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Meeting GEN AND THE DEGENERATES in their rehearsal room, the first thing that hits is the collective energy radiating from the band. As tight off stage as they are on, the band each bristle with excitement at being in each other’s company. Intense eye contact flits between them, and laughter bursts out at every moment. It isn’t even the first time the band have seen each other in a long time – far from it, in fact.
It seems to me that some bands have gone on hold during the enforced lay-off over the last eighteen months, while others have used the time to push themselves on by working on their craft. Gen and the Degenerates definitely fall under the second category, with a wild performance at FestEvol earlier this year being an obvious statement of intent. “It was our first proper show back, on a big stage, and the chance to thank [FestEvol organiser] Revo for all the support he has given us.” “We’ve put two singles out with another to come,” Evan continues, “and I don’t think there’s a part of the country we haven’t been to playing shows.”
“After all that time off, it felt like we made up for it almost immediately,” adds Jay. Evan continues “we obviously couldn’t do anything about the time off, but we’ve come back with a record deal and live agency (both with Marshall) and songs to put out, so we feel like we used that time well.”
Gen and the Degenerates are a band who exist to perform in front of audiences; it is their oxygen. We quickly move on to discussing their show at Burn It Down, an alternative music festival in Torquay. The alternative scene is where the Degenerates, but not Gen, spent their formative years watching and being nurtured as musicians and performers. “That scene is where our on-stage ethic comes from,” Sean tells me. “We might not be making the same type of music, but in terms of energy and ideology of performance, we are there.”
For Gen, those festival shows are essential to introducing their sound to new listeners, regardless of who they primarily turn up to see. “I think there’s something for most crowds in our set. We’ve got the pop sensibilities to our tracks which make them listenable, danceable and fun. Plus, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, so we get on well with crowds up for a good time. The main thing for me is that the live shows are fun and that everybody has a good time. It’s important to us that our lyrics create a conversation, but it is equally important that our fans feel included in that conversation.”
Gen and the Degenerates are not a band who sit comfortably in one particular genre or scene. As is the usual case for large bands with larger-than-life members, there is no obvious blueprint to follow, as everybody’s influences get mixed together. In contrast to the Degenerates’ teenage love of rock and metal, Gen’s influences come from further afield. “I’m always hammering blues scales in my vocal melodies. My songwriting sensibilities come from pop and country, genres that allow for more biographical and storytelling aspects. Even if I stray from my direct experiences, I’ll still be working within a concept or a metaphor created by my own experience.”
Having entered the Liverpool music scene from the outside, I can’t help but wonder what those experiences may look like. “Is this where you get to call us bad wools?” Gen snaps. Despite none of them being born in Liverpool – with most living outside the city – Gen and the Degenerates consider themselves to be a band grown in, and representing, the Liverpool music scene. Yet it wasn’t easy for them. As out-of-town students studying English Language at the city’s universities, they didn’t know how to go about getting shows. So, they decided to put on their own shows instead, with Gen acting as the promoter and introducer.
“It was actually a great way to get started,” she begins. “We aren’t music scene people who have been in loads of bands and know loads of the necessary people – we didn’t fucking know anybody. It can be really difficult to get into it, especially if you’re not a Scouser. It was also imperative that we had a house party after the show every month. That would be my advice to all new bands. Throw a house party after your gig, invite everybody performing to come along, stay up until the early hours with people you’ve only just met.” With their gang mentality, lyrics about living their lives proudly and their infinite love of partying, Gen and the Degenerates are a prime example of it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at, and they are, I promise, not bad wools.
With their biggest Liverpool show to date on the horizon, the band understand that for things to grow as they intend, they need to give people a reason to buy tickets and turn up. “We are a live band,” Evan says. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing a support set for Zuzu or in between proper metal bands like at Burn It Down – we are going to play like we play. We won’t fake it and try to start circle pits at the metal shows, and then have phones in the air moments at indie shows. We just do our thing.” Jay hammers the point home. “From my perspective, I just want to get up there and have fun. Fortunately, my favourite way of having fun is doing what we do, getting up on stage and playing with loads of energy and making the most of it with my gang and the people watching us”. According to Gen, “We’re going to have some people come along too to do extra shit that we can’t afford to do when we’re on the road.”
Before the madcap fun arrives at Jimmy’s, the band have a new single ready to unleash to the world. Wild Thing is a roaring, uplifting explanation as to why Gen Degenerate is the person she is, and nobody is going to change that. “We recorded it with Kurran Kurbal (Munkey Junkey), a lovely human and the sixth Degenerate,” Evan explains. “We’ve worked with him for ages, and he is the best at getting the most out of us. He meets the needs of the label in terms of getting what they want out of the band, but enables us to do what we want to do.”
As for the song itself, Gen confesses, “I did nick the name from The Troggs, but in an earnest and wholesome way, not straight up plagiarism. When I was a baby, Wild Thing was what my mum used to sing to me as my lullaby, so I’ve taken inspiration from that to say, ‘This is how I am, this is how I’ve always been, and there’s nothing I’m going to do about it’. I have, at times, been a rebellious and dangerous person,” she concludes. You’ve been warned.
Wild Thing is available on 3rd December via Marshall Records. Gen and the Degenerates play Jimmy’s on 18th December.