need some music to soundtrack your political despair? let bad breeding talk you through their new record, track by track

Stevenage-based punk band Bad Breeding tackle NHS cuts, David Cameron and mental health on free release, S/T.

by Russell Dean Stone
25 April 2016, 12:35pm

The UK's political landscape hasn't changed much since Stevenage anarcho punk band Bad Breeding first emerged baring their teeth back in 2013. Tory cuts run deeper, the NHS is being stripped down and sold for parts and David "Dodgy Dave" Cameron marches on regardless; deflecting pig fucking accusations and off-shore tax haven profiteering like he's Iron Man (yes that was a Margaret Thatcher pun!).

Luckily the Bad Breeding boys haven't slipped into silent apathy, instead they're returning with a free download of their new album S/T and a wall of noise that has never sounded so necessary. There's nothing retro about these punks, just a purity of intent that lacks bitterness and shines with defiant pride. Self released and financed by their day jobs, they're getting their hands dirty and keeping things just about as hardcore DIY as possible.

You might not always be able to make out exactly what frontman Chris Dodd is roaring, but rest assured that Bad Breeding match their ferocious sound with some truly poetic top lines. That's why we asked Dodd to break down the record track by track, expanding on their signature songwriting themes of political disenfranchisement inspired by their long-time muse, broken Britain.

I Strive (0.00)
"The opener is essentially a sarcastic observation of the expectations placed on people living in towns like Stevenage. It blends the absurd notions of assumed social mobility against the elements of outright destitution that you can find in some areas. It serves as a good microcosm for the record."

A Limp Shove (0:43)
"A close family member has suffered from mental health issues for a large portion of his life and this inspired the main lyrical idea. I was looking at ways of talking about depressants, antidepressants and permanent dependency. It led me to make some wider comments about political apathy in that inactivity can often be drawn from feelings of lasting exclusion. It tries to depict the frustration that some sections of British society arguably feel at the moment."

Remembering (1:57)
"Remembering celebrates the endurance of those who have been wronged or abused at certain points in their lives. This one cut pretty deep for all of us and I think we captured that urgency in the take that made it onto the album. It's pretty much 100 percent live in a room. This is an important one to demonstrate how you don't need to be the most gifted musician to make something. You just need a bit of belief in what you're trying to do. That's something that runs through the heart of our band. Conviction can go a long way."

No Progress (4:12)
"The most straight-forward song: driving bass, a simple guitar line and military drumming. It allowed me to explore some important themes without being overtaken by the sonics. The opening lyrics came from talking to a friend about misogyny and social exclusion in art. We then took it forward politically to discuss the tragic case of David Clapson's death in Stevenage and the growing number of people who are suffering at the hands of government policy. We tried to move away from some of the lofty, egotistical proclamations or twisted Nietzsche quotes prevalent in contemporary 'punk', in favour of our own knuckle-dragging honesty."

A Cross (5:42)
"This might seem like a massive puncture to the concept of religion, but it's not really. We're more than aware of the importance of faith in people's lives. This is more an examination of the abuses of power that can occur when organising yourself in conjunction with certain constructs put in place by institutions."

Separate Me (7:59)
"Separate Me was inspired by having to spend time with overly privileged kids while I was studying. After I graduated I saw countless summations from those same people on why the London riots occurred in 2011. They were basically demonising the working-class as a feckless bunch, who simply wanted trainers they couldn't afford, not to mention the racial attributions that were being made. The song takes and runs with some of their ideas to show how stupid they are in the cold light of day." 

Burn This Flag (10:13)
"We wrote this during our first few practices. I used to write silly musings while in lectures when I was younger, 'if it tastes like ash it's probably your future, I hate to say I told you so…' was one of them. Our bassist, Charlie, put together this simple four-chord nod to old anarcho songs on the guitar and the lyrics sat in perfectly."

Venerable Hand (12:08)
"Of all the places to be when people were gawking over that image of Alan Kurdi, we were in Poland. It got me thinking about the legacy of the Holocaust and how inaction might leave people on the wrong side of history. The situation has developed fundamentally since I wrote the first half of the lyrics, but I still think it's a worthwhile documentation of our initial responses to what happened during the relative infancy of the crisis."

Standard Process (15:32)
"A homage to our existence in Stevenage over the past couple of years… We all worked long hours in labouring jobs to help pay for the recording process and wanted to bring some of that industry into the record. What you're hearing is rubble and brick thrown into a wheelbarrow, patched through some delay and then broken up by a kango drill. Lyrically, the song hints at the moving inescapability Stevenage has. Wherever we seem to go in the world, we're always drawn back here. I think that says a lot about the beauty of this place and the people who live here, despite the poverty and struggle that come with it."

In Abundance (17:01)
"This one looks at dejection; sifting through some of the cyclical reactions you go through when hit by disappointment. The guitar part that sounds like the Clangers was fun to make. We used a lighter and an old football trophy one of us got when we were younger as a replacement for a brass slide."

Corrupting Fist (18:03)
"This digs into our ways of dealing with some of the rank injustices thrown up both here and in Europe over the past few years. Despite its bleak nature, it was an interesting thing to record. A lot of that odd pinging feedback and noise involved dropping a cheap guitar on the floor and running scissors along its strings."

Shame (20:17)
"Walking to the train station a while back I saw a genuine queue to get into a Costa coffee shop. Some people are scared to admit certain things about class. A lot of people would be in a stronger position, both politically and communally, if we weren't so afraid of coming to terms with where we're from. Drinking over-priced coffee and taking cars out on finance for the sake of a stylistic badge doesn't necessarily make you socially mobile or middle-class, it just drives a wedge between people who could be fighting together for the collective good of said community."

Dissembling (21:30)
"Dissembling is ambiguous in a few ways. It looks at the rise in falsifying identity online through the prism of mental health. On first listen it's a pretty simplistic examination of struggling to cope with the self, although for me it was really about alluding towards these wild identities people build through social media. The crux of the idea came after the last general election, when a number of people baited the Tories online without doing too much about it beyond the realms of the internet."

Moral Itch (23:41)
"Slavoj Žižek and Adam Curtis were the main inspiration here. The backbone of the idea looks at the role of some sections of the media in distorting perceptions of the events that have an impact on our lives. There's also some lyrical takes on the role of Conservative policy and the stomp of big business that both seem to be destroying communities at a city and town level in the UK. I think it has one of my favourite guitar parts on the record too - the end solo sounds like a washing machine."

Age of Nothing (25:39)
"Age of Nothing was one of the first songs we wrote. Both a piss-take and something that has some serious connotations. At the heart of it is an attempt to deconstruct the idea of what it means to write a rock song. Those rudimentary guitar solos are a massive play on the idea of ego and self-absorption in music." 

Blurring Out (28:18)
"Blurring Out is the final song on the record and is another ode to Stevenage, something that explores the process of being cut adrift and left to sink."

Catch Bad Breeding live at the Old Blue Last on 4th May. Details here.

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