Silky (Oliver Hookings) realised in 2016 that his former band, States of Emotion, which he had founded fifteen years earlier had “run its course”. Where does one go when their challenging adolescence is unable to guide them? (After all, Silky had literally “Lyrically bled” (his) “heart” in States of Emotion) One goes back further to 1992 “in the quiet British middle-class suburb of Brentwood Essex, a 5-year-old Oliver is gifted a VHS by his old man titled “Divine Madness” (a collection of the music videos that accompany the band’s greatest hits.) He’s instantly hooked, telling his old man “When I grow up I wanna be a pop star like Suggs.”
One Saturday afternoon (after States of Emotion split) Silky picked up his beaten up old telecaster copy and in a full circle moment, wrote a Madness inspired ska-pop song titled Rickety Old Train, singing in his thick Essex accent for the first time ever. Rickety Old Train felt “more fun and refreshing than anything Silky had ever written” and became XSNoize’s Track of the Day. A quirky “no budget” video filmed in Romford Market accompanied the track.
The rest of 2016 would “see more ska songs naturally come pouring out of Silky”. 2017 would see defining moments for Death of Guitar Pop duo Silky and Jonny “Top Kat” Hick, earning the respect of their 2 Tone heroes Pauline Black (The Selecter) and Dave Wakeling (The Beat); both giving the lads “big props on social media”. As if this instant acclaim wasn’t enough; The Original Rudeboy Neville Staple (The Specials) also reached out to the lads, collaborating with them on track two, Suburban Ska Club. Also, the Bad Manners horn section (aka The Mafia) features on the album and as part of the Death of Guitar Pop live band.
Album title track 69 Candy Street is the upbeat album opener. The lyrical eccentricity of this song presents fictional Coronation Street character, mechanic Kevin Webster as a working-class hero. EastEnders Phil Mitchel doesn’t get a look in. Even if the lyrics fail to connect on a wider existential level; they will certainly connect people’s feet with the dancefloor. Suburban Ska Club, lyrically inspired by the characters that frequent the Death of Guitar Pop’s free ska night in Grays, Essex, builds upon this special relationship with the dancefloor. Rickety Old Train, the song which started things for the band shows what exciting things can be achieved through the medium of 2 Tone ska. Whilst 2 tone is the central and dominant theme of this album, there is also a homage to the originals. Welcome Back resonates with Desmond Decker’s original ska sound.
Being true to ska (particularly 2 Tone), and having respect and humility for the genre has deservingly paid off for Death of Guitar Pop. In making the video for Sweet Sensation, whilst admitting that they were “still relatively new and naive to the (skinhead) subculture”, Death of Guitar Pop expressed the importance of “capturing the unity and spirit of the skinhead movement”. Death of Guitar Pop do almost everything on this album; except fully commentate on the current political and social climate in the same way their 2 Tone forbears did in late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
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