During these unprecedented times, lockdown has meant that we are spending most of our time inside with only ourselves, or our very closest, for company. As it looks like the world won’t be returning to normality for the foreseeable future, we thought we would find out how our favourite bands are handling things, what they’re getting up to, and tips and advice they could share.
Haggard Cat have released the video for their new DIY single, ‘Quit Your Jobs’, taken from their upcoming ‘Cheer Up’ EP, scheduled for release on September 3rd 2021. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Matt Reynolds to talk about his experiences during the national lockdowns.
DP!: How are you managing lockdown?
Matt: To be honest I don’t think I’m quite sure myself… It all feels like a bit of a blur, the longest 14 months of my life but also one that I seem to have blinked and missed, so so surreal. For quite some time I ended up getting quite morose, centring in on all the things that make me feel good that I was missing. I soon started to realise how self-centred and narcissistic this was mind you. There’s not one person who isn’t affected by what’s going on, no one is exactly being singled out here. And compared to many I’m sure I have it pretty damn good.
I’ve found the best thing for me is to force myself to stop focussing on the things that I’ve lost over this time, but instead to look towards the things that I still have that keep me going.
DP!: Are you on lockdown on your own, or are you with friends or family?
Matt: I’m very lucky to have lived with my partner throughout all of these lockdowns and most of the time we’ve done a pretty good job at keeping each other sane (and other times the opposite). When the news started hitting that things weren’t quite going to be the same for a while back in March 2020, we were on a ferry to Ireland to play some shows. As Ireland acted much quicker than the rest of the UK, we got sent home almost instantly – so she came to stay with me for a couple of weeks before we knew what was really going on as I was pretty bummed out. As the days went on, the UK lockdown hit, the whole UK tour got pulled and she got stuck with me.
DP!: How do you personally feel the government is handling it so far?
Matt: I’ve been fairly outspoken both within my musical output and in every-day life about exactly how I feel about our current Government. If there’s anyone that still has an even slightly positive view of them within our industry at this point, I would be surprised and dreadfully disappointed. They are quite frankly beyond parody at this stage.
DP!: What have you been doing to keep yourself entertained?
Matt: There’s a lot of things I’ve said that I’m going to take up throughout lockdown and then somehow have managed to not stick. Doomed hobbies from the very beginning. One of which that I’m really gutted to not have acted on was that I was intending to buy a saxophone and learn. Perhaps if I’d have known how long this would go on for I would have, but also then perhaps my relationship with my partner might have been a little tested as the months went squeakily by. Gutting to think that I could be at a stage where I was starting to get okay at it by now though…
One thing that has stuck has been running, which sounds dead boring, but I originally started as a way to make sure I was at least getting out into nature for a bit, and then after a while I just started feeling wrong if I wasn’t doing it. Fresh air does miraculous things to your brain.
DP!: Have you been using the time to write and/or record any new music?
Matt: To be honest it’s pretty much ALL I’ve been doing. Lockdown hit literally just as our last album Common Sense Holiday dropped, which was very bad timing. I sulked for a couple of months because I couldn’t get out there and show off a body of work that I was so immensely proud of. But eventually it passed, and I was hit with a wave of creativity, which I feel incredibly lucky for as I know it hasn’t been the same for everybody. I wrote pretty much every-day last year and have carried it into this year as well, all kinds of different material. Thankfully, NOTHING about lockdowns or pandemics. No disrespect to anyone who is writing music about that stuff, but my opinion is we’re all being forced through it together and listening to artists rant on about it in musical form is just a bit dull and obvious (cough cough Dave Grohl and Mick Jagger). I’ve been feeling more of a need to use music as escapism rather than as a microscope recently.
We were actually very lucky to get into the studio with Adrian Bushby in between lockdowns at the end of last year for an absolutely explosive session – it’s taken the form of our upcoming EP ‘Cheer Up’ which I can’t wait to release into the wild. There’s so many more demos floating around too, so I can see us getting to work on a full album sooner rather than later!
DP!: Have you been working in the meantime to help you through financially?
Matt: Again I feel very lucky to say I’ve managed to hold on to some part-time work throughout – which has been good for keeping my brain aligned, and you know, eating. The band however really started to struggle last year with no incomings at all, only bills. We played a really special online fundraiser show at the end of the year however and were absolutely blown away by the support of our fans – honestly they’re fucking amazing (It also meant we finally got to show people what these huge new songs sounded like live). We’ve had a bit of a renaissance as a band this year after making the decision to part with our label and go fully DIY again. The support has driven us, I just know wherever we go next is going to be so exciting and awesome.
DP!: Any tips or suggestions for others to keep themselves entertained, or for people who may be struggling mentally?
Matt: I too could do with some suggestions to be honest. What I would say is just do whatever makes you happy. If you’re not exercising, don’t worry, it’s not what makes everyone feel good. Likewise, if you have no motivation at all and just want binge shows on Netflix, DO IT! There’s no wrong way and if I’ve learned anything this last year, it’s that sitting on your phone and comparing your output to that of other people on social media projecting idealised versions of their own lives is dreadful for you. I’ve had days where I barely get out of bed, but I think it’s important to take things one day at a time – I’m not a professional by any stretch of the imagination but I think it’s important not to punish yourself for days like these as that’s a really easy way to get into a shame spiral. This is a very hard time despite us all enduring it, it’s okay to take a lie down through it. I’ve basically lived in a robe throughout… in fact I’m sat typing in it right now.
DP!: Final words?
Matt: Thank you for reading this far! Please listen to our new single ‘Quit Your Jobs’, both me and Tom are very proud of it. Play it loud. Go easy on yourself. Enjoy yourself. Don’t vote Tory.
Haggard Cat‘s new EP ‘Cheer Up’ is scheduled for release on September 3rd and the band will be embarking on an expansive UK tour in support of the EP, on the dates listed on the poster below.
You can pre-order the EP, a load of new bundles, and tickets for their upcoming tour from the band’s official website.