University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

‘Shopping’ by Welly Is Great for Lidl Fans, but a bit Candid for Waitrose Shoppers

Harry Turnbull

ByHarry Turnbull

May 14, 2024

Known for their flamboyant fashion choices and James Acaster-coded satire, Brighton icons Welly are no strangers to outside-the-box thinking. Providing plenty of pogo-able (real word) live hits whilst lacking a proper drum kit, the Southampton-formed quintet are on a highly upward trajectory, particularly after the studio release of their recent track ‘Shopping’. Who’d have thought that this would be a fan favourite? Well, the band did seemingly, and it has paid off, with their Instagram promotions of the track reaching views in the hundreds of thousands. Seemingly, people still enjoy that 8 Out of 10 Cats’ wit that made it popular (although I mainly watch it for Jimmy Carr’s abnormal laugh). In April, I got the chance to interview the very hungover man himself… Welly. We dug deep into the two-faced nature of the modern-day local community, as well as the “80s yuppie stuff” that inspired the band, and Scooby Doo, because why not. 

‘Shopping’ is an extremely profound (by Welly’s standards) social commentary on the habits of the local community, and how the ever-globalised and mediatised world is leading to the death of the high street. I can relate; my local high street used to be heaving, but now Pizza Express is the last exciting thing left. When commenting on the downfall of local supermarkets and high streets, Welly hits out against the soullessness of modern high streets due to a community’s lack of willingness to counteract the changing world and save their town. “About the local area, they [the community] do nothing to help,” Welly tells me, “The town is disgusting, and they get everything on Amazon. So that’s why there are no shops left. That’s why the post office is closed down”.

The demise of the marketplace can partly be put down to the cost-of-living crisis, with a lack of sufficient government support putting current businesses in jeopardy and questioning the future of imagined businesses from graduating students who already need to pay off copious student loan debts. However, the lack of active change from communities seals the fate of our high streets. Commenting on that, Welly recalls how he “saw signs of what England used to be  , something very different than it is now. People complain about it, they do nothing about it. SO that’s what the lyrics are about”. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Welly track without that campy satire that we have all come to (or will come to) know and love. That translated greatly into the music video for this track, where the band flail their arms around mindlessly in an abandoned shopping centre, which has since been compared to a Horrible Histories-esque spectacle (spectacle is the appropriate noun). Inspired by, as Welly put it, “80s Yuppie stuff”, he recalls his connection to the band Madness, whose song ‘Our House’ is Welly’s chosen track when they come onto the stage, and how their style influenced their music videos, “They [Madness] always start with a tiny skit,” recalls Welly, “and then every different video they’ve got like a different sort of thing going on, like the ‘Baggy Trousers’ dress of the schoolkids”. Superfans of Welly know that they have a pattern of distinctive campy fashion. Before it was the iconic PE kit, and now they seem to have graduated secondary school and got themselves a cashier job with their work-style uniforms.

Applying the Madness formula to his works, Welly “got attached to this idea of like a band that works in a supermarket… Ironically, the shopping centre we were originally going to do it in got shut down in lockdown”. Describing the video, Welly labels it as “a typically dilapidated shopping centre and they’re going to knock it down and build flats or offices that no one would use. But instead, some local artist bought the whole thing and now it’s just being used for live events and like pop-up kitchens”. What  says community like local bands and pop-up kitchens. 

Joining Welly in the music video are his trusty bandmates/employees. Welly was the brainchild of his musical project, but the band’s shared energy and collaboration are incredibly palpable, and when you watch them perform, you can tell each track was a joint effort. Speaking on this collective relationship, Welly recalls pitching his ideas to them as their first point of call: “I see them as the first sort of audience because they don’t really like me. We all listen to sort of similar music, so I will sit with videos and stuff I like,  and hash out ideas with them because I trust all their opinions”. He brought up an interesting comparison that put into perspective a lot of their antics: “They’ve all got different sort of things they specialise in, in terms of like the way I describe it, it’s like Scooby Doo, where it’s named after the main character, but you remember the whole gang”. He has considered the possibility of his bandmates wanting to pursue individual projects, however.  “I’ll lay out all the stuff myself and then also give them, like, little gaps, like I want you to do something like this, like an objective, and let them fill it,” Welly explains, “I’m not so cocky to say that if there’s nothing else in it for them, I don’t think they would stick around because I’m such a great guy”.

With comradery high and their new single ‘Shopping’ mustering views into the hundreds of thousands on Instagram, Welly seem to have a bright future, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.

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