Entertainment, Interview, Manchester, News

Cabbage: “Manchester’s just resting on the laurels of the past and milking the cash cow”

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Cabbage describe their music as “an idiosyncratic, satirical attack in the form of discordant neo post-punk.” The band are indeed idiosyncratic, but refreshingly, their idiosyncrasy is both earthily accessible and completely genuine.

By Freddie Bruhin-Price

When Humanity Hallows asked guitarist and songwriter Joe Martin to pinpoint an inspiration, he quickly reasoned, “Probably a Manchester performance poet called Mike Garry. The way he performs, and is in command of an audience. But he’s the only one really.”

Clearly this band is tapped into the popular conscience. Their lyrics have socio-political concerns which give the band and its music an authentic sense of Britishness. However, despite their origins in the city, their sound is a far cry from what might be described as Manchester music. They fit into the same wave as bands like London’s Fat White Family and Shame, and follow in the footsteps of the Sex Pistols, valuing inter-band camaraderie, authenticity and anarchy over polish or musical virtuosity.

Cabbage gigs have been receiving rave reviews since their debut in October last year and the band have enjoyed a whirlwind rise to prominence, recently featuring in publications such as NME, and being made The Guardian’s Band of the Week.

We asked Joe about the band’s beginnings, his opinions of the current musical and political climate, and what he described as Cabbage’s collective desire “to cause a shitstorm.”

How did you all get together and form Cabbage?

Well, we’ve all played in bands round here before, and I had a few ideas, a few poems, and Owen (guitar) put music to them. That’s how we wrote ‘Dinner Lady’. ‘Contactless Payment’ was one of the earliest tunes too. We started making the EP, Le Chou, in July last year, recording it using our bassist’s equipment. He has an independent record label called Play and Record based in Salford, so we released it through that. It was all recorded in a bedroom apart from the drums. Then we had our first gig, with Freakout Honey at Night and Day in October.

You seem to have moved very quickly, and have really tapped into the conscience of the music scene. This might be down to the politicised, satirical nature of your songs. Is there a particular message you’re trying to put across?

Well first of all, we weren’t planning on being political, but we’re in a very political time, so it’s bound to come out like this. This anger, it’s bound to happen, because even peaceful protest stems from anger. It’s a source of energy for us. To be honest,
we just wanted to cause a shitstorm, it’s not deliberately political.

You’ve been playing up and down the country at festivals all summer. Have you got a favourite, and which bands have impressed you?

Beat-Herder is my favourite festival; it’s just a proper party. We didn’t play there this year though. Bluedot was one of the best.
When you’re playing at festivals though, in our experience, you don’t really check out other bands. I haven’t really been impressed by anyone else.

Are Cabbage part of a Manchester scene?

We don’t feel like we’re part of any scene. Especially not a Manchester one. I think what you said about the speed of us getting our music out there in a big way might tie in with the fact that it doesn’t fit into any boxes. Manchester’s just resting on the laurels of the past and milking the cash cow… All the great bands, from the the 60s to the 90s, they were all pioneers, great bands who sounded nothing like each other. Now you’ve got a load of bands who all sound the same. What’s the point?

Have you got a favourite Manchester venue to play at?

I like Ruby Lounge. Actually, Soup Kitchen was great, we sold it out and the gig was incredible. It was like being in one of those legendary Detroit shitholes. That was a crazy gig. Our gigs inspire all sorts of reactions: fighting, hair-pulling, lovemaking… necrophilia! Ha!

You supported Blossoms, whose debut album recently reached the number one spot, in Liverpool. How was that?

That was fantastic, it went really well. It’s weird, because they’re like Abba, and we’ve been described a bit ago by one fella as “a wilder Young Ones,” so it was exciting, not knowing how the crowd’s going to react to you being so different. But they loved it. Whatever I say about Blossoms, they’re great, really genuine lads. We’re going on tour with them actually. The gig we’ve got booked together at Manchester Academy sold out in 5 minutes. Mad.

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