Sneaky Peekers – Behind the scenes of Penny for the Workhouse’s latest EP!

CPP - PftW - Sneaky Peekers PftW 1 On the 24th June fantastic London indie-folk band Penny for the Workhouse release their 3rd EP, SNEAKY PEEKERS which they’re launching at the Good Ship Kilburn the same day: We thought we’d ask them to write something on how it all came creatively together…
So here’s a sneaky peek into the world of PftW, courtesy of songwriters Mel and Nathan!


Hello to all reading this on purpose or by accident, we are Penny For The Workhouse, a lively London band creating music to make you dance.

We’re on the verge of releasing our third EP “Sneaky Peekers” which is our loudest and rawest EP to date. Over the years we have wanted to create an EP that sounds as close to seeing us live as possible. Our first EP “Coins and Cards” which was released in 2012 is quite heavily folk influenced with acoustic guitars and lots of three way harmonies. On our second “Jack the Gunslinger and Other Tales” we started to mix the acoustic gentle sound with hints of electric. We were finding that we still weren’t replicating the energy we have on stage on record. As “Coins and Cards” and “Jack the Gunslinger” were both recorded using multi-track, this time we went loud and live! PftW 2 (scaled)

“Sneaky Peekers” was recorded last year at Soundlab Studios in Loughton, Essex. Everything on this record is real, live and no re-touching! We wanted it to be slightly rough around the edges, to pull no punches, a record that takes the listener right out of their world and into ours. You can hear the spit from our vocals and the pick on steel stings. This EP emulates the energy we provide at gigs, so hopefully this comes across.

CPP - PftW - Sneaky Peekers The name for the “Sneaky Peekers” actually came from an advert, I (Mel) can’t even remember what it was for now but I thought it was really cute and kept repeating it at home to which my husband said “that’s a good name for an album”. And it was, so we went with it! It’s actually quite fitting to the EP though as each song is different in style, character and story which gives the listener a “Sneaky Peek” into our world and all the musical styles we love.
The tracks are written 50/50 between myself and Nathan, Nathan’s being Willow Tree and Old, mine being Kilburn High Road and Smoker at the Window; Giant Slayer was a joint effort with a story we both felt strongly towards.



“Kilburn High Road” is the lead track which has an early Blur feel with heavy guitar and storytelling lyrics. I live near Kilburn and it’s a wonderful place full of colourful characters and so writing about what I saw on a daily basis came naturally. I wanted the track to represent the hustle and bustle with stops and starts and different accents, and when I took it to the rest of the band they did exactly that with it. I’m really pleased with the result.

Kilburn is always bustling whatever day of the week whatever time of day. It never stops and I feel that it truly represents modern London. One of my favourite things to do is drink a Jack and Coke outside one of my many favourite pubs there and just people-watch. The characters in the song are all real: there are always plenty of mothers at bus stops and definitely lots of drinkers outside the betting shops. I find it a fascinating place. I’m now actually moving to the east end after six years around here so that song to me will always hold very fond memories of many a night out. PftW 1

We’ve just made our first music video which is for this track. Actor Des does a cracking job of bringing the song to life and representing everything I find completely nuts about the place! The video will be launched at the same time as the EP and will be premiered at our launch nigh on 24th June at The Good Ship, an ace venue on the Kilburn High Road.



PftW 3 I generally write about things I know but occasionally a song forms that has no direct relationship with reality. Willow tree is the latter, more of a ‘what if’ story though, like my other songs, people and relationships are at the core. The song grew from the opening riff which instantly made me think of those sorrowful country stories told by Johnny Cash like “I Hung My Head” and “Cocaine Blues”. I wanted to write what I think of as a bullet ballad – one that hits you like a smoking gun. Hopefully I got close. What’s it about? A man on the wrong side of the law grieving the loss of his lover for which he is responsible – to me it’s a story of regret.



On the flip side of tragedy comes old which is directly linked to my own life: it’s my attempt at a love song to my partner. I’ve never been what I consider to be a classic romantic so it was always going to have a twist. I could have talked about all the beautiful things about the girl in my life but decide to write an uncensored truth, about growing old together and how wonderful that will be.



Giant Slayer is a collaboration. I’d written the chords and verse – which were hidden away in my song book – and I just didn’t know where I wanted it to go. One day I played what I had to Nath and he quickly came up with the chorus of “I’m alright Jack pull up the ladder” which was the perfect statement for the story of that song: it was the missing link! PftW 2
It’s a fairytale, the typical little man vs the big man in which the little guys always come out on top. I suppose it’s a little political (about as political as we get!) in a way. The world is full of big bad men (and women!) but I would choose the underdog every time. It’s about the rat race and being caught up in it without even wanting to be and I think any young Londoner (particularly us creative types) feel that frustration and pressure.



PftW 5 (scaled) Last on the EP is “Smoker at The Window” this is actually quite an old song I wrote whilst paying ridiculous rent to live in a tiny studio flat and being extremely bored in my day job. It’s a track written about the mixed emotions of frustration at life and dreaming of a “better” one. At the time everything just felt a bit doom and gloom. It was raining and miserable on a mid-summer’s day and I was stuck in this tiny box writing on an old electric guitar with headphones so my partner could watch TV. It’s being stuck in that place I’m sure almost everyone goes through of feeling all work and no play – but it does get happier towards the end of the track and talks about coming through the other side! It’s just really honest and true I guess.


So that’s a bit about us and our next EP. Want to hear more? Come on down to our Launch night at The Good Ship, Kilburn High Road on the 24th June for a night of live music from us and friends plus goodie bags, best hat competition and the premier of the “Kilburn High Road” music video!


LE - June - PftW Launch Night details at The Good Ship… (Also on our Event Recommends for June with other great London happenings)
Any doubt you ought to go? Check out our coverage of the gig that brought PftW to our attention here – and another more recent here!
Website, Facebook and Twitter links…


“Sneaky Peekers” was released on the 24th June – we’ve included the tunes on soundcloud below so you can have a sneaky pea… listen, and you can download from ITunes via the linked logo here! Apple Music logo