The Playwrights

The Playwrights


Making adventurous and literary modern-rock music, The Playwrights - a stunning fusion of scratchy punk grooves, post-rock nuance and English folk echoes, are an act that finally justify the tags 'political', 'energetic' and 'lyrical' that have been applied to many others recently.


It’s all about timing. The Playwrights are a majestic and angular indie-rock band from Bristol, England, with a strong pop edge. Formed in 2001 by friends and long-time collaborators Aaron Dewey (vocals) and Benjamin Shillabeer (guitar) the duo initially demoed, over the course of a year, a collection of homespun experimental indie-pop songs in bedrooms and office blocks in Bristol and beyond. Not wishing to re-record the songs or to lose momentum, the pair set about getting a band together and subsequently released the ‘finished’ recordings as a clutch of singles and an album on Benjamin’s acclaimed label Sink and Stove in 2003.

This early material started receiving excellent reviews - from the likes of the UK’s mainstream music press (The Independent, Rocksound and Losing Today amongst others) to more grassroots platforms; as word-of-mouth responses found the The Playwrights namechecked and playlisted on webzines, blogs and radio shows across Europe, Canada and the USA. The album ‘Good Beneath The Radar’ was included in the late John Peel’s lists that year and he played the band’s first single ‘Television In Other Cities’ back in April 2003. However the success of these recordings wasn’t matched by the progress of the new band, which saw a series of frustratingly shifting line-ups and personnel changes, as the right balance of personalities and instrumentation was sought. Despite this upheaval this fledgling band managed to tour on behalf of Careless Talk Costs Lives magazine in 2003 and then with Pretty Girls Make Graves in 2004; coinciding with the release of limited edition 7” ‘Dislocated’ for UK tastemaker Unpopular Records (The Pipettes, Smoosh) and a CD single ‘Guy Debord Is Really Dead’ for Sink and Stove (responsible for Chikinki, Gravenhurst, Controller.Controller and The Organ to name a few). Both these releases saw further acclaim - from Rolling Stone magazine in New York to filesharing sites and messageboards across their homeland and abroad.

Christmas 2004 saw the line-up finally settle with the addition of Hector Peebles on bass and, a few months later, Tom Mills on drums. Guitarist Nathan Edmunds has been a steadying hand in the band since 2002 and completes the line-up. Finally in a position to develop the mass of new material written, the long wait has done the band immeasurable good; having allowed them to develop their sound into something harder and more aggressive, as the recent relentless live shows attest.

Such is the renewed vigour and chemistry, the forthcoming mini-album 'English Self Storage' (due November 2005 on Sink and Stove and recorded in London by producer Brian O'Shaughnessy) feels like The Playwrights first proper release. Songs such as ‘Why We’ve Become Invisible’, ‘Fear Of Open Spaces’ and a new version of ‘Dislocated’ showcase the band’s classy combination of simpatico guitar interplay, busy but funky basslines and solid but expressive drumming; with the addition of Aaron’s refreshingly English vocals and The Playwrights now trademark splashes of cornet, glockenspiel and dubby melodica. The lyrics are arty but not inaccessible, being about common themes and often reflecting the band’s native Westcountry. Full of jilted passion stemming from the drudgery of day jobs, failed relationships, the inertia of small-city life, frustration over the lack of romance in modern existence - but filtered through an art-school lens, the songs turn absence into substance. A craft has been honed also - apparent in the more relaxed but powerful vocals, tightly focused songwriting and sophisticated arrangements for brass and strings - coupled with bursts of noise, slabs of guitar feedback, squeals of theremin or an arresting passage of spoken word lyrics.

This willingness to experiment is a key point. Unfairly lumped in with the current resurgence of new wave post-punk styled bands, The Playwrights palette is broader. Echoes of Burt Bacharach, Captain Beefheart, King Tubby and Michael Nyman are equally at home in The Playwrights music as those of Gang of Four, XTC, The Fall and Joy Division. Influences range far and wide; from English acts like Nick Drake, The Cure, The Smiths, The Auteurs, Blur and Hood to American bands such as Talking Heads, Fugazi, Pavement, The Sea and Cake, Tortoise and Les Savy Fav. The Playwrights have shared stages with Mission of Burma, 90 Day Men, Weird War, Herman Dune, Seachange, The National and James Yorkston as well as Sink and Stove labelmates past and present, including Leave Land For Water and You & The Atom Bomb.

The Playwrights are an urgently needed proposition for indie rock. They take their tales of everyday life and turn them into angry and arty but immediate and hope-filled anthems, bristling with intelligence, hooks and a conviction and independent spirit rarely seen these days. The Playwrights have booked their own shows, managed themselves, released their own records, maintained their own website (including the much admi


Guy Debord Is Really Dead

Written By: Benjamin Shillabeer

You’re Postcode Prescribing Under Strip Lighting; All Time And Space Is Measured From Here. So I’ll Drift Around The City, I’ll Find Hidden Meanings In The Buildings I Walk Past. Real Relationships Have Been Replaced, Our Conversations Taped And Erased - They Cut The Phone Lines On My Street. Emotional Static Still Lingers Like C I A Sleepers But We Live The Questions Without Questioning. Let’s Pretend We’re Human, Let’s Live Without Dead Time Because Good People Are Turning Bad. In A Cul De Sac Or A Block Of Flats These Things Can Happen. A Revolution Of Everyday Life Is All That Matters, Now! Do You Remember The ’87 Hurricane? The Wind Made Arrows Out Of Everything; I Pinned My Hopes On The Next Decade. And The Heatwave Of ’76 As The Tarmac Slowly Baked - My Dreams Faded Like Sun Bleached Postcards. The Big Freeze Of ’63, The Worst Winter Of The Century: We Found Shelter In Each Other’s Arms. And The Storm Of ’53: Goodbye Flagship Industries - My Hopes Were Dashed Like Flattened Prefabs. So Cover Me In Soil And Leaves And Through The Bare Branched Trees I Will See Her Truths Revealed. You Push The Buttons And We Act Like Lovers And I Am Helpless. This Body I’m Holding, These Null Moments Reducing Feel Fake Somehow. From Salisbury Plain To The South Downs, I’ve Followed You Around. If I Was Then Who I Am Now! If I Was French I Would Throw Myself From A Window But I’m An Englishman So I Throw Myself From The Bed, Just To Get Up Every Morning - A Tactic To Keep Me Moving And To Stop Me Feeling It’s Emptiness. From Porton Down To Dungeness, You Build Up Your Defence With Concrete Walls And Chemicals. The Truth Is On You Like A Perfume, You Can’t Hide Where You’ve Been - Your Ex-Lovers Hang Around Like A Poisonous Gas. We May Be Through With The Past, But The Past Isn’t Through With Us: I Can Only Move Forward.

Why We've Become Invisible

Written By: Benjamin Shillabeer

I Thought We Could Learn To Love This Town And It Would Do The Same In Return If We Put The Time In, Splashed Our Money Around. It Would Learn To Spell Our Names, Remember Our Faces; The Contours Of Which Would Be Etched With The Grid References Of Our Favourite Places. Look How Long Your Shadow Is! Does It Stretch Far, Touch Anything? As Light Fades I Don’t Exist, I Fall Foul To Photosynthesis. Like A Dry Stone Wall No Cement Was Poured To Keep Us Together, To Keep Out The Weather And The Fronts Of Our Houses Aren’t Improved By Rain; So I Find Myself Dreaming Of The Playing Fields And The Back Lanes, Of The Garages And The Underpass, The Bus Stop And Deserted Swings; Keeping Time With Clocks Powered By Potato Peelings. A Smear Of Lights From A Nightbus Deck Cuts Across My Vision Like A Blackboard Smudge At Eye Level. Those Dear Dead Days Are Gone By A Country Mile But Now I Have Nostalgia Of The Present. The City’s Rise And The Country’s Fall Were The Same Event And Buried In The Topsoil Are Bodies. Past Oxbow Lakes That Made The Same Mistake Reflected In A Glassy Eye Of A Head Against A Train Window With A Bruised Temple. Keep The Homefires Burning; Living On Tubes Takes On A New Meaning Drip-Fed Down A Telephone Line. We’re The Fallow Fields; We’re The Fossil Fuels Firing These Days Full Of Useless Verbs For Which I Can’t Get A Signal. In The Dusk Light Over Haze Hugged Fields The Tracks Follow The River, And Speak Estuary English. As Headlights Highlight Hedgerows, Clusters Of Homes Shimmer In The Distance. An Airplane Ascends With Easy Purpose, The River Twists Like Cigarette Smoke, The Pylons And Wires Stretch Out Like Tightropes. I’m In The Middle Of Nowhere, Somewhere, Switched To Silent To Echo The Landscape I’m Speeding Through. A Motorway Corridor With No Emergency Door - This Is Why We’ve Become Invisible…

Fear Of Open Spaces

Written By: Benjamin Shillabeer

I Found A River And Built On It, Nothing Major: - Small Operation, Self-Build, No Significant Changes! I Had Familiar Places, A Clear View, A Few Friendly Faces But You Spread Whilst I Slumbered... Like A Provincial Town Centre; Ravaged By Wartime Bombs And The Developers That Followed, Buildings Constructed With No Regard To My Status; Foundations For Future Towers Of Shame And Self-Hatred - The City Fathers Unofficial Line Read ‘Its Progress!’ There Are Panes (Pains) Of Glass Between You And Me, Lead, Brick, Tile, Electrical Circuitry. My Hometown Has Pulled Me Down; My Background Seeped Further Into Background. I Questioned Planning Permission And Completion Date; Projects Were Forced Through Without Blueprints Or Measurement. I Consulted The Legalities, I Queried Civil Liberty - The City Fathers Decreed: ‘Feelings Are A Bourgeois Luxury!’ There Are Panes (Pains) Of Glass Between You And Me, Lead, Brick, Tile, Cement And Masonry. My Hometown Has Pulled Me Down; My Former Friends Blank Me Now. I Want To Step On An Escalator To The Future But I Reach The City Walls And No Further! I Ran The Ring Roads Around My Town, Circuit Training But With No Way Out. You Reintroduced Wolves To England’s Forests And Placed Roadblocks On The Motorway Exits, Slip-Roads Slid Me Back In The Direction Of Home! Victorian Housing Marked My Dark Failures / Diversion Signs Lead Me To My Own Front Door / Patio Slabs Were Placed Over My Heart / Cars Collided At The Vanishing Points: - The City Fathers Loudly Lauded ‘English Self Storage!’ Like A Glitterball Above A Disco Floor I Span All Night Trying To Find A Door; A Locked Groove Record Played Forever It’s Not Gravity Keeping Me Here, It’s Fear! I Built A Bridge Out Of Frozen Piss And Jumped The Flood Defences, I Built A Stile Out Of Frozen Bile And Jumped The Border Fences And When I Looked Around I Felt No Fear Of Open Spaces, And When I Dreamt It Was Of Architecture Of Second Chances.


'Dislocated' / 'Welcome To The Middle Ages' 7" single (Unpopular Records)
'Guy Debord Is Really Dead' CD single
(Sink and Stove Records)
'English Self Storage' CD mini-album
(Sink and Stove Records)

The band are demoing new material and re-working existing tracks for their debut album as a complete band 'When I Lived In The Modern World'.

Set List