Thee Deadtime Philharmonic originally materialised in the South Derby town of Swadlincote. Made up of five principal members, as well as crediting another five additional musicians, the band have been tirelessly playing live shows around the UK since their formation. In doing so, they’ve managed to build up their own loyal fanbase. This includes Mick Jones, formerly of The Clash, with whom they have played live. They’ve also made an appearance on Channel 4’s Strummerville Sessions.
In terms of genre, they are very difficult to define. With a rebellious mentality and a combination of electronics, acoustics, percussion and woodwinds, they’re probably best described as belonging to their own unique sub-genre of punk. You can find several examples of their work on the band’s Soundcloud page.
“Protected” gets off the ground with a hectic introduction generated by a convocation of instruments. These are toned back as the verse begins with some very British sounding vocals amid the occasional saxophone blast. The melody and lyrics convey an alienated, fed up attitude. The chorus then shifts gears into a riotous cavalcade. Things take a different turn again for the second verse, with reggae-esque vocals. The whole thing is certainly extremely non-conformist in both sound and subject.
The title of “Maggie’s Babies” is a not so subtle reference to Britain’s Prime Minister of the eighties. It’s a reserved, disaffected track with honest, biographical lyrics. The beat picks up somewhat towards the end, but it carries a strong sense of fatigue surrounding life and circumstance all the way through.
“Spine” lands somewhere between the two aforementioned tracks sound wise. It has a lot of instrumental and vocal elements at play, making it convoluted at times. It’s executed with a feeling of aloofness though, maintaining the restless quality of previous efforts.
“Bad Lad” commences with a happier riff and melody than its predecessors. It almost feels like the light emerging from the dark in terms of sound. There’s nothing light about the content though, with an aggressiveness being attached to the lyrics. It is literally about a bad lad.
Thee Deadtime Philharmonic are certainly a law unto themselves within the music industry. Their mentality and attitude are undeniably punky, with lyrics that are ripe with disillusionment. However, their sound is not particularly characteristic of the genre’s norms. The musical approach they’ve adopted isn’t going to appeal to everyone, not always being very easy on the ears. But to their credit, that seems to be exactly what they’re going for.