Inditerria meets WITCH FEVER

Welcome again!

 

They are bold, they are loud and they are young. They don’t care what anybody thinks and they are not interested in pleasing anyone. Our today’s guests are truly special. Very rarely, our blog has the pleasure to host a full female band, and we are really happy we can introduce you to WITCH FEVER. The group is known for its strong feminist/equality message, beautifully crafted dynamic shows and excellent music. We caught up with the quartet on the eve of their charity gig, Manchester Punks for West Papua at Alphabet Brewery in Manchester and we spoke about their influences, being catcalled at gigs and playing at the legendary Granada Studios.

The band photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission. https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

Official bio: Manchester based all girl punk grunge band. Angry and honest, bringing grungey riffs, a heavy beat and an eclectic mix of clean and shrieking vocals.

“They are raw, in your face and making a glorious and beautiful racket, are full of explosive and kinetic energy and collapsing new riffs and are going to make a noise musically and culturally” – John Robb for Louder Than War

 

“Imagine the Slits meet Black Sabbath partying with Pussy Riot in Kim Gordon’s angry neighbour’s basement. Drunk. Witch Fever are wonderful.” – Legendary Hacienda DJ, Dave Haslam

“All girl grunge punk band from Manchester with unhinged feral vox and a ramshackle approach yes, but supercool sonics, this band display an undeniable rough-hewn charm.” – Bug Bear Promotions

 

“For a band who were catcalled onstage in Bristol for not being proper punk, they’re near as dammit the epitome of its sound and attitude. So, to paraphrase another great punk band: get outta their way or they’re gonna shove.” – Nightshift Magazine

Amy Walpole (guitar, lead vocals)
Alex Thompson (bass, backing vocals)
Alisha Yarwood (lead guitar, backing vocals)
Annabelle Joyce (drums)

Louder Than War magazine announced Witch Fever`s arrival with the words “deep inside the claustrophobic music scene of Manchester, there is something happening”. Please introduce yourselves to the readers of Indieterria.

WITCH FEVER: We’re Alisha, Alex, Annabelle and Amy. We are WITCH FEVER. We play punk, we’re all women, and we don’t take any shit!

The band describes themselves as punk – grunge but we see your sound as being much broader than that. Would it surprise you if we qualified you as the heavier end of the indie circuit, boldly crossing into metal scene at times? We have been listening to your material and Val.i.um of Pist.On, Karyn Crisis, Jack off Jill or Tura Satana come to mind almost instantly.

WITCH FEVER: We totally see the cross over into metal – a lot of our riffs are pretty doomy and evil. The indie thing, not so much, but we’ll take your word for it! (laughter).

Not only musically, but also lyrically you seem to be much bolder, going further than many of your peers on the circuit. The Blinders use dystopia/literature to deliver their political message. Cabbage, Shame or Strange Bones are known for their strong opinions but none of them are as direct as you. In “Toothless” you scream out “I`m a force to be reckoned with” and everyone knows you mean business. Was it a part of the plan to become such a heavyweight act or did it come together naturally in the rehearsal room?

WITCH FEVER: We didn’t plan it. When we started, we knew we wanted to be on the heavier side of things but didn’t really have a specific direction.
Amy found that lyrics are the only place we can be totally honest and angry about anything we wanna be angry about. It’s important to us to dispel any myths about women only being pretty or quiet or delicate – of course women are these things at times but they are not ONLY these things. On stage, we make femininity about anger, power and strength.

All the members of the band come from different parts of the country but study in Manchester. Do you think that being “out of town” gives you an edge of being different and fresh on the scene that is dominated by local lads with guitars?

WITCH FEVER:  We’ve all had quiet different upbringings and lived in totally different places so we suppose the experiences from that come together and make us what we are. We all moved to Manchester expecting it to be amazing for music but it was quite underwhelming. There’s a significant lack of women/non-binary people being given opportunities that men are. We’re here to change that, and hopefully inspire others too.

You have recorded incredible session for Stay Fresh/CITY LIFE at the Old Granada Studios playing two tracks: “Toothless” and “Creeper”. It must have been an experience to play the same room in which the Beatles gave their first ever television performance in 1962.

WITCH FEVER:  We loved doing that, however we had no idea about the Beatles thing! Maybe people will be saying that about us in 60 years 😉

John Robb of Louder Than War/Membranes is not the only fan of your music. Dave Haslam – legendary DJ and journalist also is impressed. In his piece for I Love Manchester (Women in Manchester music: are the times a-changin’?) Haslam mentioned you and Liines as the groups he recommends to other music journalists and your image illustrated the article. Did you expect to have such important figures in your corner when you started out?

WITCH FEVER: Not at all! We’re still surprised by things like that. It’s really encouraging to have prominent men in music on our side, and Dave really is lovely! He’s always championing female artists which is great!

You have toured extensively nationally (Leeds, London, Oxford, Birmingham among others) and internationally (The Netherlands). You have appeared with Cabbage at their Glamour At Thee Ritz. You seem determined to bring your music to the masses. How important is touring?

WITCH FEVER: Very important! We love getting to play new places and meeting so many people. We’d rather not have to do the Megabus thing though!

Amy Walpole photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission.
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

When speaking about touring, we cannot not ask you about a certain gig in Bristol where you have been though some horrible experience. Would you like to revisit the story for readers of our blog – because in 2018 there are still people out there who do not believe that gigs can be harrowing experiences for artists and the public, especially women.

WITCH FEVER: So, regularly we experience misogyny, sexism and harassment, but Bristol was a gig in which it was so bad that we had to formally complain and ask for CCTV footage. We were being constantly leered over and undermined before and during our set. Men grabbed us, a guy from one of the bands shouted at us to take our tops off, a woman asked us to strip for her friend etc. Throughout the set, we kept repeating that we felt uncomfortable and needed space but nobody listened. Now at most gigs, we make a point of saying that we do not tolerate it at our shows.

On 30th November your debut release double A-side single “Toothless”/”Daddy pt.2” will be released via Brassneck Records. The red vinyl 7” looks magical on promos that we have seen. Can you tell us more about this release?

WITCH FEVER: Its blood red, has a sleeve with 4 individually designed sides, and you summed up the rest! We love it!!!

You will appear at the fundraiser Manchester Punks for West Papua on 1st December 2018 at Alphabet Brewing Company, alongside The Membranes and Modern Family Unit. What can we expect from the set?

WITCH FEVER: Every gig is different and mad in some way! We haven’t played for a couple of weeks so it’ll be a lively one!

You can say that 2018 was a very good year for Witch Fever. What are your plans for the upcoming 12 months.

WITCH FEVER: More records released, new songs, more videos, LOTS MORE GIGS, and a big fuck you to the patriarchy!

Alex Thompson photographed by Debbie Ellis aka Asupremeshot. Used with permission.
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/

The interview wouldn’t be complete if we haven’t had a quick word with the band’s manager, Debbie Ellis. Debbie has been working as a professional photographer and manager for many years and her experience is very valuable. And we are truly proud to have the ability to highlight the wonderful work that women in music do!

Self portrait – picture by Asupremeshot (Debbie Ellis)

How did you start working with Witch Fever?

Debbie Ellis: A few years back, I took up photography. I started out doing gig photos and met a young female photographer who was also in a band. She asked me to go see her band WITCH FEVER and take some pictures. So I did, as I suppose, I’m more intrigued by female artists in general as I was in a band myself and enjoy the dynamic of working creatively with women. I thought they were great and a friend of mine suggested I manage them. The band said yes and now we are here, 3 singles in and there’s a real buzz about the band. They are so talented and driven. They exceed any expectations live. You really have to see them to appreciate their unadulterated power.

Manchester music scene is dominated by guys. Witch Fever  are doing an excellent job causing some ripples and showing that all female bands can be successful as well.You are the only female manager we know! Being a woman, does it make your job harder? Are there any other female managers out there we need to mention?

Debbie Ellis: I know The Moonlandingz have a female manager, which totally makes sense.

AND

Hell YES!

From day one of being in a band to present day of working as a band manager and a music photographer, I have experienced a lot of, mainly negative remarks. Usually with regard to my ability to use technology, write a song, play an instrument, perform on stage. I feel as a manager, my authority is questioned regularly. At quite a few gigs, whether in the role of manager or photographer, I have been asked am I one of the bands mum.

Although on the upside organisations like “Girls I Rate“, “Women in Music” and PRS 4 Music are some I know of that have good support networks. I recently heard about the Keychange initiative set up by the PRS Foundation, which is to encourage festivals to achieve an equal gender balance of performers by 2022 by signing their pledge. To date, many of the big named festivals have signed up, so it will be interesting to see if it comes to fruition. I know Sound City Festival has a lot of women in influential roles and are part of the Keychange Initiative.

Personally for me, the one thing I have always done, is to support and champion other female artists. I love working with women and to be able to give a little back means the world to me, and it goes a long way.

Debbie Ellis photographing Witch Fever

You are not only a manager but also a photographer, again one of only handful of female photographers in rock music. Your pictures are part of the successful “There is a light that never goes out” photography exhibition at Manchester Central Library. Tell us more about it.

Debbie Ellis: The exhibition has been curated by the renowned music photographer, Jill Furmanovsky. She had the foresight to leave one wall of the exhibition clear so she could gather a selection of more recent photographs of contemporary Manchester bands. As the majority of the exhibition features phenomenal images of iconic Manchester bands, such as Oasis, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, The Buzzcocks etc, which have been taken by herself and other acclaimed photographers as Kevin Cummins, Ed Sirrs & Paul Slatery.

As you can imagine I am absolutely thrilled to have two of my images (Blossoms & Witch Fever) included in the exhibition.

I totally think the fact I have been in a band and I’m female works in my favour when working in my photography role, too. I can be so tuned in to how the artist / bands are feeling. My approach is much more creative than technical. Photography to me is a creative process that cannot be rushed, you need to take time to get to know the people you are photographing before you get the results that make for a great image. Irving Penn, the 1950’s master of portraiture, would take over 200 photos on a contact sheet to tire out the subject before he would find ‘truth’ in their face!

You can follow the band on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/witchfever/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WITCHFEVER
Bandcamp: https://witchfever.bandcamp.com/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-502164447/carpet-asphyxiation
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsgn5oXDn_IRBjCjIJ1giCw?app=desktop

Debbie Ellis:
Website: 
http://www.asupremeshot.com/
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/asupremeshot/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Asupremeshot
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asupremeshot/

More information:

http://listensd.com/2018/05/23/manchester-punk-festival-2018/ 
https://louderthanwar.com/witch-fever-interview/

Please come back soon as we will have a full review from the gig ready in a couple of days!
It was an amazing show and  we need to tell you all about it!

Take care,
xxx
Rita and Malcia

Indieterria Presents Punks for West Papua

Dear Readers,

Rock and roll has always been political. The biggest legends in music business such as Bob Dylan, Jim Morison, The Boss, Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and others are known for their commentary about social changes, human interactions and connections. They were harsh critics of wars or aggression, callers for peace and observers of the political currents for many decades. Without their strong condemnation, many of the atrocities committed all over the world, would never seen the light of the day. Songs such as “Bizzare Fruit” by Billie Holliday, Donovan’s “The War Drags On”, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel, “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band or Dylan’s famous “Times, They Are-a-Changing” became synonymous with the term “protest song” and touched on women’s suffrage, human rights, civil rights, anti-war movement, sexual revolution, gay rights, animal rights and environmentalism. We can easily say that each of these songs changed many minds and made the world a better place.

Punks for West Papua logo

Punk rock (especially the original movement born in 1970`s and 1980’s) has been particularly interested in politics. Sex Pistols, The Clash and Billy Bragg led a cultural revolution in the UK, attacking governmental war on trade unions, far right ideology and relentless commercialization and wasteful consumption. The German scene called for Berlin Wall to be demolished, demilitarization of divided capital and the end of Cold War. French groups called for unity on the international scene and American punks (with Black Flag, The Pixies, And The Ramones) led a successful crusade against Ronald Reagan, homelessness, corrupted police and austerity measures that affected poorest communities.

Our current punk scene is proudly carrying on the tradition of standing against injustice and on the 1st of December, members of The Membranes, The Blinders, Witch Fever and MFU (Modern Family Unit) will join activists from Manchester chapter of MCR Punks For West Papua to bring to your attention one of the worst genocides of our times, that of the ingenious population of West Papua.

The official press release for the event reads:

Punks For West Papua Australia was first launched in 2016 as the brainchild of Jody Bartolo from the punk band Diggers With Attitude to shine a light on the threat of eco-cide from resource extraction, human rights abuses against the people at the hands of Indonesian security forces, and to inspire others to stand in solidarity for West Papuan independence.

“Indonesia is not going to continue getting away with the slaughter of the indigenous rightful owners of West Papuan land” says Ash Brennan co-founder of Punks For 4 West Papua, Australia. The Australian punk rock community created a no-holds barred Australian wide benefit, involving over 50 bands in 7 cities around the country, making Punks For West Papua the biggest, and no doubt, loudest punk rock showcase in the nation’s history. “Australian punk is loud, very loud. Pernicious resource extraction in West Papua has also been hazardous to the environment and is a major contributor of Climate Change. But the world is now watching” says Brennan.

Official poster

According to Punks For West Papua Manchester co-founder Gary Hilton of Gas Music: “Little known Melanesian country West Papua has been subjected to a media black out for over 50 years. But with more than 500,000 indigenous people murdered to loot West Papua’s gold and other vast natural resources – time’s up.”

To send a thunderous message to the United Nations to intervene in West Papua, MCR Punks will challenge a world drumming record in the Summer of 2019. We invite drummers, musicians, activists, media and volunteers! If you can hit a drum you can help be part of the world record attempt to change the world for the better. To get involved in the world record drumming attempt please contact us at office@freewestpapua.org.

The launch of MCR Punks for West Papua is scheduled for December 1st because it is a historic day in West Papua. It marks the 57th anniversary of the first raising of West Papua’s symbol of independence, the Morning Star Flag. It is illegal to raise the Morning Star in West Papua. Doing so can bring charges of treason and a 15 year jail sentence. On December 1st people in West Papua, and all over the globe, will be participating in a Global Flag Raising to show their solidarity.”

One of the organizers of the event, John Robb, editor of Louder Than War  magazine and member of The Membranes says: “Punk rock was always more than three chords. It was a force of empowerment and an energy of hope. It always thought it could change the world. Maybe it’s now finally making that change.”

Young stars of Manchester scene are also vocal, giving their time and guitars to the noble cause. The Blinders and Witch Fever recorded short videos explaining why charity concert and fighting for justice is important in the modern world:

Saturday event times:

6.00 Doors
6.30 Gary Hilton from Gas Music & Modern Family Unit
7.30 Musicians Against Homelessness Speeches
8.50 Georgina Robinson & Joesy Lowesy
8.00 WITCH FEVER
8.45 John Robb speech on behalf of MCR Punks 4 West Papuas & The Membranes
9.45 Punks speech Richard J Hillgrove VI
10.15 The Blinders
11.00 Close DJ Dave Sweetmore from Revolution 96.2 & MadChester

Address:
Alphabet Brewing Company
99 North Western Street, M12 6JL Manchester, United Kingdom

Tickets:
Few tickets are still available at: https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Manchester/Alphabet-Brewing-Co/MCR-Punks-4-West-Papua-w-The-Blinders–Membranes/13372499/

Official website: 
http://www.punks4westpapua.com/

Punks 4 West Papua Australia Trailer:

Amnesty International Reports: 
https://www.amnesty.org/download/Doc
uments/ASA2181982018ENGLISH.PDF

Press release by Benny Wenda, Chairman of the United Liberation Movement For West Papua (ULMWP), statement issued on September 21, 2018:
https://www.freewestpapua.org/2018/09/21/benny-wenda-releases-statement-warning-of-danger-to-west-papuans-during-unga-session/

Punks for West Papua (Manchester):

https://www.facebook.com/MCRPunks4WestPapua

More information:

https://louderthanwar.com/punks-west-papua-australia-opens-chapter-angry-manchester-uk-sonder-festival-2018/
https://www.freewestpapua.org/2018/11/04/mcrpunks4wp/

Official Spotify List for the event:

https://open.spotify.com/user/grrrt/playlist/71RqBGOCq6yltnFY2HLJ1j?si=xIhykdT5QimMvXPk_AJ9zQ 

Please join us!
We will see you in Manchester to prove that music can be a weapon in a fight against corruption and murder.

Best regards
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria meets Anoa

Hello again!

Another day, another interview! We love working with young upcoming bands on the independent circuit and nothing gives us more pleasure than to discover new talented acts. We are extremely grateful for the chance to be able to listen and see the bands in action on stage and we cannot wait for Friday. If you are in Birmingham on 28th of September, please come to The Victoria and party with us. Vanadian Avenue is teaming up with Brighton based promoters – Modern Age Music to bring some amazing talent to town, so don`t miss out!

You can get tickets to the show at this address:

https://www.seetickets.com/tour/modern-age-birmingham-w-dirty-orange

Now, let us introduce you to our newest discovery – ANOA. This band has been touring and performing since 2016 but only recently has been flagged up on our radars. Lend them your ears and hearts dear readers, you will not be regretting it.

Poster promoting the show

Anoa 
Alex Harris,
Chris Johnston,
Mitchell Gordon,
Jared Gopal

Official bioA redolent, Leicester based, Neo-Punk set up, led by frontman Alex Harris, Anoa came crashing onto the scene late 2016. Lyrically dripping with dark sarcasm, their views are caressed with riffs that pack a punch. Known for their intensely frantic and wild live performances, the band certainly declare their arrival. Mitchell Gordon, Chris Johnston, and Jared Gopal complete the four piece. December 2nd 2016 saw the release of their self titled debut EP, featuring 4 tracks of a diverse variation. In April 2017 they released two A side singles which titled the boys with a punk styled identity; “I’m Alive, Are You?” And “Rock Bottom” allowed the quadruplet to slip into the same category as bands such as; Cabbage, Slaves & and The Sex Pistols. In late October they released their debut music video for their most vicious and bitter single, When In Kings Norton. Anoa closed the year headlining Leicester infamous venue, The Cookie. Where they celebrated the release of their most recent single, “Glorious Nuisance” which was aired by Dean Jackson on BBC Introducing East Midlands.

 

Anoa is an interesting name. It is the smallest water buffalo on Earth and also an armoured patrol carrier vehicle used by the Indonesian army. Where does your name come from?

Anoa: Our name choice probably won’t come as a surprise to you. In our younger days we’d be discussing our tiffs and tests with girls, quite often someone would pop up and say “Oh yeah, I know her”! That “I know her” in our common accent sounds very much like “Anoa” (laughing) and that’s where we pulled the name from!

You are hailing from Leicester, the home town of Kasbian, Cornershop, Maybeshewill, Basement Jaxx among other well-known acts. Tell us more about Leicester. Was it easier to start a band on an active and diverse local scene or was the competition making your beginnings much harder?

Anoa:  To answer your question about Leicester, the scenes is growing day in day out. It’s competitive, intense and frantic, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We get on with a lot of local bands well, we all want the same thing after all. Our favourite tune to come out of the city is “100% Brimful Of Aisha” by Cornershop. Legends!

Anoa was founded at the end of 2015 and you quickly gained reputation for frantic and wild performances. Rumour has it, you scared the journalists from

ANOA in their splendor

NME who came to see you live all the way from London. We are dying to know what was happening on stage that night. If you could describe your live shows to somebody who has not had the chance to see you perform yet, what words would you use?

Anoa: The story about the NME journalist seems to be a fan-favourite (laughing).  We love it ourselves. We were informed a writer for the NME would be attending our slot when we opened up for Spring King in June 2017. We don’t think he’ll ever forget us, but we don’t think he wants to remember us either. Mitch dressed in fishnets, Harris smeared in lipstick, a guitar got smashed, think he got chinned in the mosh pit too… Poor bloke, seemed a decent fella. But yeah, we were well up for that gig and went out all guns blazing, was one to remember.  We can’t possibly settle for one word to describe our live performances, but can take a chance on 2: fucking nuts!

You are also known for sarcastic sense of humour and eccentric photo sessions like the one where you pose half naked with “We don’t bite” written across your chests.  What inspired you to choose this stage presence? Was it a conscious decision to shake and stir things a little bit?

Anoa:  We think, there’s a lot of musicians out there who are too “safe” these days. Don’t get us wrong, some bands can be static and deliver a breathtaking set, but that’s not for us. Our theatrical performances are just as important as our musical ones. We like stirring things up as well, there’s not enough people doing that. It’s nice to write a good love song but not one after another, we like to get under people’s skin and surface problems their surprising.. like the cunt who’s running this country!

Let us talk about your influences. It’s the classic Manic Street Preachers, T.Rex, The Sex Pistols, The Clash meets the modern angry wave of Cabbage, The Blinders and Idles. There is a lot of glam rock in your act as well. What inspires you to create?

Anoa:  You’ve nailed our influences there. We like to entwine old and new influences in order to create something fairly unique. Musically, we’re very punk inspired… but we do take the time to understudy performers such a, Freddie Mercury, Charlie Steen & Iggy Pop. What inspires us the most to create are situations full of anger. We’ve recently stepped into a political territory, god that makes us fucking angry! But that’s where our best work comes from. Heart on the sleeve sort of thing!

Anoa – vivid colors and real spectacle on stage

In December 2016, you released your self-titled 4 track EP. It got you a lot of radio play in the north and sent the BBC Introducing knocking on your door. You were played on BBC West Midlands, East and Manchester to very good reviews. Tell us more about this release.

Anoa: Our debut EP is very innocent in the ranks of our music. It drips with sarcasm but doesn’t quite take that step into analyzing issues in the world itself. Our EP displays our own issues, mainly lust related. Our latest single ‘Glorious Nuisance’ accurately portrays the quintessence of modern humanity. We were made up when that starting doing the rounds on the radio.

A year later, you returned with two A-side singles entitled “I’m Alive, Are You?” and “Rock Bottom” which are our absolute favourites. When were they written and in what circumstances?

Anoa: Our 2 A side singles were an important step in our scheme of work. We upped the anti musically, creating riffs with a lot more tempo and aggression and aimed to step away from writing about relationships. “I’m Alive, Are You” is basically a goodbye to our old self and allowed us to step into a category where we could create songs like “When In Kings Norton” and “Glorious Nuisance”. “I’m Alive, Are You?” gave us that beeline to become real fucking punks!

Calm before the storm

You will be playing Birmingham on 28th of September with Dirty Orange, Whitelight and Malvern based rock and rollers, The Dead Dads Club. Is it your first time in the West Midlands? What can we expect from you during the gig?

Anoa: To put it bluntly, this is our first time in the West Midlands and definitely won’t be our last, we’ll make sure of that!

2018 has been a busy year for you so far. What are your plans for the next months? Anything lined up for 2019?

Anoa: And finally our plans for the future seem to be taking shape. We’re going to be working on releasing a follow up to our debut music video, which will be accompanied by a very fierce new single. We’re aiming to edge our way onto Handmade festival in 2019 as well, having debuted there in 2017. Fingers crossed yay! Finally, we just want to express our gratitude regarding how well you’ve researched us. Thank you very much for getting to know us and for asking proper good questions.

Please follow the band on their social media:
https://www.anoamusic.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Anoamusic
https://twitter.com/Anoamusic
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_EbFRtBbfUlcqpFxwkLrZQ
https://www.instagram.com/__anoa__/
https://soundcloud.com/anoa_music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Xanv9nbTLElvbhY2EkEts?si=y5YfIlNlRy-tY-W1UvcvUA

We hope you have enjoyed our little interview with Anoa- they are charming, funny and very keen on getting their music out for people to hear it. And this is what won us over in their case. We will be down in the front during their gig at The Victoria, so please expect some serious updates to this blog – with videos and pictures in the weeks to come.

For now, thanks for reading and we will be back with you very shortly for another chapter in our ongoing journey in the Indielands.

Cheerios,

Mal+Rita

Indieterria meets Rita Lynch

Dear Readers,

Please forgive us if we will be acting like complete fan girls. We absolutely and dearly love Rita Lynch – our next featured artist on Indieterria. We have seen her live on January 1st, 2017 in Worcester, have her records in our musical archives and can hardly wait to see her perform at Musicians Against Homelessness on 22nd September. Read on, this is one of our favorite interviews yet!

Rita Lynch performing at NYE party at Pig and Drum in Worcester , 31 December 2016 – January 1 2017

First Lady of punk

Don’t believe when they tell you that punk is dead. The genre is not only very much alive and kicking; it is going through a period of renaissance. It may be a bit older (and wiser), less drunk and more philosophical at times, yet its message against austerity, social alienation and economic devastation rings loud and clear. Political climate is certainly helping to bridge the age gap between new audiences and the underground legends and helps deliver a musical middle finger exactly where it hurts the most. Yet, looking for rebellion is not the only reason why the kids turn to punk rock. Its biggest strength definitely lies in the authenticity and originality, constant re-definition and self-discovery. We have teamed up with Rita Lynch, the first lady of punk to speak about her career, surviving the odds and her plans for her rock and roll future.

You were first introduced to music when attending a Catholic school. Apparently, a nun has taught you how to play a guitar. Were the nuns really that supportive? Catholic schools in 60’s and 70 were rather known to suppress any form of artistic creativity.

Rita Lynch: The nun who taught me guitar was one of the better ones. She obviously enjoyed playing guitar herself and, as teachers go especially all those years ago, she was slightly more interested in creativity. She had already put one of my stories in the school magazine. She also had given me the cane, a couple of times, once for laughing in church. None of the teachers back then were that interested in a shy child like me who was always getting ill. So she was a bit of a hero to me all those years ago.

As soon as you graduated, you found yourself in the middle of London`s punk rock revolution. You founded one of nation`s first all-female rock bands – Rita & The Piss Artists, playing mostly squats and small venues. Can you recall some of the wild days and tell us who were in the band beside you?

Rita Lynch: With Rita and the Piss Artists we did a lot of drinking. We were a 4 piece band. I played bass and helped write the songs, but I did not sing. During our time we had 2 different singers. The first was a woman called Caspar; she had a brilliant voice but left us quite quickly. The next singer, Jo, wasn’t a good singer but had enough front to do it. The guitarist was not very good but the drummer had played before so we, the bass and drums, mostly held it all together. One squat gig, we played at the Demolition Ballroom on Stokes Croft, Bristol and somebody pulled the plug on us, we were so bad. We would all get very drunk, maybe take some speed and get up on stage. If we had taken it a bit more seriously, we could have done well, maybe. It was more of a sideline to the serious job of drinking. But we were doing it for a while when few women were.

The drummer from the Piss Artists, Justine Butler, just lives around the corner from me now. She went on to get a Master’s degree and had a child who is grown up now. She is a lovely woman. We meet up now and again and she has come to loads of my gigs over the years – she’s very supportive.

Once your band folded, you permanently moved to Bristol. At that time, the town had a vibrant scene with bands such as The Cortinas, Social Security and The Pigs. How did the mostly male scene react to outspoken female artist from the capital?

Rita Lynch: When I first started playing my own gigs as Rita Lynch, I was a solo acoustic performer. The sexism was terrible, the things men in the music world said to me were often rude, insulting and so misogynistic. Stuff like women dingers are always late for gigs, have tantrums at sound checks, and generally talked about as if they were spoilt children. Some of the graffiti in back stage rooms really shocked me. I was, at the time, going out with a woman and mostly socializing on the gay scene. It kind of removed me from the heterosexual world which really helped in those first few years. I was never late and always professional and built up a defence against this sexism by dressing outrageously and, with my height being nearly 6ft I kind of must have struck quite an intimidating figure. It put a wall around me and inside that I happily wrote my songs and tried to perfect and develop my own music.

You also made yourself a name as a performer/protest figure marching around in a mutilated wedding dress. What was the protest about?

Rita Lynch: I went on a lot of demos back then. But the wedding dress was mostly just for wearing in the day time. So, every day was a personal protest. I bought it for 50 pence in a charity shop and ripped it up, and would wear it just to get attention, like I was living art, walking down the street. But loads of people would stare and, as I was always barefoot in the summer, I must have looked very unusual. Apparently a young child saw me from a window and told her mum there was a real live fairy walking down the street. This was all in St. Paul’s. It was a vibrant place with big reputation for race riots. There was a lot of prostitution on the street corners and police would not go down the frontline. It had lots of drugs, crime as well and racism. It was a cool place to live very freely, if you had the nerve.

You joined cold wave outfit God Bless You as a bassist. At that time, the band consisted only of Simon Black and Dave Ryan. Within a year, you were not only a full time member, but also a co-vocalist. With you in the line up, God Bless You released several singles such as “Sugar” which are considered the beginning of your career as an artist and performer. How do you remember the collaboration with Simon and Dave?

Rita Lynch: God Bless You was amazing musically. Dave had a fantastic voice and Simon was genius with inventing simple but amazing tunes and riffs. I was with them as backing vocalist for nearly 2 years. I learnt a lot from watching them put songs together. They also introduced me to countless good bands and artists like Iggy Pop and Roxy Music. Dave was a poet and a great thinker, his lyrics were brilliant. He was hugely pivotal in inspiring me to sing and write songs. I loved being in God Bless You. Dave and Simon were my heroes.

In 1991 you released your first solo work “Call me your girlfriend”. The LP became very popular and music press compared you to Kirstin Hersh, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and even Nico. Channel 4 made a documentary about you. Was it hard to copy with the attention of the media?

Rita Lynch: I loved the attention I got from the “Call me your Girlfriend” album but it was scary as I had been underground for so long and I also found it intimidating. It validated me but made me nervous as well. I had to write another album and I was unsure how to go. I personally thought that I could do so much better than this first album. The album got me a lot of attention on the gay scene but the record label I was with, Moles in Bath, did not promote it very well elsewhere. So, I became a ‘lesbian’ singer increasingly which was not what I wanted and I still had to make the cross over to the mainstream. Also, the record label did not distribute the album properly so people could not easily get hold of it. As a result, I was still ‘underground’ but big on the gay scene. Then both, me and my girlfriend, we got beaten up for being gay. These were harsh times to be ‘out’, I found all this very difficult. The music was getting lost and I felt uncomfortable with being heralded as a ‘lesbian icon’. I was a singer/songwriter but all the other identities were becoming more important. Being an artist, I was feeling misunderstood.

Cover of What am I – anther record from our sonic archives and also signed by the artist.

What am I – sleeve and inside of the record

Your background and lyrical themes also drew comparisons to Sinéad O’Connor – another female figure that could not be easily squeezed into a box. Looking back, do you think there were really similarities between you?

Rita Lynch: I saw Sinéad play at Gay Pride in London, I can’t remember the year. She blew my mind; I had never seen or heard anything like it before. It was one of the most important gigs I have ever seen in my life. Unforgettable. I was humbled by the experience. There are similarities in that we both grapple with sexuality, Catholicism and politics. She is Irish born, I am Irish born to immigrant parents in London. Being Irish/Catholic is an identity made more personal and volatile due to the racism of the English and the weight of the ongoing war and domination of Ireland by the English. Sinéad was and is one the most important musical influences of my life.

You have been a successful solo artist for the last 25 years. In that period you released thirteen albums under your own name, three with other bands, appeared on over thirty compilations and scored several productions (Vampire Diary, Channel 4`s Rosebud), you toured nationally and around Europe. That`s an incredible body of work. Were you expecting such a long run in this dog eat dog industry?

Rita Lynch: No. I never expected to do music in the first place, let alone to be doing it for so long. I love writing songs, I love singing and putting a good lyric together. But my love of these things has developed hugely with the passing of time. I don’t actually see myself as ‘successful’ artist. Over the years, with all the egos and vanities and nonsense that comprise much of the music business, I have tried to focus on the writing of songs and developing my particular style. I was heartbroken when my first album did not go as well as I wanted and as I got older tried to ‘give up’ music and get a proper job. I never did get a proper job. I am dedicated to making music. It is my job. I want to write as many songs as I can. My ambition with music has altered from wanting fame in a vanity way when I was younger to a true hard working attention to song writing. The music business or industry is vile. I don’t think about it much anymore, like it has nothing to do with me. I admire people who dedicate themselves to their art, even when they do not get success, I have aspired to this. I try to work hard at writing songs. I don’t go out much, whenever I get time, I do music. My son is severely autistic and it has been a challenging experience. My life is dedicated to the care of my son and music. I do a lot of gigs, solo and with my band. I am still hugely ambitious in that I have yet to write my best song. I need to communicate through music; it is my take on the human experience.

Cover of Good Advice record, from our own archives. Yes, it is signed and we treasure it.

In 2006 you reinvented yourself yet again by joining The Blue Aeroplanes. You recorded three albums with them (Skyscrappers, Good Luck Signs and Anti-Gravity). In return, John Langley and Mike Youe back you up on your tours. You seem more like good friends than just musical collaborators.

Rita Lynch:  Being in The Blue Aeroplanes was amazing. I admire their music. Also that was how I met my drummer, John Langley. This has been the best musical collaboration since God Bless You. John is the best drummer most people will ever see. He makes every song better with his drumming. When we first teamed up, I wrote the album “Good Advice”. He is massively inspiring and also introduced me to new music. We were a 2 piece for a few years. He upped my game, I had to get better so I practiced more and more and worked harder at my guitar playing. We developed hugely as a band. We sometimes make up songs on stage – improvising with John is a dream. We understand each other musically. It’s like magic. When Mike joined us a few years ago, he fitted in easily. He is a very good musician and picks stuff up very quickly. It felt just right straight away. John and I have been good friends for years and Mike is a lovely easy going person. We have a laugh as well.

In 2016, an anthology of your music “Story to tell (1988-2011)” has been released to celebrate your career and involvement in Bristol music scene. Can you tell us more about this project?

Rita Lynch: Mike Darby used to be my manager about 25 years ago. He had the idea to put out this anthology. It is a cross section of songs spanning 3 decades. I want to bring out another anthology but will do this one myself through the record label I work with now. Also, I am currently setting up to release all my future albums with them and re-release all the previous ones.

You played Worcester on New Year`s Eve at Pig and Drum. You will return to Marrs Bar this September to take part in Musicians Against Homelessness event. Will there be a chance to hear some of your new music?

Rita Lynch: Yes, I will be playing a lot of my new songs. My new album entitled “Backwards” will be released in January 2018. You will have a chance to hear some of my new material for the first time on 22nd of September.

 

You can follow Rita at:

http://ritalynch.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/rita.lynch.121

Musicians Against Homelessness charity concert will take place on September 22nd 2017 at Marrs Bar

If you want to see Rita Lynch  play Musicians Against Homelessness concert, tickets are a £5 and can be bought from the links below:

https://www.wegottickets.com/event/413506
http://www.marrsbar.co.uk/events/musicians-against-homelessness-2/
https://www.facebook.com/events/106395143421500

To find out more about MAH visit Musicians Against Homelessness on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/mahgigs/

Please note that due to a serious hand injury Rita will open the gig and her set will be shorter than expected. But it may be also streamlined on Facebook and it will be different than her usual sets, so you better be at Marr`s Bar 8:00 pm sharp! 😉

Take care,

Mal+Rita