For any band that’s ever played a live show, there’s rarely anything more depressing than playing to an empty room, save maybe playing to a full room of visibly bored people. For me, the perfect shows are often the ones with a compact but totally enthusiastic audience. Studio shows – usually consisting of the members of bands and a few others, packed into sweaty, airless rehearsal spaces, aren’t the most lucrative or well attended, but for sheer intimacy, immediacy and the chance to get to know other people, they’re up there with playing to a full, enthusiastic room.
As the bassist in Allfather, this July I had the pleasure of playing with blackened hardcore group Working Men’s Club and two-piece powerviolence juggernauts Boyed at Century Audio in Kent. Run by Harrowed’s Jason Frye (who, full disclosure, is also Allfather’s producer), Century Audio works as a recording and rehearsal space for metal and hardcore bands, as well as hosting studio shows for touring bands making their way between London and the ferries at Dover. Boyed and Working Men’s club both played killer sets in the studio’s live room and afterwards it was good to knock back a few beers and talk guitars, veganism and Brexit with them. For a couple of punishingly aggressive bands, both Boyed and WMC contain some shockingly nice people and, unlike big venue shows, being crammed into the same studio space is a great way to get to know who you’re playing with.
Although I was too sweaty, preoccupied (and probably drunk, let’s be honest) to do a proper interview at the time, I caught up with Working Men’s Club and Boyed via email to talk about DIY, hardcore and just how they got their names. Read their responses below and also be sure to check out Sam from Boyed’s label and promotions company Vetala Productions.
Can you tell us a bit about how the band formed and the story behind your name?
Working Men’s Club: Adam put a post up on Punktastic about five years ago and Chris answered posting something really similar, then we proceeded to drink beers and do nothing for two years. Mark and Adam were in a separate band which never really did anything, so it was just a question of asking after a previous vocalist didn’t work out. Kenny met Adam through a mate and he agreed to be in WMC one night when he was drunk (gutted) – it’s cathartic to play as fast as you fuckin’ can for 17 sweet minutes. We didn’t have a name for ages, and it just became a bit of a necessity when our first gig came round. The shortlist was Cliff Eroder, Oil Rig and WMC. As we’ve all got full time jobs, WMC seemed like a fit.
Boyed: The band formed in early 2017. Myself [Loui, guitar/vocals] and James, drummer at the time, formed the band. We recorded our EP together and played a couple of shows in that lineup. James then left as other responsibilities arose. The name Boyed is just a name. We wanted something short and uncomplicated.
As a band that’s very active in playing shows and touring, what do you make of the underground hardcore scene in the UK at the moment? Do the bands you play with have a lot in common musically, or is it more a case of having the same outlook or values?
Working Men’s Club: London is a bubble when it comes to hardcore, so it’s hard to define if a “scene” is thriving, but the components are there, and I think restrictions of the past on style and ethos are loosening. For us, it’s definitely about values and outlook. As long as we can have a beer with you, doesn’t really matter what you sound like. We’re always the turd in the punch bowl as we’ve got so many different things going on, people don’t tend to come away with a single response. There’s a lot of “that was different”, which in a musical style so prone to replication, is a pretty solid compliment.
In London, Rucktion, Vetala Productions, Quality Control are banging out shows and bringing in bands from around the UK. Nottingham, Leeds and South Wales all seem to have a constant flow of shows. A good barometer is that so many shows are being put on by bands themselves to either build their own rep, or put on bands they like. If anything is really missing now, it’s a forum to bring all these threads together under the guise of a ‘collective scene’ – either press or digital (maybe Fracture needs to return?). Reign Of Low are doing a great job of surfacing small bands, and definitely need a shout out for evolving music.
Boyed: There are a lot of very cool bands out there, mostly made up of people who have been playing this kind of music in a rotating cast of bands since we became aware of the UK DIY scene, through going to gigs and playing in our own bands.
Musically, there are general themes of being loud and heavy and having a sensibility that focuses on songwriting over display of technical musicianship.
I think it’s also a case of shared outlook and values, coming from the punk ethos of working together to make a space for the music we play, co-promoting gigs, co-releasing records, making friends, keeping in touch and supporting each other when we are able.
Do you consider yourself a DIY band and if so what does being DIY mean to you?
Working Men’s Club: Yeah I think so – DIY is all about making your own opportunities. We book our own slots, do our own artwork, share equipment, help out where we can and rely on friends for support. We ain’t making Drake money any time soon. Put some positive karma into the karma bank, fingers crossed some of that comes back to you.
Boyed: I’d consider us a DIY band in terms of practicality, which comes from necessity – putting on our own gigs, releasing recordings ourselves, making merch all on a small scale. The core value of DIY seems to be working cooperatively with others, which is where the joy comes from, working together with good people.
WMC, you have some brilliantly sardonic song title like ‘Excellent Use Of Crossbow’ and ‘Explodes On Contact With Horses’. How do you come up with names for your songs and what influences your lyrics?
Working Men’s Club: These come from Mark’s very soul. Actually Mark and his brother have a Spotify playlist called “Mediocre Songs, Great Titles” and it’s just a random collection of words from there. All the creative names are probably products of that. The less exciting are probably not…
Boyed, your music brings to mind the classic powerviolence such as Dropdead, Despise You and Insect Warfare. To what extent do those bands (and others) influence you and do your lyrics have the same political content found in a lot of powerviolence?
Boyed: Yeah grind, metal, powerviolence all have had the biggest influence on me over the years. I look beyond politics as it’s nothing but a puppet show. My lyrics revolve around us as people and waking up.
Meanwhile, WMC’s songs bring to mind dark/chaotic hardcore bands like Cursed, Converge and Botch. Do you have any surprising or random musical influences?
Working Men’s Club: Zeke, The 1975, Sleaford Mods, grime. Chris loves power metal.
What’s the biggest frustration you have with hardcore and/or heavy music in general right now and what would you do about it?
Working Men’s Club: Just the usual cliquey nature of music at the margins of society. It’s understandable why they exist, it’s fuelled by youth, tribal nature and the desire to belong to something, and being grizzled old fuckers we can probably take a more world-weary view to the whole thing. Just something you need to acknowledge and work around. Aside from that, it’s getting in contact with promoters of shows. Total ball-ache. Social media hasn’t helped, it’s just made you aware of how big the pond you’re floating about in actually is.
Boyed: I don’t think I can fairly say I have any frustration with heavy music, more just the demands of life in general stop me from playing as much as I would like.
Just gotta keep on keeping on, doing what we do and hope momentum builds.
As a two piece band, does Boyed’s stripped-down lineup make it easier to write music and play shows?
Boyed: Playing gigs and arranging practice is a lot easier. Only two people’s schedules to navigate and logistically only two people to transport. We do live fairly far apart, so sometimes it’s the case we travel individually and meet at the gig.
Writing-wise, the band is very much Lui’s creative baby and I’m [Sam] happy to give input where it feels like it might be helpful, but mostly, I just hit the drums and play what’s appropriate to the parts Lui writes.
Outside of music, what influences do you incorporate into your songs?
Working Men’s Club: Living every day, dying every day. Also, the world slowly collapsing in on itself.
Boyed: The welfare of others and animals. And how the human race has been conditioned to believe nonsense. We’re at a very special time in history where people are thinking for themselves and waking up.
Words: Andrew Day