Today’s featured song comes from a pulsating, punchy, pretty, post punk, power pop, pulchritudinous posse (how’s that for alliteration!!) or The Barettas for short. Hailing from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and definitely not to be confused with dire all girl rock band the Berettas from the UK, they have just released their first single ‘Touche’ as a free download. It’s implausibly catchy in a Gwen Stefani meets the Libertines wrestling The Donnas at CBGB’s kinda way.
They’ve opened for the likes New York Dolls, Juliette Lewis, and She Keeps Bees but to be honest we don’t know too much about the band other than what lead singer Kate tells us – ‘Our first 7 inch ‘Touche’ is very much a product of our surroundings, with two rough edged pop numbers giving a glimpse of where we’ve been and where we’re headed!’There are no trust funds in Hamilton, so each of us has taken on a couple jobs, usually a combination of cleaning houses during the day, and tending bar at night. The reward and real purpose for these jobs is that it lets us make music and blow off steam at every other possible opportunity.’
Kids Love Lies were recently described by the NME as “Tweecore/power pop/pop-punk” -Pardon ? Apart from over use of the word “pop” what does that even mean? “Tweecore“, I assume is the polar opposite of hardcore, indeed the definition of “twee” means “Overly precious or nice” so lets throw that one out of the window straight away eh? Now then, onto power pop, pop punk ? A description that seems to be given to anything that is melodious but has a rather spiky attitude, yes ? Is it both punk and pop? However punk was surely the antithesis of “pop music” as we knew it and correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t recall the Pistols singing “Anarch-twee In The UK”, although admittedly, John Lydon has since developed a disturbing penchant for all things twee-d. Yes musical genres are still as baffling as they are meaningless, but, one imagines, great fun to make invent, after a hearty liquid lunch in IPC Towers.
In essence, I imagine the previous description is an attempt to succinctly convey the fact that Kids Love Lies cleverly combine all the elements mentioned above to produce a sound that has a punk attitude with a pop edge, or is that a punk edge with a pop attitude? I feel dizzy! Anyway Kids Love Lies debut single ” Count In My Head” is certainly a spiky, jagged slice of pop that has both melody and riot grrrl attitude in abundance, and contains a youthful exuberance and energy that can’t fail to win you over, unless you’re a bit of a twa*! Hmm, on reflection maybe I should have saved time and simply said, it’s a f*cking great pop song so let’s forget pretentious pigeonholing and let’s enjoy the music….and while we’re at it lets talk to the band.
VP: Predictably I’ll have to start with a question relating to how you met, and how the band came together?….. and I just have 😉
Matt: Seems like half of London tried out to be our singer until Ellen turned up (drunk) and blew us away. That was a pretty good tube ride home that night after practice, thinking we’d finally sorted out the singer problem. I think we had a few cans on the way to celebrate. That was before Boris ruined that sort of thing.
VP: The name “Kids Love Lies?” What does it mean?
Leigh: It’s an anagram of ‘kilos de Elvis’, I saw it on a poster for a club night in Amsterdam, I was told it roughly translates to ‘ a Kilogram of Elvis?’
Ellen:Ha-ha, it’s just a kinda saying that a friend of mine used to say…although I do like Leigh’s anagram
VP: Your single ‘Count In My Head’ was released on 13th April, what’s the plan for 2009?
Ellen : Well we’re playing loads of great festivals this year like The Great Escape, Sellindge etc We just want to carry on playing to as many people, where, when and however possible. Getting a good support slot on a tour would be SWEET! But mainly we just really wanna enjoy ourselves, and just keep on writing more and more songs that just get stronger and stronger until we have the right material for an album.
VP: Your music’s been described as post punk angst with riot grrrl attitude, but how would you describe it?
Ellen : Mixture of Indie, rock, post-punk in bite size pop nuggets?! Although I’m into the whole riot grrrl thing
Leigh – Put simply; Drums + Bass + Guitars + Vox + 5 personalities = Kids Love Lies
VP: What’s on repeat on your I-pods at the moment?
Raf: What’s an i-pod..?
Ellen: La Roux, Micachu.
Leigh: AC/DC ‘Thunderstruck’, The Bronx ‘Young Bloods’, Wave Machines ‘Punk Spirit’, Strung Out ‘Exhumation of Virginia Maddison’.
VP: Ellen, who do you think are the most inspiring female singers in pop history?
Ellen: Oooh that’s a hard one…there’s been so many great female singers in the last few decades…But most inspirational to me would have to be people like Janis Joplin, Siouxsie Sioux, Poly Styrene, Debbie Harry, Ari Up, Dusty Springfield.. There’s probably so many more that I haven’t mentioned…but I think basically any woman that just gets out on stage and has an attitude to be reckoned with is an inspiration…..it’s not just about having an amazing voice, but about how you carry yourself on stage…and all of these women have something about them, a stage presence that draws you to them; totally captivating to watch….More recently female singers like Karen O and Peaches give me no end of inspiration, especially with their illustrious stage outfits!
VP: What do you think of the current trend for so called “legendary bands” reforming? For example is Spandau Ballet a reformation too far ? Do you think sometimes “Move over granddad you’ve had your go, give the kids or chance?” Or is it great to get the chance to see bands like My Bloody Valentine et all?
Raf: It’s a bit sad in a way, but its a good way for them to make a living. I’ve seen a few bands do reform type shows and they’re fun but it’s not the same as discovering a good new band.
Leigh – If the fans still want it I see no harm what so ever, I got to see Gang of Four and My Bloody Valentine last year, 2 bands I’d thought I’d missed my chance of seeing live.
Matt: Saw the Pixies and My Bloody Valentine which was ace, didn’t think I’d ever get to see them and they blew me away (MBV actually left me deaf for about a week).. Got all excited last week when the Stone Roses teased us with a possible reunion which isn’t happening apparently. Nope, I think it’s a good thing as long as you had the credibility in the first place!
VP: Kids may indeed love lies, but what’s the worst one you’ve ever told ?
Raf: “No, I didn’t do that. SHE did it”
VP: Is The X Factor’s popularity definitive proof that there is no God?
Matt: X factor is just representative of this ‘get famous in 5 minutes’ culture that society seems to have appropriated! Whatever happened to getting success through a bit of grit and hard work rather than having it handed to you….
These shows have the tendency of producing a short lived winner….think of the amount of series they’ve have with only maybe 2 people ever continuing their success after the show!
VP: What are the five most annoying songs ever written are ….?
Raf: Anything by the Enemy.
Leigh :In no particular order; Mr Blobby Song, Bob the builder, Barbie Girl
Ellen:Hmmm the thing is if a song starts off annoying I usually end up liking it after a few listens!! but I HATE ‘laddy indie music’ like just imagine a group of fat beer swilling chavvy lads goin ‘yesss mate Kaiser chiefs, the Enemy, LADS have it!!’ Very annoying!
Where do you go when the music stops? If you take away the “snap” and the “crackle” what on earth do you do with the “pop?” I suppose one might suggest this was the dilemma facing Brighton pop group The Pipettes when the artist formerly known as “Riot Becki”- Rebecca Stephens, left the band, hot on the heels of Rose “Rosay” Dougall’s departure with not an original member in sight to shake a polka-dotted skirt at…but that was then and this is now … Thankfully both ex-Pipettes are still intent on staying within the sphere of music and Becki has recently unveiled a new musical project, a transatlantic collaboration with Randy Michael from Atlanta’s sharp suited beat boys The Booze . Their musical partnership, “Electric Blue” is named, either after a line in Bowie’s classic “Sound And Vision” or series of soft porn video “magazines” from the 80’s in which large haired pneumatic ladies indulged in erm.. “fun” with unfeasibly blessed, lantern jawed, orange hued chaps who all seemed to work in the ..service industry -chauffeurs, aerobics instructors, tennis coaches et al. You would not be wrong if you suggested that this video series wasn’t exactly “plot driven” …but thankfully the songs Becki and Randy have produced certainly appear to be been “tune driven.”
So what do they sound like? Well if The Undertones had spent more time watching “Happy Days” instead of pretending to be punks, decided on becoming a female fronted band and replaced their lead singer, who let’s face it was a dead ringer for Mr Punch, they may have produced a sound rather like Electric Blue- “Beauty School Drop-Out” meets “Teenage Kicks.” (In retrospect, it’s hard to square the fact that a movement such as Punk could actually spawn Easter Island statue look-alike and CEO of British Music Rights, Fergal Sharkey, who appears intent on banning everyone who has ever downloaded a music file illegally, like, ever, from having internet access-But that’s a whole other story !)
Electric Blue has a retro punky power-pop edge, which ably straddles and takes reference from various genres, and which should have your feet tapping within seconds (or foot if you’re a certain former Beatles ex) –”Hooks,” big choruses and great melodies were always a large part of Becki and RM’s musical remit in the past and they once again employ these tools to great effect, yes there maybe a nod to the bands from which they have come from but let’s face it, could you really see them reinventing themselves as Slipknot? They certainly are not just replicating what they have done in the past, there’s freshness and a sense of fun here, a new lease of life if you will. Technically it sounds superb, I don’t normally do technical as I find reducing music, which I tend to react to on an emotional level to a series of chords or quavers or techno speak tends to detract from my joy, and this collaboration is definitely infused with an exuberant sense of fun. I therefore cranked up the Von Pip fun mobile and drove off to speak to Randy Michael and Becki to find out what they’d been up to…
VP: When you left the Pips, was it your intention to get straight back into music and was solo and collaborative work something you’d often thought about getting involved in, also after 2007 when you seemed to be on tour constantly was it difficult initially to adjust to some sort of normality ?
Becki: I hadn’t really been heavily involved in music prior to The Pipettes, so I wasn’t sure what would happen, I certainly didn’t have anything planned for after I left. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I started writing, the ideas seemed to flow pretty easily and I couldn’t stop. Returning to a Monday to Friday job has been hugely influential and forced me to re-evaluate many things. Whether or not to be solo or in another band didn’t cross my mind, yet after writing for a few months I realised that I needed to bounce ideas off of somebody else. I’m my own worse enemy, I’m never happy, and I could easily disregard most of what I’ve written. I also didn’t want to fall into the trap of over self-indulgence especially as I mostly listen to upbeat, heavily melodic music and that was what I was interested in making! So it was important to find a person I clicked with; someone who understood where I was, who recognised the good from the bad – the ideas should flow organically – and that’s what I found in Randy.
VP: Randy, how did you and Becki, first meet up? Did you hit it off straight away?
RM: I met Becki under a tent at The Vfest in August of ’06 along with some of the other members of the pips. I wouldn’t say we hit it off right away; I was more interested in their drummer Joe. It was more like “hello, nice to meet you.”
VP: ……..and how did the idea to work together come about?
RM: I wanted to help out on her solo project, which led to me saying, why we don’t just start a power pop band.
Becki: Yeah, we had been chatting over the internet pretty much since we met a couple of years ago, but our conversations became more and more frequent and we joked about writing together. After I told Randy I was no longer in The Pipettes those jokes became less and less ridiculous until we were both questioning the possibility and saying to each other ‘Yeah, but why not?’, and then it just happened!
VP: Did you have an idea of the sound you wanted to produce at the outset or did it just kind of happen naturally?
RM: We wanted to do something pop, and around where I live, we all dig power pop like The Beat, The Nerves and The Boys. So musically, I wanted to take a shot at it. It’s just something I think that suits us both. Because we’d look silly singing death metal and we didn’t want to sound like the bands that we come from. It just seemed like a natural thing to do.
Becki: It wasn’t too hard. We sent so much music back and forth in order to describe what we liked, what we didn’t; which songs had awesome guitar licks, which drum sounds we liked etc etc. I think it was The Nerves ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ that cemented we were going to go down a power pop route, but it’s also a natural musical progression from both of our other bands.
VP: What about the logistics, given that one of you is based in Brighton whilst the others in Atlanta how did the writing, production and recording of the tracks work in practice?
Becki: Writing began with us swapping demos and lyrics. Randy would send some music; I’d sing over it and send it back. Or I’d send Randy a song I’d written and explain which bits needed changing, and then he’d return it fully formed. Everything happened so quickly that it was only a matter of time before reality hit and a ticket was booked for Atlanta. Having written so much over the internet is was great to finally get writing together whilst being in the same room. Two of our demos were actually written in one day, which is why we have so many more to record!
RM: Yeah, Becki and myself, we’d send these demos back and forth, she’s sing about 45 seconds of something and say “Finish that.” and then I’d do the same. Once we had something completed, I’d call Darren Dodd and Wesley Flowers, two of the Best musicians in the city of Atlanta and had them record drums and keys. Then I’d send the finished product back to Becki, and she’d do vocals for it. That way, we were already familiar with the tune, before she flew across the pond.
VP: So the name is from a series of soft porn video collections (so I’m told) who came up with that name? Any others on your short list of potential band names you’d care to share
RM: I think we were so tired of just calling names out to one another that , as soon as we thought of Electric Blue, I said “That sounds tough as f*ck, and it sounds like a power pop band from ’77, let’s use it.” I can’t remember anything else that we considered.
Becki: The name actually comes from Bowie. We knew we had to think of a name ASAP and started talking about what names we liked, what we wanted over breakfast one day. We got talking about colours, realised both of our favourite colour was blue, and just started singing ‘blue, blue electric blue . . . ‘ and there it was. The porn film reference is a happy coincidence.
VP: It was mentioned on MySpace that you have tons more songs written, any idea when these may see the light of day and any plans for any sort of official release in the future?
Becki: Hopefully there will be some 7 inches realised both sides of the pond, which will be fun, and another trip to Atlanta is planned. We’re both still writing, but I have a feeling there will be a few songs that will be recorded with us both in our respective countries. That’ll be jolly interesting!
VP: What sort of music are you both listening to at the moment?
Becki: Loads of stuff as usual. I’ve been on real eighties pop kick at the moment and can’t stop listening to Hall and Oates! Otherwise Born Ruffians, White Denim, Grizzly Bear, Life Without Buildings, The Records, Bob Dylan, The Chi-Lites, Derek Meins and the new Keane record for starters. As I’ve also started a monthly night down in Brighton, I’ve been pulling out the classics such as Charles and Eddie, Apache Indian, Human League, Candi Staton, Grandmaster Flash etc etc. I can’t stop!
RM: I’m listening to loads of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Robert Johnson, The Boys, Thin Lizzy and Elvis Costello.
VP: You’ve also mentioned you’re working on a solo project, can you reveal any more details at this point?
Becki: Yep. It’s called Into Cinders. There’s a MySpace page with a couple of demos on that I recorded before Randy and I started writing together, I’m hopefully recording a couple more in November, which I’ll add when I do. I think it will probably be a project that keeps expanding when I have time. I’m constantly writing and some stuff fits with Electric Blue and some doesn’t. I enjoy the freedom of having full musical control over my own songs, but I’m not sure it’s an alley I’d like to walk down permanently.
VP: What plans do The Booze have for the remainder of the year?
RM: We may release one more EP and close the curtain