Band of hope and glory
Middle England is what you get when a group of misfits are thrown together on a small island that can’t stand itself. Moody, angry, caught between the desire to live life to the fullest and the sense of being beaten down by a world which regards you with suspicion and hatred - this is troubled music for troubled times, made by a bunch of people with little to lose and less left to live for.
Middle England’s music melts down a whole host of musical lineages for scrap. Punk - both the first-wave heroes of the 1970s and modern torch-bearers like Sleaford Mods - fights it out with hip-hop, dub, synth-pop and dancehall in Middle England’s instrumentals. The licks may be sweet and the choruses may be stirring, but there’s more than a pinch of grit in the oyster here.
Atop these grizzled beats, vocalist Lucky Jones delivers lyrics which pull at the threads of the UK’s troubled national psyche. Sometimes he’ll tackle these matters head on, railing against modern Britain’s hate-thy-neighbour culture; other approaches are more subtle, his street-level poetry and introspective flights of fancy offering something like escape from the everyday insanity of … well, of Middle England.
Lucky Jones has changed of late. Whereas Middle England’s singer was once a funny, outgoing chap, recently he’s become a bit nocturnal, a bit closed off.
It all began when Lucky lost his mate Jimbob. He’s that guy who uploaded himself onto a floppy disk. Didn’t you hear about it? Terrible tragedy, made all the papers ...
Lucky hasn’t been sleeping much since the funeral. He tried for a bit, but after a few nights he decided to power through with bowls of the sugariest cereals known to man.
Nowadays you’re more likely to see Lucky traipsing the streets of SW17, nattering to the White Rabbit while leaving a trail of cigarette butts and cereal crumbs in his wake.
The White Rabbit is Lucky’s new pal, his confidante, his life coach. It introduced itself to him one night while Lucky was in the darkest depths of a Special K-hole. The rabbit listens attentively as Lucky, delirious from sugar, confesses that he needs love but at the same time feels unlovable.
The last 6 months have been a blur: the loss of Jimbob; the appearance of the White Rabbit; the strange, bald scientist who had been the sole other attendee at Jimbob’s funeral, seemingly there specifically to hire Lucky as his “assistant”. What did it all mean?
Late at night, Lucky wonders - is this real? Or is it all just in his head?
Cursed with a face that could curdle milk, Betty Ugly lives up to his name. A bass player who moonlights as a champion boxer (or is that the other way around?), Betty is very much the muscle of Middle England - quite a feat, given the competition.
It’s been a confusing start in life for Betty Ugly. So repulsed were his parents by the child they had birthed that they cast their baby out into the wilderness. Until the age of sixteen Betty was raised by wolves, something that has led to his feral personality and penchant for howling at the moon.
One day, as Betty and the pack patrolled the woodlands of Dulwich, they came across a stranger - that same short, bald man who’d been at Jimbob’s funeral.
Betty doesn’t remember much of the next few hours. Indeed, the next thing he can recall is waking up in a two-up two-down in SW17.
Is The Brain’s plan to try and humanise the wolf-boy? Or does this malevolent genius have something altogether more diabolical in store?
Either way, Betty’s settling into domestic life well. He’s getting to grips with using cutlery and not drinking from the toilet bowl. He’s channelling his curious upbringing into a newfound love of music - the bass guitar’s proving to be a particular favourite.
Betty hopes that his time with Middle England will bring him the sort of clarity that you just can’t find when roaming the forests with your lupine brethren.
Born and raised on the mean streets of Wandsworth, you know Yung T has had his fair share of arguments with parking wardens.
Though he grew up enjoying the material comforts that come with being the son of an investment banker, Yung T’s emotionally distant relationship with his father led to a troubled atmosphere in the house growing up. By sixteen, he’d had enough. Yung T dropped out of school, left home and started selling weed to pay his way.
Yung T was corralled into Middle England’s lineup late one October night. As he dropped off Lucky Jones’s regular order at 1 Kellino Street, Yung T poked his head round the door to the basement - a big no-no as far as The Brain’s concerned. After that, you’ve seen too much, and your only options left are to run and hope The Brain doesn’t track you down or cut your way in on the deal. For better or worse, Yung T chose the latter.
Despite being quoted as saying that guitar is "bait", Yung T is able to play most of the notes correctly, most of the time - and, though he’d never admit it, actually quite likes a go on the old six-string. Either way, he’s the closest thing that Middle England has to an axeman at the time of writing.
When not at 1 Kellino Street you’ll find Yung T rolling deep with his entourage - the mandem even tried to come through to Middle England’s practice once, though a run-in with The Brain was enough to put a stop to all that.
Who would have thought that an unassuming house in Tooting would be home to one of the most diabolical minds of our generation?
Behind the rusting gate, overgrown garden and peeling paint of 1 Kellino Street you’ll find a squat, bald, awkward man who compensates for a lack of upper body strength with the only thing about him shorter than his diminutive stature - his temper.
He goes by The Brain. Good luck finding out his real name.
Each morning The Brain retreats to the makeshift laboratory he’s constructed in the basement of the house. It’s here that he conducts his experiments - “sonic investigations”, he calls them. Bangs, crashes and screams emerge from that room long into the night, leading to a … let’s say ‘strained’ relationship with the neighbours.
It’s down here, among the bubbling beakers and luminous liquids, that The Brain masterminds Middle England. He’s got himself a decent little crew now - that sensitive, masked young man from the funeral, some foolish chap he’s friends with, and now the wolf-boy too.
All the tools are in place. Now, The Brain can start putting his plans into action ...