Louder Than War made Sleaford Mods Band of the Decade in 2019 as well as voting English Tapas the number one album of 2017 and Eton Alive one of the top albums in 2019, so it’s a long love affair between Louder Than War and the band.
With the lockdown firmly entrenched and likely to run for another few weeks Nigel Carr caught up with frontman Jason Williamson to talk about the release of the compilation All That Glue “An array of crowd-pleasers, B sides, unheard tracks and rarities” which comes out of the 15th May.
LTW: You know that Louder Than War’s Keith Goldhanger was first writing about Sleaford Mods in 2013
I know he was yeh.
LTW: He said they were the ‘Best punk band in the world, from infant school to Borstal, you’re probably going to fucking love them’.
LTW: What’s the thinking with the new compilation Jason?
I’m just seeing as it being a bit of a collector’s piece really. Like sort of hardened fans, and also we wanted to get a proper platform for the stuff that was really early and get proper exposure, like Jolly Fucker and Jobseeker, which are all favourites but they are kinda gig favourites, and there wasn’t really any platform to listen to them.
LTW: I was really surprised that Jobseeker was such an old track, it’s so familiar, but there’s not really been an outlet for it has there?
No, so that was one of the main reasons, and also you know, we didn’t just want to do a greatest hits. That would have been a bit crap and we’re not really that type of band. We felt we’d got to a point where it was probably good to get a body of work out there that spanned the career that wasn’t entirely obvious, you know what I mean?
LTW: So you’re not just pulling stuff off albums to repackage, you are giving the fans something else. Is that the idea?
Yes, because there’s seven unreleased tracks on there, and there’s stuff on there that like I say, you can’t get. It’s not anywhere to be listened to yet people are aware of it, so…
LTW: Like Blog Maggot?
Yeh, exactly yeh, you know, that was the main reason really and also just try as an introductory package for places that weren’t too familiar with us, like Australia and the US, Eastern European territories as well that we haven’t got to.
LTW: Were the previous albums released in Australia Jason?
Yeh, they were, and we had a good fanbase, a solid fanbase, but we’d never been over there so, we want to tour over there so we thought we’d put something together that people could grab on to when they come to see us, and they weren’t sure/familiar with it, and then they could probably get hold of that afterwards. You know what I mean?
LTW: It’s tough going to a gig when songs are unfamiliar, so I guess this is that kind of introduction?
Yeh, basically. So That was the thing behind it.
LTW: Our own Simon Tucker referred to you delivering songs of ‘austerity and defect sung at the top of passionate lungs’. Would you say that was a good description?
What? Yeh definitely, without a doubt, that’s just how it is. I don’t really like that a lot of the time, but then you don’t like the sound of your own voice do you, but you do it, you’re good at it so there you go.
LTW: He called you a poet laureate of broken Britain,
Oh, yeh, I appreciate that but.. (laughs)
LTW: How do you feel about things at the moment, I mean we are in deep shit, does that give you inspiration?
Er yeah of course it does, but I’m not sure how yet, I’ll just see what happens.
LTW: We don’t know how to go forward do we?
No, we don’t, no definitely
LTW: You said that nostalgia doesn’t drive creativity, so I am really interested in what drives the creativity in Sleaford Mods.
Did I say that? Nostalgia doesn’t drive creativity. I think you know guitar music was the problem, people trying to do that shit, and it was just doing my head in you know. What drives it now? I suppose nostalgia does drive it, the lyrics, but in the sense of picking things out, sometimes it can suggest memories, can suggest lyrics but generally speaking a lot of the time now, just random stuff you know what I mean?
LTW: Clearly you have a talent for putting words together intelligently in the way that John Cooper Clarke did and still does
Yeh, Yeah I suppose, yeh, I mean a lot of it is mumble jumble you know? Just, it doesn’t make sense some of it but I like that.
LTW: Do you believe that music should have a political impact to raise awareness of social issues?
I think you can inform the listener a little bit but that’s about it. Whether or not the listener takes that on to bigger playing fields who knows you know? But it can probably make people inquisitive. But I think that’s really it, you know? I don’t think on the whole music changes politics so to speak, d’you know what I mean? Politics changes music really.
LTW: You have a deep visceral delivery. There is real passion in the way you spit the lyrics out on for example Jobseeker and BHS. it really resonates with people, doesn’t it?
Yeh, it does yeah. I would like to think it does after eight years doing it. Course it does, but I don’t know you know? I’m not the best person to ask a lot of the time, you know what I mean? you can get really down with yourself sometimes. It’s really hard to be a confident ambassador sometimes.
LTW: How do you keep it real lyrically now you are a commercial success?
Well, that’s easy really, just use your loaf about it.
LTW: I remember listening to A Grand Don’t Come For Free and it seemed to be much more difficult to write about from the heart, from the streets, while navigating a world in which he clearly wasn’t doing that anymore.
Yeh, I’m not really au fait with that album. I knew people said it really didn’t hit the mark but there were a couple of hit singles off it I seem to remember so he didn’t do too badly out of it.
LTW: It’s more, how can he write like he used to write now he’s got all this money?
I think it’s a bit naïve to think like that in a lot of respects. There’s a lot of people who can’t carry themselves through to that, you know like, ‘I can’t write about the jobcentre anymore, what am I gonna do’ and they end up doing some difficult clichéd dogshit. I just carry on you know, just write what I do, you know? I’m not too far away from where I used to be. I don’t hang around in posh circles, so whatever we write about it’s pretty similar in a lot of respects.
LTW: Dylan rejected being labelled ‘The voice of his generation’. Many have tried to pin that one on you. Why are people trying to find a working-class saviour?
I think there are not a lot of people that working-class people can cling on to in the arts. They are starved of a lot of talking provincial people you know?, People with local accents. Everything’s just ‘Hi guys, hello guys’, you know what I mean? Everything’s just really gentrified and someone comes along who manages to spike through and people grab onto it because largely speaking, the majority of people in this country are working class.
LTW: Iggy Pop has championed the Sleaford Mods, are you a fan?
He’s good, yeh obviously yeah. All of The Stooges albums really. They are brilliant. All of those albums are a true testament to what that was back then. He’s been a great support you know? We are indebted to the man.
LTW: Was it always your intention to educate the wider public on the Notts dialect?
No, not really. I mean initially, it was not very good and then, I tried to give it a little bit of a slant and tried to make it a bit more, I don’t know. I didn’t want to sound like John Shuttleworth. I just didn’t want to sound too local, but obviously I was so, it was just a case of trying to sex it up a little bit and I think I managed to do it after about a year and a half! I got it with a bit of groove to it, d’you know what I mean?
LTW: Have you heard of Bob Vylan? A lot of people are saying it’s like listening to the Sleaford Mods for the first time.
I’ve heard of that name yeh, Oh is it? I’ll have a listen
LTW: What have you got coming up Jason? Clearly you can’t do any touring. How are you going to promote the album outside of the release itself?
We’re trying to figure that out but we should be allowed outside the house by kind of June at the latest and if that’s the case then I am going to try and get us back in the studio.
LTW: Are there any plans to do any dates before the end of the year?
Well, we’ve got America. We are doing an America tour, so I don’t know if that’s still on the cards. It was October but judging by the way America is looking at the minute, it looks like gigs will be off the map for the rest of the year.
LTW: It is going to be difficult for a while. Are you nervous about getting on planes and stuff like that?
No, no just get on with it. Fuck that, there’s no point fucking worrying about it.
LTW: Have you been doing any live streams or anything like that?
No, I’ve not bothered with anything like that. I’ve been doing stuff like twatting about, filming myself doing stupid things, but I’m not sure about doing live streams. I can’t really do anything because I can’t kinda work because Andrew’s not here.
LTW: You could do it a Capella, you know just rap it out?
Nah, nah, I think I’ll leave that!
LTW: How did it feel to be on that stage for The Hammersmith gig?
Absolutely brilliant it was immense. It was really immense so I was quite taken by it, and it all went brilliantly. Everything went brilliantly, so I couldn’t have asked for a better night really.
LTW: Would you say that that was the pinnacle of your career so far?
In a lot of respects yeh. Yeh. A commercial success-wise, yeah you know what I mean? You can’t really top turning out there. You know you can turn out at Alexander Palace, Wembley or whatever, and that’s fine but you know we are a band that isn’t going to draw multitudes in, so we did really fucking well with that.
LTW: You said you were writing new material. I guess 2021 is the next opportunity for a new release.
Yeh, things are pointing that way so touch wood something will be ready.
LTW: Obviously, it’s difficult as there are no gigs, tour or festivals to talk about but is there anything you’d like to add about the new release Jason?
Yeh, I mean we are really proud of it you know, it’s a solid piece of work. It’s a gateway for people from now to whenever ‘til the end of time to hear what we are about. It’s got a lot of the best tracks on there. It’s pretty hard to really pick a collection of strongest tracks because I think they’re all really good, but I think this best describes us and is you know, a really useful tool for anybody who is not familiar with us, you know what I mean?
New Album All That Glue out 15th May on Rough Trade
Thanks to Keith Goldehanger, Paul Clarke, Gus Ironside, Nathan Whittle, Simon Paul Tucker, Wayne Carey and Amy Jane Britten for helping with the questions.