Hope you all had a fun Saturday and Sunday - pity there's always a Monday tagged on at the end like a hidden booking fee. Nice weekend? That'll cost you... But never mind that... what you lot need is some ROCK. And we know just the girls who can bring it on...
Remember She Makes War? We fell in love with them a few weeks back when they demolished the bill at The Garage. Well they're back on stage tonight supporting Maine Street and Cowboy Prostitutes so grab that £6 the guy from accounting owes you and spend it wisely Upstairs at the Garage. We'll be there so come along and buy us that drink you promised.
We caught up with lead singer and guitarist Laura Kidd via email (although sister/bass player Julia and drummer Sarah do jump in towards the end of the interview) and discussed the band, the future and how She Makes War grew from manufactured beginnings to full on independence:
Who came up with the name She Makes War? What does it mean to you guys?
I came up with the name just before Christmas, it was really hard actually. I wanted to find something that defined the way I was feeling about the band at the time, fierce and rebellious and very definite. We kept coming up with lists and lists of names but none were quite right. Then I really got into Cat Power and came across a song called 'He War' on the album 'You Are Free'. 'She War' reminded me too much of She-Ra: Princess of Power so I added a word and it sounded great.
It's the first band name I've ever come up with and I really like it. It's a name that can have many meanings, and I like that because it means we can each have our own personal ideas about it. For me it symbolises a shift in my thinking really, from being a supporting member of bands to moving up front and writing the songs. And I like the way it suggests a battle, because I think the struggle to realise your dreams is an internal and an external war. It changes as time goes on, the 'She' is sometimes me and sometimes symbolises bigger ideas.
You swapped bass and stepped up as guitarist and vocalist after The Bardo split. Was that at all daunting?
Not really, no. I started playing the acoustic guitar when I was 11 or 12 so it's not like I had to learn it from scratch. I'd always kept it up alongside my other instruments. And I've always picked up on the lead parts in songs, I can hum along to them as much as I can sing along. But playing electric guitar is very different and playing standing up is very different so there was obviously some adjustment involved. I love playing the bass and really miss it but I love the way I can be a bit looser with guitar and concentrate more on the vocals.
Give us some background here. You joined The Bardo in 2000. Can you list the bands you played with in that time? It's not like you're new to any of this, right?
Let me see now...I can't remember all of them but: Queen Adreena, 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Clutch, Static X, Groop Dogdrill, Janus Stark, Miocene, Miss Black America, Easyworld, The Dawn Parade, The Kennedy Soundtrack, Number One Son, The Moonies, Tiny Elvis, Face to Face and hundreds of awful nu-metal bands that I hope I'll never come across again. Because we were quite heavy alternative rock and the singer shouted a bit as well as singing we kept getting lumped in with the metal bands. It was so depressing, because that's just not my thing AT ALL. So it's ironic that we got featured in Metal Hammer and Kerrang.
You and Julia seem close. No sibling rivalry to speak of?
None at all...yet! Apart from the odd hormonal falling out as teenagers we've always been really good friends and I have a great respect for Julia as a musician. She's one of the most interesting bass players I know and I'm so glad to finally share a stage with her. We always used to mess about playing recorders together and singing - in the mid 90s we decided we wanted to be Alisha's Attic - and I remember trying to talk her into learning guitar instead of bass so there would be a possibility of playing together properly. She obviously ignored me and I'm very glad now! We've talked about getting her to sing a lot more in the songs and I can't wait, I get a real sense of strength and support when we sing together.
How did you hook up with Sarah?
We were actually brought together by a startup management company - they were holding auditions for an all female rock band and though I was wary of the ad because of the amount of manufactured all-girl 'rock' bands that are spreading like a rash across the face of humanity at the moment I wasn't in a band at the time. I used to read a lot of women in rock books - Frock Rock by Mavis Bayton and Never Mind the Bollocks by Amy Raphael are my favourites - and loved hearing about the Riot Grrl scene, so I was interested enough to go to the audition. Sarah and I both got picked for the band - I was supposed to be playing bass and singing backing vocals but I didn't want to be pushed to the side any more and as soon as Sarah and I played some of the stuff we'd come up with the managers agreed that I should be up front. We had such a hard time finding a guitarist to complete the lineup that I decided to switch to guitar in December and brought Julia in on bass in March. The managers did us a huge favour, they basically sponsored us up until this March by which time we decided that the band was its own entity and had defined itself in such a way that we intended it to be bigger than we thought they could handle. That might sound harsh but I've learned the hard way that when you have a bad feeling about something or someone you have to act on it. Since then it's been just us, and we're blooming.
You guys have been together a year now. Plans to celebrate?
Every time we play a gig we're celebrating! It was a long hard slog stuck in a rehearsal room writing and rehearsing for all those months not knowing whether we'd ever manage to get a live act together, so every time we're on stage it's a party. A loud one.
Do you run into the 'girl band' thing a lot? That must be annoying?
It hasn't actually come up that much yet, not in a derogatory way anyway. I think it's probably because it's obvious that we wouldn't entertain those kinds of comments! People actually seem really interested, quite a few people have commented that it's about time there was a proper all-girl rock band. It seems like people are crying out for a different voice in the world, why not let the girls have a say?
Standard influences and heroes/heroines question - what gets you off?
Sarah: I have a wide range of musical influences. That's a good thing really. Alternative 60's pop rock, northern soul/ska mod. 70's rock bands, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin etc etc, too many to mention. New wave punk pop, indie, present day stuff.
Julia: Nicky Wire, Courtney Love, Michael Jackson and The Cure.
Laura: Kristin Hersh, Kim Deal, Graham Coxon, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Carina Round, Josh Homme, Cat Power, Marilyn Manson - I need people to really mean what they're singing and playing. There's too much insincerity in the world at the moment.
Already She Makes War are in a movie and there's been some TV interest. How did all that come about?
Ahh, it's just about keeping your eyes and ears open. I found out about the movie opportunity through a filmmaking bulletin I get (I film and edit low budget music videos and live gig DVDs) and met with the director, Tania Meneguzzi. She really liked the music and the idea of having some strong women involved I think! The film is called The Run and is in post production at the moment. We're in one scene playing 'Pull You Down' and I have a couple of lines with the lead female character.
We last saw you at The Garage opening up for quite a mixed bill. We thought that was an awesome gig (broken strings and all). Was that a good experience for you guys?
It was really great actually. I've played The Garage before and it's one of my favourite venues for seeing bands so it was great to get a slot there for our second gig. Die So Fluid headlined that night and as I've known Grog and Drew for a few years it was really cool to be supporting them. They're fantastic. It was a bit of a pain that my string broke in the first song because I couldn't play any lead parts but the songs are strong enough to cope.
How was your recent headliner in Cambridge?
We had a brilliant night. It was our first headline show and I don't think I could have felt more comfortable. With it being an out of town gig there was a nice little crowd waiting for us by the time we went on, and they all got really into it. The soundman had to turn us down three quarters of the way through because we were too noisy!
Will you be breaking in new songs
this Monday TONIGHT Upstairs at the Garage?
Yes, we're going to be playing 'Faith' and 'Girl'. 'Faith' was one of the very first songs I wrote after the auditions and 'Girl' comes from a riff Julia came up with so it's the first Kidd collaboration.
Not that we like labelling people, but should we be calling you Riot Grrl? Punk? Grunge punk riot grrl rock n roll? How would you describe yourselves?
We've been referred to us as "sultry glam punk" recently in a review - I really like that. As far as our sound goes I'd say we're grunge rock, but we are definitely trying to bring image into the equation (in an artistic way, not to get people to fancy us) and although we're not playing what you'd really call punk music, I always saw punk being more about an attitude than the way you dress or the way you play and there is a sense of freedom and rebellion that I think comes across in the songs.
We've been playing the demo non stop. Any plans yet for an album release? Are you looking for a label or does the DIY route appeal at this stage?
The DIY route definitely appeals as far as demos go, Sarah and I have our home recording setups ready to go and are starting to demo every song we have to narrow down potential album tracks and to make CDs to sell at gigs. As far as the album goes an old contact of mine, Bill Kennedy, really wants to work with us and we're planning to go and record with him in Vegas this autumn. He's a great guy and a fantastic producer and mixer - he's worked with all the big rock bands including Nine Inch Nails, who I love, so I'm very excited about that as you can imagine :)
The London stuff. Born and bred Londoner?
Not at all! I was born in Salisbury but moved around a lot because of my dad's job. I ended up bored out of my mind in a town in Suffolk for my teenage years and developed a burning desire to move to London. My friends and I would catch the train to Kings Cross on a Saturday whenever we could and wander up and down Camden High Street marvelling at the big shoes! I finally managed the move after my A-Levels, I went to Middlesex University to do an English Lit degree but only stayed for a year before leaving to pursue The Bardo.
Best new London band you'd recommend?
Us, quite obviously! But also Kill Devil Hills and Die So Fluid. All the bands with three word names are the best. I also love The Shadow Project but they're from Felixstowe. Never mind eh!
Politically where do you stand? Is that something that She Makes War addresses?
I'm very liberal. I hate George Bush, I hate the Labour government, I hate the Pope, I hate the Church, I hate huge corporations and I hate the tabloid press. I'm a big supporter of Make Poverty History and it really pisses me off that the press have to take an angle on everything and slag off musicians for trying to bring people together. My songs aren't necessarily political in a literal sense, but obviously my personal politics affect the way I feel about things and that affects the kind of lyrics I write. I'm not going to start ranting between songs about what's wrong with the world, though it's tempting, but I am going through a phase of dedicating 'Pull You Down' to a different political figure each gig.
Share something you like with the Londonist readers. Any books, CDs or movies you'd like to push?
Sarah: One of my favourite bands is an all girl group from Vancouver - The Organ. Album 'Grab That Gun' - love it, I love playing to this album, I think it's genius. Saw them play a couple of times :) The new Oasis album is good. One movie, well, it's got to be The Italian Job. The original one, not the new one.
Julia: 'Wasted' by Marya Hornbacker, The Butterfly Effect and 'Finelines' by My Vitriol.
Laura: This is so hard. 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (I'm a huge Michel Gondry fan) and Last Splash by The Breeders.
And one last leading question. Do you think The Crobar should be recognised as a listed building and preserved exactly as it is for future generations to enjoy?
Obviously! We should make a video there. With Michel Gondry ;)