Your weekly go-to new music guide brought to you by our London music journo, Peggy as she uncovers the latest ‘bands and artists to watch’ in the post-punk, new wave, jazz and indie communities. This week she discusses the 'A' word, touring Europe and DIY radio with post-punk London locals, Italia 90.
Les Miserable (vocals) J Dangerous (drums) Eccie Homo (guitar) Bobby Portrait (bass)
You’ve been solidified as a unit since 2016, but how initially did the four of you come to meet?
We’ve all known each other since school. The earliest connection in the band is Eccie Homo and J Dangerous, although we were not known by these names at the time. Homo was tasked with showing Dangerous the ropes at his new primary school on the first day of year 2.
Over the past four years both performing and recording together, how would you best describe your sound and has it changed since your earlier releases?
It’s definitely changed since the earliest releases, which drew from more traditional influences. Since then we’ve tried to incorporate a variety of different sounds into the mix. We’re still in the process of trying to consolidate something a bit more unique.
What issues and themes did you choose to tackle in your latest EP, ‘Italia 90 III’?
A smorgasbord of spite really. In order of appearance on the EP, the main themes are: Ireland, psychosis, imperialism, cops and liberals.
With a third successful EP release safely ticked off the list, what can we hope to hear next? Any whispers of the ‘A’ word?
We think you mean album by this and, if so, we’re certainly hoping to get one out soon. If you mean animosity: not at the moment. If you mean arousal: perhaps.
Operating at the heart of London’s undoubtedly live and kicking post-punk scene, which music venues would you recommend for seeking out the next ‘ones to watch’? There’s plenty to choose from. DIY Space for London in Bermondsey is great and offers loads of community and activism related stuff aside from music. Sister Midnight in Deptford is a lovely record shop, which sometimes does very small sweaty gigs downstairs. Worth checking out post-lockdown for sure.
Having toured across Europe, pre Covid-19, is there a particular city or country beyond the UK that you found particularly responsive to your style of music?
We seem to go down quite well in Europe, particularly in Portugal, Belgium and France, to name a few. The last gigs we played were in France supporting a superb band called Frustration, it was a great time.
With the cancellation of SXSW marking the start of what could be classed as a ‘dark age’ (or summer) for live music, how as a band have you been adapting to social distancing?
Les Miserable and J Dangerous live together, but as singer and drummer we’ve not been able to do much creatively in our own home. We’re all working on new material, largely independently with occasional WhatsApp updates. As much as we miss gigs, it is nice to have the time to concentrate properly on songwriting.
Playing on the title of a previous single, ‘Keeping My Hands Clean’, your aptly named isolation playlist transports us back to the origins of punk in the late 70’s right up to the present day. Which tracks in particular have seen you through the tough times?
We’ve been listening to all sorts between us. Les Miserable suggests ‘Waiting for the Marines’, by Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Eccie Homo says early Alice Coltrane, Bobby Portrait has been enjoying 'Ivory Tower' by Louis Philippe and J Dangerous has been listening to a lot of Ewan MacColl. A Jack of all trades, bi-weekly Les Miserable we see you swap the stage for the studio to host your very own ‘homage to Partridge’ radio show ‘Les Miserable’s Singles Club’ broadcast live on Boogaloo Radio. What kind of music and chit chat can we expect to hear on tuning in?
Les: Each week I have a different theme, and I select 10 singles that fit that theme. In the past I've done cover versions, non-album singles and songs about trains, which was a bit divisive I'll admit. It's nice opportunity for me to get me anorak on. Other than that I mainly play the stuff that has influenced me, mainly punk, post-punk and dub. I usually have some sort of musical guest too, and J Dangerous is becoming quite the sidekick I must say.
What’s the first thing you’ll do together when the UK returns to business as usual?
Big communal bath, perhaps, with beers. Then bed!