Cabbage have revealed that their debut album is being inspired by veteran playwright Alan Bennett, the man behind The History Boys and the Talking Heads series.
The Manchester band, one of 70 new acts added to the Reading & Leeds line-up today, told NME they want the album to be “anything but boring and predictable”.
“We’ve got a song about Alan Bennett ‘cos I went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see Alan Bennett in conversation,” singer-guitarist Joe Martin explained.
“His new book’s called ‘Keep On Keeping On’ and he’s just fucking a huge inspiration. We have a lot of black and white politically-messaged strong songs already, but we’re also hugely inspired by finding the humour of life and things that are really melancholy. Northern kitchen sink, that’s what really floats our boat. And that’s what Alan Bennett does, is make the ordinary extraordinary.”
Martin continued: “He just asks very intelligent questions and he’s a real genuine voice for kind of lost, eccentric types. If you have a voice, be outspoken and there’s not enough people like that. He’s a national treasure, but equally he’s still quite mischievous with real goals and likes to ask lots of awkward questions about politics, so that’s why he’s a big inspiration.”
Reading & Leeds also announced Eminem as their third and final headliner today. Read the full interview with Cabbage’s Joe Martin below.
Did you manage to catch the Brits?
“No… absolutely not. I don’t think I would have even watched it if I was nominated to be honest… Didn’t quite a lot of people just swerve it anyway? Like award winners? Bit of a farce really innit? It’s kind of pompous and meaningless, really.”
You played the Jack Rocks This Feeling stage at Leeds last year. How do you think it will be different this year?
“Well, it was great last year. It’s always good because we’re such a new band and the tent was full. I mean, I don’t know whether it was full because there was a fucking humongous downpour the minute we started playing or because they actually wanted to watch us but… I guess we’ll find out this year, won’t we? It’s fucking great. Leeds Festival is like a rite of passage for 16 year olds. You kind of discover a lot about yourself going to festivals when you’re young, so it’s good.”
What about the NME Awards Tour 2017 next month with Blossoms – are you excited about that?
“Absolutely. Yeah, we like playing with Blossoms. It’s like the perfect mishmash of two extraordinarily different bands. You’ve got, like, extravagant pop stars and then kind of the other end of the spectrum so it’s a good blend of music.”
How’s the process of your debut album going?
“Great, yeah. We’re recording with James Skelly at Parr Street in Liverpool. So, yeah, [we’re] exploring kind of new ideas really and just making sure it’s anything but boring and unpredictable.”
Lyrically, what’s been inspiring you?
“We’ve got a song about Alan Bennett ‘cos I went to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see Alan Bennett in conversation. His new book’s called ‘Keep On Keeping On’ and he’s just fucking a huge inspiration. We have a lot of black and white politically-messaged strong songs already, but we’re also hugely inspired by finding the humour of life and things that are really melancholy. Northern kitchen sink, that’s what really floats our boat. And that’s what Alan Bennett does, is make the ordinary extraordinary. He just asks very intelligent questions and he’s a real genuine voice for kind of lost, eccentric types. If you have a voice, be outspoken and there’s not enough people like that. He’s a national treasure, but equally he’s still quite mischievous with real goals and likes to ask lots of awkward questions about politics, so that’s why he’s a big inspiration.”
Where would you say it takes your sound from what we’ve already heard?
“I wouldn’t say it differs from what you’ve already heard. Well, you know, we’ve kind of developed more as human beings. We’ve spent a lot more time with each other. The venom that builds up from spending that much time with the same people is like this thing that’s gonna explode at any time, so who knows? We’ve not got to the point where we’re writing about each other yet, but it’s inevitable that we’ve kind of changed as human beings.”
You’re a lot different to other bands in the sense that you use your platform and songs to speak out about your views and opinions – how do you feel about bands that play it safe and don’t speak out?
“Well, it’s absolutely fine but it’s just kind of… pretty meaningless really. You know? I think it has to be believable, it’s like acting – you have to believe the person you’re watching and you can only write about what you know. So to be kind of following trends, it’s just a saturated version of something that’s come before, it doesn’t actually mean anything. Whereas for us as human beings who are politically minded, it’s a genuine expression and I think that’s why this tour’s sold out – ’cause people believe what’s coming out our mouths.”
Do you think there should be more bands that speak out?
“I don’t really care to be honest. It doesn’t really interest me. It’s something we do because we think passionately about it, but at the same time we’re just musicians, we’re not activists you know? If we really wanted to change something we’d take to the streets, which we have done in the past, obviously. We just write songs about subjects that are true to us but we don’t claim to be political activists, and we are well aware that our music will not directly change anything. If we wanted to change it we’d do it in other ways, you know, through kind of political protests and things like that.”
What about the lyrics “I was born in the NHS / I wanna die in the NHS” in ‘Necroflat In The Palace?’
“I think the NHS is hugely important and the fact it’s being, well, privatised and pulled apart and kind of slandered by fucking tabloid press is just fucking absolutely vile. We don’t wanna end up in a country where the health care isn’t available to people who society have just abandoned. That’s just fucking disgusting. It’s not right. I don’t think our politicians can walk down the street and feel morally comfortable with themselves when you’ve got legions of homeless people who need support. And if it got to the point where these people have had absolutely no access to health care, it’s fucking terrifying. It’s a backwards ideology, it’s disgusting. It’s just another example of Tories kind of looking after themselves, really.”
Do you think Donald Trump should be allowed a state visit?
“I think what fucking difference is it going to make if he’s allowed, or if he isn’t allowed? We live in an age where media is shared within seconds; we’re all well aware of his fucking massive ugly face ’cause we see it every single day anyway. So whether he’s allowed to cross the borders, that’s a petty argument and it’s just an elaborate way of distracting us from what he’s actually doing… Theresa May doesn’t fucking actually give a shit – she’ll do anything to kind of protect herself, so it doesn’t make a difference. He’s going to do what he wants to do.”