Helmet shared their cover of Gang Of Four's 'In The Ditch'. It marks the fourth single to be taken from the album 'The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four,' a double album with covers of songs from across Gang of Four’s 40-plus year career by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to Gang of Four.
Andy Gill was a fan of Helmet from their early days and had hoped to collaborate with them on a future music project. “In the Ditch” is the first new track from Helmet since 2016. Speaking about their involvement in The Problem of Leisure, Page Hamilton from Helmet explains:
“My old pal Henry Rollins reissued Entertainment! and Solid Gold back in the 90’s and asked me to do liner notes for Solid Gold. I don’t remember what I wrote but I know it was glowing, corny and fanboy. Their songs, feel, energy, inventiveness made an indelible imprint on my musical soul. All of our peers that formed bands in the late 80’s were influenced by Go4. I chose ‘In the Ditch’ for this tribute cause it’s a great song even though it was challenging (thank you to my band!). It feels improvised and random at times but holds together as a composition. The guitar part feels like spontaneous scratchy funk, the angular bass and drum groove grooves hard but sounds like there’s a spoke missing. The vocal is somehow beautiful but scary, urgent and dangerous. There’s no room for limp dick, mail-it-in, non-musical moments in any of these songs. How the hell did they put this together? We could only try to capture the intensity of the original. This band changed me. Thank you Andy, Dave, Hugo & Jon.”
Andy’s widow Catherine Mayer says:
“Helmet has recorded a superb version of “In the Ditch”, such a powerful song for these paranoid times. Andy and the other members of the original line-up came of age during an era of Public Information Films issued by the UK Government in case of nuclear attack. Even then it was clear that the instructions given in these films, such as taking shelter under tables or diving into ditches, were designed not to save lives but to quieten public nerves. It was propaganda, and as such grist to Gang of Four’s preoccupations. How eerily relevant the lyrics seem, recalling Prepper ideologies and also the claustrophobia of our locked-down world. Of course I also stumble over the lyrics about ‘beyond the cares of the world’ and ‘six feet under’, things that apply to Andy metaphorically if not, in the second case, literally. His ashes are at home with me, high on a shelf where he can observe, with pleasure, preparations for this wonderful album.”
After Andy’s death in February 2020, Catherine assembled a small team to complete The Problem of Leisure. The record had originally been conceived by Andy himself not as a post-mortem tribute, but to mark the 40th anniversary in 2019 of Gang Of Four’s extraordinary 1979 debut long player 'Entertainment!,' an album widely heralded as a classic.