Loose Articles interview: 'All feminine, all threatening. All working, all class.'

We talk about northern power, part-time DJ sets

and changing attitudes to casual
sexism!

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Ruminate on the term ‘girl band’ - memories conjure up of the Riot Grrrl movement, the existential nihilism of Hole and the tenacity of lyrics such as we’re Bikini Kill and we want Revolution Girl-style now! The notion that an emerging female band in 2019 can be groundbreaking and subversive is elusive, right? We stand corrected, a caveat has been served!

 

Loose Articles are, in my opinion revolutionising the sovereign state of punk rock – a genre arguably putrefying, as dreamy vocals and pop infused licks saturate the UK scene. A melting pot of vehement social commentary, snake-thumping bass-lines and unprecedented demeanour emancipate these women from their predecessors. The band’s narrative – a commix of politically charged poetry and tongue-in-cheek melodic bluesy vocals – acts as a culturally relevant tribute to a nation unhinged.

 

Airing genuine camaraderie, whilst remaining somewhat nonchalant, Erin, Tree and Natalie of Loose Articles gather at the plushly decorated Deaf Institute in Manchester. Salutes have to be made to the group’s effortlessly distinct style – draped in sunset brogues, an 80s boiler suit and emerald velvet denoting their enigmatic personalities. From the get-go it is clear that these women have a keen intuition for what works well, and DIY culture is ingrained in their DNA!  As they gear up for their first support slot, aligning with their comrades Afghan Sand Gang, I seized the opportunity to catch up with them.

 

Having the honour of securing your first interview, it would be remiss of me to not scope out the backstory on how the band formed…

 

Tree: Basically I was pestering Nat and Erin at parties… and every time there were various boys that we knew in bands, we were like ‘we could fucking do that.’ So yeah, just after a bit of pestering we had a practice and thought this is alright.

 

That leads me onto the subject of you being female quartette There is a plethora of women at the moment, flying the flag for women in music, such as Anna Calvi and Sharon Van Etten. Did you gain any inspiration from this?

 

Natalie: What was our inspiration? I guess it was a gap in the market and, as Tree said, looking at a lot of our mates who are in bands, who are all guys and being like ‘oh well, we can do that’. Also, there is a lot of women who are in bands but none of them are from the north – there’s a few but not as many… it’s taken over by the London scene, there’s borderline who are northern working-class. 

 

What I really like about you is that you have brought this tongue-in-cheek humour, during a period of trepidation, in relation to the current political climate. Is there something at the epicentre relating to struggle that has sparked your creativity?

 

Tree: Yeah I suppose in politics and in life things are a bit… shit. So that’s what we talk about.

 

Erin: I think that you’ve always got to talk about things that you know and things that are personal to you. Especially within music and art, you can only express things that you know really.

 

Tree: You might as well make it funny I suppose. It’s one of them things…

 

Erin: If you don’t laugh then you’ll cry. It’s not that bad but you know (laughs). 

 

Natalie: That’s the thing – like a lot of stuff that I’ve always created anyway has always been tongue-in-cheeky kind of things (looks at Erin). Like your artwork as well. 

 

Erin: Underlying sarcasm… because I think that’s a good way to get your point across to people. 

 

Natalie: Make them laugh before they listen to you, that’s the best way to do it. If people laugh first, then they’ll start to listen to what you are saying. That’s how it will grab them, rather than just preaching in people’s faces about stuff… they won’t listen if you do that, they’ll think 'shut up!'

 

Erin: And I don’t think that’s necessarily because we are in an all female band either, because that could be seen as… when you look at for instance some female comedians mocking men. I don’t see it as a gender-based thing.

 

You delve into the issue of toxic masculinity in your song Lethal Weapon. One lyric quotes you misogynistic clown. Does this use of satire contain an undertone derived from personal experience? 

 

Natalie: We’ve been in a band before, we’ve been DJ's… things like that in the music industry. Myself, the other person I DJ with, we’ve felt very much like we get talked down a lot of the time. We've had hilarious things of guys who aren’t DJ’s, just punters, coming up to us saying things like “Oh, are they your Dad’s records?” Then the worst thing was somebody asked us “Are they your boyfriend’s records?” It’s as though they think that we don’t know what we are doing with our music. We’re just two pretty faces… well I say I’m pretty. It’s as though two women are Deejaying so it must be a gimmick. That’s one of the experiences. Other experiences just being in everyday life – work, getting cat-called in the street.

 

Tree: Especially the work-related stuff, it is something that most women will relate to.

 

Erin: I work in design and technology and I went in the shop to ask for some varnish, and the shop assistant said “Oh, nail varnish?” He looked at me like I was asking for blood or something.

 

Natalie: It’s just normalised… the sort of language men use to speak to women. It’s been formed in a way that that’s how it is and it just needs to change from the word go! There’s so many other women doing what we are doing as well, that it’ll become normalised that women can do it.

 

Erin: It’s a society problem. We live in a bubble though don’t we? I suppose all our male mates are not like that. They’re just like us!

 

Tree: Then you go to work, or in public…

 

Erin: In the big world...

 

Tree: Yeah, you hear about when people talk about ‘the classic man at the office’. You’d say something and then the man in the room repeats it. You think surely nobody does that? My Dad would never do that. Then someone goes, “Oh! What about this?” And you think to yourself ‘I’ve literally just said that!’

 

I’ve been away from Manchester for a while now. Albeit from an outside perspective, it seems that currently there is some sort of magic in the air…

 

Erin: I feel that there’s a bit of magic in the air – yeah, definitely!

 

Natalie: Northern power again isn’t it?

 

Erin: There’s a lot bands in the north – especially with us in Manchester, we all tend to kind of back each other a bit and help each other out, which is nice.

 

Natalie: It’s nice as well because for quite a while there was nothing coming out of Manchester at all! Now there’s been quite a few bands that have actually started to do really well. It sort of makes you think 'hang on a minute…well if they can do well we can do well too!’ People are looking in Manchester for up and coming talent.

 

Tree: As well, as we were saying before – a lot of the female bands were coming from London and it feels that now it’s Manchester’s turn.

 

Erin: The north will rise again.

 

I heard on the grapevine that there was the ‘secret’ gig at Manchester’s Big Hands Bar. Tell me how that went down...

 

Natalie: The secret gig that the promoter of Yes! Band on the Wall, Manchester International Festival and Sounds From The Other City came down to. Is that all right?… It was a nice first gig. 

 

Erin: And I can’t lie, me, so when people were asking me where the first gig was, I was rubbish at playing dumb and acting like I didn’t know.

 

As a band you really are a multitude of talent – in addition to a string of gigs in the pipeline, I understand that you have external projects set in motion too…

 

 

Tree: Well I don’t have any more TV engagements coming up, unfortunately.

 

Natalie: I have a fair few live art shows coming up. Here we go, well I may as well reel them off. I have Controlled Pant Symphony next week at The Harris in Preston, as well as Camden People’s Theatre in London in June. I’ve also just been accepted to do an extended twenty-minute version of the piece in Sheffield… it’s going to be a massive theatre production. I am trying to do a one woman show. 

 

Catch Loose Articles @

 

13.06.19 Manchester YES

03.07.19 Clitheroe Foxy Fest

16.08.19 Darwen Sunbird Records

18.08.19 Manchester The Peer Hat

30.08.19 Manchester Psyche Festival

07.09.19 Blackburn Confessional Festival

 

See Control Pant Symphony by Natalie Wardle @

 

10.06.19 London Camden People’s Theatre