Since the release of their second album in 2015, the world has changed: Brexit, Trump, the rise of Black Lives Matter, identity politics. With movements such as #Grime4Corbyn, and increasingly “woke” pop stars, there has been a sharp increase in musicians speaking out about political matters. Although they don’t consider themselves a political band, Young Fathers have always been outspoken about issues close to them. In 2015, when releasing the video for Old Rock N Roll, they accompanied it with a statement about the refugee crisis (Massaquoi himself emigrated from Liberia aged four during the civil war in the early 90s): “Britain First are trying to spawn all over the internet, while politicians and press fight to expectorate the most poisonous, anti-immigrant ignorance… If we can afford bombs we can afford blankets and a welcome.” They’ve been on protests and played shows for Unite Against Fascism.
But they are wary of music’s newfound conscience. “A lot of bands are coming out of the woodwork and being overtly political because of the current climate we’re in,” says Massaquoi. “Standing up for what you believe in as a person is definitely always going to be a great thing and a courageous thing. But now, it’s good for business – it’s a good look to be aligned with a political party, or be in the media calling people out. I think it’s accepted now as part of popular culture.”
“We’d probably have been a much more successful band if we had never said things like that,” muses Hastings. The band will continue to lend their voice to causes they believe in, he says, although they’re pragmatic about the impact they can have: “It’s only going to be a minuscule thing – it’s not going to help in the grand scheme of things. But you just kind of understand that it’s worth it, a lot of the time.” One thing they all agree on is that “it’s all to do with being people, about humanity – it’s not about an agenda or parties or whatever, because parties change, opinions change”. – Read the full Young Fathers interview with the Guardian
Buy Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar on vinyl and more.