Wherstead: Jimmy’s Farm bound Dodgy have unfinished business says drummer Mathew Priest
- Credit: Archant
Bands aren’t supposed to come back together after more than 10 years apart and turn out an album as good as anything they’ve done before if not better – but that’s what Dodgy did.
“It was always the common idea once you split up the first time that was it, your creative juices had gone, you’ve had your chance. If you’re going to come back you’re just going to do it for the money and that’s that,” says drummer Mathew Priest.
“We wanted to prove that wrong because we did feel there was a lot of creativity in the band, we had something to say still and that there was unfinished business.”
Stand Upright in a Cool Place in 2012 was the first studio album from the original line-up of Priest, Nigel Clark and Andy Miller since 1996’s Free Peace Suite. It earned them probably the best reviews of their career with The Guardian going out on a limb to say how important and special it was.
“(People also thought) they’re not pretending to be young, they’re not dyeing their head... look at Brett Anderson from Suede, he wouldn’t dare show his grey hairs because the image is everything and he wants to sort of be that Brett Anderson from the 1990s,” says Priest.
“With us it’s like ‘hey, we’re in our 40s, we’re writing about things that affect us and other 40-year-olds’. We still get letters and emails saying ‘you really meant a lot to me when I was in my teens or early 20s, now I’m in my late 30s or early 40s, your music is speaking to me for the age I am now’.
Playing Jimmy’s Sausage and Beer Festival tomorrow - “sausages, beer, that’s all we need really, if they did duvets as well we’re sorted,” laughs Priest - the band is known for using their music to speak up about social issues.
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They were the second UK act to play in Sarajevo after the lifting of the siege, supported the Liverpool Dockers’ Strike and last Christmas released a single backing the Trussell Trust. “We thought it was absolutely disgusting people have to rely on foodbanks in this day and age when there are people - be it footballers or bankers - earning such ridiculous amounts of money and yet there are working families having to rely on foodbanks,” says Priest.
“I’m not a politician, I’m not going to argue my case in Parliament but you know what, I’m going to stand up and say ‘I don’t think this is right and we’re going to write a song about it and try to raise awareness’.
“People always ask us (about their social conscience) as if it’s a badge or T-shirt to wear, something that was premeditated or expect of us; it wasn’t. The music we grew up (with), be it the Beatles, the Clash, Bob Marley - these people stood up for what they believed in and believed in what they said. If there was something they felt they could do they would do it.
“At the end of the day it’s not very sexy is it, politics; it’s not a very rock ‘n’ roll thing to do but sometimes you get moved in such a way you think ‘hang on’...”
Priest says people need people to stand up and be counted more than ever but thinks technology and the increasing amount of things you can spend your money on instead has made music less culturally important as it used to be; almost disposable.
“You’ve got to be so careful because you start to sound like your dad - ‘ow it’s not the same as it were when I were a lad, music was b****y better, meant something to people’. To a 14-year-old kid, music’s going to mean what it means.
“Music was more important to me (but) I’m sure if I’d had the internet when I was 14 I’d be on it but I didn’t, I had music. It’s a shame if you want to hang on to the idea of music being culturally important but I’m not - I can say ‘it’s sad I’m not 18 any more’. Everything’s sad if you treat it as sad.”
He likens Dodgy to a shark - if it stops swimming it dies and it’s the same for them.
“We embrace change, not sticking in our ways going ‘we love music the way it was so that’s what we’re doing’, I think there’s something really negative and boring about that. If all we did was go on stage and do the old songs, be a heritage act, I don’t think we’d be together. We have to keep moving, keep writing, keep creating.”
Given we had to wait more than a decade for Stand Upright, how long will we have to wait for the next?
“Next year,” says Priest. “We’ve already signed a contract with Cherry Red Records. One of the first albums Nigel ever bought was Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by punk rock band Dead Kennedys. They were at Cherry Red; it’s a nice loop. We’re working on it slowly this year.”
Can we expect some new songs when they headline Jimmy’s Sausage and Beer Festival at Jimmy’s Farm, Wherstead, tomorrow?
“Maybe, maybe. If it looks like the crowd want to hear something new we’ll put it in. If the crowd just want to hear pop songs we’ll see.”