When Forge Press spoke to Working Men’s Club frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant, he was in a celebratory mood.
The band’s eponymous debut album immediately marched into the UK charts following its release, debuting at number 26. Minsky-Sargeant had just found out.
“I had a bit of a mad night last night.” He told us, attempting to stifle a yawn while he did so.
Since releasing their debut single ‘Bad Blood’ in January 2019, Working Men’s Club have been revamped and moulded in the image of their teenage spearhead. Drenge’s Rob Graham is now on board, alongside Mairead O’Connor of The Moonlandingz and bassist Liam Ogburn.
It has seemingly given the band a new lease of life, and their debut LP is a captivating combination of grit and euphoria. Minsky-Sargeant’s sullen vocals are soaked in an electronic sound, creating moody rave anthems that at times, are reminiscent of The Human League.
“It’s northern dance music for northern people,” he explained. “It’s just nice to have it out really. It’s weird because it was finished such a long time ago, so to me, it’s not new.”
Like many other albums scheduled for a 2020 release, its release was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the band are now settling into the ‘new normal’. They have entered the world of socially distanced gigs, and recently took to the stage at The Leadmill.
“It’s different, but it’s nice to play a gig.” He said.
The album was produced by Ross Orton, who has previously worked with Sheffield legends Arctic Monkeys, post-punk outfit The Fall and London rapper M.I.A.
“He’s a fucking legend, Ross,” Syd added.
“He helped a lot with everything, really. It’s nice to keep it in Yorkshire, and where it’s from, essentially.”
The band’s northern roots are something Minsky-Sargeant is evidently proud of. He grew up in the quaint market town of Todmorden, but has studied in Manchester and the album’s roots are in Sheffield. The Steel City is where producer Orton’s studio is located, and where he met fellow band members Graham and O’Connor.
“You are what you are, you are where you come from. That’s just embedded in people’s personality. It’s about knowing where you’re from. That’s what’s embedded in our music anyway,” He told us.
“Keep it up north, it’s where true music comes from. That’s what I think.”
Although he is proud of the band’s northern identity, he doesn’t shy away from taking aim at the music coming out of Manchester, a place he has been critical of in the past.
“I think they just need to fuck off this idea of being a scene, and just do their own thing. The best music comes when you just get on with your own thing,” He explained.
“I think that’s maybe why Manchester’s stuck in its old ways, because it’s trying to make itself a scene again. A scene is just something that happens.”
Manchester is not the only place to be on the receiving end of criticism from the proudly honest frontman.
“Calderdale is trying to be branded a scene again. It’s not a scene. It’s a collection of some decent music and some terrible music. It’s not a scene, half of it is fucking shit.” He said.
The outspoken frontman also doesn’t shy from taking aim at individuals, and the scathing ‘Cook a Coffee’ launches a verbal tirade on former BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil.
He added: “I just try and write about what I feel and what I’m surrounded by, so if you want to view that as political, make what you want of it. But I say what I think.”
The debut album from Working Men’s Club is out now.