The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, Chinwag, by Ben Spencer

1. So could you guys introduce your self’s? And where are you based?
Marc: Hello, we’re the 19th Century themed anachronist Punk Rock band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, from London. The one in England, for clarity…

2. For the sake of our readers and anyone else who may not know, could you tell us more about the term Steampunk?
Marc: Steampunk is essentially Anachronistic Victoriana. It’s taking the Victorian aesthetic, and sometimes its values, and applying it to the present or the future. Thus we can be a live heavy Punk band set in the Victorian era, and Doc Brown in Back to the Future can have a steam powered flying time Machine. You set your brain to ‘Victorian mode’ and push things through it. The term really came from Comic books and Science Fiction, but since the Genre is anachronistic it can mean anything you want it too. Go and look on Wikipedia, and then get into the spirit of the thing and re-write the Wikipedia page, ideally making it brown. Our mission is to create the soundtrack to the movement.

Andy- basically, it’s a reimagined history based on Victorian Sci-Fi… the term “steampunk” first appeared in a letter written to Locus magazine in 1987. Author K. W. Jeter was looking for a general term to describe his material (as well as the material of some of his contemporaries) set in the 19th century or 19th-century-like worlds, with strange, anarchronistic machines etc.. He said: “Personally, I think Victorian fantasies are going to be the next big thing, as long as we can come up with a fitting collective term for Powers, Blaylock and myself. Something based on the appropriate technology of the era; like ‘steampunks’, perhaps…”
We are trying to provide a soundtrack to that world!

3. You have described your style as “Crusty punk meets cockney sing-songs meets grindcore in the 1880s”, could you name any particular bands or artists who have helped mould you into this interesting genre of music?
Marc: We’re all into massively different music, but the centre of the Venn diagram, where the bands heart is, is in late 70’s and early 80’s Punk. So you can hear the Pistols and the Clash, and Black Flag and Sick of it All. There’s also touches of Slayer, The Jam, Smashing Pumpkins… it depends which song you’re listening to. The comedy and literature influences are just as important though: Alan Moore, Jules Verne, Monty Python, Black Adder, Douglas Adams- it’s all in there somewhere.
Andy- With a healthy dollop of Doctor Who in the mix too.

4. From your debut release in 2010 to your ‘A very Steam punk Christmas’ which was released several months later, you guys have changed your line-up could you tell me more about the current lineup and sound? Do you guys feel more comfortable as a band?
Jez: Well I’m the new boy, 2 years and counting. Andy invited me out for a pint and slipped a pound coin into my Guinness. That apparently constitutes a legally binding contract. Fortunately I love being in this band, so all is forgiven.
Marc: I think ‘ changing the line up’ is a bit of an overstatement. We changed drummers- Ben, our originally drummer wasn’t really into the Steampunk thing and is in about 200 other bands. He was really only doing it as a favour to Andrew, who used to play with him years ago. He’s on the first album and did a handful of shows with us, but Jez has done a lot more. When Jez joined it definitely felt like we’d cemented the line-up. The first album is really Andrew and Andy plus backing band- they wrote all the songs and arrangements. Ben and I wrote our parts but really they were Andy and Andrews songs. The Christmas EP was written as a four-piece band, and the songs were worked from the ground up. Jez and I contributed to structure and parts, melodies and even lyrics. By that point we were a real band. So yes, we’re much more comfortable. It means our ‘sound’ is more of a mash-up of four peoples tastes and is even harder to nail down.

5. Tell me more about your upcoming album, what can current fans expect, and do you that this is natural progression in your sound?
Jez: Its like a ramped up version of the first album, everything is basically turned up. The heavy bits are heavier, the funny bits are funnier and the whimsical bits are whimsicalier. More whimsicalier in fact.

Marc: It’s the sound of a much more confident band, it’s better recorded than the first one. Andrew always says the first album was “what should Steampunk sound like” and this one is “what does the band we want to be in sound like”.

6. Also, you guys have had a fair bit of media coverage, capturing the eye of NME and Bizarre Magazine, as well as playing a diversity of comedy clubs, festivals and theatres. How do these shows differ in terms of the crowd you’re performing too?
Marc: The weird thing is that we get ALL of these different types at all of our gigs. We get comedy fans, goths, metallers, steampunks, Diesal Punks, Punk Punks. It’s like that scene in the middle of Anchorman with the different news crews- only by the end they’re all bouncing along together.

7. Is there any particular type of venue that you prefer playing too?
Jez: Anywhere that’s hot sweaty and packed will do, but it’s nice to hire a venue ourselves and put a cohesive line-up together. Too many venues work on the “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” principle and the audience is just full (or half full) of people who are only there to see their mates play and have no interest in watching anyone else. Our audience tends to be very open minded so it’s nice to put on different types of acts with us, because it just makes for a richer experience.

8. I understand that you guys dress up for your gigs? How essential is this process in regard to your performances?
Jez: Pretty essential. We look horrible naked!
Marc: The best bands look like gangs, from the Ramones to Kiss- this isn’t really that different. If we play to Steampunk audiences it’s almost part of their expectations (although we’re one of the few bands at those events that would still work without costumes), if we play to straight rock crowd it gives a theatricality that gives us an edge. A lot of our fans come dressed up too, which is always brilliant. It feels like we’re playing to our own private Army. It’s not like we wear very elaborate outfits though, it’s not like we’re Gwar.

9. Could you take me through the lyrical concepts that your music follows? Are there any particular themes that you focus upon?
Marc; Everything is rooted in the Victorian era, or thereabouts- that’s the touchpoint. The trick is not to romanticise it. The point of the band is- if Punk and Metal and Electric guitars had been invented in the mid 19th century, what would the bands sound like? What would they sing about? What are the issues? A good chunk of the songs have a comic basis as well, which is really important to us. In a way it means the serious songs are taken more seriously. The funny ones I like to think of us updating Music Hall- this is what music for the rotters and the gin-soaked working man would have been.

10. Tonight is your album launch event, what kind of night do you see on the horizon?
Marc: I’m writing this from the Future, so telling you would create a paradox and collapse space time.

11. Are there any particular performances that you’re looking forward to seeing?
Marc: Professor Elemental is/was on, he’s ace. Check him out.
Andy- Mouse has a very interesting act, though I wouldn’t stand too close to the front.

12. Do you guys have any tours lined up following the release of your new album?
Jez: We are hoping to tour the UK in the autumn, and we’ll squeeze in whatever gigs we can before that. We’ve got two stand-up comedians in the band so we have to work round their schedules a bit – but it does mean that we will probably get to do a couple of nights at the Edinburgh Fringe. If you want us to play your town, please get in touch via FaceBook or MySpace and we’ll see what we can do.
Marc: Myspace? What is this, 2003? I know we’re Anachronists but we’ve got to draw the line somewhere!

Thank you for your time!
Thank you!