The Singles Club

No, not that sort of club.

After the success of Santa is English, we’ve decided for as long as we’re locked down we’ll produce and put out a new video every few weeks, recorded and shot in isolation but brought together by our nascent mixing and video editing skills and the power of the internet.

The first one lands this week, using up previously unreleased footage from the last time that we were allowed to meet up outdoors, after that, we really are flying solo (together).

Happy New Year!

In the meantime, may I wish you in advance every happiness for the New Year. If it’s anything like the old one, I, for my part, would sooner consign it to the devil.

Karl Marx, writing to Friedrich Engels, 27th December 1861

Gimme the vaccine, Maxine.

John Cooper Clarke, Walking Back to Happiness 1979

My late father would say keeping body and soul together. I never really gave the phrase much thought at the time but it’s a fair summary of the challenge that’s faced us all this year: the struggle for sustenance for our bodies: food, housing, medicine, employment; with none of that nutrition for the soul: live music, football, pub, socialising. At the end of the day a Zoom1 call is only so rewarding, particularly if that’s what your day-to-day work has become, and it can be a poor, though necessary, replacement for real human interaction.

Being in a band is all about that interaction, sharing the creative process, the synergy of playing in time and in tune with one another (like flapping your arms and finding out that you can actually fly) and the shared experience of band and audience that makes a great gig, well, great.

We’ve spoken elsewhere about what we’ve done to compensate for not being able to gig: the make-it-look-live videos, the live streams where we could and, of course, my sprawling COVID-19 drama set out in nearly 150 songs and poems, and while there’s no substitute for the real thing, online shows are here to stay and we can reach people that way who would otherwise never get to see us live.

But it’s New Year’s Eve, so let’s look forward. It’s big pharma2 (of all people) to the rescue and with a fair wind and a following sea the return of real football, real pubs, real music, and real people is coming, but with lessons learned, continuing to reach out to those who can’t get out, and not leaving newly created mutual aid structures3 behind.

Onwards into 2021, friends. Look after yourselves, look after each other and, in the wise words of his holiness, John Cooper Clarke:

Gimme the vaccine, Maxine.

Happy New Year!

Steve

  1. Other online meeting software is available.
  2. More on that another time.
  3. The extraordinary efforts of We Shall Overcome with Pauline, Joe, Matt and Pete at the helm have continued throughout the pandemic. We’re not going anywhere until we’re no longer needed.

Santa is English

It’s been a tough year for bands.

It’s been a tough year for everyone.

We hit some real form with great shows at What’s Cookin’ and The Birds Nest when the curtain unexpectedly fell in March. We girded our loins and learned how to fake a live-but-beaming-in-from-different-locations video, which served us well for a couple of online festivals (and a massive shout out is due here for Joe Solo, Matt Hill and Pete Yen for getting WSO Isolation Festival not only off the ground but out in front of anyone else hosting online festivals, including the big corporates).

As soon as the noose loosened a little, we started the occasional socially-distanced park meeting with instruments and shot our video for the, now online, Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival in a little-known Walthamstow beauty spot.

Slightly less restricted again, we were able to just about stay two metres apart in Steve’s house where we played a few online gigs, either live or pre-recorded, and took advantage of the fine summer weather to enjoy each other’s company in the garden over a drink or two.

But then London went from tier two to tier three to lockdown to tier three and now tier four. Face-to-face ain’t happening but undaunted while more than a little disappointed, we thought we’d find out just what we could do together in isolation. Although The debased street music of the vulgar was all recorded at Steve’s house, this track had to be recorded in five houses on equipment ranging from mobile phones to inexpensive USB interfaces, free software and, in some cases, our employer’s laptop (shh!).

So here it is, our Christmas gift to you. We hope you like it. Keep smiling, keep fighting, and we’ll see you in the flesh soon with any luck.

Solidarity, brothers and sisters!

Russ, Lol, Simon, Andi & Steve

P.S. Get your free download here.

Reviewed by Folk London Magazine

It rattles along merrily and the punk spirit shines through. Singalong choruses are a given

Anja Beinroth, Folk London Magazine

To read the full review, get your copy here.

Reviewed by Fatea Magazine

Never less than thought-provoking, whilst also being highly entertaining, the band who to my mind can be seen as a musical equivalent of Coldwar Steve, indeed the group that can be relied upon to contribute to the soundtrack of the fight against inequality and a better, fairer world, not least because they have something eminently worthwhile to say, deserve a listen.

David Pratt, Fatea Magazine

Read the full review here.

The debased street music of the vulgar

Out now!

It’s been four years (four years!) since the last Protest Family release but finally we’ve got something to share with you that’ll give you an idea of what we sound like these days.

It’s a 100% DIY affair, recorded mostly at my house with some percussion recorded at Andi’s but that said, we’re pretty pleased with the results.

A DIY release comes with a DIY marketing department, of course, and that’s, um, you lot. So do us a favour and tell everyone you know and if you enjoy the EP then tell ’em all again, and if anyone fancies reviewing it then please let us know; someone else’s words always carry so much more weight than ours on occasions such as these.

If you really, really want a copy but finance is an issue, get in touch privately, I’m sure that we can sort something out.

Coming Soon

Yes, you’ve been waiting ages.

But, by means of whetting your appetites for the next full-length studio album and giving us a chance to talk about the future of the COVID songs, here’s a five-track demo EP that’ll at least give those of you who haven’t seen The Family live recently a flavour of what version 7’s all about.

The master copy went off to the printers this morning, so we should have an announcement for you very soon.

Untitled (7th September 2020)

If you want one of our world-beating tests
Then mate, you’d better have access to a car
While Hancock’s still spouting they’re the best
I’ll tell ya, you’re gonna have to travel far

My mate in north London got Leicester
A fella in Manchester got Dundee
At least my mate went to his (200-mile round trip)
Manchester’s waiting for a better slot to be released

You could, of course, go postal
Wait for the swab kit to hit your mat
There’s limited numbers of those, mind you
So, y’know, good luck with that

The expert said that he’s alarmed
3000 cases and the graph’s contour
The health secretary remained calm
Says work and school is COVID secure (yeah, right)

A busy pub with a Perspex screen
The floor stickers wearing thin (and pretty much ignored)
You can’t mask up when you eat and drink
What’s gonna happen d’you think?