15 December 2020
The bands who are still going strong after nearly 30 years are very rare. CORNERSHOP
is one of them. They’re so much more than their massive 1997 hit Brimful of Asha (more than 11 million views on YouTube).
The Leicester-based band delivered nine notable longplayers since they hit the scene back in 1991. They master the art of embedding their views on society, on politics, on daily life in general in terrifically catchy guitar-pop tunes, with musical echoes of frontman TJINDER SINGH‘ Indian roots.
New critically acclaimed 2020 album ENGLAND IS A GARDEN, their first in eleven years, shows exactly what Cornershop is all about. All killers, no fillers. Lyrically it deals with a retrospect on Singh’s birthplace in the Black Country, and on the Midlands’ first wave of heavy metal. Two words: top record.
It’s always a most pleasant thrill when Turn Up The Volume can have a Q & A with, and
about one of his all-time favorite bands. So thank you very much for taking the time to
do this, Tjinder Singh. We’ll start the interview, as usual with a piece of music. Here’s one
of the highlights of the album with a knockout riff Keith Richards would be proud of…
CORNERSHOP hit the scene about 30 years ago. Music is in your DNA.
What keeps the band going for so long?
“Music is not actually in our DNA, but trying to do music and appreciating it is. Hence we continue at our own pace, and we have our own targets to achieve. These achievements have kept us going to our next target. We never wanted to just be on a stage, there was a lot of things to put to people and we have never stepped off that accelerator.”
Back then after releasing debut LP HOLD ON IT HURTS, David Byrne signed you to
his label Luaka Bop. Did you meet him and how did the collaboration work out?
“We met him of course, but the engine of Luaka Bop Records, New York was always
Yale & Kat. It ended being left out at sea by Mr. Byrne, luckily we met a life boat.”
The band always shared/shares outspoken political and social views packed in catchy, upbeat sing-along tunes. Was it a conscious choice to communicate that
way with the world when you started out?
“It wasn’t conscious but more a reflection on the upbeat music I liked – Punjabi folk and devotional music, and Christian gospel. I never thought out-and-out preaching of politics was a good way to win people over, and such an approach turns people off very quickly.
So communicating with other elements, even different music keeps people guessing and interested.”
What or who inspired the new album’s title ENGLAND IS A GARDEN?
“The idea that we were a finished group propelled us most. We needed an undeniable album and that’s what I think we got. After David Fricke of Rolling Stone USA, not only agreed to do our album sleeve notes but asked for more time in order to do the songs justice you know you have hit your target.”
Any relation between the title and the impressive artwork of the LP?
“Both are ambiguous and allow the viewer to make up their own mind about them. For instance, England Is A Garden may be a reflection of how wonderful this green island can be or a foolhardy person may see such a Garden as growing with Brexit. Both are valid
and viewer generated, so totally invalid too.”
Lead-single NO ROCK SAVE IN ROLL is an irresistible rockin’ groove.
What’s the song about?
“It’s a song saying there is not one thing without another, with a view on
England’s Midlands where I was born, and the birthplace of Heavy Rock.”
How’s life in the UK after 4 years of Brexit?
“Frustrating to know so many people around you
are actually so full of shit, not good shit, just shit.”
Suppose you were asked to rewrite and put new music to the British Royal Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’. No restrictions whatsoever. What would be the outcome, in sound and vision?
“A reflection of all the countries Britain has conquered, that’s many countries,
it would be a long opera.”
Trump or Biden?
“Far-right racism or center-left.”
A lot of musicians came up with a cover of another artist’s song during
these bizarre times. Which one would you pick to cover, Tjinder?
“We do the odd cover now and then for specific reasons, but a cover to reflect
these bizarre time.”
Several artists developed mouth masks with their logo, image or
album covers on it? A good idea? Are CORNERSHOP masks available?
“We have Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast masks with artwork from that album.”
Info about the mouth mask right here
What was the best track and album you heard in 2020?
“The Frazer Ford album is good, nice southern soil feel and Shirley Collins made a good record this year aged 85! The best track of the year is State Of The Union by Public Enemy gives Trump both barrels.”
Movie of the year?
“Making A Murderer on Netflix I found fascinating. ”
Which song will be on your stereo on 31st December at midnight, Tjinder?
“Son of my father by Chicory Tip because it aces.”
Name three things you really want to see
happen in 2021 for the band and/or personally?
“Trump fucks off forever.
Johnson fucks of forever.
UK returns to the wonderful EU.”
Thank you a bunch, Tjinder, for this interview.
Have a safe Xmas and a brimful 2021.
Stream/buy England Is A Garden here…