Fly The Flag
Following their studio debut The Borderland and live prison album At Her Majesty’s Pleasure, Fly The Flag was released on Friday 9th June on the band's own label Alternative Facts Records and is Hardwicke Circus at their most urgent, delivering 12 break-neck recordings like their lives depend on it.
Click the cover to listen.
Born out of the competitive and prolific songwriting nature of the Foster brothers, their sophomore album is a journey into their love of rock ’n’ roll, motown & outright 21st century pop. Produced by Dave ‘Stiff Records’ Robinson, it features guest appearances from EarlSlick (John Lennon, David Bowie), Snake Davis, Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey), Seamus Beaghan (Iggy Pop, Madness) and the Collected U12s Choir of Cumbria. Whether the songs are dealing with the acerbic-Van-Morrision-esque ‘Bang My Head’ or the Four Tops inspired unrequited love in ‘The Colour In Everything’, ultimately, this is an album coloured in a musical liberation that makes you want to get up and dance.
Fly The Flag is a testament to the positive power regional identity plays in shaping the country’s art & music scenes. Just as Sam Fender or the Arctic Monkeys stay connected to their sharp tongue local dialect, The Hardwickes (as they are known colloquially) are proudly from Carlisle, the most northern destination in England, and in ‘Our Town’, they encounter the deprivation many Northern towns are facing and the conflicting nature of being so detached from the rest of the country: "it’s a rough neck, blank cheque, silent howl, but I call it my town" sings Jonny Foster. ’Night Train to London’ reflects the band’s reluctance to even ‘get out’: "the ungodly hour, platform 4, steam trumpets reach Carlisle", writes drummer Tom Foster. The album artwork by the contemporary British painter Humphrey Ocean is perhaps the clearest indication of their northern roots; the green and blue of Cumbria waving amongst Carlisle's brutalist structure 'the civic centre'.
'It’s Not Over Till It’s Over' deals with the cynical nature of moving up the ladder with a northern accent: "give me a door cos I like to close them", and lyrically, the record reaches further afield in ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’, telling the story of Sadiqi & Dritan - both refugees in this country - and the Vietnamese families attempting to reach their loved ones who died in the back of a chiller truck as they sought refuge in the UK.
Already dubbed the ‘hardest working group in the UK’, the recording process of Fly The Flag will surely qualify Hardwicke Circus as England’s most brittle boned band too: one broken arm, two keyhole leg surgeries, one van crash, a sawed off thumb, two tribunals, various breakups, undiagnosed mental discrepancies and the creation of their own record label Alternative Facts Records. This dogged determination, this fierce independence is, in essence, the heart of Fly The Flag: Hardwicke Circus jumping the parapet, together a whirlwind of five unswerving minds, charging for the eye of the storm and making their voices heard, Flying The Flag for you.