The Allergens

by Josh Jewell

First of all, well done on getting through to the final of the battle of the bands. The congratulations have been flooding in from Exeter’s music community: Hope Claydon from PearShaped, for example saying “first Brexit, then Trump, now this.” The hits on your website have rocketed into the double figures, and your album sales are heading in that direction too – how are you coping with the sudden shock of fame? Oliver [looking deeply hurt]: Did Hope really say that about us?

Well, I had to take out the swearing. Billy: I’m not actually so sure I’m comfortable doing this interview anymore…

My favourite song of yours is Fascist Love Song, I think your writing really flourishes when engaging with forms of dictatorship and totalitarianism. Oliver: That’s not really a question.

Yeah. Oliver: We like to examine these figures wherever possible. I’m currently in the early writing stages of a pantomime cabaret concerning atrocities committed in Mao’s China, based on the racist popular folk songs of Edward M. Favor. Elsewhere, we’ve analysed other key fascists like George Osborne, whose maltreatment of students’ finances is explored on our new EP. Again with the EP. What are you even doing – just listen to it now.

But of course you are not just gaining renown as a group, you have also each developed your own individual side projects: Ross has become heavily involved in the American gun lobby; Billy has launched his own lucrative brand of erotic stationery; and Oliver, you have recently started a medieval plainchant project with a Belgian monastery, can you tell us about that? Billy: For my part, I’m struggling to pitch this line of erotic stationery to a different W. H. – I’m referring of course to Smith’s. As a profoundly dreadful retailer, they are keen not to market anything that will make them any more appealing to the woke youth of today. They’ll stock the new Ed Sheeran on actual wooden pallets, but my vibrating erasers apparently have no place on their shelves.

Right… and what about Vinny? The affairs must be really tearing you guys up? Oliver: Tell me, Joshua. Are you familiar with Ludacris’ Area Codes? Vinayak lives his life on these terms. I mean [heavy sigh] we’re a democracy at the end of the day – we have to just accept it, you know? It does make things difficult. Billy: It was tough to take the recent, all-too-public revelations, given we used to operate as a sort of four-way, unconsummated civil partnership of sorts. His girlfriend wasn’t happy either, but fame really changes things for people.

And with that in mind, what are your favourite breakfast cereals? Oliver: That’s a contentious issue. I’m aware, for example, that Ross is a Rice Krispies man. We often, in fact, refer to him as Rice Krispies Ross. Snap, Crackle and Ross. And Vinny’s into Crunchy Nut, but that’s to be expected – as you already know, he’s particularly flaky anyway. My own choice cereal is actually the word in an abstracted and decontextualized form. Yes, I am naturally referring to the sweet, sugary goodness of a functioning judicial system that punishes cereal killers.

Just a heads up, Oli, I don’t think we’ll publish that… When you aren’t on stage or growing your impressive collection of pretentious badges, what do you guys do to relax? Oliver: My badge collection is, to be fair, notoriously pretentious. I’ve got everything from a crass enamel number crudely commemorating the four-year anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, to a selection of cheap, faux-style punk-rock pins produced for the Osmonds’ 1978 tour of former Yugoslavia. I will literally buy anything and everything I see. It’s enormously costly, as I’m sure you’d expect. Sometimes, I wish I had a cheaper vice – like cocaine or something. Billy: My badge collection is, conversely, no business of yours, and I shan’t thank you for asking. Other hobbies of mine include bear bating, snake charming, and fox hunting. I have a space reserved in my trophy cabinet for the head of Brian May. Because he’s overrated, not the badger thing, though I do also hate badgers. I’m a keen subscriber to Off-Shore Oil Monthly, too.