Brexit, Theresa May and Donald Trump (AKA Reagan and Thatcher 2.0), the ‘alt. Right’, recession, and the death of some of the most influential voices of the past two centuries. 2016 has not been the best of years; in fact, it’s been fucking terrible. What better time, then, for CABBAGE to rear their head, ready to take on the world? This quintet of acerbic-tongued Mancs are fighting, kicking and screaming against the shit with a cocktail of debauched live shows and politically critical songs that aim to kindle the fires of a revolution. From necrophiliac royals through to calling for the death of the US President-elect, nothing is off limits for the cruciferous crusaders, who are here to kick against the grain and position themselves as mouthpieces for a youth that feel they have been fucked over by an older generation who’ll die before feeling the real impact of their actions. In a week of huge political and social turmoil which saw the band stepping in for a 6Music session with Marc Riley just as Trump was being elected in the US, Matt Hogarth caught up with Cabbage’s guitarist Joe Martin to ask him just what the fuck was going on.
Well, 2016 has been a pretty shite year…
On the whole it has, yeah, ha! It’s grim that jingoism and nationalism seem to have taken over. It’s not particularly the best time to be in a group.
But despite everything in the news you guys seem to have done pretty well. You’re set to play Old Trafford with The Charlatans next year, and you’ve already sold out dates for an even bigger tour in 2017.
It’s been great so far, yeah – not that we’ve made a fuckin’ penny out of it, though. We wrote Dinner Lady in my old flat in Salford, and then it found its way into a BBC radio studio yesterday [with Marc Riley]. I mean, if somebody said to me that that would’ve happened I wouldn’t have believed them. When you’re doing it you don’t really think about it. From afar I always used to be jealous of people in bands, but when you’re doing it you don’t really stop to think about it because there’s always another goal that’s easily attainable.
So what’s the ultimate goal for Cabbage?
Err, making an album in Barbados and coming back weighing six stones? I dunno, I don’t think there is one. We can’t plan beyond the next week let alone the next two months, so we just seem to take every day as it comes.
On your last EP, Uber Capitalist Death Trade, there’s a song called Free Steven Avery which exclaims “Death to Donald Trump”. What do you make of him becoming president?
Well we’ve changed our views now, so the lyrics have changed to “All hail Donald Trump” in some desperate attempt to get an American visa. So yeah, if you’re reading this Donald, well done and let us in your country…! Nah, it’s fuckin’ bizarre. I mean, that picture of him and Nigel Farage chumming it up is a fuckin’ jingoistic nightmare, isn’t it? It’s sad – in desperate times, nationalism always seems to rear its ugly head. But I think it’s due to an older generation; I might be wrong, but it seems the younger generation aren’t too into it. It’s the people who’ve seen every other faction fail. But I think young people are getting a lot more fired up and hopefully it will crumble.
If Cabbage were to run for government what would your manifesto be?
For a start we’d nationalise the railways, because I’m on a Northern Rail train at the moment and it fuckin’ stinks. Having worked in a private school I’d abolish them as well, because they raise these privileged kids in a world of their own. I just don’t agree with the idea that money influences your education – which it doesn’t, by the way. So yeah, I would abolish private schools, nationalise private schools and throw sexists, racists and bigots onto a massive bonfire. There’d need to be some slaying.
As a band who champion working-class intellectualism, do you feel that the younger generation is becoming more politicised and educated?
Yeh, I think young people in this country are given a bad name. The press seems to focus an awful lot on the antisocial aspects of young people but fails to look at the fact that we’re becoming so much more political and paying more attention. Just look at the change from the likes of someone like Liam Gallagher – his views are just so outdated. It’s the same as Arctic Monkeys, they’ve just done what’s easy for them and just completely forgotten their roots: all this bolllocks about his only aspiration being to own Rolls Royces and that seems to have faded away for the younger generation. People in music today have bigger political ambitions than just getting loads of money. We’re in uncertain times, but I think there’s a lot of positivity. We didn’t set out to be a political band, it just sort of happened. It surprises us there’s not more like us out there.
We can see that you guys have taken a lot of influence from The Fall and you’ve played with them a few times – and are set to do so again in January in Liverpool. Have you had any encounters with Mark E. Smith himself?
No, not at all, and I’d like to keep it that way. I always cite The Fall as one of my favourite groups of all time and I’ve read every book under the sun about them and I wanna keep the image of him in my head, and that respect as well. I see The Fall as a factory with loads of employees who have – and still do – work there, and he’s the CEO. You wouldn’t see people hassling a boss of a company, would you? I mean, what better way can you appreciate him than listening to the records? There’ll never be another band like them.
Yourselves and Mark E. Smith share a similarity in that you’re well known for your onstage antics. What has been your maddest gig to date?
We have had some pretty good gigs, I must admit. We’re just always bumping into each other. During the last gig we did, Owen’s guitar head fell off because he was on my shoulders and he dropped his guitar on its end. But I’m not sure if the true craziest is yet to come: we like to have a level of uncertainty, but we’re with a major management company so we can’t really express our true destructive desires cos that’d be the end of us. Nowadays, I don’t think there’s anything much like that. The problem is it sort of implodes – you just have to look at bands such as Fat Whites or Amazing Snakeheads to see that there always seems to be some issues. But there needs to be that explosive element in music because it’s just fuckin’ boring otherwise. Look at GG Allin: I mean, he made the ultimate sacrifice. He should be celebrated and his life should be seen as an artistic statement, y’know? We’ve got a plan there, but we’d have to drop anything before we could do it, ha ha!
Uber Capitalist Death Trade is out now on Skeleton Key Records.