It’s March 2019 and Sleaford Mods are back with a brand new Top 10 charting album ‘Eton Alive’ released on their own label, Extreme Eating. The album’s getting great reviews everywhere, people are buying it, they’re selling out venues, they’ve been going over a decade and the wheels of the bus show no signs of slowing down. 2019 looks set to be another great year for the Mods.
As the song goes – of course we’re fucking relevant.
Alright Jason. How’re you doing?
Hiya, yeah I’m good thanks how are you?
Yeah great. How were Newcastle & Liverpool? (Sleaford Mods have just started a goliath tour of the UK)
Yeah great, really you know, so far so good. The shows are banging, no messing!
Quite a cool warehousey venue isn’t it the Boiler Shop (Newcastle).
It is yeah, it’s nice, so yeah, it was really interesting to play there.
You’re playing a lot of out of the way towns/cities on this tour, what’s the thinking behind that and is there anywhere you’re especially looking forward to going?
No not really, just to hit places that are not on the normal gig route, y’know. We did it a few years ago and we decided to do it again. We thought it would kind of fit in with the idea of the country going to pot at the minute, y’know, it’d be good to play these places to give people a chance to come and see us, not everyone can afford to come to the big cities!
I think it’s a good idea, the standard album tour would just be the same big venues/big cities…
It would yeah, you get a bit bored with that. We’re not a band that sells these places out, y’know, we don’t by any means play to empty halls but it just gets a bit lifeless perhaps.
(Laughs) You need to find ways of keeping things fresh.
On a similar note there’s a big side to the touring lifestyle which can be shit, which people don’t really see, a lot being sat around in a van, endless waiting – how have you learned how to deal with that side of it better?
(Laughs) I stopped drinking, stopped taking drugs, that’s how I dealt with it!
Clean living! Exercise!
Yeah, lots of exercise. I swear by that. And just a determination to keep going, it’s like… we were a buzz band to start with and it was all very exciting, came out of nowhere and then that passed and then… it’s like what do you do, I’m not gonna dry up, I’m gonna carry on, I’m gonna see if this is still worth it and it is! I’ve learned from not drinking, taking drugs, and that’s helped me to tour obviously. But also it’s work, the thing is it’s work and you can’t get too… I dunno it’s work, that’s what it is and you’ve got to treat it like work, you’ve got to be serious about it and you’ve got to see where it takes you. You’ve got to be strong you know, you’ve got to fight the lonely periods, depressing periods and do it that way y’know what I mean?
Yeah, you’ve been doing big venues for quite a while now…
So I think I know the answer, but have you ever been tempted to expand the setup or get into that big production realm?
No, no, not yet – if ever. I think it’ll be known for what it is and when it goes, when it turns shit, it’ll still be what it was. If it ever gets shit!
Was it ever a consideration when you were on the rise?
No, I wanted to keep it minimal, that was the whole point, when we came out it was all these shit bands, any band that came out was just fucking wank, I just thought it was totally uninspiring so I wanted to make a statement here and I still think to a certain degree it’s still very much contemporary music Sleaford Mods and I think the setup and everything else, after five years of releasing LPs and playing in the commercial landscape I think it’s very much a part of that,
I mean it obviously fucking translates to the big stage, that Glastonbury gig was phenomenal…
Thank you, which one did you watch?
It was the John Peel stage.
Oh yeah yeah yeah, that was good that one, we played the year after and it wasn’t that great I didn’t think
Which one was that?
We played the Park stage, 2016, 17 maybe… I wasn’t into it really. But that John Peel one was good.
You attacked it…
*Sleaford Mods played the John Peel tent mid afternoon in 2015. It’s one of the best festival performances I’ve seen live. Jason’s crowd interaction was brilliant, he doesn’t give a fuck. You can watch most of the gig on Youtube – treat yourself. *
What was your favourite gig last year, what springs to mind?
God, too many. Fuck. We played this festival in France, it was fucking great man, we went on it was a hot night, it was on the coast, it was right on a cliff edge, it was fucking fantastic! Yeah, wicked.
Do you remember your first gig?
(Laughs) Our first gig, yes I do, yeah, it was terrible. It was near the train station and I supported this kinda like stoner rock band, it was pretty… I mean it was alright, but you know, first gig.
No real reason to remember it otherwise…Well, yeah, it was alright, there were better things to come I think but you know – you got to do it ain’t yer.
Talking a bit about your history, the first stuff that really got me into you was from The Originator, so stuff like Chop Chop Chop, Wack It Bruv, Graham… I fucking love those songs, there’s some really great lyrics in there, we used to listen to that stuff in the van on the way home from gigs quite a lot…
*Chop Chop Chop is an 8 minute epic Irvine Welsh short story snapshot novel of a song, covering ‘getting darn to some real Saaarfampton’ on two crates of champagne, getting work offers from a rapist Porn Star, suffering tedious birthday discos, gym heads, navigating taking a lass along with her kid for a drop of eight aaaances of flat crack. People places parties.*
It used to serenade us up the motorway, and I’ve been to those places you’re talking about. I’ve got family in Coatbridge. I listened to those songs this morning and they’re still great, there’s a kind of gleeful energy to the vitriol. What do you remember about that time, how did you feel about your situation?
*Jason has to break off to talk to his kids in the background
No, this is class! Sorry mate, yeah well I was working shit jobs, living at me mums and it wasn’t great, it was shit really but you know I had to keep creating these ideas and I’d write about one or two a month, drive over to Nottingham from Grantham and go record them in the studio. Most of them were written about Grantham at the time you know, the little nightclubs… it was a desperate time really, but you know, there was some really good ideas there I think
Before Sleaford Mods – I know you’ve been in bands for a long time, haven’t heard any of the music or anything – but I think a lot of bands are quite naive about label interest and the idea of getting signed and what’s going to happen to when you do. Do you think your experience of being in bands for so long helped you deal with the industry side of things once you started becoming successful?
No. Because I have no idea how the music industry works. Really. I still didn’t until…
*Dog barks its head off in the background*
I kind of did but I didn’t know how labels really worked, how the whole thing worked, as much as up to about probably fucking three months ago, until we went independent again and we really had to fucking do our own work.
You seem pretty savvy as a band, you don’t seem to get pushed around by the industry…
No, well the massive labels that would want to change you are not interested you know. We’re not a product. I mean we’re in talks with a management team who deal with big acts, who like us, but we’re an act that you can’t really mess with a lot. So it’s just how you conduct that. But also you know we have the crowd behind us
*(breaks off to talk to kids)*
Hello, sorry mate, well yeah we had the crowd behind us and that carried us you know, people could touch us, then of course went into the charts, and we got on Jools Holland and we got all these festival offers and people were turning up to the gigs you know, the people made sure we did, they carried us on and still are now.
What made you want to start Extreme Eating, is it just a case of not wanting to work around other people’s schedules? Has it been difficult to setup?
It’s been hard yeah, but we’ve come out the other end and got a top ten album, which is fantastic. You know, some people expect you to drop off, that people are gonna get sick of it, but they haven’t, they’re still there with us. And that’s fucking excellent.
It’s a great achievement. I love the album – how do you think it sits compared to your other stuff? Can you compare yourself to the artist you were on The Originator?
We’ve just got better, simple. The songs are better, more concise, directed, not as misogynistic as some of the stuff was back then. I mean it wasn’t really misogynistic but certain things were said in the vocabulary of the time which we wouldn’t do now, y’know.
I think the progression can be heard in When You Come Up To Me and Top It Up, I don’t think I’ve heard you do anything like When You Come Up To Me before…
Yeah maybe. The singing songs are a definitely different from what we’ve done before. I like them, I think they work in the context of the album, but I think they’re the most vulnerable parts of it. I’m not sure about how that’ll go moving forwards, don’t know if we should play them live… but I think they’re good. Unfortunately, as soon as you start doing anything like that you’re gonna get people shouting boooo, you’ve changed blah
People fucking hate change…
Yeah they really do, and it’s a small minority but then again the person I am, they’re the ones that I end up focusing on more. At the same time the idea of being safe and repeating yourself over and over is fucking bollocks, what’s the point in that.
I think it works… and then to me Top It Up is as banging, no holds barred as anything you’ve done before. It’s still hard hitting, still funny. Flipside as well. If people are buying the album expecting a Sleaford Mods sound then they’re fucking getting it.
Thank you, yeah definitely!
Silence of the grams is a great line!
(Laughs) Yeah thanks, I like that one too.
So lastly – you’ve obviously got a very varied music taste. The Wutang/Rap influence you’ve spoken about, also in the run up to Eton Alive you’ve spoken about the Alexander O’NeilI/Luther Vandross stuff – listened to a 6 music thing you did and heard English Dogs for the first as well as Terry Callier – Dancing Girl…
Yeah, that’s a fucking great tune!
What are you into at the minute? What’s gonna be accompanying you down the M11 on this tour?
I’ve been listening to Giggsy’s new album a lot. AJ Tracey’s stuff. Lots of drill, trap music as ever…
Thank you very much Jason.
You’re welcome, good luck to yer.
You can check out a playlist including some of the current Sleaford favourites here on Spotify: https://sleaford-mods.lnk.to/SpotifyTunesFA?fbclid=IwAR32A-q2QkCruE-CFbwCCfalXmrA8z6Vs5DXR5WsyZm3fwbI93NnLeryn2g
Buy their album, ‘Eton Alive’ here – http://smarturl.it/EtonAlive
Sleaford Mods will be near you in March/April – go and see them! https://www.seetickets.com/tour/sleaford-mods