Introducing Children Of The State: Sheffield’s answer to the Beat Generation
They headline Café Totem this Friday
In an era of political uncertainty and social unrest, music is created as a reaction to the anger that the artist feels. This is certainly the case for Children of the State, who only formed in May of this year. They've not messed around with getting their sound out there (described as peyote punk), releasing their debut EP "Kill Your Darlings" in July, receiving critical acclaim from key figures in the music industry, being described as an "array of ear-worms and head boppers" by BBC Introducing's Dean Jackson.
I caught up with the guitarist of the South Yorkshire five-piece, Nathan Keeble before their almost sold-out Café Totem show this Friday, to talk about the EP, the current state of the music industry and most importantly, what meal deal would best describe the band.
You’re all from South Yorkshire, how did you all meet and bring the band together?
We've all been involved in different projects in and around Sheffield. I was in a band called Vultures with our singer and guitarist, John and we all got to know each other through these different projects.
When it came to forming the band in May, the biggest challenge was getting a keyboardist. We felt we needed to get that in particular to create the sound that we wanted to make, rather than what everyone wanted to hear.
Your debut EP "Kill Your Darlings" is very eclectic to say the least. During the writing process, are the influences shared or is it a case of bringing your influences together to create the sound you have?
It's very much a melting pop of ideas and influences, we didn’t want to make it all sounding the same. Spotify can kill the listening process so we wanted to keep people interested throughout the EP, every song combines our influences, and we want to aerosolise our sound through that. Our next single "How Right You Are?" (out on 14th December) still has our stamp on it but still sounds very different from "Kill Your Darlings".
Your songwriting makes a lot of references to the Beat Generation writers and the idea of a dystopian near-future, do you feel that the times we’re living in are allowing for a resurgence of that style of poetry?
Definitely! Bands such as Shame and The Blinders are pushing those ideas and their anger through their work, but it was Fat White Family who set the precedent for that style in recent years. A lot of bands have been gentrified these days, but bands like Fat White Family are moving out of London to escape that gentrification and maintain their raw anger in different cities. Our track "Miss America, May I?" is just a cliché of what bands that have fallen to that style of gentrification write about these days.
The EP process sees appearances from members of Fat White Family, Mysterons and the Moonlandingz, how did you get them involved?
A couple of us run a night at Café Totem called “All Tomorrow’s Parties”. They came down one night and we got chatting about our music and they said they wanted to produce us. It was great to get an outside perspective during the process, as they were able to add stuff to the EP that definitely suited the sound we were looking for.
You’ve been packing in a lot of dates, especially for a new band, in cities such as Leeds and London. What’s the reaction been like in cities that you haven’t visited previously?
It's been really good. People who we don't know are listening to the EP, complimenting it and coming to the shows, which is a massive plus point! You know you’re doing something right when that happens. Steve Lamacq playing us on drive-time show was also huge, as it gains over one and a half million listeners, so to get that reception from a figure such as him is crazy!
You’re on track for a sold-out show at Café Totem this Friday. How does a hometown gig compare playing in other cities?
Hometown gigs are always more fun as all the people you know are there, and you can make a fool of yourself and it’s all good because they also enjoy it! It's not like places such as London, where it’s a hard crowd to please as everyone's stood with blank expressions on their faces. Our Tramlines show at Crystal was rammed so although this isn't our biggest hometown show, we certainly see it as our flagship show as we're headlining it.
As a music scene, Sheffield is indie-orientated. Do you feel that the perceived step away from the generic indie scene has allowed you to develop as a band?
I think so yeah, there’s only so many songs you can write about going down the pub that people want to hear. It seems like a lot of indie bands are producing music which they think is seen as 'cool to make', which I see as quite a fascist system of making music. It seems that music has become sexless in recent years as well, as a band we want to make beautiful songs that people want to listen to and enjoy.
Are there any bands in Sheffield that readers should be keeping an eye out for?
Joe Mojito's Them Sardines are up there. They make some pretty wacky tunes so they're checking out. I'll have to include Sheafs in this as well.
What meal deal would represent the band?
It has to be from Tesco firstly. I'd say a beef and mustard sandwich, boiled egg and spinach pot as the side, and Dr. Pepper as the drink. It's definitely one that puts hairs on your chest!
Tickets for Children Of The State's headline show with the Americas and Bad Bug are running low, but you can still grab hold of the last few via this link.