Be The Revolution (I’ll use ‘BTR’ from hereon in; slightly pretentious, but it’ll save me some typing), as the name may suggest to you, didn’t really welcome the result of the recent election. In a recent message, singer Ian Huddleston told me ‘I definitely know where the the material for the next few records is coming from. I’m even more pissed off than when I spoke to you…’. And pissed off he was. Nestled in a corner of a Rotherham boozer, Ian voiced his deep and unremitting irritation of everything from the seemingly ubiquitous austerity measures to the lack of genuine characters in modern music.
BTR began their psychedelic campaign in 2013 when Ian and friend Luke Killeen decided to pool their love of Arthur Lee and The Doors and see just how many strange noises they could throw at Ian’s stockpile of socialist songs. While several bandmates may have wandered in and out of the practise room since then, the ethos of turning one-man-one-guitar protest tunes into a multi-cultural aural battlecry remains undiluted.
I met Ian in late April and, somehow, managed to edge enough questions into his justifiable tirade to get an overview of his band and consistent rallying against the establishment.
Were you politically motivated from the outset?
Yeah, politics always came up in conversations between me and Luke, and I wanted to put that anger into tunes. I didn’t want to be just another socialist ‘protest song band’; as much as I love that sort of stuff, I wanted to make it a bit more interesting and psychedelic. I’d been learning sitar at the time, and I definitely wanted that to be in there somewhere. We then got a drummer, did a few gigs… I’ve had quite a few bandmates; I don’t know if it’s me, I must be some sort of Frank Zappa slavedriver type…
You released the self titled E.P. late last year – did you record anything prior to that?
We’ve done two E.P.s, so far – the first one [‘The Fightback’ from 2013] we did ourselves and the first session for the last one was at 2Fly. At that point I was more or less solo again, so I finished the tracks with Sam Oldroyd at his studio. There was no pressure or time scale, we didn’t put any boundaries on it.
With regards to instrumentation?
Yeah, we wanted an eastern feel to it, and I think we achieved that.
The band seems to be 75% your baby. Is it fair to say that?
Yeah, it’s my drive, my thing, but I’m not precious with it; if people want to play on it, that’s fine, if they want to do something else, I’m happy with that, aswell. Again, I didn’t to put any boundaries on it – see where it goes.
That’s never a bad thing. Bands all too readily subscribe to an aesthetic or a sound with no leeway.
Yeah, I’ve gone through all that! At minute I’m working with Frank Wilkes at DMF Digital, a not-for-profit organisation that puts on gigs, promotes, gives young people opportunities; the sort of community spirit that the current government haven’t really made allowances for. That’s why pop music is so shit and so samey these days – there are all these academies and networking schemes aimed solely at young people who can afford it. You know, a lad from a council estate hasn’t got £800 to learn how to ‘write songs’. These kids are being hoovered up by these fucking Britschool type places, learning the same chords and the same style from the same sort of people. What’s the point in that?! It’s all sewn up; you’ve got money to spend on things like that, getting to know the same people and promoters as everyone else in that circle – it’s no coincidence that they’re ending up on telly! It’s bollocks. Where’s the next Shaun Ryder going to come from…
The next E.P., ‘Dystopian Dreams’, is out in July, and I’m guessing it won’t feature any Ed Sheeren covers.