Meet Kamikaze Girls – Vitriolic Fuzz-Rock

Kamikaze Girls are part way through touring “Seafoam” their just-released debut album of vitriolic fuzz-rock which combines their own pop sensibilities with 90s Riot Grrrl. I catch up with Lucinda and Conor just before their gig at Wharf Chambers in Leeds, UK.

So, you’re almost half way through your tour with Nervus, having played Grimsby and Manchester, then two Scottish dates. How’s it been ?

Conor – Yeah, it’s been really good so far. Scotland is always beautiful so it’s a really good place to go to and it was our first time in Dundee.

Where have you had the best reaction ?

Lucinda – All four have been great. We’ve actually only done two dates with Nervus so far. Manchester was a festival and in Grimsby, we played with Ghouls which was really good. Tonight should be pretty good in Leeds as well, seems like it’s going to be a busy one.

Are you getting more of a reaction since the album’s come out ? Are people more aware of the band ?

Lucinda – I think so. We’re getting a lot of “we’ve just discovered Kamikaze Girls” from people.

Conor – The Big Scary Monsters (UK record label for the album) thing and the tour with Gnarwolves has helped us a lot.

Did you know Nervus before the tour ?

Lucinda – We knew of them. They’re sat right behind you (laughs). I remember the album coming out – Permanent Rainbow – and listening to that loads and thinking these guys are awesome. When we decided to do an album release tour, we wanted it to be a co-headline with another band. I hit up with them on Facebook and said “hello, we’re the Kamikaze Girls, would you like to tour with us”. They were really keen and since then it’s been great.

There’s a different vibe to their music – are you a fan of these eclectic packages ?

Lucinda – Yeah, for sure. In terms of what the bands have to say and what they stand for, I’d say that’s very similar. Yeah, the music’s a bit different and it’s nice to have a more eclectic bill. It’s cool, Nervus haven’t done a lot of places we’re playing – it’s good to bring a band with you who get to play new cities.

Conor – There’s a few places on the tour that we haven’t played before. Dundee, Ipswich and Watford, where Nervus are from.

For those who don’t know you, Kamikaze Girls released an E.P called SAD last year and your debut long player, Seafoam, has just come out. Tell us a bit about the recordings of the E.P. and Album and how you view the results of each.

Lucinda – They were quite different. We did SAD over multiple weekends and we drew it out over ages ‘cos I lived in Brighton and Conor lived in Leeds. That felt like a long process. With the album – Seafoam – we recorded it seven days straight in the studio and had it mixed by the end of the month.

Conor – We recorded SAD and it was pretty much a year before it came out. We recorded Seafoam at the end of January and it’s come out in just a few months.

Lucinda – I’d like to think that after a year and half of heavy touring that we’re a lot better at everything. It was really cool to do SAD as that was the result of Conor & I first jamming as a two-piece and writing songs as a two-piece. When we went back into a practice room to write and record Seafoam we were a lot more comfortable with what we were both doing. Everything’s a bit bolder this time around and it’s progressed a lot – we’re super happy with the album.

You self released the E.P. but you got the backing of Big Scary Monsters to put out the album. Do you see that as a major step forward ?

Conor – The first release was actually put out by a Belgian Record Company, Bearded Punk and on Cassette by Wiretap in the U.S.

Lucinda – We didn’t have a UK label, so when Big Scary Monsters were interested, we got excited about that because it was nice to have a big UK label interested as this is our home. It was nice that they even wanted to listen to it in the first place !!

We’re both into The Cure and Sonic Youth and like making loads of ridiculous, stupid noises and shouting.

You’ve actually been making music together for 8 years, tell us a bit about the previous years.

Conor – We were in a four-piece band called “Hearts & Souls”. One of the guys left and then just after we’d changed our name to Kamikaze Girls the other guitarist decided to leave to become a chef.

Lucinda – Yeah, the last 6 months with our old guitarist (I played bass at the time), we noticed him talking less about fuzz pedals and more about food and knives. It got to a point where we just said “Hey mate, you don’t really want to do this any more. That’s totally fine” and we’d both already thought about becoming a “two-piece”. So Andy left to become a chef. He’s a totally amazing chef and has worked his way right up at The Ox Club Restaurant at Headrow House in Leeds. The last six years we were an atmospheric pop-rock band playing really, really terrible shows and every single song sounded like a different band. When we became a two piece, we really got our sound together. We’re both into The Cure and Sonic Youth and like making loads of ridiculous, stupid noises and shouting. We thought “this is the direction, off we go”.

Your songs are lyrically “in your face” addressing some big issues such as depression and addiction. Is this cathartic for you or more about trying to raise awareness of the issues ?

Lucinda – At the time of writing, it’s very therapeutic. When the songs come out it’s more about speaking of personal experiences and more of an awareness thing. There’s so much stigma attached to things that don’t really need them. Things like mental health issues and having safe places to play shows and being respectful and inclusive of all people is so important. All different types of people, no matter what they choose their gender or their sexual orientation to be. Yeah, I think it’s just about raising awareness about being accepting of everything that comes with a person, whether they’re health issues or things that make them different from what society deems normal. There’s so much wrong but there’s a lot of people doing really good work to try to change things but when you step back and look at the massive massive picture, of even say UK politics it feels like we’re such a small small dot.

Conor – If our shows are places where people can feel comfortable to come to, then that’s a little change that we can definitely make. Music and concerts has always been a place where I can go to and feel happy and safe but there’s others who don’t feel like that and haven’t been given those spaces. If we can even give them half an hour or an hour where they feel fine about stuff then we’ve helped a bit.

It’s a big noise you make for two people. Does the musical style come from the subject matter or are you heavily influenced by previous female fronted punk and riot girl bands ?

Lucinda – That’s the music we click on. Fuzzy, angsty stuff. We both enjoy pop music as well. We don’t shy away from writing a song that you can sing along to. At the same time we both really like bands who, at their live shows do things differently and don’t just play everything straight, bands who mess with stuff. If someone would let us play 4 hour shows, we’d be up for that.

Conor – One of my favourite bands is The White Stripes and they play the most ridiculous racket in the entire world.

Who most influenced you to pick up a guitar in the first place ?

Lucinda – It’s way embarrassing. I was brought up on pop music. I didn’t have anyone in my life who introduced me to rock music. It was all self-discovery as I grew up and found friends listening to other stuff. The first show I ever went to was The Spice Girls when I was five, followed by Boyzone. The first time I ever saw a girl with a guitar was the remake of Freaky Friday with Lindsay Lohan, which came out when I was about 9 or 10. I already played the piano and then I saw this girl that was in a punk band in a movie and from that moment on I wanted to do that. Nobody told me that a girl could be in a band and shred. It sucks when you think about it.

A friend had the Kerrang channel and I found all the New Metal and Punk bands. I moved onto an estate and everyone had Offspring hoodies on and skated. Eventually I was playing that music. Only later when I was 17/18 and met Conor did I discover all these amazing, powerful female musicians. Conor’s Dad has just the best music taste, starting with Hawkwind and moving on from there. I was just singing and had never played guitar live until Kamikaze Girls. I’ve played guitar since I was 11 but had never played live because I wasn’t comfortable with it. It’s scary but I get more of a rush than being scared now.

And if you could tour with any band/artist right now who would that be and why ?

Lucinda & Conor (in unison) – It would definitely be The Cure. We both really like Creeper too.

Conor – It was really great to tour with Gnarwolves – they approached us. We prefer people to come to us and organically find us and like us.

Lucinda – Every band that are bigger than us that starts following us on twitter, we get secretly excited though.

What’s up for the rest of 2017 ?

Conor – We’re doing a couple of festivals in the summer – 2000 Trees and Truck, both in July. Then we head to Ireland. We’re in Europe in September and then head back to America in October.

Lucinda – We probably click most in America and Germany. Maybe there’s a bigger audience for our type of music in those countries.

 

I bid farewell to the band so they can get ready for the show. Judging by the audience reaction tonight, maybe the UK is starting to get the band as much as their U.S. and German fanbase. I am delighted to witness a fantastic two-piece aural assault with tunes and melody thrown in.

Most definitely a band to watch with lyrics, songwriting and a live show worthy of the issues they are proud to support, shout about and influence one gig at a time.

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Graham Geldard

Music first, Photography second, now the two go hand in hand. Travelled the length and breadth of musical genres – 70s glam rock to 77 punk to 80s / 90s mod, post punk, trashy rock ‘n’ roll & metal. Will listen to and shoot anything. Now hooked on the thriving Leeds gig scene – local bands and visiting bands, arenas to toilet venues.

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