Future Of The Left (formed from the ashes of UK Mclusky and Jarcrew) is striking in his delightfulness. Perhaps most striking because, on his records and during his live shows, he projects a demeanor of growling, brooding, piercing aggression. During our interview, however, he came off more as a charming talk-show guest than a furious punk rocker.
As we discussed the creative drive behind their new album, The Plot Against Common Sense, he reminded me explicitly and implicitly that, while critics may occasionally refer to him as such, he’s not a furious punk rocker. The new songs were carefully crafted, with every second calculated for maximum visceral impact, the lyrics offering equal parts humor, characterization, and political commentary. He’s direct and honest about his goal to be “the greatest rock band in the world,” and his attention to detail on the new album shows that this comes from a place of personal pride, not grandiosity.
Fans of Future Of The Left seem like they tend to take your songs very personally. Since the release of The Plot Against Common Sense in June, what has the reaction to the new songs in your live set been like?
Even though it’s crass to generalize and stereotype, it can also be very informative. In certain countries, say Belgium and Holland, and to a lesser degree France, they listen a lot more. They’ll step back and listen to new songs. There’ll be a marked difference in the reaction. People will throw themselves together in a collective nostalgia for the old songs and then step back and try to take in every nuance of the new songs. Sometimes that can make you think that these new songs don’t have the same kind of incendiary feel, but it turns out they’re just appreciating it in different ways.
The general lore around the live show is how intense and intimidating you can be. Have you noticed that reaction from people?
A little, yeah. I think that can be offset if people have met us before the show, say, or if people know us from our lives outside the band. You don’t go onstage and become a concentrated, uni-dimensional version of yourself, but there is a focusing or maybe an exaggeration of certain aspects of people’s character when they go onstage. It’s quite difficult for me to consider it to be intimidating. I know a lot of people have said it’s intimidating, but for us playing live is a joyous experience. There’s nothing really cathartic about it. There are no insidious personal problems that need to be worked through the music. The songs in their recorded form stand as expressions of varying moods and thought processes, but the live show is a question of gelling onstage and fuckin’ sticking it to people.
The aim is to be the greatest rock band in the world. Whether that happens or not is in the eye, ear, and soul of the beholder. Maybe that in itself, that kind of belief, is kind of intimidating. But I can’t overemphasize how much fun the whole process is.
For a band like ours, after the show is finished, our job certainly isn’t finished. Rather, our job begins then, because packing down the stage and making sure everything gets in working order back into our van – there’s another hour of work in itself. I don’t know, maybe that’s another reason people may find us intimidating – that we’re immediately packing down the stage as people are trying to talk to us.
From what I’ve heard, the recording of The Plot Against Common Sense was rather strenuous and protracted.
It was just difficult to fit it all in around the schedule of the studio. The studio was very generously provided to us at a budget that meant we could afford it, and we are eternally grateful for that; otherwise we might not have been able to afford to make the record. And if it hadn’t of been for a very good friend of ours who basically gave us the money to make the record, again, there probably wouldn’t have been a record at all [… ] We still rely on the kindness of others in order to fully function as a band, just simply because of the finances involved. I know there are a lot of people who conduct their bands purely as hobbies, but because they do that they can make enough money from their jobs on a serious or semi-serious basis to finance the band, whereas we lie in an uncomfortable hinterland between those two existences.
Recording the album did take longer than I would have liked, but it’s my belief that […] the process ended up improv[ing] the album. There were a few songs which I maybe would have got to earlier and rattled off a few lyrics in the way that I usually do. I was given the luxury of spending time listening to dictaphone recordings and writing lyrics that I normally wouldn’t have had. The time that was taken made for a more considered lyrical piece.
READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW HERE.