After performing their first gig at Aestival in Suffolk in 2010, Public Service Broadcasting have since released three albums in ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ (2013), ‘The Race For Space’ (2015) and ‘Every Valley’ (2017) which has seen the band, who take samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material, create a loyal fan base. The London-based band are set to play The Middlesbrough Empire this month so Meghan Ewart caught up with the outfit to find out more about their upcoming tour.
How did you manage to get Public Service Broadcasting off the ground with it being such a unique project?
It was a lot of hard work and I was mainly doing it for the love of it and self-entertainment. I never expected it to take off as it was just an idea I thought was fun and interesting; I thought we would do one show in a London pub and ask a few friends to come for fun.
Did you have trouble getting gigs with how different the band sounded?
I don’t remember too many people saying no so I’d say we never had any trouble. We played a lot of pubs and clubs but I was lucky because my local pub did music nights; the pub manager supported me and the free gig nights gave us something to work towards and focus on.
How did you manage to pick the themes from clips for the songs?
I normally started off with broad themes for example in the song, ‘Signal 30.’ The song was written about driving fast and there are a lot of materials from 1940s to 1960s driving. The details in the old material generally said to be a good driver however, we got it from material called ‘Bottle to Throttle’ as I was looking for a memorable line or something to jump out beyond the obvious.
The third album, ‘Every Valley’, was written about the Welsh miners. How did you choose this subject?
We wrote it slowly over a long period of time but we wanted to write something different and more left field. I didn’t think that we could get a top album based on the history of coal mining, and I certainly wasn’t aiming for that, but that subject matter was a challenge and that was appealing.
The subject of coal mining is certainly more political than any of your past songs. Why did you pick this subject?
Part of the attraction was supporting difficult issues and finding our own voice; it was more political and about not being afraid. By the third album, you have grown your audience and won your right to talk about things like this. It has gone from being fun to being a lot bigger, even doing gigs in Brixton. You now have to say to yourself is it fun or too optimistic or more challenging? And it’s certainly a more risky album subject.
The new album contains a lot of collaborations, but how did you arrange those collaborations?
Nobody comes to us, let’s say that. We created some songs written to certain themes and I thought: “Who would be good for that?” For Tracy Anne Campbell, I knew she would be good for ‘Progress’, and James Dean Bradfield added another dimension to ‘Turn No More’, so it was just a case of matching a voice to the song.
And finally, what can fans expect from the new tour?
I think we’re going to change the set-list slightly and introduce songs which we don’t play much. The last show in October was huge and we aim with this one to reach as many people as possible.
Public Service Broadcasting plays The Middlesbrough’s Empire on Monday 16th April. Tickets, priced at £30.25, are available from ticketmaster.co.uk.