Interview: Sleaford Mods
I received the incredible opportunity to chat with the Nottingham post-post duo and all round legends Sleaford Mods backstage before their performance at Y Not? Festival. Having released their latest album Spare Ribs in 2021, I asked the pair about future collaborations, which unfortunately remained a secret – but, fortunately, they did have a lot to say about politics, fame, music and the corrosive nature of social media.
What are you thinking: Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak?
Andrew: I’m thinking we’re fucked.
I think the whole country’s thinking that.
Jason: It’s horrible.
Andrew: Who cares?
Jason: I think you’re just gonna hate whoever, automatically. Well you do anyway don’t you?
Do you have any faith in Keir Starmer?
Jason: I’ve got faith in him losing the vote. He’s not fucking horrible, is he?
Andrew: Who knows?
Jason: He means well, doesn’t he? He’s just got a lot of things wrong. He’s a bit of a loyalist. He believes in the upper echelons of authority in this country. I mean alright, fair enough, we’ve all got to live here.
Andrew: It’s just the next step for Spin Doctory. If you look at American politics, it’s just the next step, isn’t it? We’re just inching our way towards Americanism and if he got in, it might do a few good things but it’s a bit like Obama getting in and then not delivering what he was going to.
Moving on from politics because it’s quite depressing. Although I suppose that’s what you’re all about.
Andrew: No, not really.
What would you say you’re all about?
Andrew: Social politics, social commentary?
Jason: Obviously when we started it was.
Andrew: There is a variety of narratives isn’t there?
Jason: Yeah, we’re not talking about job seeking anymore, you know what I mean? We’re not talking about all that business. Things have changed for us personally.
How do you think fame has changed you then… or has it not?
Jason: Just got a bit more money, that’s it.
Andrew: It’s made things a bit easier.
Jason: You can’t help but be pulled along by the tide though. People accuse you of living in a bigger house in a better area. What the fuck do you want me to do? Do you want me to stay in the same area?
Of course not, no.
Andrew: There’s that story about a lottery winner in Britain who lived in a cul-de-sac and they carried on doing their job and all the neighbours started throwing rocks at her house and shit for not leaving the area.
Jason: There’s a little bit of that.
Andrew: I don’t get any of that. Fuck all that. You want nice shit.
Have you heard about a French band called the Astaffort Mods?
Andrew: Yeah I know them from way back, from when we first started out. I’ve got their album, it’s good.
Jason: Yeah they’re alright.
Have you got any more collaborations coming up?
Jason: Yeah, I don’t know if we’re allowed to say, but we got two more.
One thing I thought was really interesting actually – I looked at your Spotify and I noticed your Spotify bio and I thought it was really funny. It reads “We ushered in a new way for indie bands to sing and approach their music and now we regret it”
Jason: That was me saying that. (Andrew laughing)
I thought that was really interesting.
Jason: I tried to delete that but I couldn’t find how to get on to the bio bit. (Jason and Andrew both laughing)
We don’t have to speak about it if you don’t want to but I found it interesting. I studied in Manchester and I found that there’s a lot of people that pretend to be something they’re not – they think it’s cool to pretend to be someone they’re not and I thought that maybe you felt there’s a little bit of that going on in music.
Jason: Loads of it, all the time. You can drive yourself insane getting worked up about it. It’s like you’ve got to let it go. It’s really hard letting it go. It’s hard accepting that you’re going to be pushed to the back and you’re going to get these other bands coming up that are really just fucking dog shit and getting all the reps, but then they’ll get pushed to back and someone else will come in. You’ve just got to console yourself with what you’re done and that you’re happy with it.
Do you think it diminishes what you do in some way, having these people pretend to be something that they’re not?
Jason: No, I used to think it did but it doesn’t.
Andrew: There hasn’t been a scene for a long time. We just focus on our own bowl, don’t we?
Andrew: That’s what you can do.
Jason: When we came out, it was everything we could have dreamed of, really, because it was new, people weren’t doing it, and we set a little bit of a landscape feature on the landscape, you know what I mean? So that’s the dream come true for any musician, really.
Do you think these bands that are maybe pretending to be something they’re not, do you think it makes it harder to navigate music? To separate what is real and genuine and what is not?
Jason: No because you just know straight away.
Jason: To a certain degree, you can’t blame the player. I know that’s a bit cliché saying but it’s true. These bands coming up, some of them talking like that, thinking this and trying to be this, it’s not right at all, but at the same time, they’re being played themselves. Most of them signed to bigger labels that are just going to usher them in and then just shoot them off when the light ain’t shining so brightly.
Any artists and bands that you’re a fan of at the minute?
I think they played BlueDot a few years ago.
Andrew: Mostly they’re kind of comedy, terribly psychedelic, like a Noel Fielding… they wear costumes and stuff. They might be middle class or something, but they’re not about that… they’re just about taking mushrooms, do you know what I mean?
You a fan of Amyl and the Sniffers?
Jason: Yeah, they’re great yeah.
I know you’ve done some stuff with Amy Taylor haven’t you?
Jason: They seem to be getting big now, massive. It’s nice to watch.
Andrew: Band called Badger from Newcastle that I quite like. They’re like a two-piece band. Check them out.
Jason: Cate Le Bon, listening to her last album quite a lot. Dry Cleaning I like.
Andrew: Dry Cleaning, yeah.
Jason: Aldous Harding I’ve been listening to again quite a lot. We’ve been listening to loads of different shit. Anything you like? We’re not really massive genre heads. We just like what we like. It just changes very quickly. I suppose that’s the idea, really.
What advice would you give to young people in the UK at the minute?
Andrew: Making music?
Well, in a general sense and also in a making music sense.
Jason: Try not to be annoying. (Andrew laughs) Find your way. Be honest with yourself. Find your way and do your own thing. I know these all cheesy things, but it really pays. In later life, if you’re just a fucking copyist, it’s just crap. And I’m not just talking about bands or anything. Try pave your way.
Andrew: It’s difficult, though, isn’t it? Talking about music? I would just say, just keep going. But if you’re like a Chef influencer. It depends what you’re doing.
Jason: Depends what you’re doing.
Andrew: It’s difficult, even then I would say keep going because what else are you’re going to do.
Jason: It’s really hard.
Andrew: It’s very difficult, it’s a different world. When we were young, it was all about music. Everything’s about music.
I think perhaps the biggest difference is social media, the influence of social media. Would you agree?
Andrew: If you’re a young person who has to use social media to try and achieve, it’s quite difficult, it’s quite a corrosive world.
Jason: We were talking about this the other day, weren’t we? How you get pile-ons from various accounts on Twitter… Twitter beefs or whatever you want to call it. And Andrew was saying it’s just social media. People don’t talk to you like that in real life. You spend a lot of your time, I do anyway, trying to get my head over that. I think it’s difficult for young people. But if you’re talking about music, good music will always be good music. People will know the difference between good and just shite and generic and just bullshit. It’s all about having good ideas.
Andrew: I don’t know what’s happening in Manchester, but younger people I know in London, they don’t spend their time on social media. They do a lot of DJing, tune-ins, put on events and there’s really good music. I know little nights you can go to, but nobody really cares. I mean, apart from a few people in East London.
Jason: Yeah, this is it.
Andrew: And that’s what’s really difficult.
I’m hoping there’s going to be an anti-social media.
Jason: I think it will eventually, because even now it doesn’t pull you in as much. Twitter and Instagram especially, they’re become homogenised, and when you look at the people’s pages, it’s just noise. Visually, that sensation is gone now. It’s a bit like when MySpace just melted… it’s happening again. People get sick of people’s daily thoughts, having access to your biggest star, someone you really admire, you could just click and there they are. People get bored of that.
Andrew: We were saying this about colour TV, we had Ceefax and now you’ve got technicolour. The aspiration in the past was more exciting than the reality.
Jason: It’s a tough one, it really is.
Jason: I think going back to the question about politics, you’ve got to feel it if you’re going to say that stuff, you’ve got to be feeling it and experiencing it. You can’t just fucking ‘Up the train workers’ just because you think it’s the right thing to say. You’ve got to be feeling it.
Andrew: Deliver what you’re saying.
Jason: You’ve got to have been touched by it, experienced it. Do you know what I mean?
Andrew: It’s a big problem because most politicians are a bit out of touch.
Jason: Well, I’m talking about politicians and people on the ground kind of representing it in their music, putting it in the music. You’ve got to be close to it, because if you’re not, it just sounds fucking empty.
Sleaford Mods will play All Points East in London on Sunday 28th August; tickets can be found here!