In the spotlight: Postindustrial Poets
Interview by Lean of CoolTop20 from 2020
The Postindustrial Poets are Brits living in Luxembourg. They spent years playing covers and blues before recording their own material in 2019. I spoke to their main poet about music and lyrics.
But first, some facts about the Poets. They sing songs that tell stories and always use four note chords. They follow the songs and aren’t fixed on genre. They respect the past. That’s why they share an old track on Twitter every day, usually blues, because that’s where they come from.
Is there a story behind the band name, Postindustrial Poets?
“The music scene in Luxembourg is strong in the southwest corner, where the steel industry used to be the major source of employment. The main music venue here is built on the site of a former steel foundry. There is an especially strong music scene in Differdange, which used to be a very industrial place. So we were inspired by the idea of people being creative in these places. We have a song written that talks about this. Hopefully one day we will record it.”
The Postindustrial Poets Facebook page mentions “not Industrial, not poets, but songs that tell stories”.
“We think that lyrics are lyrics and not poetry. They are written to be sung. But we try to write carefully and economically. And songs really sing for us if each verse moves the story on, and the meaning of the refrain changes as that happens. If you know the song Les Bourgeois by Jacques Brel, you will know what we mean.”
Favourite line we have written: “Shy eyes, beneath a fringe, behind the counter/where I filled my first car with fuel”. We like to think that gives the listener a lot, very quickly.
Postindustrial Poets – Down by the Docks (Listening to Rhythm and Blues)
The Poets launched their recording career with the bluesy single ‘Down by the Docks (Listening to Rhythm and Blues)’, which is currently #5 in our chart. ‘Down by the Docks’ is about the music scene that used to exist in Gloucester.
Speaking of listening to Rhythm and Blues. What’s your favourite Rhythm and Blues track and why?
“Picking one is really tough. Here are three we think everyone should hear: ‘The Thrill is Gone’ by B.B. King, for the guitar work and his delivery of the lyric. ‘Stormy Monday’ by T-Bone Walker. This has such a great lyric – it’s like a Brel song – and wonderful chords. And rhythm and blues covers a lot of music, so I would add ‘I Should Be Proud’ by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. We love that song.”
After the Blues The Rolling Stones are the common element in the Postindustrial Poets. They even wrote a song about Brian Jones, founder of the Rolling Stones, who was found dead in his swimming pool in 1969. The music to this song has a retro Rolling Stones vibe.
I’m thinking ’bout the dulcimer and the harpsichord / Brian on the edge of the band, trying to make a different sound
Thinking ’bout Brian Jones.
The Postindustrial Poets – (Thinking ´bout) Brian Jones
“(Thinking ´bout) Brian Jones is just his biography in four verses. Growing up in Cheltenham. Being the Stone who played unusual instruments and didn’t get on with the others. Then losing his girlfriend to Keith in Morocco. To his (slightly mysterious) death in Sussex.”
After ‘Down by the Docks’ the Postindustrial Poets released ‘Love (In the Time of Lockdown)’, a pop oriented song about couples kept apart by social distancing. It doesn’t have a happy ending. ‘I Was in Two Minds’ also talks about ending a relationship. Are these songs considered to be sequels?
Lockdown came too soon for us
Trapped us each alone
All day long I waited
For the special buzz of your phone
The Postindustrial Poets – Love (In the Time of Lockdown)
“The song ‘Down by the Docks’ was written first and has some autobiographical elements. ‘I Was in Two Minds‘ came a bit later. It would have come out before ‘Love (In the Time of Lockdown)’ but we wanted to be topical. So we released ‘Love (In the Time of Lockdown)’ very quickly and gave ourselves more time to get ‘I Was in Two Minds’ to sound the way we wanted. Looking back, we went very heavy on relationships over those three songs. That wasn’t particularly planned.”
What was the inspiration for ‘Love (In the Time of Lockdown)’?
“Love (In the Time of Lockdown)’ is based on the issues that a few friends went through. Some of it came from reading what they posted on social media. However, in real life things turned out better for them.”
You wrote ‘I Was in Two Minds’ on a ferry and borrowed a pencil to write it down. What happened on that ferry that inspired you to write the song right there and then?
“The ferry was Hook of Holland to Harwich. I witnessed an awkward goodbye in the car park just outside. A pair of teenagers who didn’t quite know what to say to each other. But then there is some autobiography in the mix too. It brought back a couple of partings. Transport seems to be good for writing. I wrote ‘I Gave You My Disease’ on a flight to London.”
‘I gave you my disease’ reached #4 in the Cool Top 20. What was the inspiration behind the song?
“It was early in the year. News was emerging about COVID-19 and I was morbidly wondering about going to see someone you loved and taking the disease with you. But also a Flying Burrito Brothers song ‘Image of Me’ was on my mind. So the song is ambiguous about whether it is about spreading a disease, or about passing on your faults to someone you love. Those thoughts became the basis of the song when this phrase “(I loved you) I gave you my disease” just appeared in my mind. And then it felt like I wrote down the verses about as fast as they are sung.”
What’s your creative process like?
“Usually it is like that: some snatch of lyric and melody gets you on your way. ‘Down by the Docks’ was a little different in that I could see the shape of the story before anything else, and then I wrote a lot of lyrics and edited it down.”
What inspires you most?
“People. People being brave. People getting on with what needs to be done. People who create. People who appreciate creators. People who laugh when they could be crying. And people who cry when they could be laughing.”
You’ve released a new single last week ‘Girl on a Horse‘, which is completely different from the previous releases. When releasing a new single is there a sense of excitement or panic?
“Fear this time. It’s a folky/country song with acoustic guitars. We don´t feel unplugged, we feel naked!”
What can you tell me about the new single?
“It’s a Dad´s song for a child. It’s basically acoustic. Normally our songs feature a Fender and a Gibson guitar playing against each other. (Two minds/Docks, okay sometimes…) This one has an acoustic twelve string and a resonator guitar at the heart of it.
The key lyric is “I watched you riding that complicated course, taking your fences, working with your horse, and I hoped you´d live your life, the way you rode that course. Take all your fences like that girl on a horse.”
The Postindustrial Poets – Girl on a Horse
Why do you think music is important?
“To be honest, I think that songs are important rather than music, although we have just released an instrumental. (‘Dockland Blues’, ed.) We love the way that you can capture so much in a song. The words can be supported by the music or the words can be bleak and the music can say “but there is still hope!” And you can do these weird little things to reinforce the message. Like in ‘I Was in Two Minds’ where the guitar solo is not a solo, but two guitars. In two minds, you see? Or ‘Down by the Docks’ where in our minds Jenny gets one guitar and the narrator gets the other. Actually we have a song about what we want music to do. We haven´t played it for a while, but perhaps we will record it some point.”
Famous last question… What’s your favourite song in the Cool Top 20 or any of the new submissions?
“The Cool Top 20 is full of great songs. Probably ‘Dirty Pool‘ by Rogue Proxy, but we love Mark Cokes ´Then I Realised‘ too. Bryan Robinson has such cool guitar tones too… In the submissions, The Metal Byrds are a fantastic band, and we love ‘Tell Me‘. But really we are fans of lots of artists in the charts and the submissions.”
FAvourite Five: Postindustrial Poets
Questions asked by Lean of Cool Top 20 (2021)
Five questions and five answers with the Poets, but sometimes five just isn’t enough.
“Okay, I found it hard to keep it to five. So it is more Secret Seven!”
What’s your favourite song from the current Cool Top 20?
“Really hard to choose between ‘Receipts’, ‘Target’ and ‘You Can Do (What U wanna Do)’. Today I would go for the last of these, so congrats to Dizzy Panda and Yogishine. Lots of great songs in the playlist this week!”
What’s your favourite song from the Hall of Fame?
“Recently, I have been playing ‘Dirty Pool’ by Rogue Proxy quite a lot – and put it on my workout playlist, so I think that might be the winner. Really a very cool track. I remember we gave it a shoutout when it was in the chart.”
What’s your all-time favourite song?
“Syd Barrett – ‘No Man’s Land’, probably.”
What’s your favourite music video?
“My all-time favourite music video is probably Bob Dylan with the placards for ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. I know that it was filmed outside the Savoy Hotel and that Alan Ginsberg is standing in the background – that’s how much I like it! And a completely fantastic song!”
“Favourite recent video is probably ‘Coltrane’ by Greedy Beat Syndicate!”
What’s your favourite song from 2021?
“From the Cool Top 20, it is definitely ‘I’m Alright’ by Lewca and Sean Buckley!”
What’s your favourite movie soundtrack?
“Trainspotting, probably. Just ahead of The Harder They Come.”
Let’s throw in some bonus questions about your own music… What are your favourites from you own music?
“Favourite track and favourite lyric is probably ‘It Happens All the Time’. In the lyrics, specifically the words “Still you try to call her number, from some lonely breakfast cafe/ But she doesn’t answer. And you wouldn’t know what to say.”
“Favourite music video: Actually love all the videos that Skylar Nevaeh did for us, and probably would choose ‘That’s When You Blew My Mind’. We recently played this live (near Namur, in Belgium). As we played it, I found I was visualising the video! It has this very nice touch of moving from black and white to colour at the right point in the song.”
Postindustrial Poets take back the best old sounds to good indie songs of our times
August 9, 2020
Have you ever felt combining the great rock and blues sounds with the vibes of our era? The UK based Postindustrial Poets bring the very best sounds from the past to our times: everything is so fresh, yet familiar, taking the listener to a quaint memory lane. Their new singles are definately the ones to have on your playlist whether you travel or just chill out. Here is a deeper conversation with the band, including some of their latest songs.
And while you are reading it, just listen to “I Was in Two Minds” here:
Music Authentic: At Music Authentic the usually the first question is how did you slept last night?
Postindustrial Poets: Good, thanks!
Music Authentic: Many have started to listen to you lately and I have a good feeling about some of your songs will stay with them for a longer while. What about you, which artist do you recommend to listen to from the past or the contemporary era and why?
Postindustrial Poets: Oh, that is tough. There is so much good music, and so many people you need to listen to. Let’s give you two names. Bob Dylan – if you are in music, you need to know what he has already done. And Marvin Gaye – amazing voice also an amazing songwriter. What’s going on? Is one of those albums you need to live with for part of your life.
Music Authentic: Your music suggests you are an old soul and you have just a great album. Actually, some argues concept albums are over, others insist storytelling is still important. Where are you standing?
Postindustrial Poets: We love songs that tell stories. An album (we’re working on one) is more about a rounded musical statement. So far all our songs tell a story. A concept album is not on the cards for us. Really admire Ry Cooper’s Chavez Ravine though – that is an awesome combination of storytelling and musical statement.
Music Authentic: You know your music well. Can you tell me whose story had a great effect on your life?
Postindustrial Poets: Brian Jones (founder of the Stones), he is from the same part of the UK as me – and it felt amazing that someone could accomplish what he did. We have written a song about him. It will be out on 8 August.
Music Authentic: Things are so rapidly changing and altering almost on a day to day basis. Are you worried?
Postindustrial Poets: I’m a pretty resilient guy. But there is a huge amount to worry about.
Music Authentic: How do you think your life will be in a few years from now on?
Postindustrial Poets: Really I would like to spend more time on music, and perhaps writing. I think that is possible.
Music Authentic: Indie artists and maybe everyone these days need to wear different hats nowadays just to get by. How about you? Do you consider yourself an artist or a musician?
Postindustrial Poets: First as a songwriter. Second as an artist. Third as a musician. It it is great when you feel like you are hitting all three in one go.
Music Authentic: What things would be the greatest achievements for you through your art?
Postindustrial Poets: We are looking for two things. First to hear people say “that is it, that is how it feels”. Second to inspire someone else to think that they can create. Either would be great.
(the interview continues below the Postindustrial Poets photo)
Music Authentic: Has it ever happened to you that you started to feel promoting your music is almost like a door-to-door selling?
Postindustrial Poets: I hadn’t but, I guess you may have kicked something off with this question. Mostly I think you get in touch. With interesting people and try to share something you think they should like.
Music Authentic: Do you use your stage as a platform to help out others?
Postindustrial Poets: We try to write honest songs – not to dress things up. Some people see their own issues in In two minds (our last single) or the previous release. So that’s good.
Music Authentic: Let’s have some lighter questions. If you had a chance to play a superhero character, whom would you choose?
Postindustrial Poets: Always thought Spider-Man was pretty cool.
Music Authentic: The dawn of new final frontiers is coming. Would you rather live in the Earth in 20 years or be the part of the first Mars colony?
Postindustrial Poets: Mars.
Music Authentic: And how do you like spending your free time?
Postindustrial Poets: Love books as well as music. And I love to spend time in nature.
Music Authentic: Let’s go back a bit more serious. What do you think the the hardest challenges are in society these days?
Postindustrial Poets: We should really make an effort to deal with everyone in the same way. Racism and sexism seem to be the big barriers to progress.
Music Authentic: And if you were the Prime Minister, what would be the most crucial to begin a change with?
Postindustrial Poets: Britain needs to be opened up. We need to tell more people than they have a say, and that what they think matters. I’m not optimistic on this.
Music Authentic: Any important project you are working on these days? What makes it precious for you?
Postindustrial Poets: We are working towards an album. We want it to show us working with a range of different forms – and all original songs.
Music Authentic: At last but not least, what is your message to encourage others?
Postindustrial Poets: You have massive control over your future. Use it wisely, and think about the future before it happens to you. Don’t listen to people who tell you to give up.
by ANNBSMAY 10, 2021
Opening it with one of the interesting figures in the face of Indiedom, I had correspondence with PostIndustrial Poets’ front man, Pete. He has this continental attitude, witty sense of humor, making him the circle's favorite, but primarily because of the dynamic music his band contributes to the scene. I invited him to choose to answer from my list of prepped band questions, which I am excited to share with you:
What are your band’s favorite musical instruments?
"The Poets love guitars (including bass). One of our specialities is to play in alternative tunings. Most of our songs feature a Fender and a Les Paul working together. Down by the Docks is the classic example of that, with a Strat played through a Crybaby and a Les Paul with some distortion."
If your band goes to Mars and is only allowed to bring 20 musical selections to play and nothing else, who would those artists be?
"Bob Dylan, John Coltrane, Memphis Slim, BB King, The Buzzcocks, Arctic Monkeys, Velvet Underground, the Stones, Syd Barrett, Van Morrison, Ann Badere-Santos... You're sure we can only take 20?"
- Yes, or the Martians will get grumpy! ;) -- Ann
If you are not doing music, what are your other interesting diversions?
"Travel, probably. We have lived in a few places and traveled pretty much around the world (but we are missing the Philippines). And we love cinema too. But then when we travel we like to listen to music, and we love films with a musical theme, so maybe it comes back to music again. The last place outside Europe any of us got to was Brazil and Brazil has the most incredible musical culture. It would be great to spend more time there!"
If by chance, who would be that one band or artist you would like to jam with and why?
"Maybe Ry Cooder, although we might be too much in awe to do much. He's a completely awesome guitarist of course, and he also wrote one of our all time favorite songs (Dirty Chateau...). But fantastic as a musical director, and someone who draws on a range of music that overlaps with our own influences. It would be fantastic to see him at work!"
What is your most memorable experience as musician?
"Three occasions when I have been on stage, not knowing what I was going to play, and it has come off. Twice when I was a kid in Gloucester, once here in Luxembourg."
Which of your tracks is the most innovative or experimental? Why so?
"It is a track that we have recorded, but not yet released. It will probably be our next release. And it is called... well, I'm not sure that the working title will be the final title. It is a short pop track (under two minutes) with weird lyrics, a gong, backward-envelope guitar and - well we love it! Expect it to come out in June."
What are your top 3 most favorite tracks from your discography?
"Not so easy to choose 3 but
1. That's When You Blew My Mind
This is quite a free-flowing piece of music, and it still surprises us that we got it down so easily. It is probably the song where the music does most of the work and is most expressive - in fact the music made us change the words. Originally the lyric was going to be much sadder that
it is on the final version.
2. It Happens All the Time
Probably our favourite vocal, and a late night, melancholic vibe. It was going to be a two guitar song but at an early stage in recording we came up with the take you hear on the track, and decided to try with an organ instead of a second guitar. And again what you hear is virtually the first take (we did a little bit of editing but no overdubs). You can hear the room on both guitar and vocals, and we like that too!
3. I Gave You My Disease
This was an easy song to write, but a tricky song to record. Probably our favourite lyric because of the humour. We have just put a longer, slightly re-mixed version on Bandcamp."
Indie Hits: The best new Indie releases
First up we have the alternative indie hit ‘Down by the Docks (Listening to Rhythm and Blues)’ from Postindustrial Poets. This edgy earworm features gritty vocals, electric riffs and catchy beats that we just can’t get enough of.