Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 09:05 UK

Talking Shop: Kid British


The new single from Kid British - Our House Is Dadless

Manchester four-piece Kid British have split opinion with their new single, which features a prominent sample of Madness's Our House.

Their song Our House in Dadless takes the Nutty Boys' nostalgic look at family life and adds a rap about living in a single-parent household surrounded by alcoholics and street fights.

While some critics have accused the group of desecrating the Madness track, fans - including Radio One's Chris Moyles - have championed the song.

It is the first major release from the Mancunians, whose album It Was This Or Football displays a much broader range of influences, from ska to funk, indie pop and hip-hop.

Over a game of table football, James, Adio, Sean and Simeon spoke to the BBC about their influences, and the danger of being labelled a novelty act.

Kid British
The band's original name was Kid British and the Action Mankys

Madness's version of Our House painted a very cosy, rose-tinted picture of family life. Yours is a bit more downbeat…

Simeon: It's wicked that you actually mention that because a lot of people, when you read comments, really hate the song. But we're just putting our view of what we've seen growing up.

A lot of people weren't raised in the way that Madness describe. We don't actually talk about any of our dads in any of the verses, because our dads weren't there - except Sean's.

Have you had any feedback from Madness themselves?

James: We saw Suggs and Woody at Soccer AM and Woody said "thanks for making us cool again".

Sean: Suggs spent about 5 or 10 minutes just looking at us. It freaked me out.

Simeon: I think he'd been out for a few the night before.

And is it true you performed the song on stage with Alan Carr?

Simeon: It was hilarious. He added an extra verse.

James: My verse was after his but I couldn't stop laughing. He's one of them people, who the guy you see on TV is the guy in real life. He was just bopping around. He had a trilby on. It was hilarious.

Sean: I nicked a few dance moves off him.

Do you worry that people will write you off as a novelty act?

Simeon: When we first thought of Our House Is Dadless as a single, we were a bit worried about it. But then we thought the underlying issue of the song is serious - do you know what I mean? When you listen to what we're saying, you'll be like "woah, this is very smart". Nowadays, to really say something, you've got to make it as mainstream as you can.

Sean: I think it comes back to the live show. That's not the song you'll come out singing. And we're not like a lot of bands who - not naming any names - just stand there and don't say anything and go through the songs. There's a lot of interaction with the crowd.

Simeon: We don't care what people think. I'd rather be here doing this, having fun, than go back to doing what I was doing in the fire service. So I don't care if people call the band a novelty act. If you'd come from where we come from, you wouldn't be complaining.

Kid British
The band took on the BBC's reporter at foozball - and won

The song is partly a tribute to your mothers. Did you miss having male role models as you grew up?

James: There were male role models around in our lives, but no father figure.

Simeon: I sent my mum a Happy Father's Day text the other day.

James: We've just got that ultimate respect for our mums. No-one can take that away. She did it all on her own.

Did your families support you making music?

Adio: We had a lot of support in general. Three of us went to the same university and even when we all decided to drop out, our parents were just like "go and do whatever feels best" and because we were given that opportunity, we're here now.

Sean: My parents were very supportive. My dad basically got me into music - he gave me a drive to keep on going, and listen to other styles and hopefully do something different eventually.

Where do your influences come from - and who brings what to the band?

Sean: Adio, James and Simeon came from quite a hip-hop background. I've got other influences, and we kind of mixed them together.

We just appreciate good songs. Gary Barlow is like the songwriter. Some people say Take That aren't credible but you can't knock that guy, he's one of the best in the industry. We look up to him.

At what point do you decide 'this one is ska' or 'this one is pop'?

James: It's just a natural thing. Two years ago when it was a roasting hot summer, we ended up making Cosmopolitan, which is our most reggae song - because that's how it felt that day.

You've already been compared to The Specials, and you've also worked with Blur's producer Stephen Street. Do you have as much to say about Britain as those bands did?

Adio: Sort of. It's not like we sat down and thought "let's make statements". We just write about what we see. If that comes across as social commentary, maybe it's because we're saying something that people are afraid of.

The Specials' name was partly a reference to the fact they were a multi-racial band at a time when race relations were badly strained in the UK. How much does the name Kid British represent progress?

Kid British
L-R Sean, Simeon, James and Adio

Adio: That's one of the reasons we opted to use the name. It's a bold statement. But this is the way we've grown up. The band hasn't been forced together, like "let's get white guy and a black guy and be mixed race to look good". We're all friends, we've grown up together and we're happy to be in the band together. So it's good because of that.

There hasn't been a big, breakthrough Manchester band for years, maybe even since Oasis. Why do you think that is?

Sean: I think it's got something to do with how Tony Wilson pushed them bands, and the whole Factory label.

Adio: There's not many people in Manchester who have a voice and can say to the national media "this is what's happening now". But things are starting to happen again.

Your album is called It Was This Or Football. Is there a kernel of truth to that statement?

Adio: I used to play a little bit. I trialled at Bolton and a couple of other teams, but that's not the statement we're trying to make on the album. When you're young and in the inner cities, the only way you think you can get out is through entertainment or football.

What does the future hold for Kid British?

Adio: We've got mega goals. We didn't get to this position and think "yeah, we've made it" and start going crazy and start acting out. There's loads of work to do.

Our House Is Dadless will be released on 6 July on Mercury Records. Kid British were speaking to BBC Entertainment reporter Mark Savage. The band won the table football tournament.

But only just.

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