Joe Publick further says that his “music is for your average ‘white van man'” – this is a very Brit-centric act that delves into the psyche of 21st century British men: exploring, channeling and challenging the insecurities, desires, hangups and passions of the average Joe. We catch up with him in the midst of recording new material. What makes him tick?
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So, what’s the mission statement for Joe Publick?
I wanna be careful about this. I believe there’s a male, heterosexual movement going on that’s all to do with guilt, you know, as if to be these things is to be guilty of a crime. The words ‘toxicity’ and ‘male’ are often appearing in the same sentence. There’s a massive difference between a normal, average bloke and these disgusting Harvey Weinstein types… The two things are very separate, but it seems that there’s a lot of shame being put on these normal men. These average men are changing their behaviour: moving their humour to be on WhatsApp rather than Facebook so they can share it without fear of being policed and judged by a world that’s gone so PC that they’re scared that their maleness might be considered unacceptable. Of course, there’s always a discussion to be had about what it means to be male: you know, what’s acceptable and what’s sexist, that kind of thing. But humour is humour and it shouldn’t have to be held to account in this way. I think the PC thing has swung too far the other way now.
You say you got a record deal waiting for a coat of paint to dry. What’s that all about?
(laughs) It’s actually more of a development deal. I think a press article that reported that exaggerated that a bit! Essentially, the last band I was in was a bit short of work and I was doing a bit of painting and decorating for a friend of mine’s company and, one day, when I was on a job… I wouldn’t say I was giving up on the music business, but I was certainly a little bit pissed off with it… and I was pissing around on the customer’s piano and singing some rather laddish, offensive type stuff and this guy there, (a guy called Chris Craker) who used to be Senior Vice President at Sony, he just loved it! He quickly got on the phone to his lawyer and we sorted out a quick agreement and… well, here we are!
I think I spy some Ian Dury in there. The Streets sound like they are lurking in Joe’s DNA, too – are they deliberate influences?
I’ve certainly listened to them. Ian Dury, 100%. But The Streets were a huge part of my childhood, and that reference to 90s music is purposely quite a lot in Joe Publick’s tunes and there are a lot of nods to it: the Korg M1 piano sound, a lot of 90s house tunes… but I love being in a band, so I’ve crossed it over with some guitars… it hasn’t just been all about dance music, so I’ve tried to fuse those ingredients together into something that I hope people will like.
Are we going to get to see Joe Publick play live?
Yep, we’ve got some shows coming up in the Autumn. So at the moment, the campaign’s going really well. We haven’t even released a song yet, but the fanbase on Facebook is grown to about 7000 people. Our first tune’s out on 28th Feb, and then I’m gonna be releasing stuff every month for the next 12 months. And live shows in the Autumn.
Other than music, what’s the most important thing to you?
Great answer! Anything else you’d like to add?
I care about communicating to men about mental health. I’ve had struggles with it most of my life, but managed to get help. Through a friend initially, and then through the NHS. There are certainly a lot of men… in the trades, especially, and musicians as well… they don’t often seek the help. Poor mental health is publicised a lot, so we know that it’s there and that there’s a huge problem with it. But I do talk to a lot of men about it, because it’s become something that I’ve managed to sort out and get over myself. And a lot of people don’t know how to talk about it. So I do tend to try to talk to men about it when it feels appropriate. I mean obviously, I don’t go out starting conversations with those kind of things, but, when there’s a need to, when you see someone is sad or that they are struggling, or you see the signs that were present in yourself, then I do talk about it. That’s certainly a point of passion from my side.
So has the Joe Publick brand sprung from a desire to do that -communicating in the hope of raising awareness, or do you just love a thumping good 90s dance tune?
(laughs) I think there’s an element of both. It’s just a part of my character. And all these things, I wouldn’t say they were really thought about that intensely. They just work out of what you are and I think that’s what making good art and good music is all about… you think about all these elements of who you are and what you enjoy and it all comes out in this big fart of what we call music… then you hope to capture some of that on record. And I think that’s what we’ve done here. We’ve tried to capture all of the things that I’m passionate about, all the styles that have influenced me and then pressed go and recorded it. And then, you hope that people like it! So far, so good, right (laughs)?
Cutting to the heart of the matter: how many sugars do you take in a cup of tea?
40K Followers is out now.