you’ve got with it.
Andrew (Fearn) produces the beats and Jason you write the lyrics? Is it a case of you both know your place creatively or is there a cross over when writing?
Yeah, occasionally there is, you know. He’ll butt in and say, “Why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that” and occasionally I butt in and say “Do you wanna change that”. Generally speaking though, he comes up with something that doesn’t need changing, it doesn’t need any comment about how it is. We do know our places, so to speak, but at the same time we do feel like we can jump in and say stuff if we need to.
Was it an organic process or did you have to really think about what you were producing between the two of you?
It naturally worked but we did have to think about it as well. It’s that unwritten thing when you get people coming together to write stuff that appeals to a lot of people, and you really can’t describe that. It’s just an energy that belongs to you and that person or persons and whether that’s spiritual or whatever, it’s just your energy gets together. You understand each other and you have a certain set of abilities that just compliment the others.
What influenced you to write your latest album Eton Alive and what message do you think it delivers?
The main influences have been observation and things around me and drill music, 80’s R&B. For Andrew, I’m not sure, not sure what he was listening to, but for me as a vocalist that’s what I was into. I think the album delivers a message about current situations and I think it’ll be an album that is remembered for being made at this point in time.
What emotions drive you the most – what lights your soul and keeps you determined and passionate?
Just, you know, just not to fuck up! Don’t fuck it up! You don’t have to fuck it up and the rewards from not fucking it up are a sense of satisfaction and pride. Like, you can’t fucking say anything to me, you just can’t, like if someone comes in here telling me I’m crap you need to have some big bollocks really. I don’t mean to sound like a wanker, but do you know what I mean? You can’t be saying that to me because I haven’t done anything crap. Me and Andrew, we don’t do crap music!
So what does fucking up look like?
Putting out crap stuff! Being lazy! Ineffective, not caring about it. Being too egotistical. The ego plays a good part in it, but to let it over run you is bad news! So try not to erm, I mean don’t get me wrong I am a wanker but I’m not, not in control of the creative process. You can’t let things get bland, just don’t become something complacent and something you’re not and don’t produce stuff that people don’t like otherwise it gets very complicated.
Seeing you live I saw a lot of passion, frustration and determination to get your messages across but the one thing I didn’t see was anger, which was a little unexpected. Is that something you have to work at restraining?
You can’t go on there just wanting to hit something, it just wouldn’t work. It does come across as aggressive perhaps but it is passionate, you’re right there, its wanting to get the job done and do a good job. And it is entertainment as well, I like to entertain, it’s a bit of a laugh. People just don’t want an hour of complete and utter insane rage because that would be really quite off putting. Sometimes the audience can get a bit rowdy, some fights can kick off. We were playing in Kendall and some bloke nudges another bloke and he’s like “Watch out mate” and the other blokes just like “Alright, chill out” and before you know it there’s a fight, its men ennit, bleedin’ useless! But yeah, it’s a hard one really, it can get a bit boisterous but as long as people don’t get hurt!
What other bands or artists do you think are delivering a similar message as Sleaford Mods right now?
I don’t think there is. There’s a lot of indie bands trying to do it but I don’t think they’re doing it very well and the message just isn’t there. It’s a little bit gargled and disguised as something when its not. There’s a lot of trappers and drillers, grime artists perhaps that are doing similar things but obviously they’re talking about gang culture. which obviously we’re not. It’s that kind of realism that I think we probably share, but that’s about it.
What do you think your fans get out of being fans of Sleaford mods?
Just the music, the induvial style of music, nobody else does it, it’s got a real sound to it. Like all the great bands, it’s got its own thing. I like to think we’re up there with some of the best. We have our own identity and I think that’s what people like.
Last but not least, what was your first ever album purchase?
Ooh! First ever album? It might have been The Smurfs or something like that, or Scooby Doo. My Dad bought me a Smurfs album but it was the whole thing of putting the vinyl on the record player and hearing the music coming out of it and I just thought “That is fantastic”.
Sleaford Mods’ latest album Eton Alive is now available to download on all music platforms.
Catch Sleaford Mods on tour now by clicking here