The End: Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, February 27th, 2024  

The End: Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods

Fighting the Beast of Mediocrity

Dec 22, 2023 Photography by Ewan Spencer Issue #71 - Weyes Blood and Black Belt Eagle Scout
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To end the week, we ask Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods some questions about endings and death.

The British post-punk duo is Williamson on vocals, with Andrew Fearn providing arresting backing music to Williamson’s honest, topical, and often very funny lyrics. Williamson formed the band in 2007, originally with Simon Parfrement. Fearn took over the music side of things with 2014’s Wank. 2017’s English Tapas was the band’s first album for Rough Trade and when they started to garner a larger audience outside of the UK, with the band embarking on their first American tour. The duo’s profile continued to grow with 2019’s Eton Alive and 2021’s Spare Ribs. Over the years Williamson has released two books collecting his lyrics and Sleaford Mods have collaborated with The Prodigy, Leftfield, and Orbital.

Which all brings us to their latest album, UK Grim, their twelfth full-length, also released by Rough Trade. The duo began working on the album in 2021 during COVID lockdowns. Progress continued at the band’s regular workspace and concluded at Fearn’s home. The album was launched with the release of its title track, a searing look at the current state of Britain that mentions former Prime Minister Liz Truss, the shortest-serving prime minister in the history of the United Kingdom who lasted only 50 days in office last year. “UK Grim” was accompanied by a video directed by visual artist Cold War Steve that satirizes politics, both in England and abroad. Dry Cleaning’s Florence Shaw sings guest vocals on the album’s second single, “Force 10 From Navarone” (which shares its title with a 1978 World War II movie). Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction also guest on the album’s “So Trendy.”

Read on as Williamson discusses how he’d like to die, his preferred last meal, the creepy crawlies he imagines in hell, and how TV series finales are like life—often disappointing.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

In bed preferably, in my sleep. In fact the whole idea of it scares the shit out of me. I guess anything post 90 years is dog shit? Or is it? I’m exercising a lot now and I’m hoping that will extend my passport because life today is good and I’m happy so I guess I’m good with any age if I’m tight!

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot. It’s incredible to listen to as is any of his stuff, even the covers! His voice just melts you.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

“Little Bit of Rain” by Fred Neil, again, another peerless singer/songwriter in the sad shadow of Van Gogh or someone. Never actually got massive did he. Sung by anyone that can carry it off I guess, or add another level to it.

What’s your favorite ending to a movie?

Childs and MacReady eyeing each other at the end of The Thing. It’s obvious to me now that Childs was infected but the scene also conveys the violence between us, our unending mistrust and hate for each other and the extremes to which we will go to obey our anger.

What’s your favorite last line in a book?

Oh god. Who knows. I read all the time but I’m very slow at it and to be honest last lines are a bit of a myth aren’t they in the sense of their power. I’m always unfulfilled by them. For example, the end of American Psycho, where he’s just reading an exit sign or something. I didn’t get it but perhaps that’s the idea. Nothing happens to him he just carries on as he was. Fuck knows.

What’s your favorite series finale last ever episode of a TV show? (Or what’s your least favorite?)

Loads let you down, or perhaps they just remind you that good art has no desired ending and won’t cater for your empathy needs or whatever. That most good art mirrors life and life is completely forgettable most of the time. You just glide from one thing to another.

What’s your favorite last song on an album?

“I Am the Resurrection” by The Stone Roses. Imagine playing on this album. These lads are forever people to look up to in this period. A slab of real music so badly needed at the time and still timeless. Still timeless. The only people that don’t get it are idiots who contribute to the domineering beast of mediocrity.

What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

The Jam: The Gift. Technically not their last album or single. “Beat Surrender,” the double A-side, was released soon after and of course the live album, Dig the New Breed, but I definitely class this as the last album because in theory it was the last studio album.

What’s your favorite way a band broke up?

If it’s out of their control, which is a bit sick I know, but that’s usually a good excuse for dodging the most inevitable lame “later years” period that hits most of us/all of us? I’ve recently been thinking about trying to satisfy my creating needs in other ways. A painting class or something, but I think people like Iggy Pop are proving you can still do it, Paul Weller, etc.

Whose passing has most affected you?

No one’s really. I run away from death, I don’t like its presence or the rituals we’ve created to honor those that pass. Funerals I avoid, there are other ways to say goodbye to people.

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?

Full English [breakfast] with everything. I love a fry up when my ego lets me have one.

What’s your concept of the afterlife?

You’ll get what’s coming to you and if you’ve been a cunt you will know about it one way or another.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Another go at a lifetime. Another go, that is all.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Suddenly finding myself in a nest of giant bird-eating spiders in between being tortured by someone for sexual kicks with kitchen utensils.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

Another sharp shooter.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?

Becoming successful against all the odds and contributing to a collection of albums that stood out.

What would you like your last words to be?

Can you quickly get me a cigarette please, and a pint?

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 71 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.sleafordmods.com

Listen to our interview with Sleaford Mods in a 2021 episode of our podcast.

Subscribe to Under the Radar’s print magazine.

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