Matt Reynolds and Tom Midsch have been making noise for a long time. First there was the evolution of Baby Godzilla into Heck, and now there is the evolution of Haggard Cat from side-project into fully fledged rock heroes on new record Common Sense Holiday. As the first album they have made with Haggard Cat as their full-time project there is a much greater sense of cohesiveness to the record compared to previous album Challenger. The two-piece are as ferocious as ever, with their duo sounding as intense as Slipknot’s full nine do.
The fuller focus on Haggard Cat has drawn the two into a much more traditional style of writing, creating an album from scratch with a focus on the album in full rather than their earlier style which Matt described as: “pretty free-form and without structure; we’d put an album together because the tracks were just ‘there,’ which of course was a very liberating, free way of working; but it doesn’t lend itself to creating a body of work that feels like it has a true beginning, middle and end.” With Common Sense Holiday they see this record as the complete opposite, saying “it’s for sure the most cohesive body of work we’ve ever created and something that I’ve wanted to make for a very long time.” However despite that “there are a few awesome curveballs on there” including ‘The Natives,’ which Matt thinks is completely unexpected, “and on the closing track ‘Ghosts Already’ we basically set out to create a film score for a Spaghetti Western.”
“It’s for sure the most cohesive body of work we’ve ever created!”
Common Sense Holiday is a unique title, and is taken from how the duo feel about the state of the world, defining the phrase as:
“The abandonment of all rational thought, rhyme and reason. Common sense has taken a vacation and we’re just getting the automated out of office email response. I don’t think that notion could be any more on the nose as to the way that the world feels to us right now. Humans have more knowledge available to them than ever, we’ve never been so clued up about the world around us and yet we revert to archaic behaviour like all that civilisation has lived through never happened.”
The title is also a description of the record’s heavy subject matter, and unlike Challenger, Common Sense Holiday is a politicised album, with the band filming the video for ‘European Hardware’ by spending 24 hours in an enclosed concrete box to protest Brexit. With the lyrics clearly taking aim at increasing isolation with the chorus mainly consisting of repetition of the line “we are building a wall” this was a way of taking shots at the self-centred nature of modern politics. However according to Matt the political elements of the album were not a conscious decision at all, but rather “It just so happens that our political landscape is so insane at the moment that it would be impossible not to be consumed by it; I think it’d be harder to not write songs that have some deeper underlying political subtext.” The debate around music and politics has raged on forever, with a common right-wing talking point being that musicians should stick to merely making music and not weigh in with their political opinions, however Matt completely ridicules this idea, saying: “I think therein lies a responsibility right now for musicians to move the political conversation forward. If we all sat around with our heads under a rock without so much as passing comment, there would never be any change.”
“The abandonment of all rational thought, rhyme and reason.”
This is their best piece of work yet, and Haggard Cat will be embarking on a marathon headline tour in March and April to showcase it to as many people as possible, before whipping themselves into shape for festival season. After all “it’s not 2000 trees until Haggard Cat are playing on top of the bar.”