Though the band’s name might suggest otherwise, the members of Manchester rock outfit Working For A Nuclear Free City are not “a bunch of tree hugging hippies.” According to guitarist Gary McLure, the band plucked the name from a British street sign they loved for its “subtle ironies and suggestion of secret bunkers hidden just underground.”
The band’s quirky, mysterious name is a fitting match for their music; WFANFC creates lush soundscapes that are melodic and gripping without being easily sorted into any one genre. The band culls from electronic, dance, and shoegazer influences (as far reaching as Berlin-trilogy era Bowie and David Axelrod) in an earnest effort to bring something new to the table. “We want to create an alternative to the current retrospective trend in music,” says singer and producer Dekko (a.k.a Phil Kay). “We just want to keep moving into uncharted territory.”
This is not to say that WFANFC does not have a distinctive sound – they simply do not sound like anyone else. Beginning as the studio project of brothers Phil and John Kay and school friend Gary McLure in 2001, the group made only slow-burning instrumental tracks until they added bassist Ed McLure to the mix, who introduced dance beats and vocals to the tracks. “Sometimes a song doesn’t need words,” says Phil, “But we always intended to have vocals on these tracks.”
What resulted is an eclectic mix of orchestral, adrenaline-fueled dance tracks juxtaposed with quiet, bedroom pop songs and eerie, sparse, acoustic cuts. In the hands of another band, this eclectic mix of tempos and moods could feel cluttered; on WFANFCs debut, the songs both compliment and challenge each other. “Troubled Son” pairs a booming bass line with clanging industrial effects, “England” channels rainy day psychedelia, and “So” starts off as a finger-picked folk track and ends in a booming chorus that would shake any dance crowd.
The band is no stranger to the live club scene, having made their mark on UK nightlife by crafting provocative
remixes--The Rakes, Polytechnic, Shitdisco, Archie Bronson Outfit, The Whip and Starsailor have all called on WFANFC for an aural facelift, drawn to the band’s unexpected treatments of old songs. “I never listen to the original track if I can help it,” says Phil. “I’ll take the coughs of the vocalist before he did his take and turn them into a beat, or take the string noise from the guitar and make them into a new instrument.”
What is truly exciting about WFANFC’s world is that there are no constraints; their new debut US release Businessmen & Ghosts, on Deaf Dumb + Blind Recordings, draws from loose grooves, neat Krautrock touches, and even spoken word, and still feels like the work of a cohesive and musically-tight group. Featuring all the tracks from their self titled UK debut album and subsequent Rocket EP on Melodic, plus a number of rare and unreleased tracks, Businessmen & Ghosts is a groundbreaking collection from an important band on the verge of breakout success.
For a band that is just now making its United States debut, WFANFC could not be in a better position; they push boundaries, cross genres, and still sound only like themselves. Just don’t mistake them for a pack of hippies.
Deaf Dumb + Blind is a multi-media company, whose film division debuted their first film at Tribeca Film Festival this year, entitled Sons Of Sakhnin United this year, to wide critical acclaim. The film was music supervised by London's very own Crosstown Rebel, Damian Lazarus and scored by Chilean techno wizard Pier Bucci, and features music by Faithless, Hard Fi and Beck. DD + B Recordings have been busy signing acts such as Fujiya & Miyagi and Foreign Islands, putting out cutting edge audio visual travel guides with Time Out, and are now ecstatic to present Working For A Nuclear Free City.