Upskirting: In Conversation with Gina Martin

Upskirting is taking unauthorised photographs under a skirt therefore capturing an image of crotch area, underwear or genitalia. Sometimes these images can be taken and can get shared around on various websites; this has always been an issue but recently it has been bought to light over laws and social attitudes.

There have been many cases where photos have been taken unknowingly and have become sexualised by people posting them onto porn sites. There are often cases where these images are involving  victims who are minors or people who can be clearly recognised, this raises issues of privacy and reputation.

Upskirting photos can be taken easily, for instance, when you are walking up and down stairs. It is often very hard to know if someone has taken an upskirt photo of you unless you see them take it or find it on various websites, this is because the cameras are normally hidden.

At the moment, there is no law in the UK specifically naming upskirting. However, Scotland created specific legislation against the crime of upskirting in 2009. In Britain, victims and police are currently only able to pursue offences under the two current laws which are voyeurism and outraging public decency.

Voyeurism: This only applies in a private place (at home, in a changing room etc) where the victim has a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ so, if you are in a public place voyeurism cannot be used.

Outraging Public Decency: A 100 year old public-order law which protects the public from having to see anything lewd (this is often used to prosecute urinating in public etc). It does not recognise upskirting as a crime with a victim. Prosecuting under this law, the assault must meet a series of ‘rules’- e.g. two or more people had to be there to see it happen- so it is notoriously difficult/often impossible to charge with it because it is so outdated and unfit for purpose.

As you can see it can be hard to prosecute under these two current laws as there are limitations to both laws but upskirt photos can technically be prosecuted so the aim is to make upskirt photos a specific crime.

Gina Martin has started a campaign to make upskirt photos a specific crime after being a victim at a music festival. She reported the incident to the security at the festival who then passed it on to the police. Only five days later she received a phone call from the Met police to say the case was closed and “there’s not much we can do” because “it’s not a graphic image”. Her petition currently has 82,000 supporters and 7 months ago the Met police reopened her case. I was lucky enough to interview Gina:

What inspired you to start a campaign?

I had upskirt photos taken of me at a festival by guys who wouldn’t allow me to reject their advances. It was humiliating, and after handing the phone, picture and guy over to the police they said there wasn’t much they could do.

What advice would you give to anyone who has been a victim of Upskirting?

I would tell them to tell the people around them, to get the evidence if they can and to think logically – e.g they will have to fight for people to listen due to this grey area. On the other hand, it won’t be long until I change that, so hopefully, it won’t be so hard to prosecute in the future.

Why do you think the issue of Upskirting isn’t commonly spoken about?

It’s a very secretive assault. Many women don’t know it’s happened to them. But more importantly, I don’t think women feel comfortable speaking up about something they know they’re not supported about. The law doesn’t currently support all women who are upskirted, so why would they speak out about it? It’s also true that as women we’re taught that assault and harassment is ‘just part of being a woman’. It shouldn’t be.

What are your aims for the campaign?

We are going to change the law so that all victims can be prosecute effectively.

How can more people get involved with raising awareness about Upskirting?

You can sign my petition on Care2. Just type in ‘Gina Martin’. But if there are any writers, journalists, speakers, lawyers, academics, authorities – anyone out there who could lend their voice to the cause, please get in touch! We already have in incredible team and support from MPs across all parties, academics and lawyers have all agreed this needs to be changed. But the more that lend themselves to the cause, the quicker it will happen.

Overall there are a lot of things that need to change regarding Upskirting from the laws surrounding the issue to social attitudes. Even though this may take time it is important to keep fighting and speaking out eventually people will listen and things will change for the better.

Written by Alice Dunham (@alicerosedunham on Twitter.)

An Interview With…The Spook School

The Spook School are a Glasgow-based four-piece who make candid and earnest music. Their upcoming album, Could It Be Different, is out on 26.01.18.

What inspired the song ‘Still Alive’?

Nye: I wrote the song kind of in response to a guy that sexually assaulted me years ago. It’s one of those situations where at the time, despite being very upset by the experience, I told myself that it couldn’t have been rape or any kind of sexual assault because ‘he was a nice guy’. For a long time I blamed myself for not protesting enough, or for somehow misleading him into
thinking there was consent. It’s only in recent years that I’ve realised that
it was him that I should have been blaming, not myself. So this song is an overdue ‘fuck you’ to that guy, and also an acknowledgement that – however much that experience might have messed me up – I’m still here and that’s something.

It feels quite different to the past stuff on Try To Be Hopeful et al – where do you think that comes from?

Nye: I think Try to Be Hopeful made sense as an album that you would write after quite recently figuring/affirming your identity – there’s a joy in that, and a desire to just kind of yell out ‘yeah, this is who we are’. I think also, especially as a trans person, because that can cause you so much unexplainable sadness/distress before you figure it out, you can fall into thinking that it’s the only part of your life that matters, and that being read as your gender/getting to physically transition and stuff like that will magically cure every problem
you’ve ever had. It definitely helps, but usually all the other life stuff is
waiting for you to pay attention to it again. And in many ways that’s kind of
what this album is about, it’s about living as a queer person – about regrets
and relationships and family and body image and just everything.

How would you describe the upcoming album?

Adam: It’s a lot more introspective that our previous work. More nuanced I think, and more personally honest. There’s a lot of looking backwards and looking forwards, wondering about the past and worrying about the future. At it’s heart though I see it as a celebration of the community we’ve found (in many ways through playing music) and the personal relationships we value in our lives.

Who in music inspires you right now?

Adam: Perfume Genius is making some really wonderful stuff right now. I’m also on a really big Jimmy Somerville kick at the moment. I think he’s one of the most underrated, radically political pop stars ever. Shopping, Sacred Paws, and basically everything Rachel Aggs touches is incredible.

Have you ever seen or been made aware of sexual harassment or assault at any of your shows?

Nye: I’ve never seen or been made aware of sexual harassment at any of our shows. I’d like to think that that was because the people that come to our shows are all wonderful people without exception, but in reality it’s more likely that it’s happened at least once and we’ve just not seen/heard about it.

Is it something you’ve experienced as performers?

Nye: I’ve experienced sexual assault, though not in the context of playing shows. At least part of that is probably due to the fact that we’re an overtly queer band. Some of it will also be down to sexism – as a masculine presenting person playing music I’m less likely to get comments yelled at me than women or more femme non-binary folks.

What would be your response if you saw it happening?

Nye: If one of us saw something when we were onstage I would like to think that we’d stop playing and try to get the assaulter/harasser kicked out of the show. Equally, if someone came to us earlier in the night, we’d listen to them and see what they’d like done to make them comfortable and then work with the promoter/venue to make that happen.

What would you like to say to the people who have that experience at a show?

Adam: This is not your fault, and there will be plenty of people who are willing to support you, including us. We’ll try our best to make sure our shows are as safe for everyone as possible. If there’s anything we can do to help please let us know (if you feel you can). We can be contacted online (emailFacebook, Twitter) or in person at shows. Reaching out to others for support can often be really helpful. This could be people close to you or organisations such as The Survivors Trust.

Girls Against are also here to listen to you and provide support, though please note that we are not trained counsellors.

What would your message be to the perpetrators of that behaviour?

Nye: If you can’t go to shows without harassing people, then don’t go to shows. Seek advice to change your behaviours and don’t put other people at risk of your unwanted advances/aggression. Doubly so if you are a performer/artist – you shouldn’t be putting yourself in a position where you have social capital that you could abuse.

Why do you think sexual harassment is such a big issue in rock/alternative music scenes?

Nye: A whole raft of things really. There’s still quite a lot of people with pretty misogynistic views of music scenes as a place where women/femme people don’t belong – despite all obvious evidence to the contrary (seriously, if you’re only listening to music written/performed by men how are you not bored by now?).

Also the association between gigs and alcohol probably isn’t something that helps, given how many people use being drunk/high as an excuse for acting in ways they wouldn’t allow themselves to sober. Especially for performers,
there’s this kind of archetype of the rockstar that’s always drunk and that
being a ‘rock ‘n roll’ thing. I remember going to gigs as a teenager and seeing
the lead singers of bands that I loved at that time drinking full bottles of
whisky on stage. I remember thinking that was just part of being a rockstar,
rather than something that’s going to have an impact on both you and the people around you.

Then also there’s the whole ‘groupie’ stereotype – the idea that femme people in music scenes can’t possibly be creative or performers or even people that appreciate music, but are instead a kind of object to be claimed by male band members or fans. It seems like an outdated idea but the number of women in bands that still get asked ‘oh are you drummer/guitarist/whatever male band member’s girlfriend’ by people doing sound/other bands/promoters suggests
that it’s very much still a stereotype that exists.

What do you think your responsibility is, as a band in combatting this issue?

Nye: It’s a hard thing to tell someone that you don’t know about sexual assault, so it’s up to us/other bands/promoters/people in general to make it as clear as possible that any kind of harassment or assault won’t be tolerated and that we’ll do everything we can to make sure that people coming to our shows are safe from that. Things like signposted ‘no tolerance’ policies at gigs, statements on stage, and kicking people out when necessary. We should be making sure that we don’t play on bills that are just bro-ey bands, or for promoters/venues that create a hostile environment to any people that might want to come along to one of our shows. Sometimes it can be hard to know that information, especially when you’re travelling to places that you’ve never been before – so we’ve also got to be prepared to listen when someone comes forward to tell us something, and try to act helpfully based on that information.

What do you think crowds should be doing?

Adam: Looking out for each other. Everyone’s come to the show to have a good time, so try to be aware of the people around you as much as you can. Dancing and jumping around is really fun, but it’s not an excuse to touch others without their consent. You wouldn’t do so in the street (I hope), so why would it be acceptable at a show? I’d hope people who come to our shows (or any show for that matter) would try to offer support if they witnessed harassment of any kind, or anyone looking uncomfortable or distressed.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Idle Frets

First, can you pitch your band to people who haven’t heard of you before?

Dave: Imagine if ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon was actually written by Post Malone fuelled by two litres of Monster energy drink. We sound like the opposite of that.

Erin: Get yourself a ticket, come see us live! Of course we love our records and are really proud of them, but I would deffo say – and I think the boys would agree – that we’re all about our live shows. We love performing shows that are lively, all about singing along, and getting your bev and groove on! We’ve got influences from all over the shop, but relatable indie-pop-rock bangers are our thing!

Luke: If you’re a fan of lively performances, slick guitar hooks and good times, then get to know Idle Frets.

What have the highlights of this year been for you?

Dave: We played the main stage at 110 Above Festival, that was insanely good. It feels good to be moving up the ranks.

Luke: For me, playing the main stage on the Saturday on 110 Above Festival was incredible. It was absolutely chucking it down and we had an amazing turnout. We went on our first headline tour in May/June, too, going to so many places for the first time and having people showing is a great feeling.

Which songs do you get most pumped up to play live?

Erin: I love playing ‘Glow’ and ‘Now You’re Back’ live; strong drum game in those songs! They’re big sounding and need a lot of energy to play live, and I think that’s what live shows should be all about.

Dave: My personal favourite to play is ‘Glow’, I think it works the best live, and it means I get to push the magical fuzz button.

Luke: Our new single ‘Talk About You’ is big and ‘Now You’re Back’ always goes off.

What’s your favourite part about performing your songs up in front of people?

Erin: I enjoy it all. Playing live is my favourite part of being in a band. I was never a performer when I was younger, I don’t like public speaking particularly and I get quite nervous. But I enjoy this so much, and when I look up in front of the kit and my three best mates are having the best time too… it’s super cool. Being able to have fun together for that time, and not think about anything else, [that’s my favourite part].

Luke: Seeing people dancing, singing along and enjoying themselves, for sure. We just hope people enjoy our music as much as we do.

What’s your favourite gig memory?

Erin: From our shows, he will be fuming at me for this, but Ben fell over once a few years ago on stage, and it was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. He tried to disguise it as dropping his guitar pick and picking it up again but everyone noticed, and I was howling! As a crowd member, my second Glasto I saw Frank Turner. At my third, I saw Biffy Clyro. They’re both my favourite acts and I will never forget – the happiest I think I’ve ever been, in a field full of dirty and gross, open-minded people, singing my favourite songs in the sun and rain with my best friends! Cheesy, right?

Luke: As a member of the crowd: Arctic Monkeys at Don Valley, Sheffield was spectacular. Even though I lost my shoes.

Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

Erin: So much! I love it dearly but my god, people need to begin to see things differently. Number one for me would be from the perspective of a young artist entering the industry, and a young booker/agent entering the industry. I will never understand how people expect people to work for absolutely nothing in return. I don’t always expect money in return for my work, as I understand experience, gig tickets, contacts etc. are valuable. Favours here and there when arranged are also fine, and all part of having passion for the industry and helping people involved, but how people expect musicians and young graduates to make a living on ‘experience’ is a joke, and it’s a battle I face weekly as a young professional.

Luke: People who are working in the industry just to make money, rather than doing it for the passion.

In terms of feminism, who do you look up to within the music industry?

Erin: P!nk, 100%. I think she is an incredible person. I have always loved P!nk since I was small, and growing up I have come to understand her, her music, and her outlook on life more and more. She has battled a lot in her life, people have tried to take of advantage of her in multiple ways because she is a woman. She has had prejudice thrown at her left, right, and centre, yet she is one of the most open minded, strong, independent womdn at the minute trying to champion change – especially for her little girl!

Luke: Frank Turner, he’s an ambassador for Safe Gigs for Women and he’s doing a stellar job campaigning and raising awareness.

Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events – that being your own or anyone else’s?

Ben: Not often, but have been to gigs with mates and had to pretend to be the boyfriend to get a girl out of a difficult position. Also been to a gig when girls have been drunk going round squeezing lads asses.

Luke: Unfortunately, I have. I’ve seen people who have a little too much to drink and think that gives them the right to act in an inappropriate and unwarranted manner.

Erin: Of course. I was a 15 year old young gig goer myself, and it happened then and it still happens now. Sexual assault sounds like a very aggressive term, and that’s why I think people don’t believe that it happens. If anyone purposefully touches you inappropriately without your consent that counts. I think this is what people need to be made more aware of. To my knowledge it has never happen at one of our shows but if it did and we as the band knew about it, I really would stop everything and have people removed from the venue before continuing the set. No one should leave a gig with that as their lasting memory.

Do you have a message to those who have had that negative experience?

Erin: Speak up! To a bouncer; bar staff; people in the crowd around you; make sure they don’t get to do that to someone else. And always remember to take something positive from the gig that you enjoyed. Don’t let the perpetrator ruin your fun experience with your friends or family. They don’t deserve that satisfaction!

Do you have a message to the perpetrators?

Ben: Don’t be a dick.

Erin: Gigs are places for people to enjoy themselves, and putting someone in an unwanted negative position for your benefit is selfish and goes against everything that the next generation of the 21st century are working towards. Get out of our happy places.

As a band, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

Erin: As a band on our own… speaking up about it is all we can do. The more people that speak up about it, the more perpetrators know that they won’t get away with it.

Luke: Interviews such as this and discussing it to raise awareness will go a long way. And of course, we always make sure everyone is comfortable and having a good time during our shows.

Finally, what’s coming up for Idle Frets?

Luke: We’re currently halfway through our Talk About You Tour! [And] you’ll be able to feast your eyes upon our music video soon.

Erin: So many exciting things! Studio sessions, music videos, gig announcements… all to come!

Idle Frets’ latest single Talk About You is available now: https://soundcloud.com/idle-frets/talkaboutyou

You can follow the band on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Idle_Frets

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Beyond Recall

On 25.09.17, in Manchester, GA rep Sophia sat down with Zaid – lead singer of the band Beyond Recall – to talk about their music, their message, and more…

First, can you pitch Beyond Recall to people who haven’t heard of you before?

I’d say we are the love-child of All Time Low, Don Broco, and nu-metal. We come at you from all angles. They’re pop-punk tracks at their core, but then there’s rapping and screaming too.

 

You’ve been on tour with Young Guns recently – how’s that been?

The tour has been a dream come true. Josh (drummer) and I have been best friends since 2010, and we first hung out at a Young Guns show. So it’s come full circle. It’s been amazing – the artists that we look up to I can actually call my friends. [Young Guns] have been the nicest guys, and playing in front of their crowds every night really is an honour.

What’s your favourite gig memory?

My favourite gig memory is from when I went to see Enter Shikari in Bristol, and letlive. opened the show. It was – wow, it probably would’ve been 2011/2012 – and it felt like I was the only one in the room who knew who letlive. were. Jason Butler didn’t care whether anyone knew who they were, and he controlled the stage, he controlled the audience. He just took over the room and I just remember thinking, “this guy right here, he’s killing it”. That’s probably my best memory of being in the crowd.

What about from one of your own shows?

It’s probably from when we were in Edinburgh, on tour with our good friends in THE AFTERPARTY. We’d never been to Edinburgh before, and honestly I thought about 10 people would come to the show. But then we got this half-packed room – and sure, it was a small room – and they all went crazy. That night, I felt like we had ‘made it’. It’s still one of my top 5 shows.

Which songs do you get most pumped up to play live?

I think my favourite to play live is ‘Almost’. There’s a part that’s just so fucking catchy and new people can sing along easily. Also, I love playing ‘Tomorrow’, because I get to let everybody know how I feel about the world.

What inspired the lyrics to ‘Tomorrow’?

I had a mum come up to me at a show once, and she thanked me for giving her daughter a safe place. That same night, her daughter came up to me too. She hugged me and started crying. I was a bit taken aback for a moment, thinking “shit, what do I do?” But then I realised all I had to do was be there, be me, be in this band, perform and connect with people. That’s what ‘Tomorrow’ is about for me.

Could you tell us about your new single ‘Wonder’?

‘Wonder’ is all about trying to find a place for yourself. I was feeling unsure and outside of life, and I used that to create a character. I wrote about that person for this song. It’s also a great one, for me, because it shows the more pop-punk side of the band. It’s a fun track with a serious message.

You play a lot of shows and do talks at schools. How did that start and what do you talk about?

We started an anti-bullying campaign in March [2017], because we knew that there was a lot going on at schools and on the internet between young people. We go into schools to talk to kids about online safety, bullying, and to give them a safe space to open up.

You speak very frankly on stage about the issue of suicide in young people – why is that a topic you speak about?

We speak about it because it’s a huge issue. It’s the number one cause of death in young people in the UK, and yet people overlook and dismiss it. People think it’s a joke, like something that’s a goth or emo ‘trend’ – but it’s not. It’s serious. Everyone ignores it until it happens to someone they know – and the response is always “I didn’t know” or “but they were always smiling”. And that’s a problem because suicide doesn’t have a face.

Before becoming aware of Girls Against, how aware were you of the sexual harassment that goes on at shows?

I knew that sexual harassment went on at shows, but I’ve never witnessed it at our shows – though it may happen. I unfortunately can’t see beyond the first three rows, so I don’t know.

But I have had a girl grab my penis once – she kept doing it throughout the show. Afterwards, I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I was so annoyed and so uncomfortable.

I don’t understand why people think it’s an okay thing to do.

By the way, I am so happy that this campaign exists, and I want to thank you for doing what you do.

Do you have a message for those who have had that kind of negative experience at a show?

Speak to the appropriate people – the security at the venue. Make it public [if you feel comfortable to].

What would your message be to the perpetrators of that behaviour?

You’re idiots. That is so inappropriate and wrong. You may feel like you can get away with it, but you can’t.

Finally, what’s coming up for Beyond Recall?

With the anti-bullying campaign, we’re really excited too. When we started it 6 months ago, we decided we wanted to reach 10,000 students by 2018 – but, as it stands, we will hit that number in November. We want to get out and tour more too, because we haven’t been able to do that enough lately – doing this tour has shown us how much we’ve missed it. Mostly, we just want to make people feel better.

You can follow Beyond Recall on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…Nick Murphy (Chet Faker)

Not only is he an incredible visionary, with a talent for synth-based, electro-jazz tunes, but he is also a humanitarian- helping us combat sexual harassment at live music events. We had a chance to sit down with the international star, Nick Murphy (previously working under the name of Chet Faker), following his first night at the Metropolis in Montreal, Canada. Here’s his views on sexual assault, the music industry, feminism, and the conformity to masculinity as part of an artist’s identity:

Q: Have you witnessed sexual assault at live music events- that being your own or anyone else’s?

A: No, I never have seen that… violence at gigs sometimes… It’s not always easy to tell the difference between the two, because it happens so quickly. Things break out at the most inappropriate times as well- not that it’s ever appropriate-, but it’s like… what the fuck are you doing? But it’s definitely not something that I haven’t seen.

Q: Do you have a message to the perpetrators?

A: (laughs) where do I start? It’s complicated, and it’s hard to understand where that’s coming from. It’s obviously a place of confusion, and not really understanding someone’s emotions. First and foremost, it’s completely not appropriate and not right. So, that’s the first message. But, I would say that if that’s something that someone is leaning towards doing, talk about it with people and figure out where that’s coming from and why you think that’s appropriate, because it’s obviously an emotionally driven act.

Q: As a figure in the music industry, what do you think you can do to help combat the issue?

A: Well, talk to you (laughs), for starters. I mean the reason why I agreed to meet with you is to see what you would suggest. Sometimes these issues are so pervasive and big, it can be hard to understand how to do that. There’s so much wrong going on in the world- it can be kind of confusing and complicated to figure out what responsibility, or how a responsibility should be applied to that. And that’s something I’m interested in. Sorry, that’s not really a direct answer… but I’m interested in answers.

Q: That’s really great to hear. For starters, I would suggest spreading awareness and of course discussing the issue. That is, speaking to the security teams at venues, as well as your own management team. Of course, I wish that issues of sexual assault or harassment won’t happen at any one of your shows, but if they do, it’s important to speak up about it. I’ve seen some bands and artists stop mid-show to address the perpetrators and ensure a healthy, safe environment during the gig.

A: Yeah, speak out about it, absolutely.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to change about the music industry?

A: Oh, so much, I couldn’t even begin. This is a great start! It’s supposed to be about togetherness, that’s why people come to live shows, it’s about getting along. It’s the reason music exists; so that people can communicate with each other, beyond their differences. People need to remember that, it’s not like an accessory, like buying a ticket for something just so you can say you were there, or buy a jacket or some shit. You go there because it means something. If it doesn’t mean something- don’t go, don’t buy a ticket! I’m not interested in playing for people that think it’s just a thing, you know?

Q: How much do you think feminism, and the treatment of women is discussed within the music industry?

A: At the moment more than it has been before, which I think is amazing. It’s definitely a male dominated industry, and I think that needs to change. How? I don’t know. It’s something I have been trying to figure out for the last couple of years, even if it’s something like getting amazing artists like Charlotte Cardin, to support us. I think it is such a complicated issue, and equality is not really a scoreboard, but a state of mind. It’s just talking about it, and keeping it in your mind at all times, when it comes to decisions. Really, there are no laws about it, it’s just applying it to decisions you make, and at least that’s where I feel like I’m making a difference. Just being aware of it, and open about it.

Q: That’s it, exactly. How much do you think masculinity, and the conformity to that stereotype affects the way that artists present themselves?

A: It’s a huge issue! And I think the issue concerns the industry and labels, and things like that. With music… there’s less money involved now than there used to be, so larger labels are less likely to risk this stuff. My ex-girlfriend was a musician, and she was always looking for a manager. You know, this was years ago, but they were always trying to sexualize her. And that’s not what her music was about! It baffled the shit out of me, because she is talented, and she’s doing really well now, but it’s just this extra hurdle. You know, no one came up to me and said, “you have to be sexy on stage”. It’s not something I had to deal with. Fuck, I wouldn’t even know where to start. There’s people not being open to new ideas, or just resting on talent.

Q: How much, and how often do you think other social issues- like racism or classism- are discussed within the music industry?

A: In the industry, it’s hard to tell. I don’t deal a lot with the actual industry heads, because it’s not something I’m interested in- because it is so close minded, it’s like this fucked up little community. But I think socially, it’s being discussed more. For example, we’re talking about it now. I’ve been touring for five years and it’s the first time someone has asked me these questions. It’s definitely on the radar of the youth’s social awareness, which is great. I think it’s moving in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go with that.

Q: Since it’s your first night playing in Canada, how is it like being back?

A: It’s nice being back! I’m a little sick, so I’m drugged up on everything I can take. But it was really enjoyable… an amazing crowd. I had fun.

Q: How is the crowd different from festivals versus your own shows? I remember seeing you at Osheaga a couple years back, and the crowd was very different from your show tonight.

A: Well, hopefully no one comes to the show if they don’t want to see your music. Whereas at a festival, you might get dragged on by a friend or whatever. And that’s cool, because people can get excited. That’s the difference- at your own shows people have a connection to the music and want to be there and hear it.

Q: Do you have any highlights of your summer? Any specific shows or funny stories?

A: I took a road trip this summer, as a holiday, and drove across the United States, which was amazing, I really enjoyed that. I got to see the country.

Q: That seems incredible. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us!

A: Thanks, it was really nice to meet you, and we love what you’re doing!

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Interview by Ania Buksowicz

An Interview With…The Regrettes

I meet The Regrettes at what feels like 100 miles underground. Islington’s O2 Academy’s backstage is buried deep beneath the room where the band will play to 1000 people shortly after, and is something of a labyrinth. Their dressing room is cosy, and I sit on the floor with frontwoman Lydia Night as we chat and everyone gets covered in glitter.

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Photo: Alan McCarthy

So, who are The Regrettes? “We are super honest people who make super honest music about things that we care about and things that we go through”. The LA-based four-piece is made up of Lydia (vocals/guitar), Sage Chavis (backing vocals/bass), Genessa Gariano (backing vocals/lead guitar), and Maxx Morando (drums). The music is youthful, energetic, and fun – whilst also tackling misogyny, broken friendships, and more.

Talking about the European tour with SWMRS, it’s evident the band have all had a great time. “It’s been the best fucking time of my entire life”, Lydia tells me, as Genessa beams and gushes “we are so lucky!” They insist it’s been their favourite tour they’ve ever been on, both from the perspective of fans and as a band. “This is the first time I’ve really been able to let loose in the crowd since we became a band”, says Sage. “It’s been so fun to be with all these people who really care about the music that’s being played”. Lydia laughs, adding “we’ve been going fucking ape-shit!” They also appreciate the support fans have given their own band. “At every show, there have been people who know our lyrics. That’s so special.” Maxx points out that “people are singing along to the guitar” and instrumental parts, too. I admit that is my favourite part of every show, which excites Genessa who feels the same way.

When I question them about their feelings on being labelled as a ‘girl band’, their response is mixed. “We’re not an all-girl band”, Lydia points out – at which point Maxx waves, smirking – “but being called girl-fronted is fine because that’s what we are”. Sage disagrees. “Even that term bums me out”. She explains that it feels like they’re being put into a box, and it prompts ignorant questions about being a girl in music. Lydia reassures me that they “want to talk about [being women, and feminism] but in a particular way – like this!” The band understand that being girls in a band IS, at this moment in time, ‘special’. “We want it to get to a point where it doesn’t matter!”

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(l-r: Maxx, Genessa, Lydia, Sage) Photo: Chad Kamenshine

They are, however, willing to talk about the issues that are faced by women who make music. “We play festivals and we’ll be the last girls in a band playing – it won’t even be dark yet, and there will still be tons of bands after us playing!” Genessa gets particularly frustrated reflecting on her time at music school – which is where the band met. “[Throughout] my musical education there was a lot of dudes getting better treatment than I was getting. They told me I could ‘sing background vocals and finger pick’, they wouldn’t let me play main lines. I would really have to fight for it and then when I WOULD get a lead line, some dude would get a guitar and solo all over the top of my riffs! It was very…” – she takes a deep breath at this point – “annoying”. That’s a polite alternative to what I’m thinking.

In regards to safety at shows, the band are adamant that there should be no violence or harassment. “We are very aware when we’re playing”, Lydia begins. “We try to make sure that everyone is good. If we were to see [abuse] going on, we would make sure that person is kicked ou”. Maxx adds that it can be difficult for them to see everything that happens in the crowd, and that people who notice it need to say something. “They can yell to us for help”. Genessa pleas that people “come to [them] after the show and let [them] know” if something happens to, and they feel able to speak about it. “We will publicly write about [incidents which occur] if that can help”. When I ask them how they feel about security’s role, Sage ponders how easy it is for them to watch out for sexual harassment. “These things often happen in closed
spaces…” Lydia jumps in. “But if someone comes up to them and tells them that something has happened, they need to listen. They need to take that seriously”.

And their message to the perpetrators? It’s simple. “Stop”. Lydia adds that “they need to not put themselves in a public situation [such as a show] if they can’t be respectful and not a fucking asshole”.

The Regrettes are on tour with SWMRS in the US for the rest of 2017.

Interview by Sophia Simon-Bashall

An Interview With…The Coathangers

Our GA Rep Andrew caught up with the Coathangers – aka Stephanie Luke (Rusty Coathanger), Julia Kugel (Crook Kid Coathanger) and Meredith Franco (Minnie Coathanger) – on their U.S April tour.

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First off, welcome back to Washington DC. It’s been a year since your last tour with L.A. Witch, and I saw that Stephanie went to the Women’s March on Washington this January – as did I. So, from last year to this year, things have been different. But it’s great to have you back here in DC.

SL: “Different” *laughing* Yeah, you could say that.

Yeah! Congratulations on the one year anniversary of the release your album, “Nosebleed Weekend” on April 15th.

JK: Aww, thanks.

Yeah, it’s an incredible album and I told Meredith earlier that it was my soundtrack for the summer so thanks for that! Really looking forward to the release of your new EP “Parasite” available on Suicide Squeeze on June 30th. Now, back on“Nosebleed Weekend”, it’s been a year for these songs to kind of marinate with your fans and audiences. Which songs have resonated well with the crowds? Especially with some bands being tired of playing the same songs over and over again after touring relentlessly, which tunes still have you excited and pumped for shows?

JK: Squeeki Tiki is a rad one, you know? It’s been really fun. (Squeeki Tiki is a tune primarily featuring a squeaky toy for the song’s melody). All of them have been great to play live.

SL: Yeah I don’t know. Down Down, Squeeki Tiki, umm, Burn Me

MF: And Make It Right.

JK: Yeah, and people have been liking our latest songs off this new EP. I mean you said you get to add something fresh and new to the setlist.

So you guys are now on tour promoting your new EP. Is there anything else in store for The Coathangers in 2017?

JK: Yeah, we’ve been touring a lot.

SL: We’ll be out on tour in Europe after this, which will be cool.

JK: So maybe somewhere near the winter time we’ll have something in store. I mean we’re always writing and thinking.

MF: Yeah, who knows – maybe some live recordings or something.

JK: There are many possibilities available but right now we are just trying to take it one day at a time. I mean, plans are kind of overwhelming sometimes, you know, and fucking stressful. I don’t wanna plan my 2018 right now – you know what I mean? Like, “what are we gonna do in April next year?” like shut up! Haha, I don’t want to talk about that.

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Of course! I also want to touch on the title track of the new EP, Parasite. You (Julia) said in an interview that during the making of the last album, “Nosebleed Weekend” that you didn’t want to scream anymore and just wanted to sing and focus on melody but when it came to that track, you
just wanted to scream and curse.” Were there any reasons – related or unrelated to your band – that lead you to make that change?

JK: I was so mad because I had fucking parasites. We all had them from touring so much and we got them somewhere. I was so mad and then there was the election. We recorded Parasite after the election too and it was like fuck.

MF: Yeah and honestly it was like we did it old school – we hadn’t had an “AHH!” crazy moment. And it just felt good.

SL: Yeah, just let it all out. It was the same with the song Captain’s Dead. Because we took 3 months off for the holidays and for family stuff and then when we got back together for 3 or 4 days and jammed out, it just came to us.

JK: Yeah and the pressure of it like,”YOU HAVE TO WRITE A RECORD NOW! AND IT HAS TO BE AMAZING! AND IT HAS TO BE SUPER PRODUCED!” and it just like, what? And when we started working this record out around spring time and we wrote 5 or 4 songs and it was just so great.

SL: Like you said, it was old times like the old Coathangers again when we would just get together and like “BLAH!” and then it’s just like yeah okay it’s cool.

JK: Yeah like “Holy shit we need a bridge there and should be repeat it twice right there?” like “NO!” Haha, I mean we still did that though.

SL: Yeah we didn’t need to overthink it and stress out about it

MF: Totally, it just felt natural to us.

SL: It was really fun and we were all laughing and having a good time you know?

JK: Having parasites for 6 months and after was the first time we were all like clear headed – cause parasites will make you go fucking crazy. We all thought we had mono.

MF: Yeah, around the time we did the L.A. Witch tour.

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Wow. I mean, you guys tour so much and are relentless in delivering fresh tunes like it’s really inspiring hearing your story and how you’ve managed to do it all yourself. And as an aspiring singer songwriter, that means a lot you know?

The Coathangers: Aww thanks!

Who are some of the musicians or cultural figures you kinda look up to as inspiration?

MF: First off, our moms…

SL: And then there’s like Kim Gordon… who’s super inspiring,

MF: Salt N Papa.

SL: Yeah, Salt N Papa and TLC and coming from Atlanta, bands like The Black Lips, Mastodon, Deerhunter and every band who ever put us on a show. That Atlanta love really helped us out and shaped us.

What changes would you most like to see within music or the industry as a whole?

SL: Just equality. Like really? Just don’t be an asshole. It should be one big family.

JK: Yeah and just put your ego in check you know? If you’re running security, I get it, you are in charge but be fucking nice in our way. If you are a headlining band, cool you’re great but be fucking nice and normal. If you are a producer, don’t fucking try to grope me you know? Like why would you do that? Hire a prostitute. And if you do, make sure you pay them! Like seriously fuck you man. Go live out your dirty fantasies some other way. Where ever it
is, you get it from everyone whether it’s a boy or a girl, young or old, any
race, people can be fucking assholes. Like please, be nice to people!

Do you ever get that vibe from venues, security people, etc?

SL: Oh hell yeah! It’s like people prejudge or have their pre-conceived notions about others and they feel like they need to be a dick to us before we can be dicks to them or something like that. It’s an ego thing or a complex but you can’t carry it with you.

Do you feel it’s that misogyny that causes venues or security personnel to be reluctant to help stopping groping at gigs?

SL: I think that depends on the owner and environment of the club. We know so many great people who would be horrified to hear anything like that happening at their venue. There are obviously people who could probably care less. I guess it’s just how your mother raised you.

JK: I can’t remember if there has been some fucked up thing I’ve just blocked out but like if anything we see security go after guys like, “WHERE THE FUCK IS HE!”. I mean, we’ve stopped gigs before if there are fights or whatever

SL: I mean there’s been shows where a girl broke a dude’s nose. Like clocked him and we’re like, ”HELL YEAH! She took care of it herself”. But if there’s anything we see fucked up, we’ll stop a gig anything to help out because we can see more of the crowd on stage.

Of course, and sexual harassment at gigs is a microcosm of a much larger issue. What would you say about misogyny as a whole?

SL: I mean, look at our president. I think it’s allowing for a lot of people to come out of the rugs and think it’s okay to be more racist, sexist, and homophobic.

JK: We’ve forgotten there was an opposition. We’ve like literally forgot they were there but there always has been.

SL: Now it’s almost like accepted or normal like no! You’re a fucking asshole! That’s completely unacceptable behavior for anybody whatsoever. Even
inside themselves they are fine if someone says some crazy racist shit if it’s
at a Trump rally. So they’re fine with as long as they finally live out their
fantasy for power. But that said, we are more of a welcoming community and we can bond you know. I mean we’ve had girls come up to us in shows saying, “Your music help me break up with an abusive boyfriend, your music helped me start my own band, your music gave me strength, etc.” You know that’s so powerful so I hope that everyone on our end can come together and fight power.

Do you have anything to say to the perpetrators of sexual harassment at gigs?

JK: It’s never okay to do something like that.

SL: There should be a fucking tazing area. Put them in a pit and have at it.

JK: I mean, it’s like a cheap thrill for you that maybe you home and you enjoy yourself but that create a huge impact that scars someone’s heart you
know? You are fucking someone’s life up. Go get a prostitute, go fucking touch
yourself, go read a book. Find something else to do and express your urges in
some other way. What the fuck are you doing scaring people if your free time?! You’re an asshole.

SL: Go eat trash and die.

We have followers have personally been assaulted or harassed at gigs. Is there anything you’d like to say to the victims?

SL: Speak out, it’s not your fault, and it has absolutely nothing to do with you and what you were wearing. But bring it to the forefront and don’t be ashamed about it because it will ruin your fucking life.

MF: And I mean everyone, besides that asshole, is on your side. Especially at a show. I mean if someone said it right away, that person would get beat up. I mean at our shows anyway.

JK: Exactly, like straight away just be like, “THIS FUCKING ASSHOLE
JUST TOUCHED ME!” and the response who be, “OHHH YEAH?! WHICH ASSHOLE?! GET HIM!” You know? Like especially in DC? Are you kidding me? That dude would be handcuffed and kicked out of there. But in any show, say it right there and really loud, “FUCK YOU!” and aggressively stand up for yourself. Don’t feel like that’s a bad thing too. I mean I’ve been groped before at shows and been so in shock and scared. I didn’t even point him out you know? But I should have been like, “FUCK YOU! This guy etc…” It’s definitely hard but don’t be afraid to defend yourself and loads people at the show will support you.

Girls Against sincerely thank the Coathangers for their time, honesty, and for supporting our campaign.

You can buy/listen to their brand new EP “Parasite” on Suicide Squeeze Records available across all major streaming platforms.

 You can catch the Coathangers live in these upcoming tour dates.

Date                      Venue                                                  Location

Jul 18                     The
Earl                                                Atlanta,
GA

Jul 19                     JJ’s
Bohemia                                       Chattanooga,
TN

Jul 20                     Off
Broadway                                    St
Louis, MO

Jul 21                     The
Riot Room                                  Kansas
City, MO

Jul 22                     Globe
Hall                                           Denver,
CO

Jul 24                     Milk
Run                                              Omaha,
NE

Jul 25                     Total
Drag Records                          Sioux
Falls, SD

Jul 26                     7th
St Entry                                         Minneapolis,
MN

Jul 27                     Beat
Kitchen                                      Chicago,
IL

Jul 28                     The
Melody Inn                                                Indianapolis,
IN

Jul 29                     Daytrotter                                           Davenport,
IA

Aug 01                  The
Pyramid Scheme                     Grand
Rapids, MI

Aug 02                  Ace
Of Cups                                       Columbus,
OH

Aug 03                  Northside
Yacht Club                      Cincinnati,
OH

Aug 04                  Zanzabar                                              Louisville,
KY

Sep 16                   Electric
Factor                                    Philadelphia,
PA

Oct 07                   Project
Pabst Atlanta                     Atlanta,
GA

Additional tour info, discography, band info, and merch is available on their website,
www.thecoathangers.com

Special thanks to the venue DC9, the Coathangers’ manager Geoff Sherr, and to Hannah Stokes for taking photos.

Interview by Andrew Koh

An Interview With…Peach Club

Girls Against spoke music, politics and art with punk band Peach Club (Kat, Charlie, Rebecca & Amanda) on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2017, at a gig at The George Tavern with Dolls and The Tuts:

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Tell us a bit about you girls, who are you,
what do you stand for?

C: We are Peach Club, a four-piece riot girl band from Norwich. I guess
that’s quite generic. We’re lots of things, guitar smashers *laughs* I wish! Let’s go with, Political tunes for your ears!

 

Is there any band in particular that you agree
on as your favourite riot girl band?

All: I guess Bikini Kill!

K: We really like Brat Mobile

R: I love The Runaways as well

 

So you said you would describe yourself as a riot girl band, do you have any thoughts on the original 90s movement?

R: We’re like a new wave version.

K: Yeah, we’re trying to revive it, but in a way that’s more inclusive to everyone. Like, in Norwich I’m gonna be working with this guy making a compilation CD and organising a gig. We’ve agreed that we want to make it inclusive, not just focused on cis men but all genders, race and cultures. There’s a lot of attention on just cis male bands, it needs to be all of us to be lifted up and shown that we can make music too, doesn’t matter what race, sexuality we are, we’re musicians! We are riot girl I guess with our ‘political-ness’, but at the same time I don’t think our musical style is particularly riot girl, it’s thrashy and a bit more rhythmic.

What is your favourite part about performing
your songs in front of people?

C: *looks to band* I just like playing as us lot! When you get on stage you could be having just the shittest day, but as soon as you get up there its like ‘ok cool we’re good to go!’

R: It’s that cheeky look from Charlie *laughs*

K: My favourite thing is when people have come to our gigs not knowing who we are, and after they’re like ‘I wasn’t expecting that’. I guess with the name Peach Club; people expect a cute acoustic act but instead we come on stage like ‘FUCK YOU!!’ It’s always a pleasant surprise for people, we’re definitely not boring!

Do you think being women makes a difference to
your music, or how you present yourselves on stage?

K: I think it does a little bit…

C: Yeah, but I don’t consciously make an effort to be like ‘I am a woman’…

I guess, do you feel like you have to present yourselves as being ‘better’ as there’s the stigma of girl bands not being as
developed?

K: Oh yeah!

A: You have to be better than the all male bands!

K: The thing is though, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’ll mess up all the time, and all we do is just laugh! We’re never like ‘panic panic’, we just move on from it.

I think people expect us to be more placid on stage, but I try my hardest to move as much as possible and make it an exciting show. I think that’s important, make it an exciting show for both guys and girls to watch.

What about within the crowd, what do you think influences diversity? In the sense that people who come to watch you guys are likely to be of a much diverse crowd – what causes this do you think?

K: I think our music appeals to lots of different people, it’s feminist, like its empowering for women and non males. But then guys enjoy it because of our punk elements and our actual musicality. Unfortunately, in Norwich, we always play for bands with the target market of 40-year-old men *laughs* which we have absolutely no problem with, but it’s a bit weird!

R: They all came with their wives, drinking pints of beer!

K: There was one guy who actually did a cartwheel in front of the stage! Not for us unfortunately, but at least we got to witness that.

We actually had two Romanian guys doing this throughout our whole show *waves hand above head in shark like motion* which apparently means we sound like Iron Maiden?

A: Yeah not sure how we would have got that from that movement?

C: He also said he’d never seen a pink guitar before, he hated it! But they were great, they were cool.

K: They said we were the best girl band, which I’ll take!

Do you find it offensive when they call you a ‘’girl band”?

K: Little bit. We’re not a girl band, we’re a punk band.

A: You don’t call boys full of boys a boy band!

K: Boys full of boys?

A: *laughs* I mean bands full of boys!

K: Yes! Female is not a genre, as Kate Nash has been saying! So yeah you know, it is a bit offensive because it’s just completely ignoring what we’re doing.

Do you go to many gigs yourselves? Have you got
any gig memories to share?

K: My favourite gig that I’ve probably ever been to was Crystal Castles at the Norwich UEA, it was really insane! Alice Glass shouted at some people for trying to reach up her skirt, and everyone cheered, that was quite cool.

From looking at your merch you guys seem pretty creative. Are you doing any other creative projects at the moment aside from playing gigs?

K: We want to do a zine! Like a thrash riot girl hand book. I’d want that to be a collab with lots of different artists around where we live. Charlie is very creative!

C: Yeah. I’ve done our most recent artwork for the tape we’ve got and our recent singles. I love doing merch and anything arty with local people, friends and stuff. Why not, we’re a DIY band so let’s do DIY stuff!

K: I could do poetry but I would probably cringe at myself *laughs* don’t know why, I have to put it to music instead!

You could publish a Zine about your lyrics? That would be cool!

K: It would actually!

C: We might take that idea actually! Haha, thanks!

Peach Club are playing at The Finsbury in London on the 25th of March, with Anteros, Lazy Day and Wyldest. Their latest single ‘Mission Impossible’ is also available now so go have have a listen!

An Interview With…DOLLS

DOLLS are a grunge-punk two-piece, who’ll be joining The Tuts and Peach Club at The George Tavern for International Women’s Day this Wednesday. Girls Against got hold of Jade and Belinda to talk to them a bit more about their music, girl bands, and gig-going.

So, I love your single, Audrey! Could you tell me a bit more about it?

Bel: Audrey was written after Jade was really inspired by a certain someone. It was one of the first songs we wrote together and was a break away from the bluesy riff based songs previously released.

Do you have any other new songs on the way?

Jade: Oh yes! We are writing new songs all the time. We should hopefully have some new songs unleashed to the world in the near future. Stay tuned!

A lot of bands in this scene, including you guys, are sometimes being referred
to as “Riot Grrrl revival”. Do you consider yourselves a Riot Grrrl band? Do
you have any thoughts on the original 90s movement?

Jade: We are definitely inspired by the movement but I wouldn’t consider ourselves as a Riot Grrrl band specifically. I think the original movement did a lot to change people’s perception of feminism and empower women but there is still more that could be done.

Bel: I really believe the 90’s movement consolidated a huge step in feminism and female presence in the music industry. We are definitely inspired by it and still believe we need to keep fighting for equality.

I’ll ask the obvious question, because everyone always seems to be interested – who do you find yourselves inspired by?

J & B: We are inspired by a variety of bands, books and films. We love Sonic
Youth, Pj Harvey, Pixies… the list goes on.

When was the last time you were at a gig? What’s the best memory/story you’ve got from a gig?

Jade: I was at a gig on Friday and I am going to another one tonight. I try to go to as many gigs as possible. I went to a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig a few years ago not really expecting to enjoy it as I didn’t love ‘Push the sky away’ on first listen. I ended up in floods of tears by the second song and left with them becoming one of my favourite bands.

Bel: I also like going to gigs regularly and I try to combine bigger ones with my friend’s gigs. It’s so important to support unsigned and independent artists, because I know it can be so hard to break through and it can really demotivate people. I always have a great time at Mac DeMarco’s gigs. At Field Day he crowd-surfed over me and broke my sun glasses. It was really the highlight of
my week!

What’s your favourite part about performing your songs up in front of people?
Do you think being women makes a difference to your music and how you present yourselves on stage?

Jade: My favourite part is being able to express myself on stage. I find it is a good release. I also love seeing people really enjoying our music and singing along.

Bel: I don’t think being women directly affects our music any more than just how normal life affects any woman. I love being onstage because I truly feel so comfortable and happy! I’ve always thought that drumming is like breathing to me. Also I love playing with Jade and that’s what makes a big difference.

Do you have any personal opinions on what we can do to encourage diversity in the indie music scene, and to make gig-goers comfortable?

Jade: I think the fact there are more female fronted nights now encourages diversity. I have also seen workshops that focuses on girl musicians being able to be in bands together which is great!

Bel: And about gig goers, I know how awful it can be for girls sometimes in crowded rooms or arenas. I think the main point is to speak out about any uncomfortable circumstances and raise awareness (and respect).

For those who miss you on Wednesday, when can people next catch you?

J & B: We are playing at the Tooting Tram and social on March 17th for Radio X’s John Kennedy.

To hear more from Dolls find them at @thisisdolls and on Instagram at dolls_music

You can check out their new single “Audrey” on soundcloud now (https://open.spotify.com/album/3o0B6ysVimu7nIjq61D2uT) or watch the
music video on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mteUr5z8JiI).

Interview by Emma

An Interview With…Eliza And The Bear

Ahead of their set at Keele University’s annual ‘Woodstoke Festival’, I caught up with Chris Brand and James Kellegher from London-based Eliza and the Bear about all things music, gigs, and Girls Against. Eliza and the Bear are a five-piece band with an uncategorisable genre and a self-titled album that came out in early April 2016. You may have heard their song ‘Friends’ on a Bulmers ad, or caught ‘Lion’s Heart’ and ‘It Gets Cold’ on the radio.

ON… TOURING

The band had finished a UK tour earlier in the year and had already stopped off in Stoke-on-Trent to perform at the intimate venue, The Sugarmill.

CHRIS: It was good … we’ve been there three or four times before. It was part of a huge thirty-date tour over thirty-five days, so a pretty hectic tour; but it was pretty fun that it was busy and people were enjoying it.

ON… FESTIVAL SEASON

 Starting out on festival season at Woodstoke, it is apparent that the event is truly only a stepping off point for many more events that James and Chris couldn’t remember all the names of. These include Gloucester’s Barn on the Farm, Truck in Oxfordshire and Derbyshire’s Y Not.

CHRIS: We’ve got quite a few. It gets to the point where you don’t even know what you’re doing the next weekend; you just take it one weekend at a time. Festival season is kind of like our favourite time of the year; you get to play outside a lot and most of the time the weather is pretty good – most of the time. When you get a rainy one, it puts a right downer on it.

Eliza and the Bear kicked off a line-up of artists including Katy B and Sub Focus after our chat, performing a few songs off the new album and gathering a substantial crowd in spite of the appeal of the fairground rides and headphone disco happening outside of the indoor stage.

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Eliza and the Bear performing at Woodstoke, Keele University, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. 27/05/16. Photograph by Caitlin Abbiss.

ON… THEIR ALBUM AND 2016

 JAMES: Well… [album number two is] almost there.

CHRIS: We spent last year, with our downtime, just writing again. We’re quite deep into writing album two already. We’ll probably be touring at the end of the year; hopefully we’ll get to spread out into Europe and maybe a bit further afield to get out and see new places instead of playing the same ring of shows (JAMES LAUGHS) over and over again.

 ON… SEXUAL ASSAULT AT GIGS

 CHRIS: Definitely… people feel that they’re in a dark place, and crammed together, you feel like….

JAMES: You can get away with it.

CHRIS: Yeah. And obviously you’ve got booze, in some places, and the drugs flowing and that kind of stuff happens; the guys aren’t thinking about the consequences of their actions, it’s all fun to them – but it’s not to someone else. They might be enjoying themselves, but then another person might just be hating life and when you’re in a crowd you haven’t really got anywhere to go.

ME: Does it affect your mentality, not being able to see past the first few rows?

CHRIS: Yeah, especially with our crowds – our crowds are quite young. If we were a metal band and our fans were thirty-year-old blokes… (JAMES LAUGHS) you’d be able to jump on top of their heads… But
it’s even for artists! I remember a story about Florence Welch – she
crowd-surfed at one of her gigs and she was sexually assaulted by a fan. It can
breach that gap. It can be anyone. At the same time, that person who did it
probably thought it was a bit of fun and overstepped the mark, and that’s where the problem lies. It’s like, being aware of what’s having a good time and
what’s too far…

 JAMES: It’s a mental thought process, really. I can’t get my head around it. Where the hell people think they can get away with it is bang out of order, to be honest.

 CHRIS: You wouldn’t do it. If you put yourself in the situation where there were just you and the other person you couldn’t do what you were doing in that crowd and think it was normal, just because you’re in a crowd, you’re in a mass of people… doesn’t mean you can push the boundaries.

 ON… SOCIAL MESSAGES IN MUSIC

 CHRIS: I almost switch off when someone starts – especially in their music – starts pushing a sort of agenda. I always feel like I wouldn’t do it myself; I don’t disagree with it, but I automatically shut off because I start to not enjoy it. I feel like, yes there is a platform to talk about these things, but I don’t like it when it’s in the songs. I like when someone talks about it and makes a statement with the platform that their music has created. When it comes down to messages in the music, I’m not a fan…

JAMES: Yeah. Kate Nash did it.

 CHRIS: Kate Nash went quite into a feminist kind of thing. It alienated quite a lot of people because some people find it like

 JAMES: ‘You will listen to me.’

 CHRIS: ‘You’re wrong, I’m right’ – pointing the finger. But if you sit and talk about it, you can put your point across and listen to someone else’s point, and understand it whereas, with music, it’s more of a one-sided conversation.

 ON… HAVING A ROLE IN TACKLING SOCIAL ISSUES

 CHRIS: Yeah, if you’ve got a platform then speak up for what you believe is right. I wouldn’t write songs about it though, I feel like it’s a one-sided argument.

ON… THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

 CHRIS: With the Internet, it’s a double-edged sword with music. You have the ability to post your music online to a million people in five seconds, but then you also can receive music and dismiss music.

JAMES: It alters everything.

CHRIS: Sales are gone and it’s tough to bring it to money, but bands need money to function; you have to find a new way to make money. It feels like bands heavily rely on touring to survive, and to be able to do this for a living. So that’s something that needs to change but I don’t know how it could. Spotify has tried, Apple Music has tried, there’s various different things that kind of make a stamp on the music industry to make it pay, and also make it pay for artists – but it’s not quite hitting the mark yet.

Interview by Caitlin Abbiss