Updated: Sep 28, 2019
The Battery Farm are a band I'm super excited about for many reasons. If you've listened to their last single 97/91 then you'd know what I'm on about. Dark, twisted, mayhem that draws you in and spits you out wanting more.
After sharing the single on my twitter as one of my today's tracks, the band responded with thanks and agreed to do an interview with this intrepid blogger. My interviews are long, as I want you to share in the whole experience, so for this reason this one is going to be split into 2 parts.
I usually have a list of questions that I take with me and on this occasion I left said notebook at work. That said, as I'm getting a bit of a seasoned interviewer I don't think the interview suffered and after a bit of banter about the forgetfulness of the notebook, the rhythm section admitting to not watching the video for their last single, and their mic not working we got started.
Debbie: So I've watched the video about 5 times before I came here and if Irvine Welsh, did Blair Witch for a punk song that would be the video.
Ben: That sounds like a scarily accurate summary.
Debbie: I don't think you say what "It" is in the song but for me it could be a monster, but for me it could be about fear or self-loathing.
Ben: Well the song itself it's based on the 1993 murder of Suzanne Capper, which happened in Moston, North Manchester and that along with the murder of James Burger was used in the media as a stick to sort hit people with. The demonization of people. So when I saw an article about that about 5 years ago, the thing that struck me the most was that it happened in Moston and that's the part of Manchester that me and my brother grew up in. The actual song itself is about the human capacity for being able to shut your eyes to things if they don't intimately affect you and that capacity is vital to us to be able to survive. If we went into all of the terribleness that is around us then you'd never leave the house. So the "It" in the song is the 2 houses where it happened, 97 & 91 are the houses where it happened. The whole thing happened over a period of 5 days across 2 houses...
Debbie: That's horrendous..
Ben: Part of the reason it stayed with me and I considered even more, is because I knew what the streets looked like, I knew what the houses looked like and those things are still there as a lasting monument to this horrific event. I then got to thinking, why is this affecting me more than say genocide in Libya or Syria? It does affect you obviously it is horrendous, but it doesn't affect you as viscerally or explicitly as that. So that's what 97/91 is and that's what the video is.
Debbie: It's on your doorstep so it's going to affect you more...
Dominic: I have to agree with you on all that.... We didn't have any money either so I was like...We'll get a bin bag, put some eyes on it.
Ben: The video was a horrendous thing to make.
Debbie: Did you edit it?
Dominic: No I did it. I didn't have any skills at all. I just winged it. I just chopped it up and that.
Debbie: I'm not going to lie to you, it's fucking freaky. Not in a bad way in a good way but it's freaky. It’s had about 500 views as well…
Ben: Yeah last time I looked it was around that number. We wanted it to be the kind of thing that stays with you...
Dominic: You run the risk of trivialising the subject if you set out to make the video all spooky... I tried my best to avoid that. It was just a natural process and so the video; we just about got it there. It just comes out based on the song.
Debbie: It's dark as is the song.
Ben: It's a nasty old song is the video.... we needed a nasty old video to get that across.
Debbie: It's really weird how this interview came about because you get song suggestions all the time on Spotify and I was like I'll just listen to this as the name is a bit weird as well. And I was like fucking hell.. the song it just grips you doesn't it? I had to listen again, and again and again....
Ben: (laughs) yeah.
Debbie: I mean my music taste is quite eclectic I’m into Taylor Swift don't judge me (laughs)..
Paul: I have the first album in my car.
Debbie: Is that your worst album?
Paul: It's off my sister but it's a go to album. Hey Stephen, 2 chords (band all laughs)
Dominic: I had Thank You Next by Arriana Grande on today. It's like one of my favourite albums from the last 10 years. It's unbelievable, from start to finish. I can’t stop listening to it.
Debbie: If they're a good song writer, they’re a good song writer it doesn't matter what genre it is.
Ben & Dominic: Yeah, yeah, definitely!
Debbie: It was really hard to find information about you guys... I found your influences like Frank Carter, Elvis, Nirvana, Johnny Marr, The Smiths that kind of stuff? Do you guys like Johnny Cash?
Debbie: I felt a bit of Johnny Cash in the song as well. Have you guys seen Elvana?
Ben: I've heard of them but I've not seen them live.
Paul: I've seen a couple of their videos.
Ben: Have you seen Patelvis?
Debbie: No?! Is that like an Asian Elvis?
Ben: It's the Indian Elvis.... You expect him to be doing Bollywood versions of Elvis songs.
Paul: It’s like karaoke, in a curry house!
Ben: But just some fat bloke doing Elvis songs...
Debbie: So he's like Elvis?
Paul: He goes around curry houses in the North West. You saw him didn't you Ben?
Ben: Yeah... he does basically the same 5 songs... Suspicious minds, Viva Las Vegas, Hunk of Burning Love. But yeah, Elvana?
Debbie: Yeah. I saw them at the Albert Hall and the O2 Ritz. The O2 Ritz, I had a tattoo the next day, which was a bit stupid I had an all-day session and I couldn't feel it because my ribs were so bruised the next day.
Sam: Aren't like the knees and ribs like the most painful places to get tattooed?
Debbie: My whole backs covered.
Dom: Was that the most painful your back?
Debbie: On the spine and the shoulder blades it’s actually like someone scratching a really bad itch! I love near the bone and I know that sounds a bit weird (laughs), but the worst place is on the top of the feet…
Ben: Oh yeah that sounds painful
Debbie: I was laughing hysterically, because if I didn’t I would cry. It just kills.
Dom: I’ve not actually got any tattoos..
Paul: I’ve not got any either.
Sam: I’ve got some shit ones (laughs)
Ben: Mine are all right around my blubber – I’ve got a My Chemical Romance One, I’ve a dinosaur coming out of a rose
Debbie: Sounds pretty rock n roll.. is it a T-Rex?
Ben: Yeah it’s a T-Rex skull (laughs) and the chorus of how soon is now, but I’m gonna get it covered up. Morrisey has kind of tainted it now.
Debbie: He’s another example of people who forget where they come from and their routes, but he’s like an extreme example of that. Noel Gallagher is the same.
Paul: I think it’s like a working class tory isn’t it? It’s like they’re self-made and they become a Tory, and you wonder like where you came from?
Ben: James Brown had the same attitude.
Paul: I think it’s bad, but in a certain way you can understand it where that mentality comes from, but you don’t agree with it.
Debbie: But his brother doesn’t!
Dom: You put yourself in their shoes… if you ascended that high would you have the same attitude? I think people like him and Morrisey, they probably always had that venom towards people, they always had that dislike and it’s took them years to rear its ugly head. But when it does, they’re like I’m invincible so I can say what I like.
Ben: It’s the get your own back thing. It’s the Alan Partridge thing, needless to say I had the last laugh.
Dom: It goes from I’ve been outsider, to this warped into this egotistical I’m in an ivory tower, I can do what I want I can say whatever I want. Regardless of what you think of yourself, I think you’ve got a duty to listen to people or try and understand where they’re coming from. You’ve got a duty to your fan base to at least empathise with them.
Debbie: They got you there as well and I think that they forget that. For me it doesn’t matter what your background is: your ethnicity; your sexuality; your gender identity; your socioeconomic background; whatever its the person, the human. It’s about being decent.
Ben: Exactly, to me decent people don’t go along with ideologies that kill people like austerity. Decent people don’t allow themselves to be corrupted by selfishness like Noel Gallagher has….. he came out saying Brexit is a great idea and he was going to vote Tory at the next election.
Debbie: But does he do it for controversy?
Ben: He probably did?
Dom: But why do it when you wrote Wonderwall?
Debbie: So what’s the best Oasis song? If you ask different people you get different answers, but it’s not Wonderwall or Champagne Supernova!
Dom: Can we all pick an Oasis song?
Debbie: Yeah, I’ll put it in the interview as well.
Sam: (Shouts) Slideaway.
Dom: Slideaway that’s a great song! I like the entire of the first two albums and the B sides.
Dom: Songbirds quite good, but Hey Now is mine.
Ben: Columbia is mine. It’s amazing.
Paul: I dunno… What’s the Story Morning Glory is the album that introduced me to Oasis… Cast No Shadow, that’s a really good one.
Ben: It’s about Richard Ashcroft.
Paul: But it was weird becuase didn’t they do some sort of Manchester Passion about 15 years ago?
Ben: Oh yeah, Tim Booth was in i. Christopher Eccleston was in The Second Coming, which was the ITV version…. Manchester Passion was was live in the streets. Tim Booth played Christ it was like a musical.
Debbie: It sounds amazing!
Ben: You can find it on YouTube or something.
Paul: Yeah they used Cast No Shadow when he was getting crucified! It probably wasn’t written for that; but it makes perfect sense!
Debbie: Live Forever, for me..
Debbie: So the name Battery Farm come from? Is it from chickens….(band laughs) Where does it come from?
Ben: No it’s not
Dom: We’ve just got a guilt complex with all the chicken we eat (laughs).
Paul: I thought it was about chicken nuggets. You know there’s only 4 shapes right?
Debbie: No way?!
Paul: Yeah, if you get some chicken nuggets, there’s only 4 shapes.There’s only 4 varieties.
Debbie: I’m gonna put that in the interview that’s really cool random fact.
Ben: Yeah the name comes from the lyric in one of the songs, we saw fit to go with that name. When me and Dom were putting the band together, around the end of last year, we’d been beset by misery an anger and we both really simultaneously felt like everything we’d built up; everything we didn’t like about ourselves, about the world around us – everything was closing in around us and so it felt like a battery farm. Everything we’d been writing felt like an explosion of that. So the songs like 97/91 or I Am A Man that’s coming out in October.
Paul: Just to add on the chicken nuggets…. (everyone laughs) I’m reading here (has phone in hand) that they come in 4 shapes the bell, the bow, the ball and the boot and the reason they come in those shapes is to ensure consistent cooking time…
Dom: That’s The Battery Farm!
Debbie: I’m Loving It! That’s marketing for you though… (laughs).
Ben: So that’s where the name comes from. The songs were sort of a reaction to the situation we were in.
Dom: There was a few names knocking around…. Erm, Battery Farms, The Battery Farm
Ben: That’s what it is!
Dom: There’s a few relevant ones….
You can catch the lads this Friday supporting Sons at Jimmy’s in Manchester tickets can be purchased here. They’re also playing Musicians Against Homelessness this Weekend in Liverpool ticket link here.
You can read part 2 of the interview next Thursday where we talk about how the current political climate has been great for influencing their song writing and much more.
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