• Charlotte Hardman

LOUDER WITH: Haggard Cat

When the production of your first record sees the country divided by the result of the Brexit referendum; the subsequent release of that record coinciding with the inauguration of Donald Trump; and then your following release coming amidst a global health pandemic, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there was a curse ambling in the wake of your band's success! And though Haggard Cat have had each landmark of their career so far matched by something far less inspiring and welcome happening in the world around them, it hasn't stopped them bringing their rousing choruses and infectiously gritty lyrics to the masses! We caught up with frontman Matt Reynolds to discuss their new record, the aptly titled 'Common Sense Holiday', as well as how the punk ethos can keep us united during troubled times:

You’ve just released your new album, ‘Common Sense Holiday’- how have you

found the response to the record so far?

So far it’s been absolutely dumbfoundingly great! I’m so glad people seem to

really be going in deep on all the songs which is really rewarding. It’s nice to

hear how different people delve into the different elements and dig out what

each of the songs means to them. It’s really great when people manage to

pinpoint what was at the heart of the writing, but even cooler when people can

relate in a completely unexpected way. I have always believed that once a song

is available for the world to hear it no longer belongs to you, so in this way

absolutely everything is open to a listener’s own interpretation. It’s how I’ve

always dreamed of having an album received.

A big theme of this record is shouting about the injustices and rise of intolerance

in our society- is that something that you feel it is important to address,

particularly in the hardcore and metal communities?

More than ever yes! I was so convinced around this time last year that things

seemed to be getting better, and that everyone must be on this similar

wavelength to mine. The world just seemed to be becoming a more open and

accepting place. But literally EVERY time there’s a vote, the result just seems to

throw that into disarray. I’ve never felt so “in my own little bubble” as when the

Brexit vote and then the general election result came in. It’s great that the

people around me seem to hold progressive views, but when we’re all restricted

to just seeing the opinions we enjoy reading; that’s when things can become

volatile, we don’t realise quite how disenchanted the wider world around us is

becoming, and we are shown what the media wants to show us. I realise this

sounds quite paranoid; I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist I swear! But to

answer your question to some degree, yes, it is particularly important to start

with our community because as a subculture we’re very much self-appointed as

the underdog, it’s meant to be about unanimity – so whenever you see any level

of discrimination or inequality within that fold it should be taken with zero

tolerance, sounds obvious but oddly enough it still doesn’t seem to be for some.

In connection with that idea, and prior to the album’s release, you two contained

yourselves in a concrete box to protest against the restrictive nature of borders

and divisions, which is documented in the video for ‘European Hardware’- what

was that experience like? 

Unsurprisingly it was pretty damn tough! However it united me and Tom in a

way that we had never felt before. We both came out of there on some higher

rung of friendship and understanding that we didn’t realise existed before those delirious 24 hours. I think it would be quite easy to look at what we did from the

outside quite cynically – but the way we saw the whole ordeal was all about

generating a conversation within people that weren’t talking rather than

furthering one that already existed. The more people that buck the trend and

don’t fall in line the better. When there is injustice speaking out is all well and

good, but actions speak twice as loud. So be weird, do this stupid (horrible) stuff

and you might just capture the imagination of somebody and change


Social media is also something that comes under scrutiny on this record, with

tracks like ‘Ghosts Already’ and ‘Show Reel’- how do you balance working in a

music industry that has become so reliant on social media marketing, without

getting sucked into a draining virtual world?

Unfortunately personally I don’t! I use SM far more than I am comfortable with

now, and sometimes I do find it can dictate my mood. My advice to anyone

reading this would be to take breaks, maybe even for days at a time, there’s

really not that much on there that’s too important, you can get your endorphins


Musically, this record also makes use of some new and different elements, for

example the saxophone on ‘Cheat’ makes for some really interesting dynamics-

how did you find that during the writing and recording process? Was that

something that occurred naturally, or did you make a conscious effort to explore

new musical avenues?

Our mission statement at the beginning of CSH was very much about exploring

and ignoring any perceived boundaries laid out by genre or expectation. We

wanted to make Dark Side of the Moon in 2020, so we very much just cracked on

and whatever we felt was needed we jumped on! Hence the sax, it’s a very

important part of the picture in our eyes. Albums are best when they take you

on a trip and let you roll down the window a little. That’s what we shot for on

Common Sense Holiday.

It’s still a wonderfully heavy record though- how has it been playing the singles

live so far? Do you have any that you are excited to play when you get the chance

to tour the record?

So far we’ve only managed to play two shows because of “reasons” which is

making us feel very cooped up. These tracks were ALL intended to be belted out

and throttled in a live setting, so keeping it all bottled has been the biggest

challenge. So far we’ve managed to unveil First Words and European Hardware

as live pieces that both feel like they really come to life in that setting. We also

debuted Human Animal and the Natives at our final show before “the event” – it has felt like an addiction we can’t fulfil. When we finally get released these

songs are going to eviscerate.

Speaking of touring: we have spoken in the past about the chain of events that

seem to follow your recording processes- this time it’s a global pandemic! In the

short term, it has resulted in bands having to cancel tours, and we may see longer

term impacts too- how will it affect you as a band and the industry as a whole?

Well you said it, if there’s a Haggard Cat release due to come out, you’d better

grab a huge umbrella because you can guarantee something unprecedented is

about to drop from the sky! I honestly don’t understand how the world keeps

getting more insane each time me and you speak. Talking candidly, the current

situation could be potentially devastating not just to our band, but to the whole

scene. It is important now, more than ever for each of us as fans of live music

and the arts to stay in tune with what is happening in that community even

outside of events actually being able to take place. And when the doors do re-

open again remember not to take that for granted and seize every opportunity

you can to get in there and soak it all up! You don’t know a good thing until it’s

gone, and now we have been given a sample of what it would be like if our live

music scene was to ever disappear entirely, so take heed and make sure it never

happens permanently!

Is that sense of unity which has always been such a key foundation of punk and

hardcore music more important than ever now? 

Yes of course! Most will be feeling pretty low right now, that must be a given. So

it’s important that we all rally around, support one another and keep this thing

moving. If we do that, we’ll come out swinging. Most importantly we must

never forget this bizarre time months and years down the line. The hard times

will bring us together, but once things look a little brighter we must never let

complacency win! Let’s come out stronger and stay that way.

'Common Sense Holiday' is out now via Earache Records.

Check out the aforementioned video for 'European Hardware' below: