For U.K. rock outfit dignity and ethics trump ‘lad culture’

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Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever is the latest album from The Cribs.

“I’m empty, because of MTV,” wails Gary Jarman on Major’s Titling Victory, a track from U.K.’s The Cribs’ new album, Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever.

After hearing this lyric, it’s not surprising for one to be struck with a certain sense of irony, interviewing the three Jarman brothers as they filled up on a fruit, cheese and cracker tray in MTV Canada’s basement before a scheduled appearance.

But Ross, Ryan and Gary don’t consider their contradiction to be “selling-out.” According to them, treading the ground of the types of bands they’ve spoken out against in the past is a way to beat and join them.

Says Gary, “You can do what we did before and just hide away forever and get frustrated at the proliferation of ...” “Garbage,” interrupts Ryan, “ ... or you can at least try to put yourself on a level playing field with a lot of this stuff you are frustrated with.”

The basis of their frustration lies in indie music’s obliteration in England (and if trends have taught us anything, its natural westward flow). The musical genre’s prevalence is one Gary passionately condemns as a breed of imposters.

“All of a sudden you’ve got all of these bands that want to be pop stars and they’re not really punk rock or independent in any way, shape or form. I just find it distasteful when they start trying to pass themselves off as a punk rock or independent band when they’re fully dependent on the corporate dollar.”

While Ryan adds the band is not out to alienate anyone, Gary explains dedicated fans of The Cribs remain at the root of why the group continues to stand against those who set themselves up purely to make appearances on MTV.

“(Our fan base) is the most valuable thing to us rather than just being a flash in the pan. That’s why I don’t like it when bands see the bandwagon and jump on it.”

It’s what those bands bring with them when they land that The Cribs say is dangerous. Dignity, ethics and equity is what Gary says is central to their music while “lad-culture,” seen in magazines such as FHM (Maxim’s U.K. equivalent), dominates that of the others.

“Not only are they fundamentally exploitative, but if it’s casual, it gets into people’s minds as being OK.”

Adds Ryan, “It’s not that we’re being political, we’re trying to offer a different viewpoint.”

see it live

  • The Cribs play Lee’s Palace on Aug. 8.