London’s own Victorian steampunks The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing are streaming their new album Double Negative exclusively with Metal Hammer.
As you’d expect, it tells tales of the more gruesome side of Victorian life, the seedy, nasty underbelly that ran through life in the British capital throughout the 1800s. Did you know Amelia Dyer who drowned babies in the Thames? Well you do now! And there’s a lot more to come from the noisy four-piece, led by devout metalhead, author and comedian Andrew O’Neill.
To guide us through the murky stories of Victorian Britain, the band have written us a handy track-by-track guide. Some people were shits in the olden days, weren’t they?
Supply & Demand
A song about basic economics as illustrated by grave-robbers-turned-murderers Burke & Hare. In 1828 they identified a business opportunity to supply goods to Professor Knox to use in his anatomy lectures. As straight-forwardly punk as this record gets, with a foot in the mid 80s punk scene on each side of the Atlantic and a toe-hold on the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. This is the oldest track on the album, we’ve had it kicking around since just after we finished our last one. For about eighteen months it was our only ‘new’ song.
Another song about a novel business plan. Amelia Dyer (1837-1896, also known as the Baby Farmer) offered to home illegitimate children to avoid causing embarrassment to respectable families. Invariably she would drown the babies in the Thames rather than bother to find them loving parents. Over a twenty year period she was thought to have killed up to four hundred babies. Aside from Supply & Demand, which we’d had for a while, this was the first of the new batch of songs to be finished. It nods to the snotty punk of Minor Threat but also to classic metal.
A Hammer Horror/Hellfire Club/folk horror cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and curiosity and magick. We were all really pleased with this one, it feels like a genuine step forward from a lot of our earlier records, and it’s the point this album starts to take a turn to the esoteric. Andy thinks it sounds like Thurston Moore, Marc thinks it sounds like Smashing Pumpkins, Jez thinks it has a Jane’s Addiction vibe and Andrew’s mid-90s Sepultura obsession is evident in the main riff. A real groover that gelled as soon as we started playing together. We had to talk Andy out of calling it ‘In Da Club’.
The Soho cholera epidemic of 1854 killed hundreds in a matter of weeks. The prevailing theory was that it was airborne and spread through the miasma. John Snow’s painstaking analysis of death patterns helped prove it was waterborne, hence the opening line ‘They’ve taken the handle off the Broad Street water pump / John Snow knows what’s going on.’ This one originated from a soundcheck jam in Washington DC, while on tour in 2016 – hence the initials of the title. It’s simultaneously one of the catchiest things we’ve ever done, and one of the most obviously indebted to 80s hardcore – it’s kind of Sick Of It All meets The Cure at their poppiest. Andy and Andrew sing totally different melodies and lyrics in totally different styles, simultaneously – you can almost pick which one to follow.
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Obscene Fucking Machine
A song about Queen Victoria’s son, Bertie. He had enormous appetites for food, drink and sex. He had a special chair made for him in a French brothel to hold his bulk comfortably whilst he had sex with two women at a time. This song is about the establishment rallying round to cover up his behaviour and maintain the lucrative status quo. It’s a big, catchy punk stormer which would probably be the most obvious crossover track on the record if we hadn’t dropped the F bomb in the title. And the chorus. And the verses.
Given the band’s name, it was inevitable we would tackle the subject of Jack The Ripper at some point. In 1888 five women were savagely and brutally murdered. This song is about the people who make money by writing ludicrous conspiracy theories about the murders. Jez wrote the main riff and middle section, which Andrew then reinterpreted. It has a Dead Kennedys vibe we all really dug.
God Is in The Bottom Line
A song about capitalism, greed, child labour and health and safety in cotton mills… all the fun stuff. It was written about the industrial revolution in Britain but can equally apply to sweatshops making clothes for big brands today. This one came from Andrew saying he ‘wanted to write something that sounds like Slayer.’ Literally half an hour later we’d finished it.
There She Glows
A love poem to scientific pioneer Marie Curie, a woman who lit up any room she entered. Musically the oddest thing here – we wanted the record to get weirder as it went along. We have no idea how you’d classify this one musically, it’s got shades of the Birthday Party, sludge rock, post-hardcore and a big swingy chorus.”
There’s Going To Be A Revolution
This song is a call to arms from a person at the end of their tether. It applies as much today as it did in Victorian times. Nothing has changed. While our earliest records often took inspiration from fiction, or weird, entertaining little ideas, Double Negative is a product of its time, and it’s as much influenced by Donald Trump and Nigel Farage as it is by Jules Verne or HP Lovecraft. This is, in a way, the least historically accurate track on the record – revolution hung in the air for much of the 19th century, but the government and the monarchy learned to give just enough ground to keep the mob from the door. It feels like something is building in the present though, not necessarily an armed uprising but the realisation that people can wield their own power and make a difference. What’s happened with the kids in Florida is an amazing example of that. A generation saying ‘No more.’ Obviously this was written months before those events, but it’s the same spirit we wanted to tap into. Musically it’s got shades of Swans, Killing Joke, PiL, and the more creative end of Rage Against The Machine.
Double Negative is released March 9 via Leather Apron Records.
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing tour dates
12 Mar: Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
13 Mar: Trillians, Newcastle
14 Mar: Bannermans, Edinburgh
15 Mar: Castle & Falcon, Birmingham
17 Mar: Fulford Arms, York
18 Mar: Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
19 Mar: Globe, Cardiff
20 Mar: The Live Rooms, Chester
21 Mar: The Shed, Leicester
22 Mar: The Cavern, Exeter
23 Mar: The Dome, London
24 Mar: Joiners, Southampton
25 Mar: The Exchange, Bristol
17 Jul: Motor City Steamcon, Detroit, US