- For fans of Echo & The Bunnymen, Radiohead and Efterklang.
- Says vocalist Jamie Lee, “I’m not crazy about music. Bob Dylan inspired me, but obviously I can’t do that.”
- KEY TRACKS: So Long (God is Dead); Goodnight London; Cold Water
“I have talked a lot about the quality of the city,” acknowledges Money’s frontman and polemicist Jamie Lee. It’s two hours before the band play a Second World War bunker in London’s East End and he’s just been draining a bottle of red wine. “Part of the reason Manchester has made a certain calibre of madman and drunk on the street is because the people there are interested in a way of life that is not the day to day.” He’s not inebriated, but shares the spirit of a zeal-fuelled preacher.
Manchester-based, rather than from Manchester, Money met while studying in the city. Lee, who studied Social Anthropology, discourses in fully formed paragraphs: each internally logical but often metaphorical and oblique. Meeting this charming man is fascinating; not only does he question the world, but when you ask him something, he counters by asking what is really being asked. Noted thesp Cillian Murphy was sufficiently taken with them to direct the video for single Hold Me Forever, earlier in the year.
Money’s debut album, The Shadow Of Heaven, is as thought-provoking as an encounter with Lee. Nothing is quite what it seems. The album shares an aim-for-the-sky or higher ambition with early U2, Echo & The Bunnymen and Radiohead. Yet it’s intimate and engaging. On the yearning Goodnight London, Lee sings of loss and hope to a mournful piano. Lyrics tackle God, death and, on Hold Me Forever, “the moral tramp who preaches disorder, he’s our saviour.”
“Oh God,” he laughs, when asked about this figure. “The moral tramp is someone who is morally lacking. They should not be the saviour, but they are. It’s about people who are in power. Powerlessness and lack of value have more power than something that has been put in a position of power. The reason we called ourselves Money is because we wanted to ask what is the essential value of a song? What is the essential value of a painting? How do you disregard all the other ephemeral things surrounding them?”
“Manchester has made a certain calibre of madman.”
For his band, Lee appears to be the one in power deciding what should and shouldn’t be disregarded. Scott Beaman (bass), Billy Byron (drums) and Charlie Cocksedge (guitar) seem content to let their frontman carry most of it on his shoulders. For Lee, it’s in keeping with what he says is at the band’s core. “One of the things the band is obsessed with is what do you have to do to become an individual?” he says. “What do you have to wipe away? Is it possible to even do that living in a city? Is it possible to do that staying within the realms of society and social conformity? How far do you have to go outside of humanity to become something original?”
After raising these imponderable questions, Lee wonders if he’s handled the interview properly. “I don’t think I’ve been ideological enough. Normally, I get a bit more ideological.” Minutes later, from amongst the crowd in the damp, barely lit basement his solo voice rings out. Stepping onto the makeshift stage, he hands his next bottle of wine over to the audience. The communion has begun.