by Kris Smith
for the benefit of anyone unaware of LIINES, please introduce yourselves!
Hello! LIINES are a three-piece band from Manchester. I’m Zoe (vocals/guitar), and I play with Steph (bass) and Leila (drums).
bands often have mixed feelings about genre labels, but how would you describe yourselves?
We have been given a number of different labels over time, from new wave to grunge, but we describe ourselves as post-punk.
the big LIINES news is that you’re working with a new record label and have a new single coming out – can you tell us all about it?
That’s right! We met two people earlier this year, who had recently set up as Reckless Yes Records. It took one meeting in a pub in Derby to know we had found the right people. They get us and we love them so it’s the perfect combination! We are releasing our third single with Reckless Yes, which will be our first physical release on limited white vinyl, ahead of releasing our debut album next year. It’s a double-A side release, “Disappear” // “Be Here”. We decided on a double-A as we’ve only released two songs so far and wanted to show more of what LIINES can do. “Disappear” shows a different side to us, whereas “Be Here” is more similar in style and intensity to our previous releases, so we were happy with this as a combination. Release day is 28th October and we’ll be doing a short tour to celebrate, including a release party at Birthdays in London on 29th October.
are LIINES ambitious, with an eye on the next level of sales/tours, are you focused on the grass-roots DIY scene, or are you keeping all options open?
First and foremost we love being LIINES – writing and performing live and seeing where it takes us. Our drive is performing our music and getting it out there for people to hear. We all have day jobs and so want to make the most of the time we spend as a band. This has meant we’ve become a bit more focused – especially around releases and gigs – but that is more being better at getting ourselves out there. We’ve also had some great opportunities along the way, from playing festivals in Europe, to some UK festivals like Dot to Dot and Ramsbottom Festival, and we’d love to keep getting opportunities like this. It’s a good test to be thrown into bigger situations like these and there is no other feeling like it so why would we not want to keep pushing for more?
does LIINES deliberately have a more consciously darker sound, than Zoe’s/Steph’s previous band, [hooker]?
I don’t think it has been deliberate necessarily. I think ultimately our style of music has grown-up a bit as we have grown-up! Just to explain, I started [hooker] a looong time ago and even with changes in line-up in that period our sound was fairly consistent. Whereas it felt different when the three of us started to play together, which was about 7 years ago. Once we started to write new music there was a noticeable change as Steph (bass) and Leila (drums) developed a combination that really drives our songs and it allowed us to become a bit more layered with guitar and vocals on top. This has definitely given us a darker, more intense sound than we had previously. Once we realised our new music wasn’t really ‘hooker’ it felt like a good time to start afresh – and we have never regretted that decision! But ultimately, it is music we enjoy writing and playing and we’re looking forward to putting this together into our first album project, which has already started.
you began playing from quite a young age, and played with bands like valerie and stephen nancy as part of an apparent new wave of DIY/grrrl bands, partly around the Ladyfest movement. As a participant, did that feel like an intrinsic scene?
That’s right, I started [hooker] in my teens! There was definitely a scene around that time, around bands and venues. The community was there, and I’m pleased to say we still know people from that scene today! So it’s had a lasting impact. We were also really fortunate to play a number of Ladyfests across the UK and Europe, which have been unforgettable experiences and we’ve been able to keep working with some of these people over the years too which is fantastic.
how does then compare to now? It seems to us that there’s been a recent mushrooming of DIY/grrrl bands, and festivals like ours and others are struggling to fit them all on. have you noticed a change?
There definitely does seem to be another wave of DIY bands, which we hope continues to grow and grow because playing music beats anything and anyone who wants to should do it! But you also need a DIY scene otherwise it’s difficult for bands to get their music heard. We’ve been given opportunities to play great nights across the UK but it does feel like in the last few years there’s been a renewed drive by people and groups with new nights and reinvigorated scenes.
“We have been so excited to watch from afar what LOUD WOMEN has been doing in London – and beyond.”
Here in Manchester, the Ladyfest community and others have also had a renewed drive over the last few years with some brilliant, inclusive events. It’s one of the reasons our label set up in Derby too and it’s becoming more and more widespread in the best possible way. So it’s vital that these scenes keep going, and are supported, to carve out their space as part of the wider music scene. It gives bands opportunities they might not have been given otherwise, and importantly it can inspire others to do something, set up their own gigs, pick up an instrument and play great music!
if the most interesting and artistically successful figures in music are women (Beyonce, PJ Harvey, Bjork, MIA) – is the artistic battle won; is the future female?
I think as long as women have the same opportunities as maleartists then there is a chance but I still feel we have a long way to go. I went to a club night recently and during the whole night I heard two songs sung by females – neither by new artists either. This is very common. Although the females mentioned are amazing and absolutely deserve to be icons, they have had to come a long way to be given that status. To become this from scratch with the music industry as it is today would be really difficult.
is the queercore/queerpunk scene important to the band? You’ve always had those associations, but has the way you present yourselves and your music evolved over time?
We’ve never seen ourselves, or pushed ourselves, as a queer band – as [hooker] or LIINES – it’s not something that is represented in our music. Saying that, we have played many queer nights and festivals, and will continue to do so, including part of our upcoming tour (Homotopia Festival, Liverpool, 17/11). So it’s not to say we don’t feel part of the queer community, as we do and are proudly so. Perhaps as different opportunities have come about for LIINES, our profile and audience has widened, but it’s not anything that’s happened consciously.
we hear your dad was a bit of a rock scenester in the 70s/80s, so you grew up in a family with a passion for music; do you think you were always likely to live a musical life, and is it important for people to encourage young creativity in that way?
Yes my Dad was actually a punk then a goth and always wore alternative clothing and make-up and had bright red hair. He was always beaten up for being ‘queer’ but he didn’t give a shit. That’s what I love about my Dad. He has always been true to himself and that has been instilled in me. I was introduced to lots of amazing music from a very early age and this had a massive impact. He used to record The Old Grey Whistle Test and The Tube and make lots of ace video compilations so I loved watching Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gun Club, Soft Cell, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Blondie, Iggy Pop performing and just being amazed by what I was seeing and feeling really excited by this music. I was sat on a tour bus post-gig with Alien Sex Fiend in America when I was 11 thinking, “Yep! this is the life I want!” I think it’s so important to encourage creativity, it’s just so hard to actually make a living but I know if I don’t play I would have no idea where I’d put whatever it is that builds up in me when I don’t play.
were you influenced by women in music *as women* or more influenced by the music itself; is the gender aspect important to you? who inspired you musically?
I have an emotional involvement with music. Regardless of gender, if it doesn’t move me then I’m not really that interested. I feel my music collection is pretty 50/50. I wouldn’t listen to or like something just because it was made by a female. Deep breath (and this is the short list!): Siouxsie, PJ Harvey, Sleater-Kinney, Joy Division, Pixies, Nirvana, Solar Race, Victory at Sea.
you often play in Europe. what are your thoughts on the scene over there (and also about brexit)?
We’ve done a couple of tours in Germany and Europe, most recently as LIINES quite soon after we’d started in 2014, and since then we’ve done a mini-tour and other gigs and festivals here and there. Each time we come back slightly changed people after amazing experiences – there is such a warmth and inclusiveness. People come to the gigs ready to dance and have fun, whether they know the band or not. That’s not to say that we don’t experience that here, but it just seems to come so much easier over there.
We were and still are devastated by the referendum result. It just doesn’t make sense to us, and whilst we don’t know how it will pan out we are all still coming to terms with it – or wishing it will go away. Leila and I were in Berlin at the time of the referendum and when people realised we were English they either looked at us with pity or sheer confusion. Why would we cut ourselves off? We are European. We have never felt that more strongly than when we’re on tour meeting incredible people and watching awesome talent and that feeling will never change for us.
thanks so much for answering our questions. anything else to add before we finish?
Nothing other than to say thank you to Cassie and everyone at LOUD WOMEN for what you’re doing!
LIINES are on tour now – catch them in London (29/10), Stoke (11/11), Liverpool (17/11), Derby (18/11), Manchester (26/11) and Leeds (2/12). Their release “Disappear // Be Here” is out on Reckless Yes Records on 28 October.