Paddy Considine’s band Riding The Low return: “It’s always been music above everything else for me”
Actor Paddy Considine has returned with his band Riding The Low. Check out the single ‘Carapace Of Glass’ below, along with details of their new album ‘The Death Of Gobshite Rambo’ and our interview with Considine below.
Considine is most well-known for his frequent cinematic collaborations with the likes of This Is England’s Shane Meadows – as well as his work as a director in his own right – but his first love has always been music, as he tells NME. Today he has announced the third album from his long-term band Riding The Low – ‘The Death Of Gobshite Rambo’. It’s a record inspired by musical touchstones including Adam Ant, Guided by Voices and The Decemberists.
Many of the songs are written with stream-of-conscious narratives like their newly released single, ‘Carapace Of Glass’. “It’s about how fragile we all are really,” Considine told NME of the song’s inspiration. “I created this hard shell of defence. It was my protection against the world, and you could put it down to me having Asperger’s. I created this obtuse shell around me that kept people at arms-length. People thought I was prickly, but that wasn’t the case at all.”
The record was made with Editors and Robert Plant collaborator, Gavin Monaghan at Wolverhampton’s Magic Garden studios. “He was the guy our band always needed to meet,” said Considine. “He saw us as a legitimate, real band. You can’t bullshit authenticity and he saw that in us.”
Having starred in films like Meadows’ A Room For Romeo Brass, 24 Hour Party People and Hot Fuzz as well as Hollywood outings alongside Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man and Matt Damon in The Borne Ultimatum, Considine has admitted that being taken seriously as a musician can be tricky. “You know what it’s like,” he said, “someone who is known for acting is suddenly making music and it’s always perceived as a little bit naff or a vanity project: another actor just getting on stage and flexing his guitar muscles.”
However Considine has argued that his desire to make music is not about vanity, and in fact goes all the way back to his school days – when formed his first band with Riding The Low bassist player Richard Eaton. “When I do an acting role, as much as I want to own it, I find that you’re really, really compromised,” he admitted. “But when I make music, I just feel total freedom. It’s the truest form of expression I have that is without compromise. It’s always been music above everything else for me.”
Considine’s love of acting and music first collided in 2006 when he starred in Arctic Monkeys’ video for ‘Leave Before The Lights Come On’. A lesser-known fact is that Considine, who has written and directed two feature films – Tyrannosaur and Journeyman – also co-wrote the video’s script. “Years ago, I sent Arctic Monkeys’ manager a copy of our first EP,” he said. “I wonder if they still have the same manager now? Anyway, I never heard anything back!”
It wasn’t the last time he crossed paths with the band though. In the film Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee, Considine played the band’s roadie. Could all this be building toward a support slot with them one day? “If one came up, of course we would!” he replied. “I’m not sure of our chances just yet though. One day maybe!”
Riding The Low have already supported The Charlatans after frontman Tim Burgess invited them to play his Tim Peaks stage at Rock City in 2019. Prior to that, the band spent years honing their craft in grassroots music venues around Burton-on-Trent where Considine was born and still lives. He formed the band with his oldest friend over 15 years ago, along with friends from his hometown – adamant that he didn’t want his band to get any special treatment because of his acting credentials.
“I think you’ve got to learn your craft and cut your teeth and we did that,” he said, recalling how his band earned their stripes by gigging around pubs in the Midlands. “Years ago, we got someone taking the piss out of us, calling us a pub band after putting a video online of only our second gig. But we were a pub band at that point: we were playing all kinds of venues and honing our craft and I think that’s really important. We didn’t want any favours.”
Returning to the big screen, Considine fans are currently looking forward to his role as King Viserys Targaryen in upcoming Game Of Thrones spin-off, House of the Dragon. Asked if it been hard, balancing music and acting with this high-profile role, he replied: “Oh God, you have no idea! I’m still doing Thrones now. I’m supposed to finish in three weeks time. This has been the most demanding thing I’ve ever done, not least because it’s the only thing I’ve done that’s lasted for this length of time. It’s been a really long job.”
He continued: “I play King Visery’s Targaryen. I did watch the show before, and I really enjoyed it. This is set 200 years before the beginning of Thrones and it’s the story of the Targaryen dynasty.”
Would he consider following Wilco Johnson and Sigur Ross, doing a musical cameo in Thrones if the opportunity came up?
“Following the king, Mr Wilco Johnson, would be hard,” he replied. “The truth is, I wouldn’t want these worlds to meet at all. It’s very easy to get sucked into the [acting] world and get insecure and paranoid thinking about where your next job is coming from and all that. I’m grateful to have something that isn’t tarnished by that, something I can do away from this, that’s my own artistic endeavour. I love doing this.”
Considine told NME how he was a bit jaded with the film world right now, despite the success of his first directed feature Journeyman struggling to access film festivals.
“The struggles I had to get people to read Journeyman was hard,” he revealed. “Most of the time, they just couldn’t be arsed. It wasn’t the festival darling that Tyrannosaur was, and people just gave up on it. Film 4 were begging festivals to have it and I felt ashamed. I haven’t made a film since. I didn’t expect the door to open in privilege, but I don’t know if there’s a world there anymore where I can make the work I’ve made previously and that’s really frustrating.”
Considine decided to channel some of that frustration into The Riding Low’s latest album. “There’s definitely anger there” – he said, revealing that it also touched upon “a definite loss of regional identity”.
“Where are the Mark E Smiths? The Shane McGowans?” he went on. “This town here, it’s like that Stephen King book, It – it keeps drawing you back. There’s some dark energy here that keeps me here. It’s a source of inspiration for me and I use it a lot in my songwriting. I want to document the place, the people, the voices.”
He also said that the album contained Considine’s most personal music to date to date, with the frontman opening-up about the mental health issues he previously suffered with, including his Asperger’s diagnosis. The album’s dark title track explores this candidly.
“Years ago, I used to drink,” Considine explained. “I wasn’t prolific or anything, but I drank a lot over a period during a very sad time in my mid-30s. I would become this gnarly, angular person who I really wasn’t inside. I’d rant about things, sometimes onstage, and it was uncomfortable and not really me.
“I gave that part of my ego a nickname – Gobshite Rambo. In some cultures, death means rebirth this song is about the death of that part of myself and the rebirth of another.”
The song has another link to death too: the passing of his father. Considine wrote the song about the afternoon his father passed away. “I arrived at the house not long before he died,” he said. “Watching him deteriorate, watching him go translucent. He started to look like a corpse. I watched this mighty man who I loved and probably hated at times too laying there dying.”
To process what happened, he started to think like a filmmaker he says, breaking down what happened into vignettes in his head. “It was a really strange coping mechanism,” he said. “Him dying had a massive effect on my siblings and I, and I guess this song is a note to them. All those hidden feelings that were concealed on that particular afternoon come out in the song.”
At gigs, he would often struggle with social interaction. Prior to his treatment, he would leave the gig as soon as possible afterwards. “Doing the gigs was never the problem but being around people at times after the gigs was difficult for me,” he said. “It still is, but I’ve gotten better with it and at looking after myself. I appreciate the fans so much, even if I can’t always say hello or come out to shake hands afterwards. But I see them all; their support hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
As well as hoping to perform at Glastonbury this year, Considine said that he was desperate to get back out to live music venues both as a music fan and a performer. “It’s so important to go and see and play at these venues now more than ever,” he said. “Gorilla in Manchester, The Key Club in Leeds – I love going to these places and would be honoured to get in there and play.”
He admitted that he was angry the position many venues have been put in after the pandemic. “No regard for the arts yet again from these absolute scoundrels,” he said of the government’s support for the industry.
Likewise, the mess over Brexit, which has left bands unable to tour Europe, has left him equally enraged. “These scumbags in power at the minute, Brexit has made it a complete and utter nightmare for bands,” he said. “Touring is how bands make money now, not Spotify. It’s a compete mess and I feel for bands because there’s no denying it’s not looking good. I’ve got another job, but for bands where it’s their number one job, it’s awful.”
As soon as Game Of Thrones has finished filming, Considine said he would be heading straight back into the studio to make the band’s next album. “I’ve got a wealth of material written already for that,” he revealed. “This band gives me more hassle than anything else in my life.
“If I didn’t love it, trust me, I would not be fucking doing it. But it’s making music I love with people I care about, and what could be better than that?”
‘Carapace Of Glass’ by Riding The Low is out now, with album ‘The Death of Gobshite Rambo’ due for release on April 8.