Leeds-based trailblazers I LIKE TRAINS continue their expository musical diatribe against the powers-that-be in their new single ‘Dig In’, the second salient offering from their forthcoming hard-hitting ‘KOMPROMAT’ album
Their fourth studio album deals with the thorny subject of information; how we consume it, how we process it and how our personal data can be used for political and financial gain. ‘Dig in’ sees the Leeds-based band turn their ire towards the campaign managers and ‘special advisors’ who manoeuvre their people into positions of power.
“This one is for those morally bankrupt schemers who have managed to leverage extraordinary power and wealth while never being on the ballot. For a job that would serve them best by working in the shadows, it’s incredible to see how their egos have landed them all in hot water. They can’t seem to help themselves, and yet somehow they manage to worm their way out of any real justice by calling in favours and laying low until it all blows over,” says vocalist David Martin.
‘Dig In’ follows up eye-opening lead single ‘The Truth’, an instinctive gut reaction to a world that has changed beyond all recognition. and is also accompanied by a nightmarish découpé style video by co-conspirator Michael Connolly, a Leeds-born artist and designer, who also created the video for ‘The Truth’.
“We’re watching the liars lie. They know that we know they are lying but there’s nothing we can do about it. And they know this. No one knows what happens next. The video for ‘Dig In’ certainly lives in the same disorientating world as my film for ‘The Truth’, but I wanted to bring a holiday promo feel to proceedings. Except you aren’t going on holiday,” says Michael Connolly.
This is the band’s first record since ‘The Shallows’ (2012), which focused on how the internet and smart technology is re-wiring the human mind and affecting our concentration spans. Now, with ‘KOMPROMAT’, it’s clear that this same technology, in the wrong hands, has taken an even more sinister turn. The game has changed – and I LIKE TRAINS have changed with it.
Formed in 2004, I LIKE TRAINS is David Martin (vocals/guitar), Alistair Bowis (bass), Guy Bannister (guitar/synths), Simon Fogal (drums) and Ian Jarrold (guitar). They have never shied away from confronting the possibility of humanity’s collapse. Earlier records, like the towering Godspeed-influenced ‘Progress Reform’ (2006) and ‘Elegies to Lessons Learnt’ (2007) took tales of tragic characters and events from history and applied them to the modern day, while ‘He Who Saw The Deep’ (2010) looked uneasily ahead to the climate change battle we are on the verge of losing.
While ‘KOMPROMAT’ sounds like none of those records, it contains DNA from all of them. I LIKE TRAINS has gone back to go forwards in some ways, returning to some of the primary influences that inspired the band’s formation: Joy Division, The Birthday Party, Gang of Four, Television and The Velvet Underground. This is a record that digs beneath populism’s rise, from the divide and conquer tactics that caused Brexit in the UK, to Trump’s ascent in America and the subsequent reign of lies and misinformation, to discover the grubby hands that have engineered it all.
“We didn’t set out to write a record about current affairs, but the path we set out on converged drastically with that daily discourse. The album inadvertently became about populist politics across the world. Brexit, Trump, Cambridge Analytics and covert Russian influence ended up at the centre of it all,” says David Martin.
At the time, Martin started writing about low-key, insidious intrusions on our privacy. As global events unfolded, however, so did the importance of those themes: the perception of what is true and what isn’t true being challenged on a daily basis and how that confusion could be used to manipulate populations into thinking and voting in certain ways.
‘Dig In’ is now available across digital platforms. The full‘KOMPROMAT’ album will be released on August 21 on black vinyl LP, limited edition silver vinyl LP and CD, as well as digitally. It can be pre-ordered in all formats via Bandcamp.
Performed by I LIKE TRAINS
Music by Guy Bannister, Alistair Bowis, Simon Fogal, David Martin, Ian Jarrold
Lyrics by David Martin
Produced and mixed by Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart at Greenmount Studios (Leeds)
Mastered by Tom Woodhead at Hippocratic Mastering
Album artwork by Michael Connolly
‘The Truth’ video created by Michael Connolly
“I Like Trains are too smart for most, or too interested in realism and fate when so many are content to indulge inwashy escapism” – The Quietus
“This is grand civic music, less to be listened to and more to be visited like a museum or war memorial, and all the more interesting because of it.” – The Guardian
“The group takes its listeners on a trip down the shadowy back alleys of British history. It’s all quite incredible, in every sense.” – Pitchfork
Photos by Ben Bentley
UK press – Kate Price
Germany press – Eric Burton