The Longcut’s abrasively melodic post-rock juxtapositions were familiar to South Manchester’s DIY music community of the late 2000s, but it has taken the best part of a decade-long musical winter to emerge from hibernation afresh with renewed energy for guitar shredding.

Although they reaped acclaim for two albums harvested via Deltasonic in the late 2000s – A Call And Response (2006) and Open Hearts (2009) – the majority of the past decade has seen only fleeting appearances. Glimmers of new material in recent years was solidified at the start of 2018, as the video for ‘Deathmask’ sneaked out with typically thunderous aplomb. The more twilit title track followed in March as a second single, and the Arrows album is everything the discerning Longcut listener would hope for, from joyously anthemic to earsplittingly barbaric, with primal screams and full beam fog-lights resonating with precision through the static.

Bassist Jon Fearon served up his thoughts on Manchester both now and then, including gentrification, music venues and Preston bus station.

How often have you picked up the guitars and drumsticks in the past eight years or so, and why is it now time for a return?

Constantly. We’ve written and recorded loads before we ended up with Arrows. The record was made on a tiny budget in snatches of time when the rest of life wasn’t going on. We’ve been buying recording equipment since we released our first EP, which has helped, but the overall budget was probably under £3,000. We only signed to Deltasonic again after everything was mixed and mastered. I think if we’d not kept it completely DIY it would have been out a couple of years ago.

How many of the Manchester venues that you’ve played in the past are still around? Which is your most memorable show?

Most of the main ones are still there. It’s sad to see the Roadhouse go though. There’s so many new venues that pop up too – Soup Kitchen and Gorilla, for example. I don’t think Manchester has suffered too much in that respect, it’s still a music-obsessed city and there’s always been places for underground music.

For recent gigs, Cosmosis in 2016 was great, we really enjoyed the festival and it was the first time we felt like the Arrows songs clicked into place. I always loved the Oak Road house party gigs. I still have no idea how the Akoustik Anarkhy lot didn’t get evicted putting on full band shows in a terrace opposite The Christie.

Can we expect any house-based gigs this time around?

We’re all in Northenden and Sale these days. We could set up under the M60 though. My neighbours put up with us recording the bass amp in my kitchen, but I doubt they’d be as understanding as my Longsight ones were.

What are your views on the shape of the city now compared with the late 2000s? Is there any significance to your album art’s concrete blocks and track titles like ‘Brutalist’?

As a city, it’s doing well. It’s been amped up a lot all around though. There’s also a lot of people who clearly aren’t doing well, as the homeless situation is the worst I’ve seen in 20 years. We walk out of our rehearsal room and you see a lot of tourists and rammed bars, but you can easily get in double figures counting homeless people in a 15-minute walk across the city centre. It still needs investment in the surrounding areas and the public transport, unless you’re lucky enough to be near a Metrolink station, is dire.

The Northern Quarter is way past gentrified, though despite some shocking planning decisions from the council, it still hasn’t completely lost its identity. Kraak – now Aatma – is still going strong and there are still places to rehearse. There’s some interesting spaces like Red Bank Co further north of the city centre as well, and The Eagle Inn in Salford puts on some brilliant gigs.

With the artwork, we got a bit obsessed with these old Soviet monuments. The first attempt we had at a third record was called Monuments as we were constantly carving bits out of Logic files instead of playing together, as we were so busy with non-music things. Arrows is a more hopeful and positive version. We bombarded Liam [Palmer, cover art] with modernist and brutalist images. We wanted some kind of end of the world or futurist look, but keeping it bright and optimistic.

If anyone ever finds out how to get photography permission at Preston bus station, let us know.

How do you feel the Manchester music community has changed over the years? Who have you been listening to during that time?

It’s still in rude health. We’ve been basically locked away for a few years working on Arrows when real life allows, so we’re more distanced from what’s going on. We’ve felt like hermits, getting the occasional update from friends. I’ve helped out Claw The Thin Ice and Day For Airstrikes with recording a fair bit, so I find out from them, and mates who work as sound engineers and techs.

It’s good to see more experimental stuff around Islington Mill and White Hotel doing well, and the continuing survival of the Star & Garter despite the daft amount of new flats and gentrification around the city centre. The weirder and less publicised bits of Manchester have always been strong around the Garter – things like Sonar Yen charging In The City pass holders double the ticket price.

Where will 2018 take you as a band?

Out of hibernation. Hopefully we won’t take as long with the next record.

The Longcut play at Soup Kitchen on Friday 4 May as part of a UK tour.
Arrows is available now.

Ian Pennington