Jon Boden brings The Remnant Kings to The Old Market, Hove on Friday, November 22 on the back of their new album Rose In June (doors 7.45pm; tickets 01273 201801).
Most recognisably Jon was the lead singer (and one of the principal arrangers) of the multi-award winning Bellowhead, one of the most exciting live acts of recent years. He decided to leave in 2015, and in 2016 Bellowhead played their final gig.
For a while, The Remnant Kings ran alongside Bellowhead, as Jon explains.
“I put together The Remnant Kings in 2009 and we toured every year until 2014 with slight changes to the line-up. It was a five-piece band for the period, but then Bellowhead just got a bit too much, and I had to drop The Remnant Kings for a while.
“But then I came back to it and had a new revamped version of the band to launch (his 2017 album) Afterglow. But actually there were a few years when I was touring Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden and also The Remnant Kings.
“The band started off very much to play the songs on Songs from the Floodplain (2009), my second solo album. It has a got post-apocalyptic, post-climate change theme going through it. The main idea is about what remains becoming important.
“I think I am much more interested in there being a simpler future, not necessarily a bleak future, but maybe a simpler future where maybe things are a bit harder, but are more simple, where we are more in touch with nature, where we are more in touch with the idea of community.
“In an ideal world we would all as a species come to our senses and come to a reflective sense of how things should be, but living in the world we are in at the moment, I tend to assume that we are not going to do that! I don’t know about there having to be some kind of cataclysmic event, but I do feel that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. But at the same time, I do think that humankind is very resilient and very good at adapting to change, however much we might not want that change, but maybe we will just adapt to it when it happens…”
Is longing for a simpler life at the heart of all folk and roots music?
“There is certainly some nostalgia in the music, but not really the idea that things were always better. There are a lot of songs that are about hardship and sadness and tragedy. It is not like traditional music sentimentalises the past, but I think we are drawn to those experiences vicariously through the music. I think people lived with a greater sense of physical connection in the past, an awful lot more than we do now. And I think that was the case even 50 years ago. You don’t have to go too far back. There was far more of a sense that your community was the people who lived around you and were your neighbours rather than this self-selecting group of people that you just happen to agree with…
“Life was harder for a lot of people, but I think that community probably kept people in a more stable state of mind. There was more a sense of knowing how everything works. Certainly I think there was something very profound about a cycle of life that was punctuated by certain things regularly happening, having something to look forward to every month or couple of months. I think maybe we underestimate the significance of that…”