“I guess most people are themselves on stage, to a certain degree,” says Sleaford Mods frontman Jason Williamson. “There’s a bit of theatrics in there, but you get the general idea.”
Friend and collaborator Tor Maries, aka Billy Nomates, agrees: “As a fan, you’ve met the person when you’ve seen them play. When I saw you for the first time, I definitely saw you that way. I thought, ‘Oh wow, I don’t know anyone like that’. It was a real insight into who you are and what you’re about.”
Judging by what we’ve seen from Nottinghams’ agitator-in-chief Williamson and rising DIY punk Maries as performers, it’s no wonder that the two have grown close in recent years. You could sense that they were kindred spirits when Williamson jumped on Billy Nomates’ kitchen sink melodrama anthem ‘Supermarket Sweep’ from her 2020 self-titled debut, and again when she returned the favour by lending her snarling vocals to Mods’ ‘Mork N Mindy’ from their latest effort ‘Spare Ribs‘. They don’t compromise, and they don’t fuck about.
“Danny Brown recently said that [latest album] ‘Spare Ribs‘ was his album of the year!” laughs Williamson, when asked about famous fans. “I mean, come on! We don’t get any reps off of proper rappers, so I thought that was really good.”
It’s working out pretty well for Maries, too. “Iggy Pop saying something [about me] is mental,” she says, still aghast. “I remember over Christmas I went on Instagram and it said, ‘Iggy Pop is following you’. I was like, ‘Say what?’ It’s Iggy Pop! He’s been so supportive. Everything he’s done and the way he conducts himself makes me think, ‘That’s the person who I care that gets it’.”
With a friendly word of advice on dealing with fame, Williamson replies: “You get used to the reality of it, but if you stop to think about it, it’s a bit weird. You start by thinking, ‘Why would I ever get anywhere, for a start? Am I any good?’ Then you get to a certain level, you become popular and it’s really fucking weird. My daughter said the other day, ‘Some girls at school think that you’re famous daddy’, I said: ‘I am!’ I’ve got to that point now.”
For the latest edition of NME‘s Friends Like These series (which you can watch in full above), Williamson and Maries sat down to quiz each other on their friendship and their work – including hot topics such as what they’d eat together if they went out for a vegan meal, Williamson’s problem with theme parks, and what songs they always go for at karaoke (NB: stick around for a stonking duet of New Radicals‘ ‘You Only Get What You Give’).
Billy Nomates’ ‘Emergency Telephone’ EP is out now, with a UK tour kicking off in October. Sleaford Mods’ ‘Spare Ribs’ are both out now, with the band hitting the road in the UK and Europe this winter.