Written by Sahana Iyer
Intense beats, groovy music and irreverent humour are what characterised London-based punk-jazz band Worldservice Project’s set at the NH7 Weekender in Pune last weekend. The five-member band — Dave Morecroft, composer, keyboardist and vocalist; Tim Ower, saxophone player; Raphael Clarkson, trombone player and vocalist; Arthur O’Hara, bass player and Harry Pope, drummer — performed tracks from their fourth and most recent album, Serve.
Known to go often beyond music to discuss political and social issues in the songs, Morecroft says, “I think artistes should write messages about issues that are genuine and true to them, which doesn’t necessarily need to be political. It naturally came about that this album was political, because there are some crazy situations happening in the world right now. We’ve had an enormous amount of progress for individual liberty in the world in the last 30 years, but I think progress comes in waves and it is my role as an artist to keep pushing forward issues that I feel are important.”
Followers of the band may be familiar with their onstage character, Mr Giggles. A terrifying clown, Mr Giggles is often brought upon the stage to add to their performance. The clown even has its own narrative in The tale of Mr Giggles, a track on their latest album. “I was terrified of clowns when I was young, so when I started reading Stephen King, it became almost a therapeutic process for me. I think understanding that fear so well enabled me to act out the disturbing elements of Mr Giggles effectively. For me, the clown is a fascinating figure in the circus. In society, the outcast remains the centre of attention and yet is never truly settled or happy. On the latest album, Serve, we go back and recount the story of Giggles, it becomes part of the social message because if we can seek to understand people like him, then the world will be a far better place,”says Morecroft. The clown represents outcasts in the society, driven to their dark sides as a consequence of pressures and bullying.
While stages such as NH7 Weekender give niche bands a loyal audience and a stage to perform live, the online medium has now witnessed an overwhelming exposure to recorded music. “YouTube is an unstoppable force in the music industry now, so whatever you think about it, you have to hold a presence on it. We have greater access to every kind of music more than ever. I suppose it is inevitable that it gets diluted, and in a crowded market, it’s not always the quality that shines through. Vinyl is making such a comeback though, so it’s also exciting to see loads of young people in Europe buying records again and getting into the analogue,” says Morecroft, adding that a fifth album is in the making, which will have the conclusion to the tale of Mr Giggles.