Since the dawn of modern music, there have been artists hailing from small, uninspiring towns using frustration and ennui as the rocket fuel for their creative fire. Macclesfield boy Ian Curtis had a youth of petty theft and prescription drug experimentation in the bank before he fronted Joy Division; Manic Street Preachers famously cite their childhood in the poverty-stricken Welsh former mining town of Blackwood as their main incentiviser and now, into that lineage, come Working Men’s Club.
“The thing that’s most inspiring about being in Todmorden is that it’s really fucking boring, so there’s nothing else to do,” explains singer Syd Minksey-Sargeant of his West Yorkshire home. “If you’re from a small place - in the north of England especially - with not much money, that’s very working class without much going on, it’s not fucking easy. It feels like lots is going on outside and far away, so you have to find a way to channel that, which for me is through music.”
“I never wanted to be a Manchester band because the Manchester music scene is shit.”
— Syd Minsky-Sargeant
Meeting bandmates Jack Bogacki and Giulia Bonometti at college in nearby Manchester, and eventually finding bassist Liam Ogburn after failed test runs with seven other people, it's this combination of small town angst and the ominous shadow of the big city that's fuelling the band's twitchy, antagonistic post-punk-disco. Though Syd's lyrics are oblique, mantra-like things, straining against darkly-danceable beats to get out, the other option – of running away into the musical lineage of Manchester – is one, he says, that's just as unappealing. “I never wanted to be a Manchester band because I think the Manchester music scene is really shit at the moment, and it has been for the last 20 years,” he says, unflinchingly. “There's a lot of bands trying to be Oasis or Arctic Monkeys and it's just boring; the whole psych revival was fucking dull as well. I never wanted to be a part of that, I just wanted us to do our own thing.”
Their 'own thing', as evidenced on propulsive recent single 'Teeth' – their first release since inking a deal with Heavenly – is one that the singer states is influenced by disco and techno, as much as it is by guitar music. Combining their analogue instruments with an increasing arsenal of electronic equipment is, he explains, the way Working Men's Club want to head. “As soon as I got a bit more money from working and could buy more synthesisers, that was something that changed the direction of the band straight away,” he nods. “I never wanted to just be another guitar band. I never want to be put in that bracket.”
As featured in the August 2019 issue of DIY, out now.
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