The release of Amanita Pantherina feels like a pivotal moment in the career of post-punk outfit, Cabbage. After the success of Young, Dumb and Full Of… and Nihilistic Glamour Shots, we spoke to co-frontman Joe Martin about releasing their latest album among the uncertainty of a global pandemic.
How have you been over lockdown?
“We were rehearsing solidly and then lockdown ceased that. So I did a couple of live streams; I did one on Instagram and then Facebook – as soon as I mentioned Donald Trump, I got conveniently cut off. I was even singing about him on ‘Free Steven Avery (Wrong America)’ and it just cut off. Very bizarre!”
What were the differences between recording Nihilistic Glamour Shots with James Skelly, and self-producing your new album, Amanita Pantherina?
“Yeah, it’s hugely different. Leonardo DaVinci said ‘art is never finished, only abandoned, and when you’re producing a record yourself, you just never know when to fucking stop. When we were recording with James Skelly, he said when a song was finished. Whereas when we’re doing it ourselves, we were always adding something else, or changing something. We spent days on one song and we’d never stop really which is why that quote rung so true with me.”
Your live shows are such a huge part of your identity; you must be missing playing your sets so much.
“Definitely. It was a huge release at first. The thought of not being able to gig until May next year is killing me to be quite honest. We want every gig to be a real event. Even though I grew up listening to a lot of shoe-gaze, when we did Cabbage gigs, it just felt like we shouldn’t hold anything back whatsoever. Not that that’s unique in any way, because loads of bands do that, but I think that for a time there was a kind of movement of bands who were shaking things up, which was really refreshing to see.”
Do you think we’re seeing a revival of the British Punk scene?
“Yeah, I grew up listening to The Jam, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and X-Ray Spex, but there were no current bands doing that. Then I first heard Twisted Wheel, who two original Cabbage members used to be in – they just blew my mind, and they were the only band playing punk music at the time.”
You mention George Orwell in ‘Leon the Pig Farmer’; is literature an influence on Cabbage’s lyricism?
“Yeah, Lee wrote that song; I know he’s well read on Orwell, as I am, so yeah – definitely. I completely nicked ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, which is one of my favourite Orwell books and just named one of our songs after it.”
The bassline in ‘Get Outta My Brain’ sounds particularly reminiscent of early Nirvana; was this a conscious effort?
“To be truthful it was more inspired by early Happy Mondays but sped up a little bit. But any comparisons to Nirvana is obviously good; I love Nirvana and especially the early stuff and the raw essence of it. That tune’s definitely got that original sound we had when we started, as well. When we first started we wrote a lot of fun, upbeat, melodic tunes that were a lot of fun to play. It’s getting better live, too. It’s a lot of fun to play.”
‘Hatred’ and ‘Terminates Here’ are much more laid back than your usual sound. Is this a sign of you mellowing, or are you just trying to experiment with the kind of music you write?
“We’re definitely mellowing. Personally, after a while of constantly gigging, I got a bit sick of all the headbanging. Even before Cabbage, I hadn’t written much punk music; I wrote one punk tune called ‘Austerity Languish’, which was on our first E.P, and that was the first one I ever wrote. I heard ‘Total Football’ by Parquet Courts, which speeds up a lot, and ‘Hatred’ was supposed to be like that, but the lads got fed up with it constantly speeding up. Then Eoghan decided that it would sound better as an acoustic track.
Eoghan wrote ‘Terminates Here’; he put some headphones on me, and I had an ethereal experience. Then he said something really sweet, he said, ‘I can only imagine your voice on this track’ and the melody came quickly after that. The first line in it came from a classic Coronation Street episode. Bet Lynch is kicking someone out of the Rovers and says, “if you see that bosom buddy of yours flying past on a broomstick, I’d like a word”, so I thought I’d take that.
I had another one, which was “those who forget their history are doomed to repeat themselves”. I heard first on classic Corrie, then on The Sopranos, so I was pretty chuffed with that. That’s the lyrics in the ‘Direct-Dictate’ chorus. Our lyrics read a bit like a Politics for Dummies manual. It’s very idealistic young man’s approach to politics, but at the same time we do feel very strongly about the topics we sing about.
Who have you been listening to over the past few months?
“Bob Vylan! He’s one of the most refreshing artists I’ve heard in ages. He talks about being stopped and searched and the institutional racism that it’s in the Police Force … Black Lives Matter is one of the most important movements of our generation, if not, the most. Bob Vylan has been talking about these issues for a long time, and just because Black Lives Matter isn’t on Instagram, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less important. There are artists like Bob Vylan who’s making good, refreshing Punk music with an important message. So, I’d recommend him.”
Cabbage will have to endure an agonising wait until May 2021 to their A Man ‘n’ Tina, Ballerina Tour. Fans of the band will share their impatience, as they will be eager to hear the funkiness of ‘Get Outta My Brain’, as well as some Cabbage-classics to get moving and singing to. Get Amanita Pantherin on limited edition paint splattered vinyl, CD and signed bundles from the Cabbage official store.
05 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
06 – Glasgow King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
07 – Newcastle Riverside Newcastle
08 – Birmingham The Castle & Falcon
13 – London Lafayette
14 – Manchester Gorilla
15 – Liverpool The New Jimmy’s
20 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
21 – Stoke The Sugarmill
22 – Preston The Ferret
27 – Bristol The Fleece
28 – Brighton Patterns
29 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach