"Music And Art Is The Glue That Holds Everybody Together!" Nothing But Thieves Interviewed

"Music And Art Is The Glue That Holds Everybody Together!" Nothing But Thieves Interviewed

Life during lockdown with the UK rock heroes...

There isn’t a beginner’s guide for releasing an album during a pandemic, but if there was Nothing But Thieves would certainly be contenders to write it.

October marks the release of their aptly titled third album 'Moral Panic', an album that’s lyrics make it arguably one of the most poignant releases so far this year. Whilst much of the album was written prior to lockdown, it is a body of work that is so perfectly aligned to the trials and tribulations of life during a pandemic.  The pain, the love, the mundanity, the absurdity of the human condition and society laid bare for all to see, through the lens of a band whose music is forever intertwined with their desire to constantly better themselves as musicians and as people.

The album, produced by Mark Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, The 1975) is the band’s first new music since their 2018 EP 'What Did You Think When You Made Me This Way', acting as a vigorous examination of the world we find ourselves in, metaphorically holding up a mirror and asking the question ‘Is this as good as it gets?’

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In anticipation of their third studio album release, we talked to the bands lead vocalist and guitarist Conor Mason about the process of making the album, life during lockdown and what lies ahead for one of the country's most established rock bands.

You wouldn’t be foolish to presume that someone who released an album titled ‘Moral Panic’ during a pandemic would see the experience as wholly negative. But upon asking Conor how lockdown was for him the answer is encouragingly surprising.

“I think everyone has dealt with it differently, on a personal level I really relished it, I needed the staticity of it. I needed to slow down, it was great to become more self-aware and work out what was important for me and the band, I’ve become more creative in that sense. Lockdown separates you physically and metaphorically from the planet. Music can often pressure you to constantly be on the move and thinking about the next thing, so it’s been amazing to take time to discover new music and write most days”.

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Amongst such positivity and a revived sense of self, there were of course bad days for the band’s frontman, like there have been for all of us. He noticeably changes in his tone of voice, taking his time to reflect on the confines of lockdown, “for a while I felt a real fogginess and so did a lot of my other friends involved in music, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. When we released the first single on Radio 1, I remember having this feeling of pointlessness. It felt like we were profiting off this misery, It just didn’t feel right promoting music at a time when so many people were struggling so much.”

After an initial period of self-doubt, came a crucial realisation for Conor about the positive impact the bands music can have on people during this time of immense suffering. “I struggled with that for a bit, but as lockdown went on I realised I was so desperately in need of music. I felt good again about releasing music, I really hope people have found some solitude and comfort in the music we’ve brought out. I can’t wait to release it, it’s the right timing for it.”

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Plenty has been said about the murky details of modern music making - a world of endless ghost writers, production bootcamps, artists operating as curators. Yet it couldn’t be clearer when talking to Conor that he is the person behind these poignantly written songs. It’s incredibly uplifting to hear someone so engaged, despite a recent performance at Abbey Road and an upcoming show at the O2 Arena, he is an individual fixated on bettering himself, actively looking for ways to make a difference through his art.

The standout singles on the album are ‘Is Everybody Going Crazy?’, ‘Real Love Song’ and ‘Impossible’, each confronting a plethora of emotions varying from rage, inequality and love and the ever-growing concern around global issues including the environment and social media. The frontman’s ability to constantly ground himself during our interview speaks volumes. He admits despite confronting all of these issues he isn’t perfect “we are unintentionally are all hypocrites at the best of times. Everyone can be a hypocrite, but now the topics are coming to the forefront, it’s become easier and easier to find out about these topics and challenge them.” 

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The band's upcoming album is perfect for a live environment, fans were ecstatic when it was recently announced that there would be three livestream shows Live From The Warehouse for the week following the ‘Moral Panic’ album release and tickets are also on sale for their UK, Ireland and European tour for Autumn 2021.

Playing live is part of band's DNA and has undoubtedly been was has shaped much of their sound and global following. When asked about his thoughts on the UK governments recent dismissal of the arts and serious lack of funding, Conor passionately says: “It’s abhorrent. You look at someone like Rishi and just think how disconnected can you be? You can’t make a statement if you don’t know the people whose lives you are affecting. I’m someone who gets something from music every day, to say it is a luxury is absurd. I think music and art is the glue that holds everybody together, with day-to-day life and mental health issues.”

There is no doubt Moral Panic will be an album that touches the bands already blossoming fan-base in a way it never has before, whilst reaching out to an entirely new set of listeners. “We always try and instil an element of hope into our music,” Conor says, “the only way to make change is from within yourself. For me the only true thing in life is the connection you make with yourself and other people.” ‘Moral Panic’ is an album that attempts to do just that and is without doubt the bands best album to date with its lyrical prowess, profound transparency and raw emotion.

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'Moral Panic' is out now. Nothing But Thieves will be live-streaming performances on October 27th, 28th, and 29th.

Words: Josh Crowe

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