Fresh from releasing their third single Crude Oil Water on New Years Day and hotly tipped as RGM, Ones to Watch from the North for 2020, gutter punks The Battery Farm have gone from strength to strength since forming in March 2019. With words by Ben Corry and music by brother Dominic Corry, it’s a song about societies dehumanization and the ease with which Human Beings objectify each other for entertainment and gratification, framed through the prism of someone watching strangers drown in a crude oil pit. Recorded at Vibe Recording Studios in Manchester, produced by Dean Glover and mastered by Pete Maher with an accompanying video directed and edited by Dominic Corry. RGM caught up with the band to find out more about what goes in their own brand of dirty punk and what we can expect from the band in 2020.
RGM: Your lyrics are often a damning indictment of modern broken Britain is it important that you as a band try and address it?
The Battery Farm: It is important to us to address that but it’s also something that comes about quite naturally rather than us trying to do it. The band was born as a reaction to the ever-intensifying feeling of dystopia that tore through the last decade. We’re living in a terrifying time and our natural reaction was and is to address that terror by documenting it, by lashing out at it and trying to articulate the way it has affected and changed us as Human Beings.
Although we have strong, left-leaning political views, we are as a band reactors rather than protestors, though I suppose that in itself is a political act. The last five years especially have seen a collective loss of innocence and emboldenment of far-right hate on a global scale, as well as the ever-worsening climate crisis about which our leaders are doing nothing. That sense of trauma, anger and lost hope at our stolen and corrupted future changes a person and it’s hard to not want to react to that as an artist. Our ultimate aim is to give a voice to that horrible change, a voice to that sense of hopelessness and rage which will hopefully empower those who feel the same way as us. Empathy in vicious times. That’s the most important thing.
RGM: You’ve talked openly about issue with mental health, self-doubt and toxic masculinity, has music always been an outlet for you to express inner demons and do you think it’s now more acceptable within the music industry to raise these issues?
TBF: It has, yes. Lyrically a lot of what I write is deeply personal and at times I can be brutally self-eviscerating when I know I should be kinder to myself. However, it helps to get those thoughts on paper (or, indeed notes apps). It helps to be able to map out the confusion, fear and lack of control I feel a lot within myself and it helps, even more, to be able to turn that into something beautiful. It’s both an exorcism and a victory and it’s important to me to write with unflinching honesty.
In terms of whether it’s more acceptable within the music industry to talk about mental health, I think it certainly is. It’s very much a mainstream concern now as it should have been a long time ago. However, there is still a hell of a long way to go, especially in the way we treat larger touring musicians. People like me aren’t in a position to be treated like a commodity yet, but in the upper echelons of the music industry, as in society at large, money still trumps Human Beings. This means artists are pushed to breaking point with no one to turn to and no professional structure in place to support them. I’ve had to learn to know when to take a step back and know when something is too much or wrong for us. A lot of artists don’t have that choice or are pressured into believing they don’t. In short, I think talking about mental health in the music industry is much easier than it used to be, but only until something more important comes along. Priorities need to change in certain areas. It can’t only be up to the artist to look after themself.
RGM: Who have been your major idols and influences as a band?
TBF: The last couple of years has seen a great wave of Punk or punk-influenced bands who emboldened and empowered us to start The Battery Farm. Bands like IDLES, Sleaford Mods, Witch Fever, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes and Evil Blizzard really influenced the direction our songwriting took when we formed this band. Me and Dom have been writing and playing together for years but have never written with the clarity or vitality we’re writing with now, and it’s down to them. Delving deeper, artists like Manic Street Preachers, Elvis Presley, Depeche Mode, The Everley Brothers and The Smiths have influenced us in myriad ways. For all that he’s a rancid bastard now, Morrissey’s songs are a formative influence and remain important to us, if somewhat tarnished.
RGM: The band are known for their visceral high octane performances how does that energy and sound translate to the recording studio?
TBF: It gives us the impetus to get through things quickly and capture as natural a take as possible without ruminating on things too much. This might change later on but in terms of the songs as we’re recording now we find the best way to capture them honestly is to present them as close to how they sound live as possible, with the odd embellishment here or there for extra flava! That belief in what we’re recording helps exponentially in translating the live sound to the studio. We want something raw, immediate and Human and at the moment the best way to try and do that is to capture the immediacy and understand we’re not making Pet Sounds. We’d love to someday but now isn’t the time.
RGM: The artwork of previous singles manages to portray the passion and anger perfectly tell us a bit more about that?
TBF: Those drawings are basically stills from the imagination of someone who has had a rough couple of years with their mental health, and who is also struggling to reconcile the world as it is with their values. I draw them as another outlet for the rotten things in my brain, and also because I find them pretty amusing once they’re done. I start with the nucleus of an idea then make them up as I go along. More often than not they end up making me laugh because they’re so cartoony and yet so dark. It’s absurd. The artwork and aesthetic side of things is another side of being in a band that I love and that we try to take full advantage of. It can be a really visceral representation of your ideas as an artist. I think it’s important to use the imagery side of things to its full potential.
RGM: How’s life in a band as brothers? Any Gallagher-Esque fallouts?
TBF: It fine, I don’t want to sound trite but we’re best pals and understand each other as artists and people, so we have a really good working relationship. We’re having fun now, which is the most important thing. If we were arguing all the time I just wouldn’t do it.
RGM: What can we expect from The Battery Farm in 2020?
TBF: More releases, more gigs in more places, festivals, radio. Evolution. All done in our own inimitable style.
RGM: Where can we check you out?
TBF: Our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all @thebatteryfarm, we’re on Spotify and YouTube if you want to follow and listen to us there, and you can buy our songs at thebatteryfarm.bandcamp.com. If you want to heckle us in person we’re playing Fuel Cafe Bar in Manchester on 1st February for Deco Records, which will be an amazing gig.