These aren’t just reactions to the problems we face, but also well-read, big-picture road maps for how to start tackling them. Ownership and independence are key, and the need to engage with detailed economic realities should begin in bands’ everyday.
“There’s such an entitlement in the rock world,” reckons the singer. “A lot of rock bands don’t have any graft. They don’t have any hustle, because a lot of them have never had to struggle for anything in their lives. People just want the easy way: ‘What’s the deal? Where’s the deal? Okay, gimme the deal!’ They don’t want to stick it out for four or five years to see where they can get off of their own back. Whereas, if you look at the music that’s dominating the charts – rap music, or ‘black’ music – it’s much more common that those musicians [have had to fight]. We met a young boy recently who told us, ‘I just care about the music. I don’t care about the money.’ We told him that was his first problem. You need to care about the money, because that’s what allows you to keep making music!”
That’s not to say you can’t burn a little currency when the time is right. Ask the pair for their favourite memory from this album process and chances are they’ll point to the moment the band became their full-time job. A close second, however, was the day (and night) they spent wielding makeshift flame-throwers out in Jamaica. When it came to plotting the video for launch single Wicked & Bad – a summertime smasher heavily influenced by jungle music, with its roots in reggae and dancehall – the Caribbean island paradise was the obvious setting. But that’d be an impossible stretch for a self-financed underground act just coming out of a pandemic, right? Not when these lads put their minds to it.
“I’m quite on it with the new reggae artists,” explains the singer, “so I began to look at who shoots their videos. I found Yannick [Reid], who does stuff with Koffee, Protoje and Lila Ike. I just dropped him an email to ask if he’d be up for it, how much it’d be, and how we’d [pull it off], essentially. He and his team helped a lot. We were like, ‘Let’s just fuckin’ do it. We deserve this!’ It was my childhood dream come true – it was bucket-list stuff!”
“And we don’t owe anyone any money for it…” interjects the drummer, proudly.
“It’s not just the question of owing somebody money, but how much we would’ve owed them,” the singer stresses. “For what we were able to do on a [shoestring], the label could’ve run up triple the budget. One of the dumbest things I’ve heard come out of an artist’s mouth is, ‘The label is gonna pay for it.’ No, you’re gonna pay for it. The label has your budget. It’s still your debt. It’s like someone saying they’re going to uni but the Student Loans Company are going to pay!”