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Who’d want to be a musician these days? With 2020/2021 being the years of no gigs, no tours and no late night tales on the road, it’s not exactly been the rock and roll lifestyle Working Mens Club might have dreamed of. But then, it’s all about the music isn’t it?
Working Men’s Club is the brainchild of Syd Minsky-Sargeant, a scarily young lad from Todmorden in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, who has already racked up a nomination for Best Breakthrough Act at the Q Magazine Awards, appeared on Jools Holland and picked up a list of admirers in high places in the world of music. So this lot are probably worth a listen if you haven’t heard them already.
As a live outfit, Working Men’s Club are a band who have not always been able to coast. Having signed to Heavenly Records and with the hype around them building, underlying tensions came to a boil a mere five days before the band’s all-important first London headline show, and Syd was left high and dry; guitarist Giulia Bonometti had decided to focus on her blossoming solo career, and drummer Jake Bogacki was against the new electronic direction Syd was taking.
All that remained of the outfit was Syd himself. But with staunch determination burning in his belly, he quickly assembled a lineup consisting of himself, Liam Ogburn, Mairead O’Connor (The Moonlandingz) and Rob Graham (Drenge, Baba Naga) — both of whom he had met at the Sheffield studio of producer Ross Orton (The Fall, M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys) — replaced the live drums with a drum machine, and rush-rehearsed the new setup before going ahead with the show. “If it wasn’t for Sheffield then we probably wouldn’t have played that gig” he says. “I was shitting myself, because I didn’t know what would work and what wouldn’t”
Luckily, something stuck: “After about three gigs with that lineup it was already way better than what we’d had before.”
Despite the delays from the-virus-that-shall-not-be-named, their self-titled debut album finally saw the light of day in 2020 along with a remix album Minsky Rock Megamix in 2021, which was created entirely during lockdown. There are worse things they could have done with the time to be fair.
Following Working Men’s Club live performance at the BBC 6Music Festival, we got Syd to hop over to Bethnal Green to answer some quickfire questions while we showed him around the gaff.
We love your debut album! How does it feel to have it out there on Heavenly Recordings and get so much high praise from the music press?
Thanks very much! It’s really nice to finally have it out, it was strange to not tour the record after releasing it, however, I think considering the circumstances we are very fortunate in terms of what we were able to do and the way the record was received.
The album sounds mega (well done you) and vinyl copies sold out online prior to release! What was the tour schedule like for the album?
The process was interesting and very different, as we got into it and realised how best to work with what we had (Zoom and a minimal recording set up) it was really good fun. It was all about making it feel like we were in the same room as one other as much as possible really so we could musically and mentally be on the same level and we managed to achieve that and deliver the Megamix to the best of our abilities considering the circumstances.
What do you stand for as an artist?
I think my music says everything I stand for, that’s how I voice my thoughts and opinions.
What five things do you want to be remembered for?
Music, music, music, music and music!
What's your thoughts on the music industry right now?
Now that live music is back, where should we go and who should we see?
The Golden Lion and The Trades Club (Venues), Brian Destiny and Yard Act
So we know you don't currently ride a motorcycle, is that something you’d fancy doing in the future?
I always wanted to be able to ride a motorbike just so I had an excuse to wear a really wicked motorbike helmet...
What’s next for Working Men's Club?
Sounds good to us Syd, can't wait to see what you do next.
Working Men’s Club are playing in Mutt’s hometown, Birmingham, at the O2 Academy on Friday the 19th of November. If you can, get yourself down and experience their chaotic take on electronic post-punk for yourselves. Grab your tickets here.
You can also keep up with Syd and everything Working Men’s Club are up to by following them on Instagram @working_mens_club
Photography by Gavin Watson