A decade is a lifetime in rock’n’roll. Back in 2011, we first met The Treatment on the heels of their cracking debut album This Might Hurt, and got friendly with a juiced-up gang of longhairs who shared a love of AC/DC, a squalid flophouse outside Cambridge and dreams of world domination.
Back then, as they opened for Alice Cooper and treated the title of debut single Drink, Fuck, Fight like a to-do list, it seemed that the universe was destined to bend to The Treatment’s will. “We love doing this, and we’re always going to be doing this,” singer Matt Jones told us, with an easy grin.
“I remember doing the Alice Cooper tour,” drummer Dhani Mansworth says now, “and it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced on stage. We went out, and all my gear was covered in talcum powder, we had a geezer in a chicken suit chucking eggs at us. They even put double-sided gaffa tape on the floor. So, like, none of us had any shoes on by the second song.”
Ten years on from when we first met them, The Treatment are emphatically still “doing this”, with their fifth album Waiting For Good Luck the finest distillation yet of their crunchy, hooky, Leppard-harmonied vibe. But while you can set your watch by the music, it’s harder to predict who’s going to show up for interviews.
So here we are in February 2021, talking to the latest new-look Treatment line-up, headed by Cornell-lunged MkIII singer Tom Rampton (the 2017 successor to Mitchel Emms, who himself replaced Jones back in 2015). The Spinal Tap comparison doesn’t quite fit: our second interviewee today, drummer Dhani Mansworth, has been there since the start. And for all the shuffles in personnel, the chemistry remains intact.
“We’re still waiting for the phone call to front the vaccination campaign,” Rampton jokes. “There’s going to be a big poster of Dhani with a massive bushy beard, pointing his finger at everyone, going: ‘Get fucking vaccinated, you idiots!’”
Still, with original bassist Rick Newman jumping ship just last year, you have to wonder if that album title is a flash of gallows humour.
“I think this is the strongest position the band has ever been in,” considers Mansworth. “But we’ve faced a lot of adversity. People like original lineups, and we’re a band that’s had a lot of members. I don’t blame Rick for taking the course he has. Because who wants to be sat in a van eating a Meal Deal in Grimsby on a Thursday night? Not everyone is cut out for life on the road and the long haul. But we absolutely love what we do. It’s what we live for.”
“If you haven’t gone through some bullshit, what do you have to write about, what do you have to sing about, what do you have to make jokes about?” Rampton offers. “The bands that have had an easy run all the way through will never be one of the greats.”
Right now, you suspect that this galvanised line-up wouldn’t say no to a gig in Grimsby (or anywhere else) on a Thursday or any other night of the week. But Rampton points out that during the time they haven’t been allowed to play gigs, they’ve had more time to write, and in fact have written their best batch of songs yet.
“You’re stuck in the same place for four months, what else are you gonna do?” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I still think the first album I did with these guys, Power Crazy , is great. But this is definitely the best the band has ever sounded.”
“On every album we’ve done, we’ve gradually got closer to the sound we wanted to be, and on this one we finally nailed it,” says Mansworth. “Obviously you’ve got AC/DC and Def Leppard in there. The Cult are another massive influence. As for songs, Eyes On You is a great one. That’s about a geezer strangling a bird underwater.”
“There’s a bit of a serial killer vibe to that one,” says Rampton. “Then there’s Let’s Make Money. That’s just about that little dream that deep down we all want to make a bit of green. But it’s very satirical and sarcastic, taking the piss out of people who think money is the be-all and end-all.”
“Vampress is basically about a vampire bird going around massacring everyone,” Mansworth explains, straight-faced. “Obviously we’re all massive horror movie fans. Tough Kid is essentially what every kid has gone through being a rock fan at school – you’re always seen as the outcast, the weird one, because you’ve got long hair or whatever.”
Rampton considers the mid-tempo, piano-plonk blues of Barman to be the new album’s odd man out, but says it was probably the most fun to record during a session snatched at Rockfield Studios when the lockdown abated.
“The first thing we did when we decided we were doing Barman that day was have a dram of whisky. It got us in the right mind-set. This is a guy who is absolutely lamenting his entire life. He’s just sitting at the bar, drinking away his sorrows. I’m never going to sound like a Freddie Mercury or a Myles Kennedy; I’m always going to sound rough-and-ready. But I think it fits the music.”
The other noteworthy thing about Barman is the repeated line that plays out the song: ‘We might as well just carry on.’ That’s not just a lyric, it’s a band manifesto, right?
“It’s the perfect chorus for this band,” Rampton replies. “If you love what you do, which all of us do, what else is there? Why would you ever stop doing something that is the first thing and the last thing you think about every day? Sometimes all you need is that little spark, that one little thing to go right for you, and that can set off a chain of events that you can’t even imagine.”
“Hard times show you who you are, don’t they?” offers Mansworth. “We’ve gone from playing one of the biggest tours in the whole world, with Kiss and Motley Crue, to losing a singer and guitar player a year later, then having to regain our momentum again. But we’ve always stuck in there, and what we’ve been through has only strengthened us as a band. We’ve still got the same passion for this. All for one and one for all, y’know?”
Waiting For Good Luck is out now (opens in new tab).