DINNER IS SERVED!
The UK’s leading exponents of ‘kitchencore’, Liverpool band PETE BENTHAM & THE DINNER LADIES have just released their fourth album England’s Up For Sale. Vive Le Rock hooked up with Pete to find out what’s cookin’…
Your new album England’s Up For Sale – is it a soundtrack for the 31 October Brexit deadline?
Yes sure. Despite being seen as a kind of a theatrical band, we just use that as a way of putting across social comment and things we believe in. We think making it entertaining is a better way of putting across a serious point, than ranting at people. So how could the album not be a soundtrack to what’s going on now? It’s sad how the country is so divided. We certainly understand why disillusioned people voted for it, but like most people from Liverpool, we are pro-Europe because under Thatcher, their (leaked) plan was for a ‘managed decline’ for Liverpool and it was massive European funding that revitalised the city and helped make it the amazing place it is today. Plus it’s always been a melting pot of different races and cultures.
Are you influenced by Liverpool’s rich history pf punk and political bands?
Because of its history as a major port and a gateway to the World and other cultures, plus the strong labour movement, Liverpool is a political place, so you can’t help but be influenced by it. It also still has a strong sense of identity and community, that has been lost in some places. That’s why divisive people like the far right never get a good reception here. Obviously, the city has a massive history of great bands and the current DIY punk scene is also great. There’s so many amazing current bands here like The Wasters, Down & Outs, Pardon Us, Bolshy, Sheepy, Piss Kitti, Crapsons who have all got something important to say. My personal favourite local band is probably still Half Man Half Biscuit, who like ourselves sometimes get dismissed as a novelty band, but are often making some proper social commentary, that’s not always appreciated.
You seem to be a bit of a favourite of Rebellion festival regulars?
Yes. We are lucky that Darren and Jennie get what we do and to have have played it so many times. But we do always put on a show with the visuals and everything so I guess we are one of the bands that add something to proceedings, alongside, say, Interrobang!? Wonk Unit, Evil Blizzard and a few others. Rebellion is the best and is a massive thing for the punk scene as a whole, and has been brilliant in helping us reach loads of people.
The album takes in various styles… We like ‘Goth Postman”s psychobilly vibe. You aren’t afraid to experiment...
Yes, our stuff is quite eclectic. We often get called ‘a people’s band’ in that unlike most bands, we are all different ages and types. So we all bring different influences to it. I bring my garage rock & roll thing, the rhythm section Pete and Tony come from the DIY punk and hardcore scene, sax player Anna has a classical background and was in a really good ska band. Plus The Dinnerettes dancers bring the whole performance art thing to it. But I think mainly we just all love all kinds of music. When we are on tour the CD in the van will be be playing all sorts of stuff like Moldy Peaches, Wire, The Specials, Syd Barrett, Motown, Velvet Underground plus all the current bands we play with like Pizzatramp, Nosebleed, Wonk Unit etc.
Whats the funniest gig Pete Bentham & The Dinner Ladies have ever played?
Two years ago Peter from Paranoid Visions, who likes us and is a top man, invited us over to Dublin to play with Lars Frederikson’s band Old Firm Casuals. When we got there, the line-up was three skinhead Oi bands and mostly skins in the audience and there’s me on stage with a load of girls dressed as Dinner Ladies singing abut Marcel Duchamp! It actually went surprisingly well. Perhaps skinheads are more clued up about conceptual artists than you’d think?
Did you have a crush on your dinner lady at school?
Definitely not. They were terrifying at our school, like the Gestapo. But the people who come to our shows dressed as Dinner Ladies look pretty good. Also, the band is named after my mum who was a Dinner Lady.
England’s Up For Sale is out now through Antipop Records.
Catch Pete Bentham & The Dinner Ladies live at…
Sat 9 Nov – Fulford Arms, York
Sat 16 Nov – The Station, Ashton-under-Lyne
Sat 7 Dec – Percy’s, Whitchurch