Oct 14, 2022
By Jimi Arundell
Photography by Luis Kramer
Putting wry social commentary to dirty beats and razor-sharp riffs; Luton, England three-piece Regressive Left are the uber cool sound of the revolting youth as heard on their newly released debut EP, On the Wrong Side of History. Comprised of Simon Tyrie (vocals, synths), Georgia Hardy (drums), and Will Crosby (guitar), the dance punk troika are already drawing comparisons to LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip thanks to their sexy electro sound and dry vocal delivery.
On the Wrong Side of History explores the current bleak political landscape of rebellion reduced to impotent cancel culture, apathy-accelerated societal collapse, and the thinly veiled fascism taking root in the chambers of power. Regressive Left relocated to Sheffield for a five-day spell of late-night sessions with much demanded producer Ross Orton (M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys, Amyl and the Sniffers). The four track EP features the single “Bad Faith,” which sees the disko dissidents team up with Manchester based rising alt-pop stars Mandy, Indiana, combining to create an instant classic banger.
Earlier in the year, the trio tore it up at Wide Awake and Great Escape, after playing support for crucial NYC art rock band BODEGA. Recently, Regressive Left have hit the road once again, but this time as headliners, playing 10 dates all around the U.K. including a massive October 20 show at hot London spot The Lexington.
Under the Radar spoke to Tyrie ahead of the tour about their intense recording sessions, onstage experiences, and the collapse of capitalism worldwide.
Jimi Arundell (Under the Radar): What’s it like being a dance punk band in a world finally let loose again after COVID? And have you got any signature dance moves and grooves of your own?
Simon Tyrie: It’s nice having a bit of post-pandemic euphoria—the first few shows out of the pandemic were especially mad—but everything’s still a bit grim and now everyone’s broke, so. In terms of dance moves… I think we all suck. Georgia’s probably the most rhythmic, but she’s stuck behind the kit.
How did Regressive Left get started? Was it a burning need to take down the Tories, just wanting to make beats or a bit of both?
It definitely has been a bit of a vessel for venting. We didn’t start making music with that purpose, but I found politics was all I could write about at the time. And it’s something we talk about a lot when we’re together. Not in the cringey Westminster sense where it’s all like fantasy football, but more in the sense of us being extremely angry and frustrated about our day-to-day lives and the state of the country/world.
Why do you think politics is so prevalent in pop music once again?
Because we’ve got so little space to ignore it now. Things have been building up to where we are now for a very long time, but it definitely felt like there was a period where politics and current events could be very easily ignored as far as “culture” was concerned, especially for young people. When we were teenagers, the Tories were in government, but they hadn’t really had enough time to destroy everything. Now they have.
There’s a clear nod to LCD Soundsystem in your music. Who else do you take influence from?
We’re really into the DFA shtick as a whole, but also the stuff that inspired LCD, bands like ESG and Liquid Liquid. But there’s not much we don’t take influence from, even though that sounds like a cliché. This project really came about after we immersed ourselves in the London Jazz scene that emerged at the end of the 2010s.
You’ve been touring with the likes of BODEGA plus Folly Group, which must have really helped grow your fanbase. What’s the crowd response been like whenever you play?
We always have great interaction with the crowd, even when they’re super serious and don’t want to get involved. We thrive off that negative energy. I really like picking out someone in the crowd I don’t like the look of and singing all my most antagonistic lyrics at them.
“Bad Faith” saw you team up with Manc three-piece Mandy, Indiana who are rapidly rising to hot band status. How did that collab come about?
We played the same stage as them at Wide Awake last year—they were on after us. That was the first time we heard them and vice versa. We share the same politics, which helps, and Val’s always been really supportive. When I wrote the French lyrics for “Bad Faith,” it was sort of a no brainer getting her in on the act. And she nailed it.
And now you’ve just dropped debut EP On the Wrong Side of History. What was it like working with Ross Orton? Did the late-night sessions create the right ravey atmosphere?
We hadn’t worked with a producer before so we didn’t really know what to expect and whether it would suit our style of working, but it helped that Ross was super personable and not afraid to say what he thinks. He doesn’t beat around the bush. If he thinks an idea is boring, he will say so (speaking from experience). Recording “No More Fun” was fairly chaotic because we usually sequence all the synthesizers, but he suggested playing them live, which throws everything slightly out of time.
The title track is dripping with sarcasm and witty bitterness. Why do you think weaponized wry humor works so well?
I’m not sure it does. We’re not exactly headlining festivals at the moment.
Will we be seeing you at any festivals?
No. Probably as a result of my witty bitterness. Actually, we’ve played some festivals in the Netherlands. They don’t get my irony. They just listen to the music.
And autumn comes quickly after festival season. What can we expect from your [current] tour?
Until now we’ve been doing short and sweet sets to grab the listener’s attention, but in theory we’ll already have grabbed the attention of the people coming to see us on our headline tour. So that gives us a chance to play a completely different style of set. We want this to feel like a step up from our usual shows.
And what’s the long-term hopes and dreams for Regressive Left? Revolution? Becoming permanent resident DJs in Berghain? To become bigger than The Beatles and see your greatest hits CD in every service station around the U.K.?
I’m especially interested in the part of this question that suggests that in a number of decades there will still be CDs in service stations. I would love to see the death of capitalism. Or at least something better for the planet and the people on it. But it would be nice if we could continue making music in the meantime.