Highly acclaimed for their songwriting and live performances, Levellers are set to play in Leicester this July.
The band formed in Brighton in 1980’s and are named after a revolutionary political movement which advocated change from the ground up, rather than top down who rose up during England’s Civil War in the 1640’s. Taking punk aesthetics and values and combining them with English acoustic folk. The levellers are “kissed by mandolins” as one band member aptly put it, “forged with solid rock”. This winning combination has garnered the group an enthusiastic following around the world over a considerable number of years, spanning almost three decades.
With numerous successful record releases and winning collaborations with Billy Bragg, along with setting up the now well established Beautiful Days Festival, which they are still actively involved in. The Festival is held annually in Devon and was named after one of their most popular songs What A Beautiful Day.
Mark Chadwick of the band was inspired to create the piece after reminiscing about happy memories of Bonfire Night celebrations in Lewes. The front man often procrastinates as to how Guy Fawkes might have changed things in our world had he been successful.
The 1990’s single Levelling the Land became something of a classic anthem for the traveller community and students at that time.
Another popular feature of the band, and very collectible one, is their distinctive visual identity and artwork created by the band’s bassist Jeremy Leveller. Using influences from the original Levellers pamphlets, German Expressionism and more modern political movements. such as the ETA and the Red Brigades.
Their most recent album We the Collective, produced by John Leckie at the iconic Abbey Road Studios, was recorded in a “live old school style”. However, the two tracks which standout, The Shame and Drug Bust McGhee, refer to the Refugees Crisis and Undercover Policing respectively. In fact, all the songs within the album deal with a range of current social issues.
The band say they do not have any specific political causes as such but will support certain non-political organisations by playing benefit shows.
When quizzing Jeremy about today’s pressing social issues, he indicated that they are currently writing material for a new album to be released next year on similar subjects. “We live in the world so we have to engage with social and political issues” he explains. “It’s just the way we are.”
He also then went on to enlighten me on the bands’ musical tastes, which were eclectic to say the least. From rap and old school rock, all the way to traditional folk. These influences are set to play a monumental part in future material from the Brighton six-piece.
“Where all that collides you get our sound, we have lots of demos lined up for the new album which we are never quite sure what it’s going to be like until we are half way through no master plan.”
Jeremy also professed the group’s liking for Leicester legend Grace Petrie.
“They think she is great. Billy Bragg eloquence, passionate delivery doing her own thing hats off!”
The Levellers will be playing an acoustic performance at De Montfort Hall, Leicester on Wednesday July 11th.