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 soundThe Postindustrial Poets – (Thinking ´bout) Brian Jones
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 usThe Postindustrial Poets – Love (In the Time of Lockdown)
Trapped us each alone
All day long I waited
For the special buzz of your phone
“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.”
Want to learn more about the Postindustrial Poets?