“Cabbage is the most fucking prolific band out at the minute. I cant find a band around that writes as much as us.” Lee Broadbent
Mosley, a typical Northern English suburb just outside Manchester known for it’s late 19 century industry seems an unlikely origin for such an irreverent modern voice to the age old problem of youth against establishment. But just as punk grew out of a disenfranchised generation of the late 60’s so history repeats itself again now, this time the highly charged social dissection is originating from this band of unlikely heroes, Cabbage.
When you first lay eyes on Cabbage they seem an unlikely voice for modern anti establishment adolescence, but get these boys talking and delve deeper into their lyrics and you find a tongue in cheek dose of northern humor and an extremely acute sense of what’s going on for the youth of today. Combine this with catchy riffs and their ability to throw insane live shows the boys are starting to gain a real following of passionate fans.
At the forefront of a new wave of Manchester bands emerging, Cabbage have an incredibly prolific back catalogue of EPs and ‘Young Dumb and Full Of….” They have just dropped, their second album, “Nihilistic Glamour Shots” an album of immense diversity that will leave you guessing exactly where they want to be.
Coming off the back of a Glastonbury set and a small headline tour we caught up with them in Bilbao at their first Spanish festival.
The following interview is immediately following a raucous 1.5hr set, backstage in the exquisite surroundings of a hot, sweaty shipping container and a now almost empty beer fridge.
Interview and photos by Ben Snowden-Boyd.
Ben: Your making waves in the UK right now but for our readers around Europe who haven’t heard about you, tell them, what is Cabbage?
Lee: Our only way of life is to execute our pop psychological platitudes .
Ben: Shit …alright! You’re getting pinned as a ‘political’ post punk band. Is that fair?
Joe: what we sing about is very topical to us and very natural, we had no idea that people would interpret our songs the way they have done. We didn’t even see ourselves as a political band.
Lee: We just wanted to be provocative.
Ben: how is it coming out of that hallowed Manchester music scene?
Joe: It’s a forgotten scene, it’s very much irrelevant. A story of yesteryear that is just a parody of its former self. We don’t feel like we came from any kind of scene.
Lee: We did it by accident, we got together and it worked.
Ben: Some of your lyrics when you get into them are pretty scathing about the current state of play around the world. How tongue in cheek is everything you put out?
Lee: Completely, everything we do is tongue in cheek, we just want to try and stir a few thoughts in people. This shit is happening, people need to think about it.
Ben: How do you go about writing? Do you sit down all together? When your up on stage you guys are swapping lead vocals and instruments throughout.
Lee: Between the two of us we write the base of most songs and then everyone else jumps in and makes them better.
Joe: At the beginning Lee had a song called Kevin, I had a poem called Dinner Lady and Owen had this amazing riff, so we put those together. Me an Owen wrote a song, Lee and Owen wrote White Noise, Austerity Language was a jam we all went for 3 hours on end… it all formed the base of an EP we put out and once that was out there we had no choice but to keep going and write more songs!
Lee: Now we are at he pint of having written 24 songs in 18 months.
Ben: That’s what I wanted to ask, there must be a lot to write about with the amount of shit going down right now. How prolific is it?
Lee: Cabbage is the most fucking prolific band out at the minute. I cant find a band around that writes as much as us.
Joe: We work tooth and nail.
Ben: So from Bilbao to Glasgow are you still writing whilst your touring?
Lee: We have more songs than months we have been together, we will always maintain that.
Ben: I know you guys worked with James (Skelly) at Parr Street in Liverpool, how did he sculpt the sound?
Lee: He is fucking militant, never angry but like a Dad can be just disappointed! He has transitioned this post punk band from Manchester and given us a Scouse Psych edge we didn’t have before.
Ben: Do you feel stereotyped by the Post punk label given to you?
Joe: Haha, we don’t pigeon hole ourselves into that genre, at the end of the day it’s journalists who give you these labels to describe you in that manner.
Ben: How would you describe it?
Joe: The thing is with having such a ridiculous band name is you can aptly sum up the music just with that ridiculous band name and do whatever the fuck you want. I don’t think it sounds anything other than Cabbage.
Lee: A combination of punk, noise, surf and fun.
Ben: How was that in Bilbao BBK tonight?
Lee: Fuck, really good. We got pretty drunk today, BBK gave us a free bar and these Spanish bar tenders are crazy on the alcohol to mixer ratios! That’s why they have fucking sietsas!
Joe: Saying that though, if we are playing to crowds of that kind of magnitude, for me it’s really overwhelming so the hospitality definitely helps. Without it I would definitely be worse. We have a tune called A Network Betrayal, that has pretty complicated lyrics and rather than fucking them up, after a few drinks you just enter flight mode and don’t over complicate shit in your head. It just comes out. It just spills out
Lee: Flight mode definitely works. If you practice enough flight mode is the best form of mindset.
Ben: So I have seen your schedule, your pretty much back to back. Do you get time to practice or is it all done in the sound check?
Lee: Okay listen to this, we played Glasto twice then Down The Rabbit Hole in Holland, we practiced three days prior and tuned up the day before. We worked 7 days that week , then we drove back from Holland and practiced another 2 days and went straight into London, Birmingham and Manchester. We did nearly 2 weeks without a break. It’s going to continue the same way.
Ben: As a Northern band how is that difference in reception between London and Manchester from the stage?
Joe: Finally it is on par. We have worked fucking hard for it.
Lee: London was a really good crowd.
Joe: We played Scarlow, which a fucking brilliant venue. If you ever get the chance go and watch any band you can in there. It’s got a very special atmosphere. That was a great night. We worked really hard for that one. We didn’t take it for granted, in our eyes we had a successful Glastonbury set and then had 3 headline gigs coming up. We don’t ever rest on our laurels, we have to work hard for it.
Ben: When you do a headline gig, is there more pressure?
Lee: Nah not at all it is way more comfortable.
Joe: It’s a different ball game, a completely different prospect. Without sounding like some fucking idiot footballer, you prepare for it differently. You go in with a different mindset. At the end of the day people are there to see you and no one else. People are proud right now to call Cabbage ‘their’ band and really latching on to it.
Ben: Do you feel it’s gaining momentum?
Joe: Yeah I do, take Birmingham for example. There was about 20 kids who had each scrawled a different lyric on to their faces and chests. They wer epround to call Cabbage their own! They don’t believe the bull shit they read in the press about us, they see the importance of what we write about in our lyrics.
Lee: I think that’s the difference between a band who are just in it to sell records and us who want to mean something to the people and say something important.
Joe: It’s got to the point now where social media has made journalists of everybody, these kids are more important to us than any journalist. They process all this information and form their own opinions and put it out there. This resonates with more and more people. The media is losing it’s bias, I mean if you get a bad NME review now it’s fucking meaningless. If your lyrics mean something dear to a group of kids, that is far more important.
Ben: You have one song ‘ Tell me Lies About Manchester’ that seems to tear apart your hometown. Tell me what’s going on there.
Joe: It’s not about us, it’s about these characters you bump into around the parody city that is Manchester. The song is like a Viz comic, it’s all based on other people.
Lee: Every lyric in that song is a self deprecating reflection of what we have seen and what that kind of city wants to say about itself. It was the best way we could support Manchester by highlighting all of it.
Joe: It’s our way of saying Manchester is bigger than all of this. All these stereotypes.
Lee: You can’t just promote yourself you know? Like Kanye West just tells the world he is the fucking greatest superstar ever. Whereas I don’t agree in going about it like that. If you can’t ruin yourself to nothing then you cant be any form of projection. That’s the kind of self deprecation that we want to put into our art.
Ben: This mag goes out across the whole of Europe and you can imagine how the British are perceived as retards right now following Brexit. Have you got anything you would like to say to all the yes voters out there?
Lee: You were 20 years too late! You should have voted out 20 years ago. Now the power is in a disgusting government in the UK that only cares about profit, control and privatization. We are going to be left on an island with these fuckers in charge now. At least Europe with whatever failures and problems it had protected us from the fucking Tories. Now we are on our own with them and the DUP! Part of the government that is in charge of Brexit is the DUP…. It’s shocking.
It might have been viewed as a victory for Jeremy Corbyn although there is a lot of lefties now taking a dig saying “he just pleases the students at Glastonbury.” It’s fucking bollocks. Jeremy Corbyn has been doing the same thing since 1980 whatever. When Teresa May was trying to ban lesbianism in Maidenhead, he was fighting the fucking Apartheid. It’s fucking bullshit that anyone could have a bad word to say about a man that has stood by his beliefs and morals for the past 35-40 years.
Joe: Where do you live?
Ben: France, for the past decade.
Joe: You’re way more qualified to answer that then. What do you think about it?
Ben: Its fucking embarrassing honestly. Europeans are now looking at us like the idiots of Europe. We are on the same level as Trump.
Joe: They ( The Tories) managed to galvanize the lower end of political views. They turned racial hatred on it’s head and galvanized all these angry people into thinking that if we leave Europe, it is a win for us. The truth is they are so fucking thick in believing that we get our territory back and it’s a load of shit. But, they have managed to do that and now you even have working class people saying ‘”Vote Tory, Work Hard and Pay your way.” They have brainwashed people ..
Lee: By The Sun newspaper!
Joe: They have brainwashed people into believing they are keeping the country safe from that hippy Jermey Corbyn who is banning nuclear weapons.
Lee: If all those that voted would have known that as soon as people had voted and Leave won that Farage and that other fucking alien rat Michael Gove, all fucking walked. Why has no one in power said “What the fuck is going on here, something is really wrong with this!”
Joe: It’s funny. We actually wrote Terrorist Synthisiser when David Cameron came out and said Jeremy Corbyn was a terrorist sympathizer because he didn’t want to bomb Syria. Recently people have jumped all over that song because of its title, but for the wrong reasons. The irony is plain to see when you know the lyrics.
Ben: You obviously have strong beliefs. How much do you see it as your position to comment on the state of things right now?
Joe: It just comes natural to us, we always have done.
Lee: We just have to do it, whether anyone listens or not we aren’t trying to force it on people.
Joe: In this day and age you cannot hide, social media is 24/7. You cant hide anymore, you have to be 100% genuine. I hope that’s why people have latched on to Cabbage, because we mean every single thing we say. We walk it, those mindsets and those views are us 100% us all the time. We cant write about anything that doesn’t mean the fucking world to us. It wouldn’t be honest and it would be an honest artistic expression. It would be meaningless.
Lee: I grew up in that conspiracy generation, this could be the backlash of that. We aren’t going to sing songs about MK Ultra but there is so much that isn’t a conspiracy. The song Necro Flat isn’t a conspiracy. Jimmy Saville did have a flat at Buckingham Palace. He did stay there.
Joe: He genuinely did, it’s fucked when you think about it now. That song means a lot to us. It’s not contrived though, we don’t see it as our right to push this in people faces, it is just a genuine artistic expression of things that we feel passionate about.