H.R.H Iggy Pop (viewed by many as the Godfather of Punk) called them “The World’s Greatest rock’n’roll band” yet you’ve probably never heard of British punk duo Sleaford Mods. It’s not all that surprising – just two years ago they were recording in a bedroom in Nottingham and playing in tiny pubs. Their rise has been stratospheric, a journey that is rarely seen or heard of outside of fiction. Yet, upon hearing their music, that’s not surprising either.
It’s music that almost defies categorisation – part-electronic, part-minimalist yet punk at its very core. The sound is down to Andrew Fearn – he who controls the loops, riffs and wafts. It’s sound that is unprepossessing, a backing that is not overtaking but instead supporting the words. The words are down to Jason Williamson, with a delivery and stage presence reminiscent of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis – tics and quirks. Possessing vocals that are somewhere between speaking and singing; stemming from a family tree that features Shaun Ryder, Ian Dury, Mark.E. Smith, Johnny Rotten, Iggy Pop – but with an East Midlands dialect. Their songs are labelled by many as embittered rants, deceptively articulate , multi-layered and littered with wordplay. The topic matter is less escapism and more truth – an A-Z critiques on the state of modern life. Austerity, celebrity culture, capitalism, unemployment – it’s all there.
They seem to express their own truths, though the documentary gives little time to examining this aspect further. There’s little biographical detail which is admittedly rather unusual as part of the band’s appeal is their down-to-earthness and the fact they are singing from their own experiences – we just don’t get to find out exactly what they are and what lead them to this point. One interpretation could be that this then allows for the music to sing-speak for itself. It also lets us instead focus on the impact it has on it’s audience.
It seems obnoxious and pretentious to use buzz-words like ‘zeitgeist’ and ‘authentic’, or buzz phrases like ‘music of our time’ – even if the sentiment is well-intended and semi-accurate. Their loyal fans view the band as “the voice of Britain” who are “ranting against the system”, firmly embracing the duo for vocalising their own frustrations. Each crowd from small to large venues seem to demonstrate utter devotion. The size of the audience may change but the fans themselves don’t. This is the music of the now – an era where each day things seem a little worse and ‘breaking news’ reports bring news that is anything but good – something which is rarely shown in the music for the masses.
The documentary isn’t a means of attracting new converts but instead a way of exchanging a microphone for a megaphone, showing that a bigger stage can’t and won’t dilute the message. The Guardian called them “Britain’s angriest band” – a phrase that almost belies the message or at the very least undermines the potency of the music. These aren’t just sweary rants but articulations of frustrations, carefully harnessed explosive utterances at the state of Modern Britain. Creativity found in the midst of mundanity. Raging against the dying of the light.
o Dir: Christine Franz
o Scr: Christine Franz
o Featuring: Andrew Fearn, Jason Williamson, Steve Underwood, Iggy Pop
o Prd: Christine Franz
o DOP: Daniel Waldhecker
o Music: Sleaford Mods
o Country: UK
o Year: 2017
o Run time: 103 minutes
‘Bunch of Kunst’ is in UK cinema from Friday 21st April.