An Interview With…Milk Teeth

On 7th May 2016, Bristolian punks Milk Teeth played a monumental headline show at Rainbow in Birmingham, UK. Ahead of the show, I spoke to the band’s Becky Blomfield (bass/vocals) and Chris Webb (guitar)…

On…HEADLINING

Chris: “I’m always worried that nobody’s gonna show up. We haven’t headlined in a long time. We’ve been doing supports, which I like because there’s no pressure – if you make a new fan then you’re winning.”

Becky: “It’s been nice to play some stuff – we haven’t played some of the tracks since we recorded them for the album [Vile Child]. And because we’ve been touring so much we had literally one day to rehearse for this tour so WE HOPE IT’S OKAY.”

On…TOURING AMERICA

Becky: “I only got a passport about a year ago, so it was like SHIT. BIG WORLD. It kicked off the travel bug in me – I want to see more now, because some of the things we saw you couldn’t really believe. The Grand Canyon, it looks like a backdrop, like a painted set.”

On…TOURING WITH TONIGHT ALIVE

Becky: “It was nice to have a fellow female-fronted band. And they were cool people, so nice to hang out with.”

Chris: “They’re lovely. They were really nice, buying us food…”

Becky: “It was also really good for us to go to play to big crowds, with our album having just come out. That tour brought in a lot of new fans. It was an honour really to be a part of it.”

On…ATTITUDES TOWARDS WOMEN IN MUSIC

Becky: “There’s definitely a pressure from industry people to sexualise [women in bands] in some way or make them an attraction feature. We’ve really resisted that. I think there’s also a bit of the whole ‘girls can’t play guitar’ thing. I have had sound guys at some venues assume that I don’t know how to work all of my own gear.

Chris: “Guitar shops as well.”

Becky: “A guy genuinely was like ‘oh you bought pink leads, because you’re a girl’ and I was like ‘no they were the cheapest leads!’”

Chris: “I also bought pink leads the same day!”

On…BEING COMPARED TO PARAMORE

Chris: “We get compared to Paramore a lot and we don’t sound anything like them. It’s just because there’s a woman in the band. I love Paramore, but I don’t think we sound anything like them. People don’t compare us to stuff that I think we sound like – to me, we sound like a lot of 90s punk, but people are like ‘oh yeah, Paramore’.”

Becky: “They’re so quick to compare you to the nearest band that has a female in it, because there is a lack of that [representation]. People don’t think outside the box.”

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Milk Teeth in Birmingham, taken by Andy Watson

On…FEMINISM

Chris: “People don’t understand the definition of the word. It’s just about people being equal. A lot of people are afraid of the word, but I feel like they just need to understand the word and then they’ll understand the point of view.”

On…FEMINIST HEROES

Becky: “From a feminist point of view, Brody Dalle is a huge icon. She’s one of the reasons I felt like less of a weirdo for learning guitar when I was a teenager, because I saw her and was like ‘wow, this chick is fucking amazing and she’s doing everything that I want to do and she’s respected for what she does’.”

Chris: “Bikini Kill and all the riot grrrl bands are cool.”

On…RACISM IN ROCK

Becky: “We’ve had issues at some of our shows where people who aren’t white have come up to us and said ‘I really had to think about coming tonight, because I receive shit because of the colour of my skin, for coming to a rock show’. That really infuriates us. If you’re a woman, that’s hard enough. If you’re a black woman coming to a show…”

Chris: “A young black girl came up to us at a show in America, and said she doesn’t feel welcome at shows. That’s not right. If you like the music, then you’re welcome.”

On…SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT SHOWS

Chris: “We played Carlisle and this guy was drunk – it was the Frank Carter tour so there was a lot of older drunk guys. He was stood in front of Becky making really inappropriate gestures.”

Becky: “I had to be escorted out of the building with all the boys around me just so he didn’t come anywhere near me. That’s terrifying! You’d never think the boys would have to be escorted to safety.”

Chris: “Yeah, we’re not the Beatles!”

Becky: “When we were in Europe, a guy asked if he could take a picture of me and I said okay because it’s a normal question. But then he proceeded to point the camera at my chest. It’s behaviour like that which ruins it for people that are genuine, because when that happens to me, it makes me question taking pictures with people! If there are creeps who are gonna just take pictures of my tits at merch or if I’m waiting to meet fans, it fucks with your head and it puts you off.”

Chris: “Even right now, Becky is wearing a pair of our merch guy’s boxers under her skirts, because camera guys can be creeps.”

Becky: “I can’t just wear my underwear. I have to question ‘can I wear this without anybody being gross?’ I’m bending down on stage a lot, setting up my gear…So it’s like ‘boys, can I borrow a pair of boxers?’ just so there isn’t some creepy guy looking up my skirt.”

Chris: “You shouldn’t have to make decisions just because they’re assholes. You’re amending your life because some guys are creeps. It fills me with rage.”

On…VENUE SECURITY

Becky: “I’ve had a lot of run-ins with security where they’ve talked down to me because I’m a woman, and I think if the problem is even with the people who work at the venue, then how is safety being encouraged? They often don’t take [harassment] seriously – they just see it as two kids flirting or think ‘oh, she wants it’, or ‘they’re drunk’. That really hacks me off.”

On…THE PERPETRATORS

Chris: “GET FUCKED. GET THE FUCK OUT. What gives you the right to come to a show and harass people? Just be nice to everybody. If you come to a show, come for the music. If you’ve come for anything else, then just stay out. If you’re going to be a prick, we don’t want you.”

Becky: “Yeah, we don’t want you to be a part of it. People shouldn’t have to second guess [going to shows] or go with something in the back of their head that wonders what could happen. It’s fucked up.”

On…SPEAKING OUT

Chris: “I would encourage anyone it happens to – tell someone. Tell security. If they don’t take it seriously, tell fucking everybody. Tweet the venue, tweet the band, tell anyone, tell everybody.

Becky: “If anything happens at one of our shows, tell us. That is not okay, and we will call it out.”

Chris: “If I saw anyone – it’s quite hard for us to see, but – do anything at our show, they’d have to get the fuck out.”

Becky: “I know it’s not easy, it does take a lot to say ‘this happened to me’.”

Chris: “There should be no guilt and no shame. It’s the asshole’s fault.”

Becky: “Be brave. If you can.”

You can catch Milk Teeth at a bunch of festivals this Summer, including Reading & Leeds, Y Not, Bestival, and 2000 Trees. You can get their wicked debut album Vile Child here, and watch the video for their song Swear  Jar (again) here.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Pretty Vicious

Welsh fourpiece, Pretty Vicious, who rose to fame after headlining the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury last year, chatted to us backstage at Handmade Festival in Leicester. The band who formed in 2014 over a campfire, spoke to Girls Against about their new EP as well as their views on feminism and sexual assault at gigs. [You can watch the accompanying video here]

Brad, the lead singer and guitarist told me that their new EP, Cave Song, was doing “really good” with Elliott the drummer adding “awesome yeah, we’re currently higher than Justin Bieber in the iTunes charts which is our personal record.” He went on to say that they will be attending “festivals like Truck Festival, and we’ve got Y Not lined up. We’re off to Amsterdam tomorrow to play a show over there for Pinguin Radio. But this year we’re more sort of like recording & stuff as opposed to like gigging and playing festivals. So next year, we’re going to be doing the entire circuit proper again so that’ll be cool but this year is just a quieter year in terms of gigging.”

As a band, Pretty Vicious want “more chances for real music. ” They say that “it’s a lot easier to get your music out there if you’re a solo artist; if you’re a band, it takes a bit longer like we got signed and stuff but it takes longer to perfect your craft and get all the songs ready. I’m not saying it’s easy or anything but when you’re on your own, it’s only you and you don’t have to work with other people.” Brad also stated that he’d like to see “more platforms for unknown bands as well.”

Within feminism, I asked who the group looked up to and after thinking for a moment they recalled “an artist called Girly” who they’d previously played  gig with. “She was a proper feminist; she was cool.” Elliott and bass player Jarvis both agreed that sexual assault is an issue at gigs starting “yeah” in unison with Elliott asking “do you wanna go?” and Jarvis replying “no, I’m just agreeing,” telling us that Elliott “does all the talking.” Elliott continued “as I said, we saw the the interview with Slaves as well and there’s lots of reports of stuff happening like that. You don’t go to a gig for that sort of s**t.” Brad chipped in stating that “it is wrong.” Proceeding,  Elliott concluded that “you go to a gig to enjoy yourself, [not] to get touched by random strangers and what not.”

The lads, who are all aged under 20 said that this kind of sexual assault is more apparent within the late teens age group. Brad shares the view that “because of our age some people don’t realize the repercussions [and] might do stuff like that not realizing how offensive it can be.”

As a band they feel that “spreading awareness is a great thing to do” to help tackle sexual harassment and “doing interviews like this one now and what [Girls Against] do which is great. You know, just spreading awareness, making people aware that you can speak out and…” (Brad interjects “It’s not cool”)“…It’s not cool, it’s a serious thing.”

Brad questioned me when I asked if he thought there were any issues outside of the music industry regarding feminism, querying “sexism?” to the delight of his band members who mocked him saying “I don’t think he understands the question!” Tom, the guitarist, started “there’s a lot changed now” and Brad after thinking about it said “I think in this day and age you see a lot of women doing just as good, and better, in a lot of circumstances than men and vice versa so I think these days it’s a lot fairer” laughing as he added “with that subject like with them posh words. ” Elliot too agreed and feels that “it’s great to see females in rock bands because you don’t usually see [them]; widescale it’s usually, I’d say, about 80% [of bands] are fully male, in rock at least, it’s nice to see bands like Wolf Alice in the music industry now.”

To the victims of sexual assault, Elliott says “don’t be afraid to speak out. If something happens at a gig or something, try and get hold of the band, you know, don’t just keep quiet. It’s an important issue that needs to be addressed.” And to the perpetrators, their message is simple; “don’t do it,” “get out of our gigs” and “f**k off.”

Interview by Laura Cobham