The documentary crew present during my interview with Jason Williamson (the lyrical half of Sleaford Mods) is testament to the band’s burgeoning reputation and importance to people who no longer believe the hype. While the typical, lazy ‘voice of modern Britain’ title is something they’re probably very keen to avoid (acts with anything smart and relevant to say usually are, and rightfully so), it could be argued that they occupy a similar space in the current climate as The Clash and The Jam during their eras, bands who directly and unapologetically pointed out the misgivings of the time into which they’d been born and took a brazen swipe at the fuck-awful music and ‘icons’ who, allegedly, represented that time.
Lyrical comparisons with The Fall and John Cooper Clark have already been made a few dozen times, but these are little more than aesthetic; I’d suggest that Williamson’s words have more in common with Morrissey at his most sneery and sarcy and brutal; a similar poetic word-play, razor-sharp observations and an inherent Englishness are all present, albeit delivered by someone who’s cradled far fewer Gladioli.
Williamson met the other half of Sleaford Mods Andrew Fearn in 2009 after the former returned to Nottingham from the south. Fearn’s stockpile of stark, complementary beats allowed Williamson to concentrate solely on the words, having hitherto done both. Several recordings followed quickly, and their 2013 release ‘Austerity Dogs’ became one of that year’s highlights for a great many critics and journalists. More recent eloquent and articulate tirades during interviews have illustrated their rage and authenticity, bringing them to the attention of a great many people who appreciate both of those traits, and Noel Gallagher, who doesn’t appear to like either.
I briefly interviewed Jason Williamson on February 28th, just before their gig at The Underground in Barnsley.
How far into the tour are you?
Three dates. There are about three weeks left. After that, we’ve got Europe in April, then Manchester, Leeds, bigger venues. We’re trying to get the new album into the set, really busy with that.
Obviously, we’re in Barnsley. Does the deeply anti-Thatcher sentiment that’s still palpable in towns like this ring any bells with you? Is it part of the reason for playing here?
It’s part of the tour, but yeah, I think Margaret Thatcher and people like are our modern villains, the villains for OUR lifetime.
Do people like that continue to be a motivational force for you?
People are putting this label, this political tag on us – with regards to social commentary, I’m all for that, but I’m a little wary of the label when it comes to the actual political discussions and systems.
You recently gave up full time employment. Has that changed your attitude to the band? Has it made it more serious, or has it always been that way?
I think it’s changed my attitude to sorting myself out! I’ve been so used to routine for so long that not having it is a bit of a mindfuck.
A few time management issues, then?
Yeah, it’s quite a fucking important thing, isn’t it?! But I don’t have to get up at half six every morning – that helps!
You’ve mentioned your rage in previous interviews. Is that still prevalent?
The older you get, the more mellow you get, because you learn to control it, I suppose. You grow older, you start to look at things for what they are. You don’t get so wound up. But yeah – PEOPLE will always wind you up. There’s an abundance of that…
One of those people (yeah, him…) implied in a recent interview that ‘…rockstardom will die’ due to the stance of bands like Sleaford Mods. There is surely no greater reason to applaud them.