A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to catch up with The Battery Farm at one of their rehearsals in Manchester and I shared part 1 of their interview last week.
I'm delighted to share part 2 with you this week where we talk about politics, our mutual love of Idles, Chair Dads, Will Young (yes really) and our favourite punk songs.
Debbie: I didn’t put this question in the interview I wrote earlier but I think that it’s a really good question. The political times that we’re in with the fuck up that is Brexit, parliament being suspended then not and now Boris Johnson’s been found out to be a liar etc… Punk has always been a political artform in terms of its music. I think that this political time is really fucked up.
Debbie: You look at certain parts of the world and the movement towards right wing politics, what’s happening with LGBTQIA+ people in Chechnya it’s scary. For your art form there’s so much there to write about and get angry about. Is that fair commentary?
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously there’s rich pickings… we’ve recently wrote a song called Maggot Line and it’s about the climate crisis and what that’s going to lead to in terms of economic apartheid.. nothings being done about it because the rich are basically not going to be affected by it because they’re insulated from it and are going to be able to protect themselves from it better than anyone else. It’ll be a case of the many being left to starve and burn.
Paul: I think the most interesting part of it, is people are saying, “Oh we’ve only got 50 years left”.. and people aren’t giving it the urgency that it deserves. It’s really interesting the sub-context of it and like if we’ve only got 50 years left then how are they getting people to conform to the ideals of work and mortgages and stuff like that? The social order will collapse.. it’s terrifying…
Ben: Yeah and that’s been exacerbated by the fact that we’ve had 10 years of austerity. 10 years of starving people and killing people. You mention Eastern Europe and there’s a wave of Neo Fascism sweeping there at the moment.
Debbie: It’s terrifying.
Ben: It is and I used to find myself writing about the personal more than the external and the political and now I find myself writing more and more about the political. Focusing on that because I’m sick of it. I’m angry about it.
Dom: It’s interesting because you say does art come from that? I say God Yeah! I feel properly vulnerable…. I’m not aggressive, so I can’t go out getting angry about it. It’s not in my nature. So all I can do is create art from it. Even though you’re seething and you’re terrified… I do what I can do about it, I pick up a guitar and I create.
Ben: It shows how bad things are when you have 4 white guitar boys feeling vulnerable about this, who ourselves are the least likely to be victimised due to who we are; it shows how bad things are at the moment. It just shows you the growing intensity of the dystopia that we are going through. And if there’s something you can do to fight against it, then just do it. It sounds like an old cliché, but what we can do against it is write about it and that’s what we’re doing.
Debbie: If you look at music and the influence it has on popular culture and youth it’s unifying. It’s one of the reasons why I love music. I’ll be honest with you guys I’m a trans woman. One of the things I love about music is that it’s acceptance. You know you go to a gig it doesn’t matter who or what you are. It’s about people coming together for the art that they love and I love that. Music unifies in times like this.
Whole band: it does… it absolutely does.
Ben: It does you’re right it absolutely does influence the culture of the day.
Paul: it’s really interesting because I think that indie is dead. Weirdly guitar music is dead in certain forms. You look at the music coming out now, it’s like grime and angry sort of punk like Idles and bands like that.
Debbie: How good are they?
Ben: They’re amazing.
Debbie: I saw them at YNOT Festival and they were incredible. I’d seen there set at Glastonbury and it was awesome. But at YNOT it was pissing it down and it seemed to add to the anger and intensity of their set. It was absolutely incredible!
Ben: I’ve seen them a few times and what I’ve noted about Idles and it seems to get angrier and angrier. I saw them at Kendal Calling last year and it was pissing it down outside, but it was also raining sweat inside… raining sweat on us and them!
Dom: I saw them at Bootleg in Blackpool about 200 people… You know when you’re at one of them small gigs and it’s on the precipice of going nationwide? One person moved the entire venue moved sort of thing…. It was amazing. You really get an idea of how intense it is when you’re 5 yards away.
Paul: It’s that wave of inclusiveness as well…I came to Idles quite in the day….. Especially the Glastonbury set they were really inclusive of the crowd.. You know these white guys, where saying this crowd is dick heavy and they were telling them to make sure that it was a safe space for everyone.
Dom: It’s their genuine nature; they’re really inclusive.
Paul: It was lovely he brought his wife out during the set and he got really emotional. He was talking about how she had made so many sacrifices for her stuff for his career and he was really emotional about it.
Debbie: I love their song Mother.
Ben: It’s a beautiful song. The thing I carry with me about them is their songs are really beautiful in a human sense; they’re cathartic sense and real…
Debbie: That’s why they’re so relatable to everyone.
Ben: Yeah and the joyfulness about it.. I remember seeing something that Queen Zee said about this a few months ago… People like Trump want you to be nihilistic and against each other and angry and vengeful and operate on rage alone…The best reaction against that is to operate from love, together, kindness and community and I think that Idles embody that. I hope that’s something we take into our music.
Debbie: I actually can’t wait to hear more music from you and I’m not just saying that (laughs) There’s only one song out there at the moment and I’ve not seen you live YET…
Ben: no it’s alright (laughs)… where have you been?
Debbie: I’ve only been up here for 2 years… I moved up from Bournemouth in 2017.
Ben: But you’re not from there are you?
Debbie: No I’m from North Shields, not that far from Newcastle upon Tyne.
Ben: Ah.. I thought I heard a north east accent.
Debbie: I met someone else from North Shields at Zuzu the other night. It was great because I as saying Haddaway n shite.. and all Geordie stuff like that
Dom: Is Sam Fender a Geordie?
Paul: Yeah he is... He’s supporting Liam Gallagher at the O Ritz on Saturday isn’t he?.. are you going?
Debbie: I’m actually gutted but I’m not. I was supposed to be going to see The Blinders..
Ben: Oh they’ve cancelled haven’t they?
Debbie: Yeah.. I’m gutted but I’ve seen them 3 times this year already anyway. I fucking love them. For me they absolutely embody everything I love about music at the minute… It’s almost like post apocalyptical punk. That’s how I would describe them anyway.
Ben: Yeah that goes back to what Paul was saying before about indie bands kind of being obsolete… I think grime and punk are taking over. I think in a commercial sense obviously, indie bands because people still love them.
Debbie: I love Sea Girls.. I do love them; they write such catchy songs.
Ben: Yeah bands like that..
Debbie: Even Foals, their latest stuff have you listened to it? It’s so dark.
Ben: yeah.. and bands like Slaves, Sleaford Mods and Idles when it’s vicious fast tempo, social commentary. Whereas the indie stuff isn’t commentating on or contributing to the zeitgeist or the mass outlook on things.
Paul: they contribute to the chair dads.
Ben: (laughs) The Chair Dads! What’s the Chair Dads?!
Paul: The Chair Dads, if it’s not been coined I’ll coin it. Basically if you go into any festival, they go into any arena space at any festival they put their chairs up and they get their papers out and they read them. Nowadays you have those mainstream bands who basically people used to listen to in their 20’s and now they’re older and they do to their festivals and put their chairs out and they become the chair.
Debbie: So who’s on your playlists at the moment?
Ben: Witch Fever, The Red Stains , Slack Alice’s are really good, The 99 degree.
Dom: Mines the same as I always did… Connie Francis, The Everly Bros.
Debbie: The Everly Bros I love all those harmonies. I tell you who remind me of The Everly Bros who are current just because of their harmonies is The Pale White.
Paul: They did That Dress didn’t they?
Sam: Are they good?
Debbie: Yeah, they’re amazing.
Ben: Are they from Newcastle as well?
Debbie: Yeah. As is Sting, as is Mark Knoplfer.
Dom: We were playing with this guy in 2015 from Newcastle called David Gaffney and he’s amazing. He just released this single called Raise the Bar.
Debbie: What sort of genre is he?
Dom: To be honest I really like White Flag the Dido album and it’s got a sound a bit like that.
Debbie: I love that album.
Paul: I quite like Will Young.
Debbie: As in Pop Idol Will Young?
Dom: I think his songs are amazing (Dom then sings… I think I better leave right now)…
Debbie: Could you imagine that speeded up as punk song? How cool would that sound?
Paul: I like Big Lad have you heard of them?
Paul: It’s like a drummer and a guy who plays synths. Crazy like noise.
Dom: Have you heard of Strange Bones?
Ben: Oh really good band… with like hints of The Prodigy. They’re really good. I’ve seen them at The Deaf Institute and supporting Frank Carter.
Debbie: I love that venue. I can’t believe I’m seeing Bang Bang Romeo there in a few weeks. I can’t believe they’re playing there. It’s so quirky. They have the most massive disco ball as well.
Paul: I think I’ve seen some of my most favourite gigs in there.
Debbie: I saw this Irish guy Talos in there and the sound was just incredible. The compression of the sound in such a small venue was just insane…
Ben: That’s the thing it the sound there is so good. It’s impactful when it needs to be and it’s small when it needs to be.
Paul: I saw Sleigh Bells there and they had walls on Marshall Amps. She had an iPod mini on an auxiliary.
Debbie: I still have an iPod Classic!
Debbie: Some bands I would recommend I’ve seen recently I saw Pulled Apart By Horses, Allusinlove, Yak, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets… they were all amazing!
Dom: Pulled Apart By Horse, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and Yak them three bands people talk about..
Debbie: Heavy Rapids and Murder Capital were amazing as well.
Dom: They’re from Ireland aren’t they?
Debbie: Yeah… So it’s the Mercury Awards next week who do you think will win it?
Ben: I hope Anna Calvi wins it…
Debbie: I love her.. do you think Idles might?
Dom: I like Dave.
Ben: Is Dave nominated?
Ben: I think Dave or Anna Calvi then… (how prophetic was he)?
Debbie: I love Cate le Bon as well.. saw her a few weeks ago at Gorilla. She was incredible, she had such an aura.
Ben: Yeah she’s amazing.
Debbie: Last question.. I’m gonna give you a tenner to go to HMV. You can buy an album that’s out now or you can buy 2 classics. What will you buy?
Ben: I’ll start.. Oh man.. You know what I would buy that Murder Capitals Album.
Dom: I’ll go with Glass Vegas’s first album and I’ll go with Tattu’s 200 Kilometres in the Wrong.
Sam: I’d probably buy Cage the Elephants new album coz I listened to it this week and it’s a banger!
Paul: I’d go with Bruce Springsteen The River and Iron & Wines, Kiss Each Other Clean.
Debbie: I’ll go with 2 classics and I already have these but Eat to The Beat by Blondie because it’s got Shayla on it which was an album track but it’s my favourite Blondie track of all time and Bjork Debut.
Ben: Debut that’s a phenomenal album.
Debbie: What’s your favourite punk song… last one I promise.
Ben: Poison in a Pretty Pill by Crass.
Debbie: Mines, Into the Valley by The Skids.
Dom: I like the Streets Where Nobody Lives by The Pagans.
Paul: The Slits with Typical Girl is mine.
Sam… sorry I didn’t catch yours…
A million thanks to The Battery Farm for taking time out of rehearsals to do this interview, not only are they an incredible band, they’re such nice lads too.
You can stream them on Spotify