'Life is chaotic!' Sleaford Mods' Jason Williamson answers your questions

Last modified: 01: 10 PM GMT+0

The duo’s splenetic frontman gave his opinions on topics including Nottingham, giving up alcohol and hating Idles

Jason Williamson answers your questions

Jason Williamson, the scabrous frontman of punk duo Sleaford Mods, came into the Guardian’s offices to answer your questions, on everything from his job bagging up marijuana to his strong dislike of Idles. Scroll down to read all of his responses.

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Thank you very much for sending the questions in - I hope they haven't depressed you too much. And yeah, I hope you enjoy the new album, if you're going to buy it.


UncleZippy asks: Why are you either so self-deprecating or comically cocky about your work? Did you grow up feeling ashamed about being creative?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, I grew up having no confidence whatsover in my abilities. I had confidence in my ideas but not my abilities. But also, I don't want to brag about it, I don't want to appear overly confident about it - I think that's really offputting.

I tried to get into Rada. I spent a year doing auditions

ID8463918 asks:

You went to stage school. Can you tell us about that?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I did Theatre Studies at A level. I tried to get into Rada, the lot, any that would have me, but I couldn't get in. I spent a year doing auditions, and I realised it would take another two or three years to get any kind of result – so I went into music instead.

LeilaKhaledSaid asks:

Did you ever visit the old Robin Hood visitor centre in Nottingham? I went in there tripping on shrooms and the papier mache headed Middle Ages blokes sat round in the tavern will last with me forever.

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No I don't, no. I've never gone in. But that must have been amazing.

rustysheriff147 asks:

Would you take on a sponsor for live shows if it meant you could put on the whole lighting rig stuff and video walls/visuals, or are the crates and laptop a part of your signature?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Yeah., we're not really into visuals. They look terrible. And to be honest I don't know why other bands haven't caught onto the idea of not using them. Even having your name behind you is a no-no. The music should carry itself. And I understand that a lot of bands' music isn't carried very well, so they need all the help they can get. But we are looking into lighting ideas - people are saying a minimal lighting show could add a nice touch to it. But big stage shows, stupid, they really do take away from it.

sp3ccylad asks:

You’ve not put a foot wrong these last few years – how do you keep pushing forward in such a consistent manner? Admittedly, the utter shitshow we have to endure gives you loads of material, but isn’t that true for every band?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Bands have got different agendas, it just so happens that ours is... I don't know! You can't put it into words. But it's nice you think that. A lot of people don't. It's loads of different things that have made it what it is.

Melvazord asks:

Who cut your hair, the council?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Who cut my hair, the council? No. And I've not got that haircut any more - the straight fringe is a young person's game. It's not something I want to carry into my 50s - it would look like a toupee. Not that there's anything wrong with toupees. I just thought I'd get rid of it.

MYCohen asks:
1. How important is money?
2. What’s your favourite Fall track?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

How important is money? Of course it's important. I've got a mortgage to pay and we need to eat, and because of that it's important. If you're talking about a gig being attractive for a lot of money, it depends - we do a lot of gigs where we don't earn a lot, and it's nice to be paid more than you usually do. Would I sell out for £2m quid? No I wouldn't. Well actually, it depends on the level of sell-out. But as a rule. No

The Fall: Industrial Estate, I thought that was good. People compare us to them so much, so I don't listen to them too much in case we pick them up. But god rest his soul - he was a man who stuck to his formula and you've got to respect that.

This is street music, and on the street it's never nice

SqueezyCat asks:

Your music is so full of hate, have you ever thought of being constructive for a change? Perhaps sing about solutions, not your spite?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, we don't sing about solutions. I would find that really patronising. There is no answer. Life is chaotic; the human form is chaotic. As Alan Moore once said, we're speeding towards a brick wall in a fast car. We're animals. There are no solutions. But this music isn't hate music at all. It's good street music. And on the street, it's never nice. Regular life for the most part is pretty crap, and this is what it talks about.

bobblomax asks:

How difficult has it been to keep reacting to events given how fast everything moves now?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

It hasn't really. You do an album, and you have a cooling off period, and you start again. And your idea of how you want to communicate that, connects to it. It's not majorly difficult, you just have to be honest with yourself; brush by any notion of addressing something in a cliched or obvious way, and think about how you're going to propose a point on a stage that is powerful. So no. I've got a lot of time to think about it, and after each year we're ready to start again. It marries itself to current issues, because current issues are still unbelievably bad, and will carry on like that.

BoggisOBoggis asks:

Hi, I’m a 21 year old that’s grown up poor in the depressing, expensive Tory heartland of Surrey. A lot of my mates are turning very right wing, regurgitating whatever they’ve read from social media, and the heavy lefties seem to be equally shallow and militant. Any help?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I can't give you any help, I'm sorry. I just can't. What do you do? Just carry on. And try to question everything. It's interesting you have equal scorn for the left as the right, as that's how it's getting - people are just pulling things out of books and saying things for effect. But I don't have any answers for you, I'm sorry.

BostonPilgrim asks:

Do you envisage a time when Sleaford Mods will have run its course, or are you happy to be like the Rolling Stones?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I dunno. Not sure. I think me and Andrew constantly think if its decent any more, but every time we record an album, it's good. It's not boring yet, but what can you do - I do worry about it a lot, but it's still good. And it's only really five years old in a commercial sense. I've just got to ignore all that - it's moved on enough to justify carrying on. We certainly don't repeat ourselves, and I like to think the subject matter, although it is largely talking about similar themes, is addressed differently on each album. There will come a time where we might feel slightly out of sync, but that hasn't happened yet. It depends how we play it. The main thing is that we're honest with ourselves. We're still really happy with it. It's bulletproof.

chrisbardell asks:

Jason, you gave up alcohol a couple of years back. You’ve mentioned that this has helped you get in physical shape. But did it affect your creativity – is writing lyrics harder now?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, it's easier. Because I haven't got drug comedowns and hangovers to deal with, I haven't got guilt to deal with, any "what did I do?" stuff to deal with. I'm not arguing as much, I'm not paranoid, and every day is nice. I get up and I'm alright. So it's easier to write stuff and motivate yourself - previously I was languishing in self-pity and utter confusion.

Nicom4130 asks:

How hard is to keep the lyrics real in this time of political correctness when everybody’s so easily offended?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Well, I don't think we're overtly offensive, apart from swear words and criticism of whoever. I'm sure most of the lyrics get laughed off by whatever target, it's how it is isn't it? There's far more offensive bands to be looking at really, who do keep well within the realms of political correctness. It's easy - just carry on.

ThirdPrize asks:

Why were you supporting the Who at Hyde Park a few years back? Someone thought you were a mod band perhaps?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No - the promoter of the festival was someone who really liked us and asked us to come along. And to be honest, if there was ever a band that was tied in with the idea of it, it would be us - I'll take that, thank you very much!

Kebabspider asks:

D’you reckon the Brits are rigged? Or just shit?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

They're not rigged - they just don't let bands in who the label sponsors don't have a financial interest in. So that's why it's not as interesting as it mildly was 25 years ago.

Malicious_Steve asks:

What’s happening with your trousers?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Look. This kind of short legged trouser is fashionable at the minute. It's fashionable now with a wider leg, although that is starting to taper off a bit. But the amount I paid for these, I intend to wear them for another year and a half. I have ordered some more trousers that are similar but narrower in the leg. I hope that answers your question.

I'm not going to feed off the crowd's adulation. It's not One Direction

FrenchPaul asks:

Each time I’ve seen you live, you seem to be more and more ambivalent to the adulation from the crowd. Does it just become another boring job to do … same songs every night?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Well, yeah, it gets boring sometimes. I'm not going to feed off the adulation of the crowd though, imagine that! It's not One Direction. These songs are very serious, and you lock into the idea of these songs every night, and you use the same emotions that you recorded them with in the first place. It's a serious thing, the gigs. I'm not there to jump in the crowd. I hate that, bands jumping in the crowd. I'm there to put on a good gig. I sound like such a mardy bastard.

Dworthington asks:

Are the kids alright or was Daltrey talking out of his arse?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Hahahaha! Well I wouldn't say that to his face, he'd have me for that. The Who are brilliant and they still are - you can't take that away from them. Great band.

billyhandcart asks:

What do you think about Brexit?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I voted Remain. And that's that really. I don't think there's anything to add that people don't know already. At this point in time anyway.

RED_KEN asks:

Is it true you sleep with a replica Brit Award and are you going next week?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No to both. And we'll move on swiftly...

I didn't think Sleaford Mods would get big. It was so unreasonable, angry and bitter - and still is

JamesonArt asks:

Although your approach is unconventional, to many you are the most important and significant act around. Has the response from your fans surprised you?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I sort of tailored the mindset of it to be completely anti most things at the time of its conception. Everything around me was totally boring, cliched, rinsed out, and so once I got the formula up and running, I knew it stood apart from most things. However it wasn't until I met Andrew that it really did stand apart. Andrew was instrumental in making Sleaford Mods what it is today. I didn't think for a minute we'd get big, I didn't think we'd appeal to people in Europe, so it has constantly surprised me. It was so unreasonable, angry and bitter, and it still is. So yeah, it has surprised me.

churst1 asks:

What do you hate most about Nottingham?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Nothing. You have varying levels of hatred for different things each day, don't you? I don't think they're attached to the idea of Nottingham. You get people you dislike in Nottingham everywhere in the world.

joeycabron asks:

What did you do in America for a year and where were you?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I went to visit my cousin in Silicon Valley, it was meant to be two weeks and I stayed for ten months, much to her dislike but I didn't want to go home. I had to work as a security guard in an apartment complex near San Francisco - it was quite miserable. I was only 20 and it was a bit of an eye opener for me. I look back fondly, but at the time it was absolutely horrible.

Vwcampery4 asks:

Do you know Shane Meadows? And are you still in touch with Steve Ignorant?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No I don't know Shane, I believe he's come to a few gigs which is really nice. Obviously he's done a lot of interesting stuff. I am in touch with Steve - I emailed him yesterday, he wanted guestlist and we had a quick chat and sorted that out. He's alright, Steve is.


Which women artists do you think are making the most exciting music right now?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

The last one was Solange, a couple of years ago. At the minute I'm listening to old stuff really, well all of it. Cherelle, her second album, I think that's about 1983? That's it really. No contemporary music at the minute, male or female. You just have space when you leave it, and you come back into it. We've been talking about this a lot - my plateau is mostly male, and I've been trying to listen to more female stuff.

jameszzzzzz asks:

What are your favourite Oasis songs?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Headshrinker. Bring It On Down. Columbia. Slide Away.

Superdooper1 asks:

How did you feel when you found out that Corbyn didn’t come from Telford New Town, but grew up in a manor house and was educated privately?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I didn't even know that! I don't care where he was educated really, he's got to be better than whatever member of the Conservative cabinet. The class thing, it's a subject that can be integrated into conversations and be interesting, but my issue with it is people pretending to be from a different class. Appropriation in other words. But apart from that I don't really care - I know middle class people who are actually sound. I don't know any proper posh people though. I was interviewed by someone from Eton recently - he was amazing, he knew everything!

micbinbag asks:

Is anger a necessary component of your work and, if it is, do you fear success will erode it?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Nobody likes to feel angry do they? But there are always varying levels of it from pathetic baby up to pathetic man anger. So no, we've had success for a few years and it's not changed it. It's changed a few things, but not that aspect of it, and I don't think it ever will. Success is nice but I've not fully bought into the idea of it because I think we'd just implode, we're not that kind of a band.

milkandsunsets 1d ago 12

Your new LP is being released on your own label, Extreme Eating. Could you tell us a little bit about the label and how it came about?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

The label, we decided to go independent and parted company with Rough Trade - it was a premature departure from Rough Trade, which I don't regret now but at the time it wasn't thought through properly. But we've managed to get a decent album campaign off the ground. It's just a label to release Eton Alive on, but we are thinking about various things going forward with it - we're going to see what happens.

Jacopo Ghioldi asks

How much do you bring to your songs, musically speaking, apart from the lyrics?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Nothing really. Once Andrew sends a track over, it's pretty much done, unless of course I've got an idea of putting a keyboard in there, or kazoo, which I have done on Eton Alive. I sometimes come up with ideas to pepper the idea, to give it an additional little kick, but generally speaking, no - it's all Andrew's work.

jonbeat asks:

Have Sleafords ever thought of collaborating on a techno record?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No I've not really. Collaborations at the minute are out of the window - I just want to concentrate on Sleaford really.

Antony Cancellara asks:

Do you pay full whack for your Smithy clobber or am I likely to bump into you at one of the warehouse sales?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, I get 60% off it, like most people in Notts. No I won't go to warehouse sales, it's too much, too busy.

I remember lyrics using techniques like slapping my head or dancing like a maniac

scottbridges asks:

Whenever I see the Mods live, I’m always highly impressed how you remember all the words. How do you do it without a prompt?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Well basically, I just rehearse a song for three weeks and put it in the set. As long as you keep it in the set, you don't forget it. It's like muscle memory - someone suggested that was what I was channelling the songs through. I use techniques like slapping my head or dancing like a maniac - if I use those techniques it prevents me from thinking about what I'm doing, because if I start to think too much, I get scared or get stage fright and I forget the words. You have to get over fear, and I do that by acting like an idiot on stage, that does help. But it's pretty easy.

RSFlint asks:

Following your role in Lost Dog and your written output does ‘acting’ appeal? Have you had any offers of roles?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Yeah, I've been doing a bit more acting. I like it. I'm currently discussing a role in a film with someone which I can't go into, but it's something I'd like to take further - it's a great way of communicating your emotions I guess. It's another way of venting them.

LiamBannon96 asks:

Are you ever going to release Jobseeker, Routine Dean and Jolly F**ker on Spotify or iTunes?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

Yes, we are, coming soon, I don't know when. It was taken off because... can't remember.

joshyooare66 asks:

Who is Alistair Candyfloss Head?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

That is a famous Nottingham DJ, of Kool Kat garage fame. And Venus as well, who was mentioned in a song.

I had to work off a drug debt by putting marijuana into bags. Lunch was a can of Stella. Good Times

joshyooare66 asks:

What was going on in Some of These Plants are Burnt?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

This talks about: I had to work a drug debt off for somebody and that involved going to someone's house and cutting marijuana up and putting it into bags. I was pretty high at the time. That's what that involved - it was just like a day at work really. We had a break, went back to it, had another break. It was office hours almost - started around 11, finished around 6. I think some of the stock was a bit faulty and some of these plants were burned. And that was it. Lunch was a can of Stella. Her ex partner came back and was banging on the door violently, so we had to hide in a room while they sorted out whatever domestic they were having. Good times.

sherwoodforester asks:

Growing up in Nottingham, I recognise the many local references in your songs to landmarks, clubs, streets or football for example. As you’ve got bigger I feel those intimate nods to the city are less frequent. Is this conscious? Are you trying to commercially appeal to people beyond Lenton Boulevard NG7?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, it's not conscious at all, I just don't want to repeat myself. And I think most of the landmarks in Nottingham I've spoken about have now satisfied me - I would just be retreading old ground and I don't think that would make for effective music.

SevenIlls asks:

Are there any plans of a US tour supporting the release of Eton Alive?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

No, not at the minute. It's just not financially viable, really. We're looking at it as a proposition for next year but it's hard work - if you're going to go out for two weeks and come back with little or no money, it's hard. I've got a family, and being away for that length of time, I just want something to show for it. And the last tour didn't. It's not the most important thing to go there and earn loads of money, but it would be nice, know what I mean? We're not in a position to pay to play, and that's what we did.

Peadar76 asks:

What’s it like to record a jingle for something so prestigious as BBC 6Music’s the Chain?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I was honoured by that. 6Music has been really good to us. I've met Mark and Stuart a couple of times and they're lovely people, so I was quite honoured.

Idles appropriate a working-class voice. They're cliched, patronising, insulting and mediocre. I don't like them at all

Edgy1970 asks:

Why the beef with Idles?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I quite liked Brutalism when it came out. It wasn't my kind of music but I liked some of it - it was catchy. And they were nice lads, polite online and stuff. But I thought they were kind of a street band, there were lines like "Tarquin" that would insinuate that they were knocking the middle classes, but it turns out they're not working class. That offended me, because I then held the belief that they were appropriating, to a certain degree, a working class voice. Obviously that excelled when the second album came out, and I felt a bit cheated. I also became jaded by this idea that we were a band that was campaigning for social justice, when we're not, we're just talking about what's around us. Music can't solve political problems. And I think their take on it is cliched, patronising, insulting and mediocre. And that's why I have a problem with them. I take music seriously, and I've come from a place where this music has been created. Without that, we wouldn't be here. I went through a lot of pain - I understand Idles' singer has gone through a lot of pain. But I don't believe their slant on this. I don't like them at all.

BarryCrucial asks:

What do you think of the Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem [Pub in Nottingham]?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

It's alright! I don't drink any more. Whenever I went in it looked like it needed a good hoover, but it is meant to be the oldest pub in England.

Don Van Vliet asks:

If every tune you’d ever created, bar one, was wiped from history forever, which one would you save as your legacy?

User avatar for JasonWilliamson Guardian contributor

I think legacy is a bit pompous really. I'm not sure about the idea - I don't think we're the kind of band to leave one to be honest. But if I had to leave one... Tied Up In Notts. Cos it was the first one we wrote that really had an almost professional slant to it- it was poppy, almost, it had a hook. It's when me and Andrew started gelling really - when Andrew took the music and made it his own without my input. So I'd say that, really.

Jason is with us now

Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods
Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods Photograph: Ben Beaumont Thomas/The Guardian

Post your questions for Sleaford Mods

Sleaford Mods are often perceived as the political voice of the British working class, although somewhat reluctantly on their behalf. Their fast, furious yet humorous lyrics about blue-collar life in a period of austerity, combined with their fresh and minimal take on punk, have ensured that they are afforded, as the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw says, “national treasure status”.

Lyricist Jason Williamson first began devising his sound in 2006 and a few years later, he was joined by Andrew Fearn, who provides the backing tracks. They broke through in 2013, with the release of their critically acclaimed album Austerity Dogs and a European tour. The duo have since kept up a steady release schedule, with Divide and Exit (2014), Key Markets (2015) and English Tapas (2017).

The two fortysomethings have also appeared in two documentaries: Invisible Britain, which followed the band on tour and analysed the impact of David Cameron’s government, and the more intimate portrait Bunch of Kunst. Their next record, Eton Alive, will be released this month on their own new label, Extreme Eating.

Jason will answer your questions during a webchat on Wednesday 13 February from 12 noon – post them in the comments below.

The GuardianTramp

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