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Sleaford Gob

This Is What Happens When Your Band Starts to Get Popular

The surprise of success is fucking weird, says Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson.
03 September 2014, 6:00am

Jason Williamson is the frontman of Sleaford Mods. This is the second instalment of his new VICE column.

Being stopped in the street to be asked for a photograph, you think, 'Fuck me, what's this?' Friends of friends posting photos on Facebook of themselves dressed as me and Andrew [Fearn, partner in Sleaford Mods] at fancy dress parties – you think, 'Fuckin' 'ell.' When people begin to like the music you do on a large scale it happens quickly. The wankers crawl out obviously but that's no big hurdle because you know the tunes work, you know it's no sideshow, no gimmicks, no fucking heavy reliance on somebody else's angle; it's a practice you've been sure to adopt throughout.

The wankers appear like flies on top of newly found shit. Don't let the wormy cunts eat at you because they have ways, believe me, lots of fucking ways. Resentment is a bodyguard for life's hateful bastards; its power will infiltrate the many crevices of the human brain and enlist them for its own ends – like fucking armour on a pip-squeak, squeaking at you like a knackered guinea pig on fucking Twitter. It's hard work trying to calm down when somebody is calling you a "fucking twat" from the hidden tunnels in Facebook as you try to wash the pots and sit down at 10 in the evening.

Generally though, people are liking what you do. We sing about work a lot, the stench of a wet ashtray – vile accounts about normal proceedings, if you like – and it's a weighty vehicle indeed. Work is the skin on our foreheads and to remind people of what they are shoved against for 38 hours a week can evoke a reaction that's equal amounts disgust and elation. I say "elation" because at some of our gigs people have been virtually thanking the gods, mad as. You don't dwell on it though because that's asking for trouble and getting carried away with yourself off the back of praise is a killer; it's a crap party piece, you turn into Party Boy and Party Boy is a useless fool who will eventually forget everything, forever.

It's bad enough languishing in social media, to be honest. Three or four good reviews has the potential to do daft things to your ego and can see you firing off drunken tweets "in character", which adds to nothing. Coverage of your work in the media is there to be processed without too much seriousness – believing in it too much is a dangerous mindset; it can be a bit fantastical at times. If you are the subject of an article then its effects have the potential to creep up on your subconscious and steer your self-image.

A comment left beneath Sleaford Mods' Guardian interview

Interviews can happen a lot if the band's ascending and at first they are very welcome because you have a lot to get off your chest. Bigger publications like the Guardian can push what you're doing onto the sandy floor of the Colosseum and leave it at the mercy of a blood hungry public who need a release from the shackles of their own oppression. I'm talking now about the infamous "comments section" and the Guardian's one is a fucking nightmare. The dreaded comments section dangles like a thick line of mucus on most websites or blogs; a breeding ground for the uninformed, witless hater. You get a few you can't really argue with, a few that like your stuff but generally it's swamped with fucking heinous crimes of fingertip-meets-keyboard nonsense. It's familiar, too, because at some point you have probably been the cunt on the keys.

After a while you get pissed off with the same questions coming at you in interviews – origins of the band, musical history, etc. If you are getting press in Europe and further afield than obviously the same questions do turn up but it's a grind, it becomes work almost in its familiar, mechanical routine. The same musical comparisons get thrown at you too, and you begin to resent these to the point where you even begin to resent the bands or artist in question. I know it's not their fault but you start daydreaming about telling the musicians in question to fuck off, backstage at some cosy festival surrounded by their kiss-arse hangers on; it gets bad. You are sick of hearing their name connected with yours.

Interview content is also a problem because I'll just fucking talk about whatever but you get the impression some things should really remain indoors. Drugs, for instance, and banging on about your consumption has a few down points. For one, it's fucking boring really, I mean everyone's been at it forever, haven't they? You grapple with the validity of it, its relevance, even though in the context of our own band it was an important factor so to me, it's part of the explanation. I'm also still at work and that makes disclosing chemical spat about consumption a bit of a no-no too. People I work with could get shirty about me poppin' on about necking illegals for 48 hours non-stop. Another thing in interviews is the "I didn't fucking say that!" factor, which can become a default reaction whenever you finally read a finished piece. But of course, you did say it; you just said it slightly differently.

People want to be your "friend" too, if you're getting somewhere. I mean that's nothing new, is it? It's a trait you are well aware of both in yourself and your fellow Homo sapiens. Its mechanics are plenty; it can exist within actual friendships that have perhaps been formed around the time of your ascent and also in that overly external display of falsity you get in social situations when somebody is obviously too eager to please. Both of these forms of attention wither though with the sense that something's not so fucking "en vogue" any more. You have to accept the fact that people will have their business relationship goggles on; charming you up with dogshit and sexy mannerisms, flicking urban bollocks at you while doing the moonwalk round the pub. All toss.

There is a positive in this too; help and advice does happen because what you are doing can mean a lot to some folk and this ensures occasional disclosures of advice from people who are drawing from their own experiences. Slowly, a community of sorts can start to reveal itself and as you familiarise yourself with it you begin to realise that it's quite a small community, really, where you have your permanent staff if you like, and a horde of agency workers. What makes you a permanent member of staff is your longevity. And your work – its unquestionable quality, is the all-encompassing mission. Do not let the dark corridors of "nothing for something" consume you.

You get tons of emails too, DMs, all that. Again, it's a great breeding ground for gnarly termites with hateful keyboard skills but mostly it's a mixture of support band requests, gig offers, interview requests, general "hellos"...

"Mate, we think our band has a lot in common with yours and we would like to know if you are looking for a support..."

Blah blah blah. I used to blag it like that all the time, nobody got back to me either, you don't, do you? Gigs are hassle enough without organising the support band too; sod that. You want to help but it gets to a point where your role in the band is paramount. The tunes are absolute; anything else that surrounds it in the sense of how you come across in interviews etc is momentary, really. The music will survive longer than anything you say to newspapers.

Randoms send drunken spats of nothingness to you late at night, leftie types pick your brains on the mechanics of a certain verse in whatever tune, your replies can initiate a torrid response sometimes. People simply want you to "be" at times but of course you never are. I'm no fighter either in the physical sense but it's assumed I'm as hard as nails, Andrew too. I'm fucking useless at it, to be honest, but even so, my wife thinks I'm gonna get it at some point and that I should take self-defence classes... But Judo, like the Harley Davidson, is for retirees.

@sleafordmods

Previously – Work's Shit When You're in a Band

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