2 months after the official premiere of their new EP here on IDIOTEQ, and just before their recent mini tour including shows with NUKK, we sat down with UK post-punk/hardcore act GROUP OF MAN to dive deeper into the details of the EP, learn their thoughts on the state of world politics, and find out what’s coming next for the band that went from strength to strength with their latest record. “World Peace Champions” by GROUP OF MAN never delves into what could have very easily become a copy of a copy and it is clear that these guys avoid that pitfall by creating a perfect balance between various cross-genre inspirations and bringing in a well-thought blend of ease, maturity, tenacity and ambition. And that’s something that certainly needed to be discussed.
The latest EP from GROUP OF MAN is called “World Peace Champions” and is available on Cult Culture and Holy Roar Records. The band features members Chris Barling (Cult Culture Records, MINE, HANG THE BASTARD) and Mark Scurr (MINE), Nick Searle (TEMPERS FRAY), Stuart Anderson (PARISO) and Tom Davis (NEVERMIND ME).
Melding influences (consciously or otherwise) from The Bronx and Torche to Fleetwood Mac and even Slade, World Peace Champions is an inherently fresh take on well-worn paths. Like buying a new sweater, and it being awesome, but at the same time – somehow – it possesses qualities that remind you of your Dad. Group of Man really is greater than the sum of its threads.
Catch the band live at You Died Fest at The Festing in Portsmouth, UK on April 23rd!
Hey guys! How are you? How have these post-EP weeks been treating you? Are you satisfied with the perception of the record?
Yeah we’re all good thanks. As far as I can tell the record’s gone down well with people which is cool. It was finished a long time ago so it’s nice to have it out finally.
Compared to “We Are Good People”, what was different about the writing and recording process?
It was exactly the same process for this EP writing wise except this time we had two rehearsals prior to recording instead of one! We hadn’t played live before recording the last record so I guess that changed the sound slightly.
Everything was recorded/mixed at Toms parents house this time which was really good fun. Last time we recorded in a few different locations and I mixed it. Sound wise this one is a lot more abrasive and I really like that.
How do you feel you have grown creatively over these 2 years?
Well we’ve actually been a band for just over a year now. To be honest I’m not sure much has changed. The 1st EP was more direct. All those songs were written in a two week period. This one is more riff driven but also more drawn out and repetitive. I really like bands like Neu and Can and whilst we don’t sound like them I like to think there’s that motoring repetitive element in places on this record. The sound has remained pretty dry and straight up which was intentional, but I think the next record might get a little more gnarly effects wise.
You guys produced a one hell of an intriguing map of a cover, haha. Who designed it? What’s the concept?
The cover was drawn up by Max Kemp, an artist from Bristol. He did the artwork for our first EP and a lot of our tour posters and shirts. His style just fits what we do perfectly. I love the old school NYC graffiti style rap record covers so that was the initial reference point for this one.
Lyrics-wise, what kind of issues have you highlighted on ‘World Peace Champions’? Also, how much is the GROUP OF MAN an outlet for creative expression and how much do you want to use it as a tool for social or political change? Do you intentionally reflect some important issue in the very core of your work?
I guess our lyrical themes are totally dependent on where our lives are at at the time of writing. There’s no predetermined message and we’re not a ‘political’ band, although we don’t rule out political lyrics. I think we touch on a lot of social/human issues and try to make the lyrics as universal as possible. This EP is pretty bleak lyrically, and I think a lot of people feel that way, but in a way it’s like Chris is saying it’s fine and normal to feel like that.
This is a pretty broad question, but let’s give it a chance. What kind of future do you see for the world’s politics and what does your new vision of world in 30 years look like?
That’s a big question.
I live in London, I was born here and I love it. It’s the melting pot, a sort of Babylon. We have a wonderful mixed city with people from all over the world, it’s really beautiful. But it’s a hard city to exist in, rent are high, travel is expensive, wages are low. It’s driving people out. Social cleansing is driving out our working class/minority communities that bring this city so much character and with that comes homogenisation and lack of creativity. London has always been an expensive city, but now it’s become a rich boys playground. I’ll say that people like JG Ballard and George Orwell were totally spot on with their predictions for the future.
I think the situation in London represents what’s happening world over. I just hope that the future generation of leaders will be of a more liberal standpoint then the capitalist businessmen we have running the world right now. There’s definitely hope and a change will come, things need to get worse to get better and I believe that things will. It’s just hard to remain positive whilst right wing governments destroy communities, years of work on peace initiative, public services and the environment for personal gain.
Ok, back to the band, what are your next steps in the coming months? Are you doing a video to support that single? Booking some touring?
We did a video for the final track on the EP, ‘WPC’, which is online. We made it for £30 and I think it captures the basic essence of what we’re about. We hope to do more in the future.
And definitely, we have shows in Germany, Poland and Hungary booked for March and UK dates in April with HORSEFLIES and LACHSTRING. We’d like to do some proper touring and festivals but it takes time to get to that stage. We’re up for everything when it comes to playing live.
We also have a 7″ release planned for around May time. Two tracks we recorded with Simon from APOLOGIES I HAVE NONE. They’re finished and ready to go and I think they’re the best songs we’ve written to date. We’re also starting to write the next EP which we will hopefully record in the summer.
How are your other bands and side-projects you’ve been developing over the years? Can you drop a quick udate on what’s up with those packs that still exist?
I’m not sure really! MINE isn’t really a thing anymore although I wish it was. NEVERMIND ME have an album ready to go I believe but at the moment no plans to release it. I know that Stu has a new Doom band that should be gigging soon that sounds really heavy. And Chris is running Cult Culture records and has a lot planned with that this year which is really cool. Other then that I think the other bands are all done.
How do you balance between these projects and your busy private schedules?
We just get on with it really. I think it’s quite easy to do multiple things/live multiple lives. I used to get frustrated over having no time to relax, but now I just want to keep creating and doing things.i love challenging myself and becoming better at the things I enjoy.
You are without a doubt very tight with many artists from your local area and beyond. Have there been any particularly memorable projects and discoveries worth sharing?
I’m really loving the HORSEFLIES album. PIJN from Manchester are wicked. SVALBARD are obviously the best band in the UK. The APOLOGIES I HAVE NONE record is still on repeat. They’re all great bands that we’re lucky enough to call friends and everyone should check them out.
Alright, so lastly, what do you expect from 2017?
Hopefully just doing more rocking in front of more people. Meeting more awesome people on tour. Going to new places. Putting out more music. All that good shit.
Great! Thanks so much for your time guys. Aprreciate it! The last words are yours.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Keep on rocking!