Sleaford in America: Brexit and the 2016 Election

Article by: Nick Gumas
Photos by: Paul Windsor

Sleaford Mods, a Post-Punk duo from Nottingham U.K. are known for their politically charged messages and blunt lyrics.  For the last decade, they have been touring well beyond just their home town with their own brand of forthright and explicit music that always reminds us to question the powers that be and to think for ourselves.  Coming from a working class background themselves, the duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn inspire dialogue and offer insight on the world today through the lens of two outspoken individuals who have been through virtually every issue imaginable in their tenure, their music brings issues to light that represent a community that seldom has a voice.

April 7th, Sleaford Mods played to San Francisco’s Slim’s to incredible success.  With a style almost reminiscent of The Beastie Boys, Sleaford focuses on issues that stem from being fed up with problems outside of your own control, and calling out those who need to be called out.  Their message is consistent, and does not apologize for omitting apology in telling it as it is.  Known for singles such as B.H.S., a song that references a popular U.K. business scandal where thousands were bamboozled out of their pension funds due to greed and bad corporate management, Sleaford is quick to call out those responsible for the financial instability of the working class while those at the top of the company are, as they put it, “laying on a boat mate, look at you.”

As I was on my way to the venue, a few key questions kept coming up in my mind, “How would the turnout be?” and “How would Americans relate to Sleaford’s music?”  Sleaford Mods has had a relatively humble commercial following, and their music was written to reflect the issues they face in the U.K., who knows how well a population halfway across the world could relate to their message?  Amidst a worldwide tour, they stopped by San Francisco on their North American leg to perform in a venue with an intimate capacity, and I was curious to see how it would be received.

Upon arriving to the venue, I couldn’t help but notice that the line to get in was around the corner, and that the show was entirely sold out.  The fans flooded in hours before the first opener’s first sound check, and there was clearly no lack of interest on the part of San Franciscans to see this band.  I was astounded by the level of enthusiasm every single person I talked to had in their message.

As it turns out, people in America can relate very well to Sleaford Mod’s and their message of being less than enthusiastic with the way establishment is being run, financial instability due to outside powers, and resentment with our younger generation’s mannerisms translate to their American audience.  The similarities between the unnerved population in the United Kingdom and the United States are almost identical in many ways.  From the similar issues facing the working class of an industrial nation, to the countless comparisons that can be drawn between Brexit and the 2016 U.S. Election, Sleaford’s message is universal, and speaks to anyone who feels marginalized by a system that makes them feel dismissed and unimportant.

Protesting through art is a concept that has long since been the subject of worldwide praise and criticism, but the message of Sleaford Mods is one that is hard to dismiss.  By bending electronic music and well punctuated and ranting lyrics, there is not much to argue against Jason William and Andrew Fearn’s message.  Change is both necessary and immanent, and with more influences like these two advocating for the human rights they believe so much in, the solutions can never be too far away.