The Enemy UK

In 2006, a pair of English teens working as minimum-wage television salesmen ended a nightly trip to the pub with a promise: They would do something different. Turns out it wasn’t just drunken babble. Singer-guitarist Tom Clarke and a pal he had met on the bus, bassist Andy Hopkins, hooked up with drummer Liam Watts for a session that yielded two songs teeming with political dissatisfaction. Those tunes, written by three fed up 18-year-olds, would drive their debut, We’ll Live and Die in These Towns (Warner Bros.), to No. 1 on the U.K. album chart in July 2007. “We can’t be the only people pissed off,” says the outspoken Clarke of his band the Enemy UK, whose lyrics tackle the closing of a Peugeot factory (in “It’s Not OK”) and teen pregnancy (in “Technodanceaphobic”). Clarke, a violinist-turned-guitarist who obsessed over the Who and the Rolling Stones as a kid, funnels his frustrations into sing-songy punk tracks with the same ear for social unrest that guided the Clash and the Jam. When the band got word that their first hit, “Away From Here,” a snotty, soccer-chanting kiss-off to nine-to-five life, hit the charts, Hopkins got so wasted he fell over and broke his finger the night before the band’s big tour. But Clarke, who talks a mile a minute about subjects including Oasis (he’s a fan) and the Enemy UK’s next album (“It’s angrier than the first”), won’t let his band get tripped up on injuries-or the British hype machine. “I reserve the right to make whatever music I want,” he proclaims. The Enemy UK finally invaded U.S. shores in August and will return to make friends with a tour of the States in 2009.