Quiz inquisitor Tony Rounce.
This interview took place a few weeks ago, and sadly since then it’s been announced that Beth will no longer be playing with The Menstrual Cramps for practical reasons (but they’re all still best buds – this FB post explains it). Beth is cool with this interview still being published today though, and you can come say hello to her/wave/buy her a pint at LOUD WOMEN Fest this Saturday as she’s kindly stepped in to help our crew so look out for her in a groovy high vis vest!
Part-time solo artist and full-on Menstrual Cramp, Beth White has a lot to say! Beth White is a busy woman.
Having vacated the position of drummer for our beloved The Menstrual Cramps earlier this year, Beth now plays rhythm guitar and adds her voice to the group’s front line – a change that has added a further dimension to their always vibrant and totally compelling sound.
As well as being part of one of the best bands on the planet, Beth also has an occasional solo career that she somehow manages to work around the group’s busy schedule.
Gregarious, outgoing and all-round good person that she is, Beth was only too happy to submit to LOUD WOMEN’s 10 Question Interview, upfront of TMCs’ upcoming appearance at LOUD WOMEN Fest 4. Here’s what she had to say:
1. How do you find time to create your own music while being a full member of one of the busiest and most popular bands out there?
To be honest, the vast majority of my material was written during the ages of around 13 to 19 – new songs can occasionally fall out while I’m practicing but these days I don’t usually set out to write an entire song – initial ideas might come out and I’ll work on them at a later time. Sometimes if I’m really lucky, a really good idea or hook will fall out of me that makes me need to write a whole new tune from start to finish then & there. I love when that happens.
As a teen I used song writing as an outlet for pretty much any emotion I felt, so I have a repertoire of about 50-plus songs at my disposal from that time! I’m bad with dating my songs but I must have written at least 15 more between the end of that time & now.
Lately I’ve felt it’s been a shame I’ve not ever been 100% happy with any demo records I’ve made throughout the years, so I’m finally working on an album. I give credit to being in The Menstrual Cramps for giving me the confidence to do it.
2. When/why did you decide to move from behind the drums to a more upfront role in the MCs?
Our drummer AJ became available and, as a much more skilled drummer than me – try 15 or so years, compared to the matter of months I had when I joined TMC – it was a no-brainer to get AJ on board and for me to switch to guitar.
Sometimes I miss the feeling of nerves and not knowing necessarily how a show would go that made me feel sick when I was the drummer – but being on guitar is a much better fit, having played rhythm guitar for 14 years now. It’s been cool to help out with backing vocals too – especially on Cull The Tories, the song that by that point in the set never fails to convince any reluctant factions of a TMC audience.
3. Does being based in a different part of the country to the band ever present any logistical problems?
Absolutely!! Being in London, I don’t get to be with the band as much as the rest do with each other – which can be expected as they’re all in Bristol. Between working full time and being in two different cities we don’t get to practice together too much, but honestly as we’ve been on the road playing gigs, we’ve gained the confidence we need playing with each other at shows week in, week out.
I’ve also had to adjust my life as far as expecting to be on a coach to Bristol most Friday evenings after a full week of full time work, and scheduling anything else in my life around that – it’s been tiring stuff, but worth it to be in this band with my best friends. Working Mon–Fri in London means there’s been shows midweek that I couldn’t attend, but the other four made it work without me.
As I see it, having fun with your buds should always overcome any logistical problems, so we all do what we can to make the band viable even though we’re in different places on the map.
4. That’s a very nice T-shirt you’ve got there. Could you envisage our unelected ‘leader’ as a fan of the band?
Boris saying he’s a fan of TMC would truly be the first sign of the apocalypse – the simulation would have to go very, VERY wrong for that to happen.
For more info regarding my shirt, please see these articles:
4. Can you name two other bands that you would like to be, or would like to have been, a member of, if TMCs had never existed?
In another life I stayed in Brighton after university and joined ARXX. I believe I was at the first ever ARXX show, and have followed them since, I love Hannah & Clara loads, and will forever wish I’d asked to join as a bassist or something while I was still living in Brighton. Hannah has asked me to manage the band a number of times as well – but as I’ve not done the best job managing my own solo career, and ARXX are destined for world domination, I thought it would be best they go for someone who knows what they’re doing…!
I also nearly became a Cosmic Something with Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something shortly after I switched to guitar for TMC, as I also dabble in smashy untidy piano playing, though I have never performed on piano live – unfortunately I couldn’t commit, due to TMC’s schedule.
5. The best and worst gigs you’ve played to date are…?
The best has got to be with Kate Nash, supporting her on tour – she’s a really exceptionally talented artist & singer/songwriter and a really amazing, kind & warm human. Our shows at The Fleece in Bristol & Concorde 2 in Brighton will be experiences I will never forget and always be grateful for. The worst that comes to mind is an open mic gig I did solo once, where they stuck me on at the end of the night – the night was busy but by the time my set came around it was only me, my friend, and the sound guy. I was happy to pay my dues in those days, but those kind of shows are completely disheartening and can make you seriously question why you put yourself through performing or being an artist. It’s all good though – that show inspired my song ‘Gigs’ which is about people actually coming out to shows instead of just clicking “Going” or “Interested” online!!
6. Who inspired your original ambitions to make music?
I distinctly remember being inspired by seeing Britney Spears in her video for Oops I Did It Again… I wondered as a 7 year old how to get into the TV by singing and thinking I wanted to do that too.
I also should say in part my brother inspired me too (for fans of thrash metal check out Overthrow, as I got it into my head that I couldn’t just be a singer without also knowing how to play an instrument so I could write my own songs – my brother Jay lent me his first acoustic guitar, with two strings missing, and I began to teach myself from there.
7. Name three current singers/bands who you think that LW readers and gig-goers should check out, as well as the Menstrual Cramps?
If you don’t check out ARXX and Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something then who even are you?? They get featured in LW quite a bit though, so I’m hoping they’re already covered, trying to think of bands perhaps outside the London scene…
Werecats are definitely one to watch/check out, saw them at Boomtown and played with them at Toxic Wotsit fest – they’re a great band & a really nice bunch.
Amyl & The Sniffers for a proper punk fix – TMC supported them on their UK tour at The Louisiana in Bristol and they were just featured on the front page of Kerrang!! So that’s pretty cool. Again a great bunch of humans too.
Another TWO I’d like to recommend are Pussyliquor and Peach Club – I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them recently, both are a bit younger than me/TMC I believe but they carry themselves with a similar energy to when I first discovered TMC as a fan – I have every confidence those two are gonna go places!! LW, if you’ve not already, let’s have them on the same line up please?? Make it happen!!
Can I name two more?? Check out Brighton bands Sit Down & Lazybones – both put on absolutely incredible live shows that will change your life, if you can catch them live you won’t be able to comprehend why more people don’t already know about them.
Another one to check out is The Baby Seals: Kerry, Amy & Jaz are all really exceptional people who are great fun to hang out with, and I remember thinking when I first discovered them that they so brilliantly make serious feminist topics accessible through humorous but totally relatable songs. They do this so intelligently – because of the topics they cover and how they go about it, in this really obvious way they don’t explicitly need to mention feminism or even identify as a “feminist band”, just a band made up of three wonderful women writing songs about their experiences as women and the wider patriarchal world beyond. They have such brilliant energy on stage and make you feel great when you see them – another band to check out that will totally change your life.
Sorrynotsorry – that was nine bands not three, go run check ‘em all out!!!
8. Your all time top three favourite albums are?
See, again three isn’t at all a big enough number… but three albums I’ve been listening to on repeat since approx age 14 are:
Riot! – Paramore
A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out – Panic! At The Disco
Speak For Yourself – Imogen Heap
But other all time lifelong fives include Take This To Your Grave/From Under The Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy, American Idiot by Green Day, Songs In The Key Of Life by Stevie Wonder, For All We Know by Nao… there’s more to that I’m sure… like there’s just too many, Tony! Three isn’t enough haha…
9. And three current favourite tracks/albums that you would recommend without reservation?
Dreamspace (album) by Glacier Veins – AJ showed me this band and I’m in love with the lead singer’s voice
Outrageous (track) by Calva Louise – saw this performed live at Boomtown and my body went full fangirl
Same thing happened at Boomtown when I also saw Bassline Bitch by Nova Twins – an oldie of theirs now I must’ve seen a bunch of times live but there’s no arguing with the fangirl feels!! Their track Devil’s Face is more current & more evil though, definitely another one to check out
Also highly, highly recommend Daughters of Daughters EP & Iron Lung from ARXX, thank me later x
10. Finally, do you have any closing words of encouragement for any Loud Women who have the will to make music but might be struggling to find the way?
Please please please please please for the love of God, do it!!!!!
It’s a miracle of time and space that you even exist as you are – if the randomness of the universe culminates in a desire within you to pursue music, you can’t shy away from that & I can promise you – it will never go away.
Pick up an instrument, or if you’re too nervous to or can’t sing, front a punk band.
Being crap is not an excuse, as everyone has to start somewhere. “Goodness” or “ability” is relative and meaningless anyway.
Age is not an excuse and it’s never too late to start.
Don’t excuse yourself from trying it because of self doubt, imposter syndrome, lack of support from anyone else around you – just follow that musical desire in you, pick something up and get playing! See it as a gift from you to you and treat yourself to it.
And if you or your band need further encouragement, get in touch with me @WRTWUK on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so I can hype you up!!
Beth’s solo shows are always worth catching, and there will hopefully be more to come later this year.