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Sleaford Mods
© Simon Parfrement

Who the hell do Sleaford Mods think they are?

They shout and swear, they diss other bands. They didn’t even go to public school. Are this Nottingham duo the last angry band in Britain?

Written by
Oliver Keens
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The basics

Sleaford Mods are two men from Nottingham who elicit opinions the way a plunger elicits muck from a drain. Their leader is vocalist Jason Williamson. He has a tattoo of the old British Rail logo on his arm and finally quit his job as a benefits advisor last year, after making seven albums. Andrew Fearn makes the beats – usually simple loops of drum-heavy garage rock. Don’t let the ‘Mods’ part fool you: they aren’t tight-suited dandies. As they put it, they make ‘electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class and under’.

That roughly translates as having touches of The Streets, Shaun Ryder’s foghorn and Mark E Smith’s way with a vivid non sequitur. Personality-wise, Williamson comes across like a rottweiler with tourettes being interviewed for ‘Grumpy Old Men’ – in a good way. Put together and it reinforces one reviewer’s summary last year: ‘about as punk as punk gets in 2014’. Again, in a good way.

The hype

Much of the hype around Sleaford Mods can be attributed to music journalists DESPERATE to use the band’s perceived working-class status to write ‘state of the nation’ pieces. It’s the same impulse that makes Russell Brand use words like ‘didactic’ on ‘Newsnight’. Journos have compared the duo to a ludicrous list of people: from great English satirists like William Hogarth and James Gillray to (oddly) David Brent. But don’t let the pernicious hyperbole, sorry, hype put you off. If you’ve wondered where all the angry music has gone, you owe Sleaford Mods a listen.

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The twist

Many have seized on Sleaford Mods as being saviours of a working-class viewpoint in music, (a complicated angle, given that Williamson identifies himself as lower-middle class). But there’s a more remarkable quality: they’re the oldest ‘new’ band in ages. At 43, Williamson is the same age as Gary Barlow – a dried-up husk of a man compared against Williamson’s zesty passion for words and music. He cites the Wu-Tang Clan and Sex Pistols as influences, and in spirit belongs in the ’90s – perhaps the last decade when selling out was seen as a cardinal sin. It informs spectacular ire at other acts who he calls out, regularly...

The beefs

Here are just some of the things that have angered Jason Williamson: Noel Gallagher, Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane, Paul Weller, the cereal cafe on Brick Lane, UKIP, Tories, Labour, birthday cakes, the comments section of The Guardian and BBC Sound of 2015 winners Years & Years. Williamson’s superbly gobby nature has the potential to turn him into a media cause célèbre, which would be a shame if it took attention away from the band. Sleaford Mods aren’t perfect (even punks had to learn three chords, whereas the duo simply plug in a laptop and holler), but in an increasingly safe age, where music has become predictable and posh in equal measure, the pair provide a genuinely fresh voice – a voice that’s all the better for being sweary and wrapped in seven coats of bile.

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Jason Williamson on…

Jake Bugg: ‘He’s not even 25 and he’s embarassing.’

Alex Turner: ‘What he needs to do is go out to the garage, get the electric saw, saw his legs off and then eat them.’

Noel Gallagher: ‘A prime example of a bloke eaten away by greed. He looks like a member of the Palace of Versailles, for fuck’s sake.’

Kasabian: ‘Fakes, complete arseholes. They say they’re punk but punk was built on blood and sweat. They’re a can of deodorant. Piss off!’

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