The green and pleasant lands above Manchester spawn a monster, as literary performance punks, CABBAGE descends from the misted Pennines once more to release their second album AMANITA PANTHERINA. Mark Millar caught up with Co-Frontman, Lee Broadbent to discuss the album, lockdown and magic mushrooms.
Hi, Lee so how have you been coping during all the lockdown madness?
LB: For Cabbage it was more difficult because a week before the full lockdown was put in place in the UK we were about to announce our second album Amanita Pantherina. We spent the winter recording it in our own studio and then we spent the start of 2020 putting the artwork together and getting ready for an album promo tour. But once lockdown came into play, everyone took six to seven weeks out. For those weeks, it was like a holiday for everyone. We almost felt like kids who have been grounded for the summer holidays. It was great to have the freedom, but at the same time, you felt like all your liberties had been slightly taken out of your hand. There was some mystery to the enjoyment of it.
We kind of just played it by ear to that point and it wasn't until September that we were able to put the album out. Lockdown was a little bit difficult having to sit on the record for that long. But other than that Mossley is a quiet tight-knit community. We have had a good low R rate throughout the whole scenario. So I suppose we are one of the more blessed places to not have suffered so many cases and possibly so many deaths. It was frustrating for the band to have to sit on the record from March to September.
At least the positive thing about was you had the album finished before lockdown.
LB: Yeah, I think we were putting the final touches to the record in maybe late December early January. I think by the time we moved to the second stage after mastering. Then we were sending out to the vinyl people and the CD people to start getting it pressed it was then that the pandemic began to get a bit more serious. So I suppose we can be thankful that we were in that stage. It was quite strange because it was four months before we could all get back together into the studio. Once you've got a well-oiled machine as a punk rock group it’s tough to get the bolts and screws turning again.
Your debut album was produced by James Skelly from The Coral, but with Amanita Pantherina you decided to produce it yourselves. Why was that?
LB: It was something we always set out to do. When we did our first original collection of EPs, we actually went to meet James Skelly with them. Concerning the songs, he said, "There's no way I can put this on record yet. It is too DIY, you need to go and do it yourselves." So he gave us that opportunity, and he said, "They couldn't have turned out better if he would've done it." And then we experienced a full album with him. But again this time we had been building our own studio. Every time we recorded, we would always have had a producer and a masterer and an engineer. I suppose that's something that every band dreams of. The idea that one day they could be their own engineer, producer, masterer and in control of their own destiny. So that's what we did basically.
Amanita Pantherina is a magic mushroom. Were there many eaten during the recording of the album?
LB: Unfortunately, not it wasn't in the season we had just missed it, and we are approaching thirty – we're not like what we were when we were in our teens. (Laughs) It's a very paganistic area where we are from with a lot of green scenery, and there's a monument called Pots And Pans. It is a war memorial, but the area that is surrounding it is a leyline crossing so in the nooks and crannies of this area will be a community of bizarre mushroom takers. They will tell you the weird and twisted tales of the last thousand years of this area. I suppose we have carried a little influence into that. I think a lot of people our age took that through their teens on the backend of the summer of love in the 80s and 90s. Obviously, I'm too young to be part of that era, but we were influenced by the groups of lads who were 5-10 years older than us. They definitely have this overriding chemical inspiration. (Laughs)
We heard the first taster from the album back in March with the excellent track. 'You've Made An Art Form (From Falling To Pieces)' which was inspired by Coronation Street. What can you tell me about that?
LB: Joe is a massive fan of Coronation Street, and he always has been. I think he probably prefers Coronation Street more because he's the only member of the band who’s not from Manchester. I've said before because of Coronation Street's joyful side of comedy means it has always got a soft spot in Mancunians’ hearts truly. It was something that Deirdre Rachid said to Ken Barlow in the 80s I think during a heated argument she said, "You've made an art form, and you've made it fall into pieces." So Joe ran with that and turned it into a little ditty, and Eoghan and Joe went off to work on it. I remember when the song first came to light, it was so different. We envisaged it as a great pop song, and we were always wondering how it would fit on the Cabbage spectrum, but once we put it to a proper demo, we couldn't believe how it turned out. It had this incredible spacey vibe it. There's a band called Splash who we are all quite fond of, and the music really reminded us of that band.
The second single 'Get Outta My Brain' channels fellow Manc Shaun Ryder. I read the song has two meanings what are they?
LB: Mental health and anxiety are at the forefront of people’s minds in mainstream culture now. I've always seen that there are two ways that people who are new to stress and mental health issues deal with things. One is that you could run away if you need something to get away from. And another is to wallow in possibly affecting your mind with lots and lots of alcohol or any other substances. So 'Get Outta My Brain' is a tipping scale of whether it's running away or getting yourself off your face. Which are two of the opposing sides of dealing with issues, so we wanted to bring that to the forefront.
We got to the point where shouting political statements in people’s faces might not be the way that we want to go. Still, we thought if someone listened to the lyrics and someone heard us saying about the tipping scale of the adverse effects of how they are dealing with mental health we thought there would be enough in there to inspire some people and join the cause of helping people to deal with issues that they might not be able to deal with by themselves.
Cabbage has always written about modern Britain and your political views of what is going on in the UK. Do you think that more bands should write about what is going on and voice their opinions?
LB: I think that if you genuinely want to be a musician who writes about societal subjects in that way then definitely! But I don't think it should become whereas the duty of a musician to write songs like that, I don't think we are carrying some form of role in culture and in society. I just think it's vital if you can genuinely say something that comes from the heart or the gut then it’s most certainly worth telling. We always saw art as a cathartic experience and something that we could feel relieved from at the end. And by writing societal subjects that reflect on modern culture that was the best way we could channel and gain a cathartic experience from music.
We wouldn't want to join in line and became the next local councillor or mayor, but of course, the messages have become quite natural to us. It always feels massively important to use them as subjects for music.
Which track from the album do you feel most connected to and why?
LB: I've gone through a lot of them over the last few weeks, and I don't think I've given any love to a song called 'Hatred' which is quite possibly the most beautiful song on the album. I believe every punk rock indie band or whatever you want to call it wants to write ten explosive, colourful, vibrant songs on a record. Still, a record cannot be complete until it has that one ethereal lazy Sunday vibe and 'Hatred' truly is our song in that category. And we have guest vocals from one of our friends from Mossley called Elizabeth Rigby, 'Hatred' is definitely one of the songs for people to listen out to.
The album is going out on your new label Brassica Records. Has it been a challenge for writing new music and running your own label?
LB: This is probably the most challenging album that we found writing music. From a transition period of leaving a major label and going full steam ahead and being in control, 100% of everything we do. Not that time was of the essence or time played a factor in how we wrote the music. The band had explored itself thoroughly for the first three years of our career. All the songs came quite natural, and I think this was the first part where we found ourselves wanting to write music rather than naturally writing music.
That's definitely a difficult part of a musician’s career, and it’s something that future musicians should look out for or other musicians will recognise what I'm saying here. That was the only difficult part about coming up with this album. In fact, a lot of it was re-written because we had a member change and we found ourselves more grounded in the studio that we built ourselves. So once we were in place there, everything started coming together quite well.
We have always had a massive collection of demos and sometimes it's interesting to go into the band email and scroll through the last 3-4 years and be surprised what you find. Now we have been spending such a long period writing music, and know that this album has come out. The lockdown has given us time on our hands, we are nearly practically ready to start the next album. So it,s kind of put us in a brilliant position now because we have just released an album that we are really proud of and it took us a lot of time to work on. We finally got there, and we are already two steps ahead for the next record. I suppose it’s worked out in our favour massively.
Manchester has a rich musical heritage do you think there is a healthy music scene there now?
LB: Yeah definitely. The White Hotel has been holding up as the flagship venue that seems to have created the most exciting and wacky musicians in Manchester. It is worth mentioning that if you were to attend The White Hotel on a Friday or Saturday night (out of the pandemic), You would find some of Manchester's most impressive underground music being performed there. A lot is going on and a lot to watch out for.
Are you looking forward to getting back to playing to the fans after all the madness this year?
LB: Yeah, definitely. It’s been quite a painful experience over the last few weeks particularly now that we are in the conversation of the music and the group. I suppose in lockdown everyone was kind of in the same boat spending time with your family or doing whatever during that time. I don't think it was at the forefront of our minds, particularly not until the over the last couple of weeks the pain of not being able to play live shows isn't right. And I suppose the anxiety wondering if the music venues across the country and across the UK are going to survive. Especially the small independent venues you will always remember as the best venues that we played in the country.
I've also seen the lockdown gigs with the cages. It just looks like a police state to me. It seems like the movie 'Children of Men' or something like that. I suppose they are doing something positive getting people back into shows, so I can't complain too much other than taking the piss about it. Hopefully, we can get to that point as quick as possible. I never thought I’d agree with Andrew Lloyd Webber, but here I am shouting the same sentiment as he is doing in the press at the moment.
What goes through your head when you step on stage to perform?
LB: That's a great question, actually. I suppose even if you are confident or not confident in what you are doing. I think you will always have that slightly nervous feeling of walking out in front into a crowd, I guess if your focus is strong enough you can be kind of out of your own mind for the whole period. Whereas, it would have to take something to go wrong to break your concentration if you know what I mean? I can imagine footballers go through the same thing once they are on the field—you’re performing a job that you're thoroughly proud of and that you believe in. Like I said it's a cathartic experience that we use in the show. We try and channel such raw energy that we hope it can be passed through to crowds or anyone who has the opportunity to see us. Whether it's in digital form or actually seeing us at a live show. We always think that energy is important massively!
Listen to the album 'Amanita Pantherina' - BELOW:
In celebration of their new album Amanita Pantherina, Cabbage has announced a huge tour for May 2021 including a very special homecoming show in Manchester and headline date in London. Tickets on sale NOW from gigst.rs/Cabbage