With Liverpool having been crowned Kings of Europe on Saturday, we what better way to celebrate than with an exciting new band from Merseyside. Mr Ted is the latest in a series of exciting new bands from the Liverpool area, the so-called “rise of Scrunge” that they relate to the Seattle grunge uprising of the 1980s and 90s.
The first iteration of Mr Ted began back in 2010, only to split up when one guy moved to Bristol to become a farmer and their original bassist moved to Budapest to do a PhD. Since then, the band tell us they’ve had “well into double figures” members, but the current line-up has been going since 2016, which is when things started getting interesting.
The quartet of Peter Williamson, Mark Hughes, Phillie Collier and Mark Charles Manning all grew up in Huyton, a suburb of Knowsley on Merseyside. As the band explain: “Growing up in Huyton suburbia the beardy weirdies naturally gravitate towards each other. We all shared barbers, which could be considered quite an interesting anecdote.”
And the inspiration for Mr Ted is, according to their Facebook page, a murderous barber who may or may not be fictional. Read more of that here.
While when it comes to what inspired them to get into music, the band tell us: “The dream of retiring on a beet farm with all of our favourite groupies. It worked for Alex James from Blur, so why not.
“Our major influence is the primal need to farm. Themes and topics vary, for some reason we write a lot of songs about food. Quavers, buns, eggs, beans, chicken, so on and so forth.”
Our most recent taster of this is Muscle Milk, which was released in February. A light little guitar riff opens up and gives way to a wall of chugging guitars under random shouts of “Flex, power, muscle milk.” Big floaty vocals come in as the lead vocals intensify, then drops into a cool little chugging riff.
Mid-way through the pace drops into a cool section of spoken vocals over almost gothic backing vocals, then a scream and cry of “guitar solo” gives way to… a guitar solo. Check it out in the video below:
On the track, the band say: “The reception has been great, it’s funny how much the lyrics get thrown into everyday conversation. Our songs have taken on a bit of a cult status amongst friends. Outside of friends, Muscle Milk has been the first introduction to the band for most people.”
That follows on from the Nirvana meets Slaves sounding single Shame, on which a big dirty riff opens up with wild cymbals in support. A cool opening verse of repeats of “Isn’t it a shame when you don’t like your neighbours, it’s a shame” takes over with more big guitars continuing. And that’s followed by the second verse that sees repeats of “Isn’t it a shame when your drop your fucking Quavers, it’s a shame.”
Then big guitars come in over spoken repeats of “Neighbours, Quavers, Strange, Shame.” A third verse gives way to lively guitars and drums in a big rock-out under wild vocals. Check it out below:
The Scrunge uprising
As mentioned, big things are happening in the Liverpool music scene. As Mr Ted explain to us: “It honestly feels as though something special is happening in Liverpool. We call it Scrunge, that is ‘scouse grunge’ but call it what you like, there’s some incredible stuff coming out of the city at the minute.”
Part of this uprise is the assistance of Society of Loser Records, whose co-founder Krystian Hudson wrote a guest article for us back in April. On the label, the band tell us: “Absolute f*ckin’ dons. These guys are a massive help. We played with Krystian’s old band Dirty Vagrants circa 2012, so we go back quite a bit. And Craig is a straight up G.
“The label is pretty much a cooperative, they get us and we get them and there is no better label suited to us. It does have a bit of a 1986 Sub Pop feel to it all. Anyone lucky enough to be a part of it will say the same thing.”
If you’re keen to find out more about the Scrunge scene, then it’s safe to say there’s plenty of bands out there to get your teeth into. As the band explain: “Obviously the entirety of the SoL cohort goes without saying, but worth keeping your eyes on Takotsubo Men, Crapsons, Elevant, SPQR and Enamel Animal to name but a few. Eggy Records are also worth keeping an eye on, their roster is going from strength to strength.
“The BBC Radio 6 festival was a great advertisement for the Liverpool scene, even though a load of cracking local bands didn’t get invited to play. Their loss! We’ve been involved in a few mini scenes since Ted was formed, in fact, the 2012 scene with the likes of Stereo Virgins, Apple Cannon, Springbok, Aeroplane Flies High etc was where we first met Krystian, Tom and Mike of Salt the Snail fame. Although this current scene is gathering so much momentum that it eclipses anything else we’ve been involved in and it’s hard not to get excited.”
There’s plenty more to come from Mr Ted this year, kicking off with the release of Sexy Legs, the third single from their upcoming album El Dirty Sexy, which will be released in September.
They’re also busy gigging, supporting Salt The Snail in Northwich on Friday (7 June), then Hands Off Gretel at Arts Club in Liverpool on Saturday (8 June). They’ll also be headlining a gig supported by Three From Above, who we introduced you to earlier this week, and labelmates Blanchard, who we’ll be introducing you to very shortly too, on 28 June. More gigs and festival dates are incoming too, and info on all their upcoming gigs is here.
The band add: “We will never compromise our authenticity, to have fun and not take life too seriously. No cheesy love songs from us, no siree. Unless you’re talking food. Or we’re doing it to be ironic or self-deprecating.”