A quick glance at Strange Bones‘ demeanor probably gives a solid idea of what to expect from the feisty Blackpool band. Fronted by the imposing, tattooed Bobby Bentham, a man who has been known to lead the band live in a face-covering gas mask, the punky, protest-embracing sound feels a natural fit.
The band, after all, are underdogs, if born of strong underdog stock. Having grown up surrounded by early-punk gristle, they’re off the beaten track when it comes to music’s city trends, and willing – see it as their duty, almost – to hit the road hard. The gritty, hotly-tipped act are most likely to rise through their pulsating live show.
“We’ve gone for a bit more of a breakbeat vibe,” Bentham tells me of what will be their second EP, ‘Blitz Part 2’, which references different sides to their upbringing. “Three of us in the band are brothers, and our parents kind of threw us into the breaking world of punk music at a very young age. It was a good environment to nurture a bit of an attitude towards life.”
“As we grew up and we managed to get out of Blackpool, we also got heavily into electronic music, a lot of jungle and dub. I like to mix it up, to constantly evolve to keep things exciting. It’s not just for other people, it’s for my own sanity.”
“My earliest memories of music, I think I was about 8, and my dad took me to a punk festival. I remember thinking it looked like a lot of fun, and deciding almost on the spot that I wanted to do that, too.”
Strange Bones, are, perhaps, an inevitable result, then, a natural evolution from what they call “the town that time forgot, stuck in the 70s.”
“All the money we make from touring is put into recording equipment,” Bentham continues. “We record it all in Blackpool, in house, which gives us a lot more freedom to experiment. When you’re working to the clock in a studio it’s a bit restricting, so it’s good to take our time. We end up, with tracks like ‘Napalm’, using about the fifth version of the song. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and sometimes that’s a bad thing, but it’s worth it.”
The real action, though, seems to take place on the road, with Strange Bones traditionally pretty extreme tourers. “It can be relentless. We need a lot of deep heat and try not to party too much,” Bentham says of their extended touring runs. “We need a couple of days afterwards, as we’re completely bruised from top to bottom. There weren’t any major injuries this last time, a few cuts and a black eye on the first day, but no hospital runs.”
“I often get smacked in the face by a guitar, or hit my face on the stage when I’m coming back from the audience. There’s always an argument between me and my brothers. We can argue and then it’s all forgotten about in 15 minutes, though, which means there aren’t really any long-term squabbles.”
“We do care about the media opportunities and the networking stuff,” Bentham says of the bigger tour opportunities that are coming up for them. “We like to watch great bands, but the European promoters and stuff you get to meet are important.”
Getting their name out there will certainly, in part, be about making a point.
“We wear the balaclavas now for anonymity for one song, it’s a protest against Theresa May’s changes to public privacy rules, “Bentham explains. “There are gas masks, too, for another song. Everything is political in one way or another. We feel like ants, and there’s rage building up in me, there has been for so long.”
“I’ve had to stop thinking about it, as it’s not helpful. We’re tired of political scumbags, and we live in a really quite bizarre time. The President of America is a celebrity from a reality TV show. Boris Johnson is essentially a clown. It’s really not hard to imagine him dancing around Eton singing ‘Kill The Poor’ by the Dead Kennedys. It’s a really weird time.”