Manchester’s melodic crossover power punk rockers FAIR DO’s, are primed to unleash their highly-anticipated debut album upon the world. Just as they unleash Leopards via Lockjaw Records, we spoke to the band about the top factors that have influenced their unique musical style. Combining hardcore punk with metal and politically-charged lyrics, there’s no doubt that a there’s a melting pot of influences that have come together to create their unique style.
“Leopards” (Lockjaw Records) mines similar territory to acts like PROPAGANDHI, PROTEST THE HERO, STRUNG OUT, DEATH BY STEREO, but cranks the ferocity even wider, with loads of skate, metal, and other crossover references, which makes their new offering a real treat! With input from vocalist/guitarist Danny Cummings, guitarist Dave Speechley, bassist Josh Sumner and drummer John Holt, we have collected the factors that made FAIR DO’s who they are today.
Where we grew up
We all grew up in small Northern Lancashire towns; it was a strong, working class trade-unionist environment, but alas, no more. We were small town, village idiot kids and music was a lifeline for us as teenagers. We grew up with two options: drinking and football.
Manchester is our second home; the city has always been a holy grail of a cultural boiling pot for us. Where we lived you couldn’t walk down the street looking different without getting in a fight but in Manchester it’s not like that… when John was 16 he had an 8-inch mohawk; he had to wear a hat at his house, but in Manchester he could do what he wanted.
Manchester still has a thriving music scene that we’re proud to be part of, but when we were just starting out seeing other people in Manchester who liked what we did made us feel like we weren’t alone. The drive to get out of our home towns, and meet like minded people was huge for us.
Collectively, we aim to keep the standards high in Fair Do’s – a song will not see the light of day until we know it’s perfect. You see bands putting tracks out there live before they’re fully formed but that’s not us. We are constantly pushing one another to be better musicians – to play harder, better and keep on growing as a band. Occasionally, that can lead to a few heated discussions but that’s what we have to do to keep the quality high – we push each other on.
That’s what this is all about: spending time with your pals, discovering new music together and sharing what you love. Individually we have very eclectic and wide ranging musical tastes, so we each bring something unique to the table, musically.
The UK Punk Scene
It’s a tight knit group in the UK, and the melodic hardcore / skate-punk scene in particular is growing and gaining more momentum right now. We love being able play shows around the country and seeing friends everywhere – whether it’s in Manchester, Brighton or London, it’s often the same faces going sick down the front. It’s more than just the music, although that’s what unites us: it’s a flourishing, ethically-conscious community where everyone is actively encouraged to contribute, whether that’s starting bands, booking shows or just dancing and singing along.
Being actively involved in the community, both in Fair Do’s and in other projects, has inspired us to do more and work harder. It’s rewarding to see the scene growing and to be a part of it.
Our Friends Bands
Watching other bands killing it on stage spurs us on, inspires us to do more and to keep pushing ourselves musically. We had started out locally, but watching other bands like The Fear and A War Against Sound getting out to the European mainland and smashing it every night gave us the push to do it ourselves. Now we’ve been lucky enough to tour the mainland a lot and we have some of our best shows there; we’re hoping to get even further afield in the future. We just played KNRD Fest in Germany, where we shared the stage with bands like After The Fall and A Wilhelm Scream…
The majority of us in Fair Do’s are 80’s born, so that classic, 90’s Fat Wreck style sound had a huge influence on us in the early years. Strung Out’s Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues was an absolutely mind blowing listen the first time around. People playing fast and melodic, but still aggressive, punk tunes, with a high level of musicianship. Bands like Good Riddance, NOFX, Propagandhi were all huge for us. They were bands that really spoke to us, and we still love now.
The first time you thrown your backline in the van and drag yourselves across The Channel to the mainland is literally terrifying. As we mentioned, we had seen our friends bands do it before us, and it seemed like a golden land of milk and honey; unattainable to all but the hardest working, and financially secure of us all. Once we made it across the channel, we realised it wasn’t such an unattainable goal after all. We took ourselves, and our tunes, to places we had never been, and played for people we had never met. You quickly realise that people are happy to welcome you into their towns, and hearts, as though you had known them since childhood. There’s nothing better for a band than seeing a room full of people going crazy, and singing back at you. Going on tour in Europe was our first experience of that, and we will never stop loving touring in continental Europe. It really makes you want to go back as soon as possible.
For roughly 8 months of the year, we get bitter cold winds, and horizontal rain. For the other 4 months, we get vertical rain. This creates the perfect situation where you can no longer be bothered to stand on the streets in the pissing down rain, getting up to no good with your mates, so you start spending more time in the practice room. As we spent more time trying to get better at our respective instruments, the standard of our playing increased. This only lead to more time spent in the practice room, as we came up with more stuff we couldn’t reasonably play! It’s a slippery slope, but one we’re happy to have fallen down.
We in Fair Do’s have a long standing relationship with everyone favourite psychoactive plant. We are not trying to glorify hard drug use here, but if you’re asking us what our influences are, weed is definitely one of them. The tempo of our songs may not lead you to believe our recreational drug of choice is cannabis, but we have come up with some of greatest ideas, and parts, whilst sat in a room talking shit, and smoking weed. Some of our guitar parts were written by someone just making noises with their face, ages before they ever got turned into fingers on frets. We found weed can help us get ideas out of your confused head, and into song, and be more creative whilst you do it.
*disclaimer* Opinions are presents as just that. Opinions.
We in Fair Do’s have always tried to peddle our own brand of what we considered “punk.” Even in our early days, fresh faced, and optimistic, we would get 40 year old blokes in tartan bondage pants screaming shit at us from the front of stage. Something along the lines of “You’re not punk!”, or “Too metal!”. We never really let it get on our backs, but we did use it direct our sound. You see, once you notice that the way you play, or sound, gets someones back up, it makes you notice that you’re doing something right. Be it taking shit for tuning to drop D, or playing a double pedal, we are not them, and they are not us. We love the punk scene at large, as we grew up in it, and were nursed by the many grand people in the scene who were keen to offer us help, advice and direction. But, we will always strive to be that band that gets up a punk’s nose. We hope that our music agitates, and inspires thought, and that’s what we aim for, relentlessly.
As previously mentioned, we have always tried to keep a metal edge on our sound. As we moved through the 90’s, the trademark double time, fast pace seemed to disappear from punk, as everyone took to the ever popular “checked shirt and beard” style punk. There’s nothing wrong with that style of music, but we always pine for high tempo in our listening. We found solace in metal, and we are all still very much metal listeners. Bands such as Death By Stereo showed us early on that crossover is a mighty powerful genre, when done correctly. We have always love bringing together our favourite parts of both punk, and metal, and we will continue to be inspired by the many great players and song writers within the genre.