Words by Elvis Thirwell
Amidst the seemingly endless parade of post-punk bands circling the UK these days, London’s Pozi hold their own rarefied attractions. Slotting somewhere between discomfort and delight, and comprising a unique ensemble of drums (Toby Burroughs), bass (Tom Jones) and Violin (Rosa Brook) – the three-piece repatriates the sinewy sonority of such hallowed turn-of-the-80s groups like Wire or The Fall into a distinctly 21st century setting. Their songs, since day one, have been punctuating up-to-date political observations on, say, the Grenfell disaster and phone addiction, with tight rhythmic weaves, dramatic violin slashes, and the odd operatic turn left-field.
The arrival of their upcoming Typing EP offers a fresh platter of weighty topics for listeners to chew upon. The list of issues confronted in the 5-song set reads like a neat summary of the news stories that invaded our last 12 or so turbulent months – police brutality, the global pandemic, ruling-class corruptions and the ubiquitous anxieties of instant messaging.
“I love this band, but they’re a bunch of woke leftist Marxists”– No.1 Youtube fan
While this lyrical directness has always been Pozi’s mode, Typing finds the group, post-lockdown, in more chipper form. Compared to the gothly greyness of last year’s 176 , the forthcoming release entertains some of their most colourful recordings to date. With tunes evoking whimsical country fairs and slapstick, all-sirens-wailing police pursuits, (there’s a healthy dose of the bleak stuff too) It might very well be their most diverse, and accomplished release to date.
HOH caught up with two-thirds of Pozi, Tom and Rosa, over video call, just as the group are arming themselves for the EP’s release and a month-long nationwide tour. We queried their genesis, their politically-conscious songwriting and how they’re more than simply a nerve-jangling, angsty [and] fearsome act.
Let’s talk about Pozi more generally first. How did you guys get together? You have an unusual set up, with bass, drums and violin…
TJ: Toby used to go out with a mate of mine. I met him one time and he was talking about starting a band. I’d never been in a band before but I’d always played a bit of guitar and bass just for fun. So he messaged me and was like “do you want to come and have a jam”, and I was like “yeah, why not?” So we jammed at his studio in Harlesden and quite quickly came up with sketches for half of the songs from the first album. Then we needed to find a violinist!
RB: Toby had this vision of [the band] being violin, drums and bass. I had met him separately 6 years ago on holiday with mutual friends in Portugal, and he was saying, “I want to start a punky band with violin, bass and drums. I’ve never seen it done. I think we can do this!” Then a year later, he came to me and said “me and Tom have started [ the band], do you want to come and try”. So I did.
From the start of Pozi, there’s always been strong political engagement in the lyrics. A Pozi song will always have something to say. Why is that?
RB: We’re not going out there to paint a message, more…pose questions. On all of our Youtube videos, some man has commented on every single one of them saying, “I love this band, but they’re a bunch of woke leftist Marxists,” which really made us laugh!
TJ: We live in such a weird world, it’s hard not to write something about what’s going on. You look at the news these days, and there’s always something horrible happening. It’s hard not to feed that back into what you’re creating, because you’re consuming it, whether you like it or not, on the news, on Facebook feeds, Instagram feeds…
RB: In terms of us ever writing a love song, or something, I don’t think it would happen. It feels like there’s some sort of paradigm that we’re sticking to, which is: never “I” or “I want this”, or a song about the individual in that way. Obviously, what we want to keep doing is keep changing and keep exploring. So maybe we will break out of that at some point.
Speaking of change… there’s a different style on the new EP. 176 was quite gothic and bleak-sounding, but some of the new songs, like The Detainer and Free Song, are a lot more chipper.
RB: We made those songs when we met up for the first time after lockdown.
TJ: We were pretty happy to be back together again. It fed into what we were playing. It was an exciting time to be making music again.
RB: We wouldn’t sit down and be like “okay we have to write more upbeat songs now”. No matter what we do, people will just call us ‘nerve-jangling, angsty, fearsome’, that’s all they say!
TJ: I’m always wondering that people will meet us and think we’re going to be these sombre three people…
RB: But Sea Song [From the Typing EP] is not chipper at all. That was 100% to do with Pandemics, life and death. Very dark subjects.
What was it like playing again together after all that time?
RB: It was honestly a year and half that we hadn’t played together. That’s why going back was so scary. I found it terrifying going back to live gigs.
TJ: It was crazy going back. I actually forgot a song in a live gig: the nightmare scenario that actually happened. I had to pluck notes in front of a room of people until I remembered it again. It was really tense. I had to be like “look, I’ve forgotten the song…”
RB: Everyone said it was totally endearing.. It was like, “we’re all affected by this [pandemic] in one way or another, even if we didn’t realise it.” We’re all human. People were expecting us to go back on stage and be the same person.
What’s next for Pozi?
RB: We’re still thinking about what to do for the next album, which we’ve got LOADS of music written for. If you want to know if it’s chipper or it’s tense, what I will say is….get ready for a little bit of doo-wop!
Typing EP, released on 29th October via PRAH Recordings.