Between the sloping valleys and mossy wilds of Calder Valley – an area of old mill towns that links Leeds and Manchester – sits Hebden Trades Club. A modest brick venue originally built in 1923, for many decades it has brought some of the world’s most revered (and riotous) musicians to these unassuming hills, from The Fall to Patti Smith. Sneaking into the venue from a – too – young age, it’s here that Sydney Minsky-Sargeant and Jake Bogacki discovered a sonic spark that has since seen them combine as musical trio Working Men’s Club, with Italian-native Giulia Bonometti joining on guitar and vocals.
Growing up in small suburbs naturally gives one a taste for adventure and, whilst the trio dipped their toes into the urban delights of nearby Manchester, soaking up its broad cultural palette, it’s in their rural enclave that they would retreat and distil their sound. At the tail-end of January this year, the band released their debut single, Bad Blood, an ode to this very sentimentality. It’s an addictive listen, filled with bobbing bass lines, stabbing staccato riffs and a chorus big enough to fill the deep valleys of this group’s hometown.
Harley Cassidy: Hi Syd, you and Jake are both from the same hometown but Giulia isn’t, right?
Sydney Minsky-Sargeant: I’m from Todmorden and Jake’s from Hebden which are about four miles apart from one another, but we weren’t friends until we went to college. We both played in different bands in the area and knew each other because of that, but we didn’t speak. Then we both went to BIMM and decided that we should talk to each other because there was no one else that either of us really wanted to hang out with. We started jamming and then met Giulia in a tutorial and knew she was the third member. She’s originally from Italy.
HC: How did you know she was the third member?
SMS: We were sat in the lobby and she pulled out this 1960s original Fender Mustang and looked cool as fuck, so we were both like, “Fuck, we need to talk to this person.” We then got put in a group together in a tutorial and all bonded over disco, so it evolved from that really.
HC: You’ve said you went to a lot of social clubs when you were younger – hence the band name – do you have any special memories from those times?
SMS: One of the first gigs both me and Jake went to was Palma Violets at the Trades Club. We play there quite regularly now and also socialise there. Although it’s not a working men’s club, it has that sort of vibe to it; the underlying grit, the people, the atmosphere, all pints still less than three pounds, and you have be a socialist to join as a member.
HC: It’s held in really high regard in the music industry.
SMS: The legacy is brilliant – there are so many great stories that we’ve been told surrounding the Trades such as John Cooper Clarke and Nico sharing a flat together in Hebden. The Trades has hosted acts such as the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Patti Smith and more recently, King Gizzard. It’s become this magnetic hotspot that draws people to Hebden and proves that independent venues can still strive just as well as the bigger venues. Mal [Campbell, promotions manager] has been a massive part of making these great bands come to Hebden and also in the evolution of our band.
HC: The B-side to Bad Blood is called Suburban Heights, you’ve said that it’s about the expansion of towns and cities, how has gentrification affected you?
SMS: Fucking right on – it’s happening here in Hebden Bridge. It’s gone from being a local, hippy town to becoming somewhere filled with holiday homes for the rich. The housing market has become extortionate and its driving the young people out.
HC: And it has a direct effect on how young people are able to create art.
SMS: None of us have made it through uni or are going to, and only two of us have education past GCSEs. I hate to say it but money does make the world go around, and this makes things such as higher education and job prosperity much more unachievable because… what is there to achieve? Music and creativity seem like the only escape. I don’t think we directly channel our political views through music but this is something we speak out about because well, how can you not? Creative industries have to change with the political and economic climate of the country in order to address these issues, as they always have.
HC: What’s your relationship with The Orielles – you’re close, right?
SMS: Jake met Henry [Carlyle Wade, The Orielles] about two years ago in Hebden Park getting fucked together and became mates off the back of that. I knew Hen too from hanging about, then we formed the band and started to all hang out loads more. Henry was our original bassist actually. We started socialising with all of them and they’re like our circle of friends now. We also share a manager called Damian who has been a massive help, we couldn’t have done any of this without him.
Follow Working Men’s Club here.