We chat to Luton dance-punk outfit Regressive Left about representing Luton, their debut EP released next month and what they’d play at the Tory Party Conference (if they were paid £1million).
With a name like Regressive Left, you’ll be unsurprised to hear this trio have certain views on society’s ills. Consisting of Simon Tyrie on vocals and electronics, Georgia on drums and Will on guitar, the Luton outfit have devised a dance-punk sound that at least has you striving through the struggles we face with a smile on your face.
Following a handful of releases since a lockdown-induced bout of creativity at the end of 2020, Regressive Left release their debut EP in the middle of next month. It’s an EP that was recorded during an intense five-day spell in Sheffield, with the trusty help of producer Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, MIA, Amyl and The Sniffers).
Until its release, the titular track of that project – ‘The Wrong Side of History’ – is out now, having dropped earlier this week. (Near-enough titular that is: the EP is called On The Wrong Side of History. Just to be pedantic).
Here’s Regressive Left, in their own words, discussing that project as well as our it’s-so-shit-it-might-actually-get-better-one-day political climate.
How did you guys meet?
We met as teenagers at one of our favourite venues, Bedford Esquires. We were all in bands on the local scene at the time.
Why the name, Regressive Left?
We wanted a name that reflected our politics.
Describe your music in three words.
It’s all subjective.
Who are your top three musical influences?
We’re too fickle to give a non-arbitrary answer to this but at the moment we’re enjoying listening to The Umlauts, Jockstrap and Clipping.
Who’s the most fashionable in the band and who’s the least?
None of us are fashionable.
Tell us about Luton – who loves it the most and why?
It’s more of a love-hate relationship. We won’t pretend that it’s an amazing place to live – it’s an ex-industrial town still reeling from 40 years of neoliberalism and neglect, with the highest homelessness rates in the country and nearly half of its children living in poverty – but it also has a rich cultural history and it’s our home.
Lots of people call us a London band (because of our proximity to it) but we feel it’s important to represent the places that are often swallowed by London’s shadow. It’s important for younger artists starting out to see that you can come from a town like Luton and be successful.
What’s the thing you disagree on most?
You’ve toured with BODEGA and Folly Group. What were those tours like and what did it teach you?
Touring with Bodega was fun – they were playing Springsteen-level sets with different setlists each night. They invited us to cover a Beatles song with them for the encore and someone asked if we were covering The Ramones. If we could capture an ounce of their energy live we’d be really happy.
The Folly Group tour introduced us to our favourite new venue, The Crescent in York. To be honest we spent most of our tour with Folly Group looking for pubs with pool tables. That tour taught us that we need to eat more fruit.
Your debut EP, released on July 15th, is called ‘On The Wrong Side Of History’. Is that where you feel we’re currently at in society?
No. If history is written by the winners – which in itself is a controversial idea – then that doesn’t necessarily mean that the future will be more progressive than the present. The future is something you constantly have to fight for.
What we wanted to highlight is that the subject of the title track (your stereotypical sensationalist, controversialist white guy) is lamenting their fall from grace from a position of power – these people rule the world right now and they want us to feel sorry for them! But it’s because they know their time is running out.
Which period in history would you most like to live in and why?
There’s no time like the present. The flipside to everything being so grim right now is that it is again exposing capitalism’s unfairness and inherent instability – a bit like 2008. The thing with accelerationism is that it can go either way. But what’s different about today compared with 2008 is that class is back on the agenda in a much bigger way, and this time there are signs of a new class consciousness that includes race, gender, sexuality under the same struggle against capital.
Your track ‘Bad Faith’, featuring Mandy, Indiana, quotes French psychoanalyst Octave Mannoni’s paradoxical mechanism: “Je sais bien, mais quand même.” What does that mean and why do you refer to it?
It basically translates to ‘I know, but all the same…’ It’s a comment about our duplicity – when someone makes a ‘bad faith’ accusation, they’re really saying what they want to believe, rather than what they know to be the case. It happens all the time on Twitter.
An infamous example is when white supremacists said during the Black Lives Matter protests that the campaign was racist against white people because it implied that only black lives were important, and that their lives were not. Clearly this wasn’t the case, but it suited their narrative.
What are you up to this summer and what are you most looking forward to?
We’re spending this summer writing and recording new material before heading off on our first headline tour in Autumn. We’re especially excited to play new cities, including Sheffield, where we recorded the EP.
Would you play at the Conservative Party conference for £1million?
Yeah – and we’d perform a nice cover of ‘The Internationale’.
How ambitious are you as a band?
It would be nice to be able to do music for a living as opposed to squeezing it around our day jobs. We haven’t quite reached the stage of thinking about what happens after that. Let’s see what happens!