After the resigned acceptance of the “post-truth world” that loomed over his second album ‘Memory Box’, Rodney Cromwell is back with a lighter humorous commentary on midlife with his new single ‘Exercise Class’.

A recent edition of the podcast ‘The Heritage Chart Show Show’ podcast presented by journalists Siân Pattenden and Peter Paphides referred to the music of Tony Hadley as “Peloton MOR”.

This amusing quip accurately described the current phenomenon of the nostalgia live circuit and its ‘Let’s Rock’ Festivals. Generally full of middle aged attendees lamenting the days of Thatcherism while wearing deeley boppers or mullet wigs, they are often fighting the flab guided by online Peloton home fitness classes while harbouring late aspirations of becoming a rock groupie or pop star…

All pumped up with this blast of disco indietronica influenced by NEW ORDER and LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, Rodney Cromwell chatted to ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK about ‘Exercise Class’, its accompanying video and more…

‘Exercise Class’, is this an example of “Peloton synthpop”?

Ha. I’ve never used a Peloton but perhaps that’s a good description. Even I’m not sure what sort of song this is; sometimes I think it’s a tongue-in-cheek homage to workout video music, but other times I see it as a straight send-up of the spoken-word alternative music you hear constantly on Radio 6 Music. I guess it is whatever you want it to be.

Are the lyrics to ‘Exercise Class’ a sardonic metaphor for life or autobiographical?

I can’t pretend there is any deep level of meaning or metaphor to it. It’s a knowingly stupid song. If it’s anything it is my comment on workout culture, or at least those cringe blokes you see at the gym coming onto women who are just minding their business trying to stay in shape. Rodney Cromwell could never sing from the perspective of a ripped gym-bro though, so obviously the narrator is a pathetic loser. And the story is pure fiction, I have other ways of channelling my mid-life crisis.

You said the video is a bit of a horror splatter fest, how does this relate to the song?

I just didn’t want to do a video with me in gym-gear so I gave my designer Martin, who also plays in the Rodney Cromwell band, carte-blanche to go crazy and do whatever he liked with it. I said of the video that if you’re a fan of Julian House, Terry Gilliam and / or Joe Wicks splatter movies, you’re going to love it. That description probably broke the trade description act, but it’s not a million miles off.

The B-side ‘Madeline Trip’ is a rather short instrumental, are you learning tricks from your label mate Roman Angelos?

Not at all. I’ve been putting out ‘micro-instrumentals’ as B-sides throughout the ‘Memory Box’ campaign. Most of them I don’t really think as songs, just moods. The first one ‘Memory Stop’ was just 51 seconds, so in comparison ‘Madeline Trip’ at 54 seconds is a prog-rock epic.

Is ‘Exercise Class’ a one-off or part of a new larger work in the offing?

It’s a one-off end of the ‘Memory Box’ era, I’ve entirely exhausted everything that I wrote in 2020-2021 which was probably the most fruitful period of my too long musical career. I needed one more uplifting song for side two so I wrote ‘Exercise Class’ and ‘Wristwatch Television’ back-to-back. ‘Wristwatch Television’ just fitted the mood of the album better, because it was a bit less stupid.

What else is on the horizon for you, musically or politically?

Politically, I’ll be out campaigning for Labour again over the next few weeks. I stick to doing that IRL rather than online though as it’s a lot more pleasant.

Musically, if you like folktronica and the sound of vintage Moogs, finally my very old band SALOON from the early noughties will have our Peel Sessions released on LP in October. Very excited about that. Also I’m writing again, this time with Martin and another friend so it’s a lot more collaborative. Despite the odd Moog moment, the new stuff is not all that synthy (I describe it as gothgaze) so this might well be my last ever appearance on ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK! Who knows! *laughs*

ELECTRICITYCLUB.CO.UK gives its warmest thanks to Adam Cresswell

‘Exercise Class’ is released by Happy Robots Records and can be heard on the usual online content providers but can be downloaded at

‘Memory Box’ is still available as a yellow vinyl LP and download from

Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
15 June 2024