“Gutter punk is the most raw, honest, visceral distillation of the punk rock mindset. It's laced with disgust and passion, fuelled by the idea of reaching for joy from the gutter.”
You’ve heard of post-punk, but have you ever heard of gutter punk? Bands such as The Battery Farm and Bones Shake, influenced by the multitude of waves of punk music, were formed out of a desire to “reach for joy from the gutter”, hence the term “gutter punk”. A Manchester-based quartet, The Battery Farm are political to the core, writing honest, gut-punching music about the dystopian state of contemporary society: their influences range from the inevitable IDLES to the unexpected Elvis Presley. FUZZY sat down for a (virtual) chat about the Mancunian music scene, Brexit, and old Mickey Mouse cartoons.
FUZZY: You describe yourselves as a gutter punk band. Could you explain, perhaps for those who don't know, what gutter punk is?
Gutter Punk is the most raw, honest, visceral distillation of the punk rock mindset. It's laced with disgust and passion, fuelled by the idea of reaching for joy from the gutter. The Battery Farm was born from a desire for an outlet to scream into the void at a point when our lives and minds were crumbling. The music that came from that has this particular viciousness. It is guttural and raw because it needed to be. I'd heard our friends Bones Shake describe themselves as gutter punk and we thought that term summed up what we do perfectly, so we co-opted it. We might not always be a gutter punk band but for now, feeling how we feel with the world the way it is, that is what we are.
FUZZY: There are many post-punk acts emerging at the moment, perhaps off the back of the success of acts like IDLES, Slaves, Fontaines, etc. Any favourite punk names, both original and modern? Who are your main musical influences?
In terms of our influences, we were emboldened to form this band by bands like IDLES, Strange Bones and Witch Fever. That really great wave of new punk bands which articulate how it feels to live through the dystopia we're currently living through. Without those bands, we wouldn't have felt brave enough to be as honest as we've needed to be in our writing for The Battery Farm. They let us feel like we could articulate the pain and fear we were feeling and they have massively informed the power of our sound in that sense.
In terms of our actual writing, it goes a lot deeper. The Smiths will always leave a lasting impression regardless of Morrissey's current foulness. We also take a lot from artists like The Everly Brothers, Scott Walker, Paul Simon, Elvis Presley and Billy Fury. Although they don't necessarily permeate our sound in a literal sense that sense of songcraft and that search for melody has always informed us as writers, and I think if you really squint it just about shows through.
FUZZY: What does your musical process look like? Do you record in a studio or at home?
Ben generally writes the lyrics and Dom writes the music. When we're writing together, we generally meet up and go through what we've got until something feels right. We write based on how we feel. We haven't always got a plan. In fact, we rarely do, which is why we're probably not going to be a Gutter Punk band forever. We write whatever feels truthful to us.
When we record we record in a studio. For the four singles we've released so far, we've worked with Dean Glover at Vibe Recording Studios in Manchester. We've generally recorded everything over the course of a day and tried not to overthink it, although going forward we might take a more considered approach. Maybe we'll write a rock opera, who knows?
FUZZY: You describe yourselves as making "visceral, punishing music." How does this manifest in your music? What are the main themes you explore?
I think it manifests in the heaviness and viciousness of our sound. Certain aspects of our sound are particularly barbed and gnarly, and they hit hard, especially in a live environment. This twins well with what we've tended to write about in recent years. It's almost like we're reacting to the world crumbling around us in real-time. Brexit, the climate crisis, the rise of the far-right, misogyny, mental illness: we talk about all of these things in our songs, framed through the prism of our own fragile humanity; our own insecurities and fears. We try and talk about them in as honest a way as possible because it's cathartic for us, and catharsis is a big part of the reason we formed this band.
FUZZY: The artwork for your singles is really interesting. Do you design this yourself? What's the main influence behind it?
Yes, Ben hand-draws all of it. It's just another outlet to attach to this band that coincidentally helps us put our ideas across more effectively. It's basically us trying to find a way to express a load of pent up anxiety in a visual way. It’s quite soothing. In terms of the actual visual style, it's influenced by old Mickey Mouse cartoons, things like Ren and Stimpy, the naked violence of Raqib Shaw's art, and the bleak horrorscapes of people like Goya and Munch.
FUZZY: What's next for The Battery Farm? Any new releases on the horizon?
Keeping our cards close to our chest on this one. Everything is uncertain at the moment but we have tentative plans in place.
FUZZY: Finally: what would your dream collaboration be?
We’d love to collaborate with Sleaford Mods or Lil Simz. Bob Vylan as well. He's one of the most important artists on the planet at the moment and we reckon we could do something really interesting in the alternative universe where that actually happens.
Words by Eleanor Noyce.
30th July 2020.