LAWMEN - Modern-Day Renegades ? (Garage Punk-Rock - Interview with Jason & Mike)

29 May 2024
LAWMEN - Modern-Day Renegades ? (Garage Punk-Rock - Interview with Jason & Mike)
LAWMEN are a garage punk duo from London, England. Having regrouped after their previous band, Kid Slug, folded after some time, they have so far released a handful of singles on digital platforms, with their music shifting curiously between early punk, rock ‘n roll and country, complete with the occasional slide guitar. They spoke to ROUGH TIMES about their origins, plans and the latest single. Express interview with Jason & Mike.

Please introduce yourselves…
Jason: My name is Jason, I play guitar, bass and vox
Mike: I’m Mike, I hold down the drums/rhythm and vox. We are the Lawmen!

How did it all begin with the band?
M: We first met playing together in Kid Slug, I was in that band for over a decade, we released a record, played lots of good shows and Jason came in during the later era of the band, before we all amicably called it quits.
J: During the latter part of the pandemic, when the world was reopening and gigs restarted, I bumped into Mike at a gig in Numbucca, North London and started chatting about stuff. Then we met again at a Social Distortion show, catching up, and realised we both had a fever… and the only cure was more cowbell! But yeah, I first met Mike when I auditioned on bass for Kid Slug and got the gig, we gelled rhythmically and with good shared tastes.

Describe your sound and explain why I should listen to your band?
J: It’s bluesy garage punk on a train heading across country.
M: That’s a good description, actually. The sound blends a lot of garage punk influence but then we’re also big into rock ‘n roll (and infusing the all-important groove, especially for me being a drummer) plus country, blues and other stylings, so it’s a mix. It goes without saying that any musician should bring their own tastes to the table, which I feel we’ve done, so hopefully fans of these sounds find something they can identify with.

What are your musical inspirations and influences?
J: I love 60’s garage, psych, rockabilly, proto punk like The Stooges and the MC5, Billy Childish and much more, I could go on !
M: I’m big into all of that too, plus country, blues, jazz. A major shared punk rock influence for both of us is The Gun Club, who of course brought that rootsy, rockabilly influence to punk way ahead of anyone else. I also grew up as a hardcore kid, so those bands are very near and dear to my heart. I still listen to a lot of that, though tend to play it less nowadays. I wouldn’t say there’s any hardcore influence in the sound, but possibly in the attitude and delivery.

And how important are the lyrics for you, and are there any specific messages or thoughts you try to share?
J: I think that getting a good beat, melody or chord progression is the first step because if that doesn’t hook you, the words probably won’t do it. Lyrics come after, and for me it’s whatever pops into my head, there could be a different lyrical approach on any given day. Then we focus it down to some sort of narrative.
M: One big thematic influence for us, even in deciding on the name ‘Lawmen’, is the rogues, mavericks and outlaws of real life and even pop culture, so in movies, TV, books and so on. I love the energy and attitude of punk rock, and the storytelling aesthetic of old-time country, so we bring this approach to our songs. As Jason says, the music is usually the driving force and then the lyrics fit and are sometimes informed by the playing and approach.

Can you tell me about your latest release?
M: We’ve released a few singles on digital platforms. The latest is more of a hard driving rock riff called ‘Hole in My Head’, a little heavier than previous songs. It uses an aggressive riff and distressed, syncopated beat, which I experimented with and thought was interesting. Paired with the lyrics, to me it feels like you're losing your mind, so this is a nod to that feeling. It’s available now on all digital streamers. We drop new songs first on Bandcamp, then later they land on other streaming platforms.


What are your future plans?
J: We’re recording a new EP at the moment and planning for an album down the road, having released just a few singles so far.
M: What’s interesting is how music output and consumption has obviously changed so much in recent years. Like many people, we’re still traditional fans of music. I love picking up full albums and I honestly much prefer physical media (records, tapes, CDs). However, I enjoy streaming too and it’s a great way to find new bands. I think Bandcamp is a really great and fun way to discover new music and support indie bands and labels directly, which I do regularly. So for us now, we’re trying to navigate these waters.

Your most insane dream with the band would be…?
J: A record deal and unlimited recording studio time
M: Touring with bands you love and respect, and even recording for a movie soundtrack. That would be amazing. I’m a big soundtrack fan.

Do you have any live shows lined up?
M: We’re currently purely a studio band, however we’ve discussed the idea of playing live sometime down the road, so it’s a possibility!

Some words on your local scene - bands you're friends with and you'd like to name?
J: I’d give a shout out to Jay Vee and the Cardinal Sins, Space Wasters, Dead Hombres and my own other band, Black Powder Merchants.
M: I’d like to give a shout out to Garageland, a music promotion who are good friends of ours and host amazing garage, punk and other wild bands from all over the country, and even visiting bands from abroad. The shows regularly take place in London and Brighton. That’s something which is key, I think, a sense of community. And when you go to these gigs, you know you’re in for a good time!

Any closing words?
M: Thank you for the interest in speaking to us and we do hope people enjoy what we’re playing and putting out. We’re bringing a lot of different influences to the table and yet, through our own expression, hopefully we’re creating some something fresh yet familiar.

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Born 1969, grew up with the NWOBHM sounds, musically educated with cult french magazines that were ENFER and METAL ATTACK, definitely nailed to the style when "The Number Of The Beast" by IRON MAIDEN was released... From 1982, it was clear life would never be the same ! Young & getting wild to the HEAVY sounds of SAXON, VENOM, BLACK SABBATH, MOTORHEAD, Young Fab also discovered thanks to school mates the NOISE, FILTH & FURY of Hard-Core/Punk bands like G.B.H, DISCHARGE, BROKEN BONES but also CRO-MAGS, BAD BRAINS, FUGAZI... and later on, through the 90's, everything that was ALTERNATIVE, EXPERIMENTAL, GRUNGE, INDUSTRIAL (SONIC YOUTH, NINE INCH NAILS, SOUDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS)... Passion & curiosity grew up as years went by ... Fate was SEALED... no turning back ! No Music = No Life !

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