Cabbage are delivering political, poetry-fuelled, post punk from their hometown of Mossley on the outskirts of Manchester. Louder Than War’s Nigel Carr (words) and David Gleave (Pics) took RKid Media’s Kallum Nolan along to video the band who were rehearsing at their mill-based studio.
“Poetry is imperative to what we do and is where the influences lie”
There were rumblings coming out of Manchester’s Cosmosis Festival in March of an extraordinary new band; a gang of five exceptionally talented wordsmiths and musicians creating a dense fusion of poetry, comedy and post punk mayhem or ‘Mossley surf hell music’. That band is the unlikely named Cabbage.
Move forward just a couple of weeks and the band are supporting The Tapestry at The Deaf Institute in Manchester quickly followed by a support slot with Blossoms at Liverpool’s O2 after The Vryll Society pulled out due to illness. Quite an achievement for a group who only started performing last December!
I caught up with the band at Woodend Mill in Mossley; the band have a room on the top floor which they share with Lee’s old outfit Brahma-Loka.
It’s a really cool space; dark and dingy with drapes hanging from the ceiling and beer cans, ashtrays and assorted paraphernalia scattered all around. There’s a heavy smell of joss stick in the air which kind of takes me back! There is a small recording space cordoned off in one corner and the room is jam packed with equipment.
Lee Broadbent is the band’s madcap lead vocalist: “‘We did our first ever gig at Live Rooms which we didn’t really promote or anything, it was kind of a warm up and the guy that was putting Cosmosis on came to watch us and we were like blagging it ‘come on put us on’, and he said ‘it’s a bit tight’ then we did our second gig at Night & Day and the first thing he said to us was ‘right I’ve changed my mind!'”
Joe Martin takes on Guitar duties and is the bands poet and main lyricist: “He was trying to make us work for it, he did say I could do performance poetry there but I think he was just trying to make us rise to the occasion.
“I’ve done some stuff in Salford at the Eagle Pub called ‘Evidently’, It’s open mic poetry and they film everyone and got a proper mix from all these people around Manchester and Salford and it just gives you so much confidence doing it, it’s the best feeling ever!”
The band infuse their set with a brooding sense of black comedy; Dinner Lady for example is about Joe’s experience working in the kitchens at a public school where it seems the staff got more than they bargained for in their pie and chips! Lies About Manchester name checks local legend John The Postman amongst others and parodies those in the city who claim to have seen The Pistols on their first tour and other happenings.
Joe: “Poetry is imperative to what we do and is where the influences lie I think because Dinner Lady was a poem for ages, then me a Eoghan teamed up and it got turned in to something entirely different. I read John the Postman’s book, and went to his memorial show at the Lava lounge with the Distractions.”
Lee: “I suppose it’s things like Blackadder that influence us’, Joe: ‘We are influenced by a lot of dark humour, we love, (Manchester Buskers), The Piccadilly Rats, We aspire to be them!”
Joe: “Music is hugely important we can’t really hide our influences at the same time humour wise and poetry wise.”
The band’s sound is a heady mix of the scratchy punk of early ’80’s band The Fire Engines and Fall-style bouncing bass heavy melodies, with Asa Morley’s driven back-beat and Lee’s Lydon style wailing vocal over the top.
Steve Evans is the band’s bassist and producer: “I think as well as the melody the music is just as important really because there is a lot of energy and rawness to it, sometimes we don’t even have a melody, sometime it’s just shouting!”
The band released their five track EP, Le Chou, in January along with a promotional video for lead track Kevin.
Eoghan Clifford is the band’s rhythm guitarist: “I saw a mate the other day and he was like ‘I’ve just watched that video and it’s just you lot out on a bender!”
Joe: “We were kidnapped by Steve who played the part of a mad scientist and he took us down to the basement and it was awfully cold, and he threw water all over us, and we had to piss ourselves to keep warm, and I’ve never seen someone so excited before about pissing themselves!”
Lee: “It was either ruin the video or piss myself and they caught it on camera! – I did it at a gig the other day as well!”
Joe: “Yeah and then he transforms us into the band! By the end of the video we’ve all been brainwashed.”
The band performed Kevin at The Deaf Institute gig and it was incredible how the audience just got it – half of them slamming away to the infectious beat and soaring have-sung, half shouted chorus, Lee and Joe arm in arm front of stage after smearing their faces with lipstick which Joe then tossed in to the crowd:
Lee: “He threw lipstick into the crowd and some kids smashed it all over their faces and we found it on Instagram like, ‘Cabbage – view make-up’, They looked like the Chuckle Brothers with lipstick on!”
Joe: “or burns victims something like that!”
One thing that comes across is how much fun this band have on stage and how tight and polished the music is. There’s a great chemistry between them which sees Lee and Joe swapping over instruments and boucing in to each other – it comes across that they really have a great time and are there to entertain.
Lee: “It’s a real gang mentality’.
Joe: “Theatrics are key; we rehearse a lot as well, especially before the first lot of gigs we were rehearsing all the time and we still do rehearse a lot.”
Lee: “We are dead serious about politics and things and avoiding coming out with this brash band that’s screaming in your face. You put the spin of dark humour on it and everyone’s like, right on to it, d’you know what I mean?
“The last two songs we have written are kind of going to be imperative of what we do over he next year. We wrote The Necroflat, (In The Palace), which was bringing light to the fact that Jimmy Saville had such a cushy relationship with The Royal Family! Someone’s got to question that! You can’t just sing about love….”
Watch RKid Media’s short documentary film of rehearsals for Louder Than War with flashes of the brilliant Uber Capitalist Death Trade:
LTW: Where do you want to be in three years time?
Lee: “Three albums in and in Barbados!”
Joe: “To have a solid body of work under our belts that we are even more proud of – seriously good LPs, I don’t want there to be an ounce of regret.”
The band are taking some time out in April to write some new material before performing at a string of festivals during the summer months. Try and catch them, they are amazing live; funny as fuck, intelligent and tight – just the way it should be!
Catch the band live:
- Liverpool Sound City May 28 – 29
- The Isle of Wight 9 – 12 June
- Kendal Calling 28 – 31 July
- Forgotten Fields 5 August