“In England, no one can hear you scream…” So say Sleaford Mods on their latest album, ‘UK Grim’. Maybe their angriest record to date, it depicts the gritty reality of the here and now with typically acerbic rage and stinging wit. Rooted in barbed electronics and driving, clubby beats, it finds the Nottingham duo on blistering form

The last time I was in Nottingham, I went to a novelty Sheriff of Nottingham feast. Diners sat at benches drinking mead in wooden cups, harangued by said Sheriff in full amateur dramatics mode and waited on by scantily brassiered serving wenches. Yes, they called them wenches back in the 1990s.

I trust Notts has progressed in the decades since. Then again, I’m here to meet agitprop/electronic duo Sleaford Mods to talk about their latest studio album, ‘UK Grim’. I don’t want to overplay their boorish status, but I’m half expecting mead-splattered tunics, a lavish hog roast with all the trimmings, and a brutally enforced tax regime.

The two-man set-up is certainly simplistic. Almost medieval. Jason Williamson is their hardman lyricist, stony-faced and ranting. He speaks and half-sings about poverty and politics and whatever has piqued his angry interest. His sidekick is musician Andrew Fearn, whose brusque, lo-fi loops may well have been made by 14th century machinery. Their last album, 2021’s raucous lockdown offering ‘Spare Ribs’, had them railing against “fucking class tourists” and “boring fucking cunts”. If you think they were irate before, now they’re bleeping livid. ‘UK Grim’ sees them as stirred up as ever.

“I didn’t think we could get more angry, did you?” says Jason, turning to Andrew.

“This is a bit more introspective,” says Andrew. “Musically, it’s a bigger production. A few more flavours.

Hopefully not too much, though. We’re still trying to stay with…”

“I don’t think you’d allow it, Andrew,” interjects Jason.

“…things that you normally find in the Sleaford Mods bin. They’re there if you look for them.”

The first thing you notice about Jason and Andrew is how connected they are, like rutting stags locking horns but in a slightly less sexy way. They ping-pong thoughts back and forth, sometimes interrupting each other’s sentences and quite often finishing them. Understandable for a musical partnership that’s lasted more than a decade, with Andrew joining in 2012 to take the Mods in a more electronic direction.

The second notable thing about this pair of working-class East Midlands guys is just how thoughtful their anger is. Yes, there’s swearing and directness, but it’s not simply men yelling into the ether. There’s something else going on that belies the rowdy reputation often perpetuated by the media, who paint them as uncouth lads with medieval attitudes. Oh heck.

I’m beginning to choke on my mead.

The term “UK Grim”, coined by music journalist Paul “Stokesie” Stokes during a livestream launch of ‘Spare Ribs’, is a witty take on the genre of grime music and the bleak socio-economic realities of the UK.

And it’s the title track that opens this new album, despite being recorded last. In the song, Jason adopts the role of a call centre manager. A complete corporate droid – “Keep that desk area tidy / Put it in the bin,” demands the fictional boss over Andrew’s buzzy bass – inspired partly by memories of their own soul-crushing desk jobs, and by witnessing the super-rich in London’s financial district.

“Me and my family went to see The Gherkin,” says Jason. “All the streets were clean and shiny. This white Land Rover purred around the corner, and I thought, ‘I want this comfort’. But it’s grim because of the corruption of free market capitalism. Everyone’s suffering because of a few individuals.”

The closing track of the album, ‘Rhythms Of Class’, observes the contrast between rich and poor estates. Neat courtyard hedges and garden sprinklers versus McDonald’s restaurants stinking of Lynx body spray.

The images seem burned into Jason’s mind.

“You’ll see someone having a fry-up outside a caff,” he says. “Then you’ll go to a higher-class area, and there’s expensive clothes and people casually relaxing in the park. You can go from one block to another, from misery to total happiness, from hell to utopia.”

The perky ‘Tilldipper’ takes a more direct approach to money. Set against a percussive post-punk onslaught, Jason describes the art of nicking from your retail employer. The opening goes: “Put your fingers in the till / You don’t care, you’re in the kill / Drag the fucking money out / Spend it on some gear, you twat”. Someone should do a WikiHow page on this.

“It’s about taking money out of tills,” says Jason, needlessly. “In most retail jobs I was in, everyone used to do it.”

“Fucking hell, did they?” says Andrew. “Still, it’s a bit nicer than warehouse work.”

On ‘Right Wing Beast’, Jason stops talking about money, and instead considers deleting old friends on social media because they “keep coming in with stuff and it’s winding me up, to be honest” – namely, conspiracy theories and dumb right-wing memes. Andrew’s clockwork beat is cheerfully cheap, a perfect imitation of the throwaway nature of Twitter and Facebook.

“They talk about vaccines leaving some kind of chip in your blood,” says Jason. “I can understand people being sceptical to a certain degree, but it’s just a fucking vaccine.”

“There’s no information with it,” says Andrew. “You can’t draw anything from a vaccine.”

“As long as it fucking cures me, I’m not bothered, you cunt,” opines Jason.

The track also contains the excellent phrase, “Your head’s full of sauce / You’re a tin of baked beans”.

“Andrew loves that line,” says Jason.

As we talk about the tracks on ‘UK Grim’, I can sense their blood boiling. The purring Land Rover, the well-watered gardens, memories writ large across Jason’s face. I want to connect with these lads. After all, I’m from Manchester, they’re from Nottingham, we’re from the industrial cities of cotton and lace. At one point, though, I admit I’m actually from the posh, leafy part of Manchester, not from its downtrodden estates. I half expect to be catapulted out of the room.

The conversation softens when we chat about the dirty donk-house of ‘Tory Kong’. The track critiques men who think they’re more than they are. “Twat,” go the lyrics. “What the URL you playing at?”

“This idea that the bloke does everything is bullshit,” says Jason. “I’m just trying to put across an idea of what perhaps misogyny is.” Which all sounds worthy and highfalutin, until he says, “The rest is based on the ‘King Kong’ film by Peter Jackson, which I think is brilliant.”

Photo: Andi Sapey

Ah. Now. You can’t stay enraged when you’re talking about films you love. Imagine yourself watching ‘Singin’ In The Rain’ and being apoplectic. You can’t do it, can you? The ‘King Kong’ reference echoes ‘Skull Island’ – from their self-titled 2007 debut album – which, as everyone knows, is the home of the titular beast and his dinosaur friends. Films, it turns out, are a continuing feature of the work of Sleaford Mods.

There’s another cinematic reference with ‘Force 10 From Navarone’. This track is based on the 1970s adventure movie starring Robert Shaw and Harrison Ford, the latter freshly famous from ‘Star Wars’. The film’s forerunner, 1961’s ‘The Guns Of Navarone’, is perhaps better known.

“I saw ‘Force 10 From Navarone’ when I was a kid. It was one of those war films from my childhood…” begins Jason.

“…that got stuck in your head,” completes Andrew.

“My childhood was full of not-very-good war films like ‘The Wild Geese’, or whatever. ‘Force 10’ was not very good at all.”

He pauses for a moment.

“Actually, I thought it was shit, to be honest.”

They might not be selling the subject matter terribly well, but ‘Force 10’ benefits from a guest spot by Florence Shaw from South London post-punkers Dry Cleaning. Speaking over a splendidly furry bassline from Andrew, she commits to Jason’s stream-of-consciousness style, calling someone a large green blob and asking people not to touch her roadkill hat.

“As soon as Andrew sent me that track, I was up for about two hours after [wife and manager] Claire had gone to bed,” explains Jason. “I was pacing around the living room trying to come up with the patter. A couple of days later, it dawned on me that ‘Force 10’ was just screaming out for Florence Shaw.”

“She came straight in to do it,” says Andrew. “It worked really, really well.”

“Really fucking well,” adds Jason.

The film references go somewhat askew on the low-burning ‘I Claudius’, which recalls old movies screened on terrestrial daytime television when Jason was young, alongside memories of Adam Ant and, curiously, a Santa Claus eating a bag of chips.

“They used to show a Roman film every Christmas Eve on telly, didn’t they?” remembers Jason. “It’d be ‘Ben-Hur’ or ‘Spartacus’. I was in absolute awe of Victor Mature. The guy’s fucking brilliant. Him and Charlton Heston.”

Except it was the wrong film. The one he had in mind for this track was in fact the 1951 Roman epic ‘Quo Vadis’, not the Derek Jacobi TV series ‘I, Claudius’.

“I fucked up,” admits Jason. “In my subconscious, I got the two confused. It doesn’t matter. I wanted to get over that feeling of Christmas Eve in my living room with my rockery mantelpiece. Everyone had a rockery mantelpiece. Fucking shocking, weren’t they? Fucking rank.”

Andrew has nothing to say about rockery mantelpieces. They don’t seem worth getting angry about.

One of the criticisms I suspect we may get for sticking Sleaford Mods on the front cover of this magazine is that they aren’t electronic enough. The last time we gave them any coverage, one Facebook commenter declared he wanted to see electronic music acts in Electronic Sound, not “shitty rock bands”. As a public service, I pass on this comment to Sleaford Mods. They aren’t impressed.

“Andrew is a walking, talking electronic project and he’s also had a lot of experience with live instruments,” says Jason. “We have used both things, but it doesn’t sound like fucking Depeche Mode.”

“I think it’s a very old-fashioned British idea that you can’t have guitars and synths in the same band,” adds Andrew in agreement. “We’ll have one track with some crappy bass guitar I had in the corner of the room, and next we’ll use a keyboard bass. People think it has to be done a certain way. It’s like when they called New Order ‘children with synthesisers’.”

Children with synthesisers? New Order? Jason is appalled.

“Fucking hell!” he rails.

“What’s wrong with that?” counters Andrew.

“What’s wrong with that?!”

I guess you could argue that Andrew is himself a child with synthesisers. He refers to his kit as his “toys” and enthuses about his second-hand Teenage Engineering OP-1 music box. For the bassline on ‘Force 10 From Navarone’, he used Stages, a modular unit by newly defunct Eurorack developer, Mutable Instruments. He calls this a “Swiss Army Knife for ADSR [Attack, Delay, Sustain, Release]”.

“It’s quite nerdy,” he adds. “You set it up and it’ll continue to do its thing for ages. That’s why it does that wuh-wuh-wuh-waah thing with the bass. Have a great time trying to write that word down.”

Andrew has his own side project Extnddntwrk (pronounced “Extended Network” and not, as I originally guessed, “Extension Didn’t Work”). Woozy loops and meditative IDM demonstrate a dreamier side to his synth work, not razor-cut and bass-focused like his Sleaford sounds. His Bandcamp output encompasses archive recordings, including a bunch of stuff he made on an Amiga in 1997 and tracks he created to accompany his GCSE exam revision.

These extracurricular studio sessions certainly don’t detract from his work with Sleaford Mods, though.

“Sometimes I’ll be noodling around making an Extnddntwrk track and I’ll realise this is something for Jason,” says Andrew.

He can instinctively identify the moment when an intended Extnddntwrk piece suddenly tips over into the lo-fi sparkiness of Sleaford Mods. Which is much to the Mods’ benefit, of course, as it adds a curiously psychedelic electronic edge to their post-punk instrumentation.

“You just don’t want a whole album of dsst-dsst-dsst-dsst,” adds Andrew.

Jason is quick to pour praise on his music-making partner.

“It’s alright me coming up with fucking lyrics, but if the music isn’t doing it, I’m fucked,” he says.

Photo: Andi Sapey

The pair have built up serious electronic music credentials in recent years. I’m not only talking about Jason’s careening karaoke take on Yazoo’s ‘Don’t Go’, released two Christmases ago and described by various commentators as “pessimistic”, “brutal” and “in the style of a drunk uncle”. There are the big-name alliances too. For example, Jason ranted about bad music and cheap highs on The Prodigy’s ‘Ibiza’, then faced the realities of dandruff and gallstones on Leftfield’s ‘Head And Shoulders’.

“Some of these are collaborations with just me,” says Jason. “The Prodigy credited Sleaford Mods because it was at that point in our career when putting ‘Jason Williamson’ wouldn’t have washed. Nobody fucking knew who we were.”

Over lockdown, Jason teamed up with Ninja Tune veteran Kevin Martin, aka The Bug. The two tracks they worked on together comprised the electro-dark ‘Treetop’, which took aim at fake locals and five-quid sandwiches, and ‘Stoat’, with a wandering diatribe that challenged, in part, “tools in shops who don’t wear masks”.

Then there’s the ‘Dirty Rat’ single with head-lit stadium legends Orbital, which attacks right-wing ideology around the NHS and migrants. Hours before it was released, Liz Truss resigned as UK Prime Minister, a turn of events which added weight to the track’s most memorable lyric: “Shut up! / You don’t know what you’re on about / You voted for ’em / Look at yer!”.

The single was a returned favour, after Orbital remixed ‘I Don’t Rate You’ from the Mods’ ‘Spare Ribs’ album. When planning ‘Dirty Rat’, Andrew had composed a whole track for Orbital. The Hartnoll brothers stripped out a single bassline, shifted it to the offbeat, and did their Orbital thing.

“It was all quite locked down,” says Andrew. “We had a Zoom meeting, then we sent bits back and forth. Jason put the vocals on it, they jiggered it around, and that was it.”

“Bang!” says Jason, summing up the speed of the creative process. “Our collaborations tend to be quick and easy because everything’s done digitally. Especially with Orbital. They’re similar to us because it’s just two blokes. So it was all pretty straightforward. The only thing that took time was the talking. Going forward, perhaps we don’t need to do that much. Next time, just text me!”

Despite these solidly soiled electronic roots, ‘UK Grim’ also has a nod to alternative rock with a guest appearance from Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell on the shouty ‘So Trendy’. This gives the album its most eccentric moment, with Perry applying an expressive skater boy drawl to a story about a “mysterious jet-pack man”.

“He’s a colourful character,” Jason remembers of their first Zoom call. “Really nice guy and totally off the scale. Whoosh!”

“His voice, his writing, his style of music – it’s so unique,” says Andrew. “It made me realise how talented he is.”

“I like collaborations,” says Jason. “It’s good for experience and blah blah blah. But you can’t get that real juice until you get back to Mr Fearn, can you? He’s the base of it.”

Aww, you guys.

We’ve mentioned New Order, famously attached to that northern industrial village of Manchester. And we’ve mentioned Yazoo, Basildon’s best-known musical export if you ignore all of Vince Clarke’s other projects. But it’s difficult to talk about bands from Nottingham. Singer-songwriter Jake Bugg? Electronic musician Lone… although didn’t he move to Manchester? And those miserabilists Tindersticks too, I suppose.

If anyone’s flying the flag for Nottingham, then it has to be Sleaford Mods. This latest album was preceded by their ‘Live At Nottz Arena’ EP, recorded in autumn 2021 at the 10,000-seater Motorpoint Arena. A quick check of their ticket page reveals upcoming performances by Michael Bublé, Iron Maiden and Pete Tong. Jason was wowed by the size of the space.

“It’s like a fucking aircraft hangar, innit?” you can hear him say on-mic.

The EP includes Sleaford staples such as ‘Mork N Mindy’ with Billy Nomates and ‘Nudge It’ with Amy Taylor from Oz punk outfit Amyl And The Sniffers. It also includes the Yazoo cover mentioned earlier and closes with their signature track, 2014’s ‘Tied Up In Nottz’. The release captures the same blistering energy you can see in the videos of their restless Glastonbury performances. However, they don’t seem truly enamoured of concert releases as a concept.

“Live albums are totally hit and miss,” says Jason. “You’re justified if it’s a monumental occasion. But even so, you only want to be doing one every five or 10 years.”

“With some unsigned artists that I quite like, I can’t keep up with them,” adds Andrew. “They put too much stuff out.”

“People putting loads of stuff out,” echoes Jason. “It’s just stupid. Well, not stupid but…”
“It’s fine, but I’m not going to listen to it.”

“No, I’m not either. I’m not going to touch it.”

You see how that spiralled together? I swear these guys share the same brain. We muse about our home cities for a while, about the pleasures of Nottingham and the delights of Manchester. We fondly reminisce about their hard-earned nicknames of Shottingham and Gunchester.

“Nottingham’s quite a small place, so I guess one or two shootings is enough to earn that nickname,” says Andrew.

I relate my tales of visiting The Haçienda and not enjoying a moment of it. Crap nights, aggressive bouncers. As it turns out, Jason went there about the same time as me. We may have been in the same drizzly ticket queue, trying not to get shot.

“It felt murky and the dancefloor was dead,” he remembers. “It’s like any famous landmark that you visit which turns out to be a complete and utter anti-climax.”

“Notts is like the Manchester of the Midlands,” says Andrew. “But it’s always been a bit more of an underdog than Manchester. All the northern cities need a big financial injection, don’t they?”

Finance? Like a despotic sheriff returning to his much-loved hog roast, Jason is drawn back to his favourite subject of politics.

“The Tories give the cities just enough funding to not, in most cases, stand out in the street with your ribs showing,” he says.

“For it not to be a war zone,” says Andrew.

“Like in the film ‘Seven’, where he slowly starves that guy in bed to the point where his brain’s mush and his heart’s barely beating. That’s a bit like what the Tories are doing to this country.”

I know this is Jason’s favourite subject because I’ve had a look at the band’s social media. Especially their lively Twitter feed. I want to talk about this, so I lead into it by quizzing them about their relatively new TikTok account. They haven’t posted much, apart from Jason pacing up some steps like Rocky Balboa while Survivor’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ plays, a half-hearted Beatles/Abba word game, and an unlikely ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’ tribute.

“Dogshit,” says Jason and our discussion about the internet’s trendiest platform leads nowhere, as if any other outcome was likely in a conversation between three jaded middle-aged men.

OK, so they are not going to embrace TikTok. But they really do have a track record with Twitter, that leading loud-hailer for blabbermouths. The @sleafordmods account has snapped at many enemies, including Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Mumford & Sons’ newly radicalised banjo-botherer Winston Marshall. On a lighter side, Iggy Pop tweeted his parrot Biggy Pop dancing to the Mods’ ‘Tweet Tweet Tweet’ track, while Jason recently posted a photo of some lovely mince pies.

With Paxman-like brilliance, I confront Jason with the following tweets, which have been tidied up for editorial neatness.

“The ‘This Morning’ programme should be banned. Fucking rats.”

“These Royal correspondents need offing. Sucky fucking rats. What a bin this is.”

“So will there be any karma for these fucking governing, cash-chomping wank rats?”

“Beady Eye can fuck off too. Fucking rats.”

“Doughnuts are rat. Cheap bollocks in sugar. Gash as.”

The criticism of ‘This Morning’ evokes a guffaw from the Mods, while the Beady Eye diss prompts a regretful “Oh dear”. The doughnut tweet is clearly taking things too far. Time to go for the jugular. I ask Jason what he has against rats.

“I used to work in this warehouse,” he says. “And some of the lads were from Beeston. Everything with them was ‘fucking rats’. It’s not even a great curse word but it’s the way they said it.”

Photo: Andi Sapey

I point out that Twitter seems like a suitable platform for them. It’s well suited to angry barbs sprinkled with humour. I also propose that they could easily quit Twitter. It’s the most natural thing in the world for Gen Xers like us to down tools and no longer engage with the online world.

“Do you think so?” says Andrew, who looks surprised and a little scandalised at the thought of quitting any kind of technology.

“I’m all over the social media – all over it,” says Jason. “But with TikTok, you’ve got to learn how to master it and I don’t know if I can be bothered.”

“In one sense, they’re all the same,” says Andrew. “Maybe one day, everyone will turn it off, go outside and talk to each other.”

Gen X to the core.

At the time of writing, Nottingham City Council has 122,000 followers on Twitter, while Manchester City Council has 205,000. Just saying.

In 2007, Sleaford Mods’ eponymous debut album sought to take down the music industry. Or at least, that’s how it seemed. Within minutes of their very first guitar chord, they had a pop at ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ boy band One True Voice – “Boring bastards discussing the merits of The Fall” – and DJs playing Primal Scream’s ‘Screamadelica’ too much.

Yet these young hellraisers weren’t that young, even then. On the delightfully named second track, ‘Teacher Faces Porn Charges’, Jason confronts his already encroaching middle age. Over a barely disguised Roni Size sample, he drawls, “I’m 35 years old / And my mother is still putting money into my account / So I can go out and shop in flip-flops, pyjamas / To buy a plastic bag of beer”.

Since then, Jason’s agitated diatribe has become even more fervent. ‘UK Grim’ continues that by taking swipes at middle- of-the-road dullards, dickhead behaviour and, as we’ve come to expect, Tories.

There’s self-contemplation on this latest album too, though. A knowing reference to being in a “shouty band”, the hollow insistence that they don’t need “disco naps”, and Jason stating on ‘Pit 2 Pit’ that he’s “been a good boy for five long years”, before adding on ‘Rhythms Of Class’ that he’s “swapped the coke nights for Coke Light”.

Over lockdown, Jason and Andrew hit their 50s. I mention this because, when I meet them, I’ve had a tortuous journey from Manchester to Notts. My train-replacement coach ground to a halt in the fog-white Pennines because there were too many passengers for it to cope with the hills. As they kicked us off the bus into the misty murk, I’m pretty sure I murmured, “I’m too old for this” about a thousand times.

We whinge about the rail system for a while, but I’m more interested in how they’re finding life as, well, angry older men.

The answer is more practical than I’d expected. They work out. Jason goes to the gym every other day, and Andrew says he wouldn’t be without his kettlebells and protein shakes.

“There isn’t any point in lifting weights if you’re not going to take some protein shakes as well,” advises Andrew, who may be Nottingham’s answer to Joe Wicks.

I’m assuming that Joe Wicks isn’t from Nottingham, by the way. You can google it if you want.

“We’re not as hedonistic as we used to be,” adds Jason.

“You just get to an age where everything changes,” says Andrew. “You don’t need to try and kill yourself with whisky to validate yourself.”

After a change in management – Jason’s wife Claire, who I talked about earlier, replaced their previous manager Steve Underwood in 2019 – Jason quit drink and drugs.

“This made our live shows better,” he says. “Me and Andrew just grew up a bit.”

The all-important question. Are you happier?

“Fucking yeah, both of us are,” attests Jason, quickly. “It’s nice to want to make those changes in your life.

It’s our job to stay together as a band, which is fucking really hard work, but somehow we’ve managed to do it.”

In an unexpected twist, Jason recently became an ancient fisherman. Not an actual fisherman, but a role he adopted when narrating an anniversary audiobook edition of Alan Moore’s 1996 novel ‘Voice Of The Fire’. He also narrates the character of the 19th century Northamptonshire poet John Clare. We’re doing the interview in the very studio in which Jason recorded his parts.

“Alan Moore’s, like, totally fucking really good,” says Jason. “His reputation precedes him, doesn’t it? He’s a big fan of what we do, apparently. Anybody like that who comes out in support of what we do is brilliant.”

Inspired by the image of Jason encrusted in barnacles, I posit the thought that the gravelly quality of his voice might sound even better as he edges closer to old age. It certainly seems to have worked for Bob Dylan. The suggestion goes down like a fisherman’s anchor.

“I’m not too chuffed about that, to be honest. I would ideally like it to sound as fucking smooth as a baby’s arse.”

But he has been taking singing lessons. Breathing exercises, warm-up techniques, voice coaching. Working on that audible throat stretch that adds so much colour to his singing voice.

“You’ve got to use what you’ve got, haven’t you?” he shrugs. “And if you feel restricted, that adds to it. The ideas that I bring to Andrew sometimes don’t gel initially because what’s in your head translates differently as soon as you start singing. But Andrew is really good at moulding and reshaping.”

This is Sleaford Mods’ 12th studio album in 15 years. And you can’t be angry forever. At some point, you’re going to break physically or collapse mentally, or at least ruin your voice.

They seem disappointed in their old references of hoovering up drugs and visiting strip clubs, and Jason talks a bit about addressing the misogyny of his past.

“I’m a work in progress on that front. Don’t think I’m some fucking moral high ground expert, because I’m not.”

But they’re softer than they used to be. They must be. They sell socks and keyrings on their website.

“We had scarves as well, at one point,” says Jason, proudly.

You wouldn’t want to cross them in a dark alley, but this side of the Mods is quite endearing. It’s evident in the interview – they’re both jovial and eager to be polite. You can also hear it on ‘UK Grim’. It’s there in the gentle backing guitar of ‘On The Ground’, despite its sinister threats against online trolls. It’s in the melancholic violin synth of ‘Smash Each Other Up’, despite its “fist fights near Sainsbury’s car park”. And it’s all over the introspective ‘Apart From You’, complete with fully sung chorus about being lost in a metaphysical waiting room.

Jason is a keen reader, although he admits to losing focus after 40 minutes of turning pages, most probably because of the subject matter.

“I read critical theory,” he states, somewhat matter-of-factly. “Anything relating to the fabric of society, whether it’s an anarchist take or some philosopher’s take. Some of the observations are quite interesting.”

Jason is writing a book himself, as it goes. An actual book, with words and full stops and everything. He has previously published his lyrics and produced a short story collection called ‘Happy Days’ in which things were either “knackered and shit” or “new and shit”. And although he’s unlikely to release another fiction collection, this new book sounds promising. Something autobiographical. He’s about 20,000 words in.

“I’m struggling with it, to be honest,” he admits. “You get so many of these fucking whippersnappers releasing books. And I think, ‘Oh, fuck off’.”

“They’re just putting out chatty Christmas books,” notes a disgusted Andrew.

“It angers me so much.”

“It’s a waste of paper,” says Andrew. “Young people haven’t even lived a life. So why are you writing your life story, then?”

“I mean, how many more fucking books do you want to read on hedonistic fucking bands?” adds Jason. “I’m having issues with the validity of it.”

“Big deal.”

A pause.

“The irony is, my book is basically that,” says Jason.

I suggest that fans tend to be obsessed with their favourite groups and a book laying out the internal workings of Jason Williamson’s head would go down a treat.

“I don’t know if our fans are obsessed with who we are,” says Jason. “Because we’re not enigmas, are we? I mean, you are, more so than me.”

“Am I?” says Andrew.

“You’re a bit more private.”

“Yeah,” concedes Andrew.

“It will take as long as it will,” explains Jason. “I don’t want to divulge too much. But I think it’s important to put stuff in about breaking the mould of what it is to supposedly be a bloke.”

Don’t take too long about it, Jason. None of us are getting any younger.

My trip to Nottingham is nearly at an end. We’ve established that Sleaford Mods are older and they’re more thoughtful. They’re more electronic too. ‘UK Grim’ is undoubtedly an electronic record, so perhaps some crusty guitar-heads will leave them snide Facebook comments.

In another sense, nothing has changed since that first album. They’re still taking on what they view as crap music scenes. The second track on ‘UK Grim’ is ‘DIwhy’. It starts with a MIDI beat in the style of something like Phil Collins, an MOR curveball that Andrew seems especially delighted with. It then sharpens its claws for its true victim – kids on the DIY music scene.

“You’re talking to me like a seven-year-old / That’s not gone to bed before they should do,” go the lyrics.

“You’re not DIY / You’re a fucking twat.”

I ask Jason to expand and he gladly obliges.

“I’ve got into loads of arguments with people from the DIY scene,” he says. “They somehow believe they have a higher moral ground because they are grassroots and haven’t been bought out by the man.”

“It’s a paranoia, though, isn’t it?” says Andrew. “It’s almost like the more famous you become, the less you’re supposed to have an opinion.”

“A lot of it is based on jealousy,” continues Jason. “We’ve helped set the musical landscape for the last 10 years in this country. People don’t like it, and they look for any excuse to have a go.”

After we finish our meeting, I get a thankfully uncancelled train home. While I’m relaxing with a warm Coca-Cola, I pop onto the Visit Nottinghamshire website. There’s an advert for a Medieval Sheriff’s Banquet. It’s slightly out of date, but not that old – 2017, the year Sleaford Mods released ‘English Tapas’.

“The night will be hosted by our very own Villainous Sheriff of Nottingham,” boasts the advert. “Guests will enjoy a delicious three-course meal served by our wenches.”

Yes, they called them wenches in the 2010s. My heart sinks. Maybe Notts hasn’t moved on at all. Am I getting too caught up in the idea of the Mods being more mature and more sensible? Should I just allow them to be medieval lads and proud of it? Or perhaps this is closer to the truth – Sleaford Mods have moved on, leaving their home city behind.

Rewind an hour or so, when Jason’s still in the middle of his rant about kids in the DIY scene.

“You can’t tell a young person that they’re being an ageist little cunt, because they’re not going to understand,” he says, although I reckon Jason would definitely tell someone they were being an ageist little cunt. “To them, the idea of being old is repulsive, like it was to me when I was 26. So you can’t tell people. History repeats itself.”

“Yeah, right… wow,” says Andrew.

An Orbital sample immediately comes to mind. “Where time becomes a loop…”

“And this is another thing,” adds Jason. “Who am I? For a long time, I thought I was brilliant, but that’s bullshit. I’m just somebody that works with somebody else, and the two of us produce very good music. And that’s where it ends. Who are you to think that you are anything else?”

‘UK Grim’ is released by Rough Trade

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