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LISTEN: New Pregoblin Single
George Ellerby , March 14th, 2018 15:50

George Ellerby meets up with Alex Sebley, one-time Fat White Family auxiliary as he returns with new band and debut single

Pregoblin have shared their debut single 'Combustion' in anticipation of a forthcoming LP, which is set for release later this year.

After bitter fall outs, reunions and severing musical ties with The Fat White Family, south London based musician Alexander Sebley returns in earnest after a hiatus with his latest act, Pregoblin.

Pregoblin is formed of an array of artists ranging from Jessica Winters of the indie synth-pop outfit Will Sin For Love and ex-Fat White Family musician Joseph Pancucci to ex-Jamie T drummer Ben Bones. They stand out from the alternative rock and punk hallmark sound of their peers, as 'Combustion' shows, they have adopted a more jovial, bold, and disco-inspired direction.

Taking a perch in a corner of a teeming Brixton Wetherspoons, tQ sits down with Alex to discuss 'Combustion', the forthcoming album, and the state of the South London music scene.

Why did you chose the name Pregoblin?

Alex Sebley: I don’t normally tell people this, but I’m a recovering heroin addict. I take a drug called pregabalin to get off the heroin. I had been on it for a very long time and a friend of mine got me off heroin about a year ago using this drug which is normally prescribed for anxiety or epilepsy. The BBC just did a documentary about it; there are whole communities in Dublin and Glasgow totally addicted to this stuff. It’s a non-opiate painkiller so it’s very good at mimicking the effects of [heroin] if you take a high enough dose. But it’s quite trippy– it’s like a psychedelic.

How and where did you form the band?

AS: There have been a few incarnations of the band but it's now new. There's Jessica Winter, who is the producer and co-writer. And before that Dante [of Sweat] I contacted years ago, having been out of making music for a while after the Saudis and the Fat White Family. I wrote a few songs with those two and then I slowly put a band together.

Lias [of Fat White Family] posted on Facebook trying to get band mates for me. After an hour I got like 50 emails asking to be in the band. Some of them were from [around the world]. There was a drummer who lived in LA asking to join, and some guy from Paris saying he played the best guitar- saying like "I can shred!" But there was a small group of people in London who are really up for it and are really supportive.

What would you say is the motivation behind Pregoblin?

AS: To rule the world! [laughs] World domination! I don’t know really. Really music is my only thing. This is my life. This has all been pretty amazing for me - to have so many people taking interest. Even when I was in the Saudis and The Fat Whites, I just never thought it was going to go anywhere and, to my amazement, look at them now – they’re massive. Before I didn’t really take it seriously, but now this is kind of it for me. This is what I want to do with my life. I think I really made that decision after I’d written 'Combustion'. After I wrote that, I [realised] I can do this and that this is what I actually want to do. That was a big turning point for me.

How do you separate your lyrical identity with a band such as the Fat White Family from Pregoblin?

AS: I don’t think the lyrics are that different. 'Touch the Leather' was a long time ago. That song was just a bit of a silly song. We had another group and used to just write these bizarre songs. FWF wanted to record it, and I thought, "Yeah, great", but it didn’t really seem that big a deal. So, lyrically I don’t really see much of a difference. But when I left the Saudis, I didn’t really want to make a punk record like The Fat White had done. For me I wanted to make something a little different. So when I set up this thing with Jessica, the idea was to make something really different. I really love like club, funk and dance music, so I suppose that is the only difference. I still put the attention to detail in the tune. I think about the lyrics quite deeply, it’s not supposed to just be a good time record.

Who do you see as your contemporaries in the south London music scene?

AS: Meatraffle - I love Meatraffle. Meatraffle, for me, are the best band. I like Childhood. In the south London scene generally there are loads of great bands. Starlight Magic Hour, BAT-BIKE, The Fat Whites. Lias is always like, "you’re the only one I’m scared of. You’re the only one that can write like me." We play off each other a lot actually. We still write together with Saul actually. For a long time we weren’t mates, we really fell out. I mean really bitter.

So, the Queen’s was a big hub for music...

AS: See the Queen’s era is when I wasn’t really talking to [The Fat Whites]. I used to make the pizzas there actually. It was kinda weird because they would be rehearsing and I would just be making pizzas. Again, I wasn’t talking to the guys, so I didn’t spend much time in the Queen’s. [The Fat White’s] didn’t see me for a couple of years, I just had nothing to do with them. The only contact I did have with them was when they [recorded] 'Touch The Leather' and got signed.

I’ve seen a few live videos of you coming up on stage with them and performing 'Touch The Leather’.

AS: Yeah, they wheel me out sometimes, but no one knows who the fuck I am. They must think, "Who’s this bloke?"

How do you feel the recent gentrification and development in South London, and London generally, has effected the music scene?

AS: I’m actually homeless. I live with my girlfriend and I can’t really afford rent. I feel the problem with gentrification is that it destroys and takes the artists out of a place. I think people move to a place for a vibe, or for culture. Those people aren’t inherently hip and are not part of something to do with the place, so they try and buy into it.

But the thing with gentrification is that when this happens, everything does become safer, because those people want to live in a safe neighbourhood. So what you get is a safe neighbourhood, with some nice restaurants, but you lose the artistic soul, I guess. A lot of my artistic friends have had to move out of the area because they can’t afford to live here. Then the area just suffers, because people want that entertainment.

The arts seem to be the one thing we don’t take care of, and yet it’s one of our biggest exports. Arts and entertainment is one of the few things we still export out of the U.K. It’s a multi-million pound industry. It’s something we’re really good at, but we don’t take care of the people that [create the art] enough. It’s one of the only things we have left. But there’s always a reaction. So maybe that’s why we’re having such good music now because there’s been this reaction to all the struggle and the bullshit that people have to go through.

What are Pregoblin’s plans for the rest of this year?

AS: We’ve recorded a lot of music and we’re gonna hopefully get that out. I [signed a publishing deal with] Domino a while a go, so hopefully we’ll put out the album. We’ve got two albums worth ready to go. There’s a lot of material there. I want to make something completely different on the second album. This [forthcoming LP] is kinda the fun, good-times record, and then the next one is just gonna be nasty and grim. I could release them together as a double. You can have your grim album and your happy album, and sorta pick and choose depending on your mood. But, to be honest, I just want to get out on tour. I just want us to be as big as we can be, and I wanna make some money actually! I’m fuckin’ broke! [laughs]

How did the Domino publishing deal come about?

AS: So obviously The Fat Whites were signed [to Domino Records] after 'Touch the Leather', and I just sent them some stuff I’d been working on and they really liked it. They came to one of the early shows, when it was just me playing against a backing-track. I didn’t even have a band.

As in with a drum machine?

AS: No, literally just me and the recording. It was like some sort of weird karaoke sorta thing. I did a few gigs with Moonlandingz like that. I got some weird reactions. Some people were like, "Mate – really nice" and others said, "What the fuck is this?" So it was quite funny.

What is everyone else in the band up to outside of music?

AS: Well Stall is a milkman – I couldn’t believe it when he told me. Ben Bones used to be in Jamie T’s band. He cowrote the first two or three albums I think. Joe is from The Fat Whites – he’s just joined. Harrison Ball, who plays bass, is a sound engineer for a club in Shoreditch. He used to be in a band called Flesh, who nearly broke before everything sorta fucked up. Jessica is in a bunch of groups, and a secretary at the Maudsley. I don’t know exactly what Dmitri does. I think he’s a teacher or a tutor. They’re all working people.

Pregoblin's debut album will be out later this year