Breakup Haircut – 10 question interview

The newest kids on the block reveal all to Tony Rounce

If you’re looking for a brand new band to fall in love with, Breakup Haircut is available at a moment’s notice.

The London based four-piece is indeed very new, having only played their first gig in May of this year, but they are winning new fans and making new friends every time they play, and have just released their first EP “What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet” – a fab collection of warm and witty Super-Pop that will appeal to anybody and everybody who loves the kooky quirkiness of early Television Personalities or Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, with a side order of Shonen Knife.

The immensely likeable quartet recently submitted to LW’s 10 Question Interview  (12 actually…) As you will see, they have a fair bit to say for themselves…

How did Breakup Haircut come together? 

Ishani, Delphine, and Ripley: We started in a Facebook thread on the First Timers group. Ripley put a call out for band members, and that’s how Ishani and Delphine joined – and after a couple of museum dates, it was locked in. It took a bit longer for us to find a drummer – but we ended up doing a serendipitous swap where someone’s brother tried out with us, and then he joined his sister’s band instead and we ended up with their ex-drummer Jordan – we’ve been together ever since.

Jordan: I was sitting at work, and I got a message. A band I was in for a few minutes had recommended me, BH’s previous drummer had split and they wanted me to try out. I did, and the rest is history in the making.

Who or what inspired you to take up music initially?

Jordan: I wanted to play trumpet like my granddad, but didn’t have the patience, same with guitar. The drums were the only things that I seemed to not struggle with. 

Ishani: I grew up in the middle of nowhere, and never really had any friends. I took up the piano when I was four because my brother did it and I thought he was the coolest, but by my teens I’d started to realise that if I wasn’t going to have friends I may as well make stuff, so I kind of set about trying to learn as many instruments as I could. 

Ripley: When I was a kid, lessons were too expensive and none of my family is musical. I was big into emo, pop punk and metal but all those bands seemed to be playing music in these big, expensive inaccessible settings. Then I got into horror punk and seventies punk in my mid teens. The bands were all quite small and DIY. The old-school punk attitude and disregard for having had formal teaching and just picking up an instrument, making your own clothes and art and just having a go, made me realise I could just have a go too. And a lot of the small venue and DIY style music videos of the horror rock bands at the time like Zombina and the Skeletones were a big inspiration to me to save up for my first guitar.

Delphine: I used to learn music when I was small, and later learnt to play the guitar when I was a teenager with the idea of being in a band. It was all about punk and heavy metal for me. Cut a long story short: never made it into a band, prioritised sports over music.

About a couple years back my pen friend Claire told me about the Rock Project, so I started learning the guitar again. I eventually realised that making music is good for the soul, so stuck with it and joined First Timers.

What motivates your songwriting?

Jordan: I do the bash bash bash, not the la la la. I’m trying to write something but it’s difficult when you can’t play guitar or sing or formulate coherent ideas.

Ishani: When I was younger I tried to make more complicated and structurally difficult music – now I just want to write music that people can kind of relate to and chuckle at. I think of the songs I write as like a musical version of the millennial dark jokes that have arisen as everyone’s grown a bit more open about being sad all the time. I frequently semi-kid about never using more than seven chords in a song.

Ripley: What we do is quite collaborative, and I like how we support each other’s ideas. A lot of the time someone brings some an idea, riffs, a composition, some lyrics, into the room, and then everyone starts writing their own parts and we form it into a finished song as a group. It’s really fun. And sometimes you bring an idea and it ends up different to how you expected it, but usually in a totally awesome way you might not have thought of yourself. I’d never written songs before this band, musically or lyrically (only a few riffs and a few lines of lyrics here and there), now I’ve done both! 

Delphine: A mix of fear, anger, anxiety and PTSD from my music theory-learning years. Mostly it’s about putting feeling somewhere other than bouncing between my chest and my brain. Also, proving wrong quite a few people I met along the way. I haven’t written a song yet; I’m hoping to finish my first one before 2020. It takes me quite some time to write.

Who do people tell you that you sound like? And who would you be happy to be compared to?

Jordan: Literally no one has ever said anything to me about who we sound like. I don’t even know who we sound like. Can someone please tell me who we sound like so I can listen to them?

Ishani: We get called pop punk a lot. We’ve been compared to Martha, Martha and the Muffins, Skating Polly, Slutever – loads of people. I personally aspire to write songs that are kind of a crush mix between the simplicity and catchiness of blink-182, and the vulnerability and relatability of Worriers.

You’re still at a relatively early stage with your gigging, but what would you say is your best/most favourite gig you’ve played to date?

Jordan: I don’t have a favourite but every gig we play has a memorable moment or something that you remember. It’s strange how you don’t really remember the show but remember the toilets of a venue.  

Ishani: I’ve really enjoyed loads of them! I really liked playing the Imaginary Friends Collective – it was a kind crowd, the sound guy had a pun for a name (Paul of Sound), and I brought this cute little tub of bubbles on stage to blow periodically.

Ripley: Most gigs have had at least one element I’ve enjoyed a lot. To be honest First Timers Fest is probably still my favourite, just for being one of the most overwhelmingly positive experiences of my life, not just for gigs.

Delphine: Our most recent gig with Panic Pocket, Talulah Paisley, and Charmpit for For The Sake Of Tapes. It was just sooooo much fun!

Your dream line up on any show you might play in the future would be? 

Ishani: Camp Cope would be super cool to play with, some of our friends have played with them recently and that seems wild. Sleater-Kinney make for a really aspirational support slot. The Mountain Goats, just to exist near them for a little while.

Ripley: Sheer Mag, Worriers, RVIVR and Screaming Females (I would like faint with excitement – ultimate fantasy dream line-up). Also I’ve really gotten into ARXX‘ s music since first hearing their music at Loud Women Fest 2019, and would love to play on a line-up with them someday.

Delphine: It might be crazy and unlikely, but I would love to be sandwiched between AFP, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and First Aid Kit.

First record you bought? And the most recent one?

Jordan: I think it was ABBA’s Greatest Hits; I bought it as a present for my mum. I wasn’t very interested in music as a child and just listened to what my mum and grandma played, which was mostly various disco tracks and Elvis. Does anyone buy music nowadays? I mean, buy our EP, because it’s great. I think the last music I paid direct money for was the Goodtime Boys EP: Are We Now or Have We Ever Been. You can tell it’s post-hardcore, because the name is long and brooding.

Ishani: The first record I ever bought was Green Day’s Dookie. My brother had it on constantly so I bought my own copy when I was like, 11. More recently, the last thing I spent money buying was actually a copy of our EP for my dad!

Ripley: Smile by L’ Arc~En~Ciel on CD was my first. The last record I bought was Compilation (I, II & III) by Sheer Mag on vinyl.

Delphine: My first buy was AC/DC’s Ballbreaker, and my last purchase was one by Efa Supertramp.

First band you saw? And the most recent one? 

Jordan: I think the first gig I remember going to was the Taste of Chaos tour when I was 13/14. It was Gallows, Killswitch Engage and The Used. I think the first band on was We Are the Ocean, so they’re the technical first. I remember getting punched in the stomach by a large bald man and having beer spilled over me. I can’t really remember the last gig I went to either. I think it was Don Broco. I punched a large bald man and threw beer on him.  

Ishani: The first band I ever saw was Busted! A friend of mine kind of dragged me into it, but I do remember having a good time and standing on a chair, and I think I was nine. The most recent band I saw was Instant Bin.

Ripley: The first band I ever saw was Bullet for my Valentine, and I was at a gig last Sunday featuring Cecilia and our First Timers mates, Bitch Hunt, Trouble Wanted, and Temps Sec.

Delphine: The Rolling Stones for their 40 Licks tour was my first ever gig. Most recently I saw Tacocat!

Your all time favourite bands?

Jordan: Everytime I Die (The Big Dirty is why) and Primus, they’re varied enough where you can find a little bit of what you need at any given time. 

Ishani: Right now one is probably Kimya Dawson. I think she’s spectacularly honest and cool, and influenced me a lot in realising that being genuine can be a really good thing that people actually like and enjoy. Quite similar to the Mountain Goats. I am also in a really big Boney M phase right now; I like a good bop as much as anyone else.

Ripley: Pat Benatar, because her eighties rock was the soundtrack to my early teens when I lived in America. I love their guitars, and they’re such badasses – I desperately want to see them play live. And MCR, because emo was a huge part of my musical development, and their music has aged pretty well over the years (in my opinion). I also love the horror and fantasy concepts in some of their songs, as well as their energy.

Delphine: Green Day and Yellowcard. Both had albums that I discovered at times of great darkness (respectively American Idiot and Ocean Avenue), and both got me out of difficult times in my life. 

As a not-yet-full-time band, what do you do when you’re not being Breakup Haircut?

Ishani: Outside of my day job, I run a book drive for London’s homeless shelters, work in a music and arts centre for adults with learning disabilities, run music making and karaoke sessions in inpatient wards, and I did Girls Rock London this year. I’m also in a couple of other bands, and I swing dance and am also in a classical choir. 

Ripley: When not doing band stuff, I like drawing, practicing kung fu and being an archer in medieval re-enactments over the summer. I work in tech. I think most of my colleagues are mildly bemused by my band stuff in general, but overall supportive!

Delphine: Being the one scientist always coming to work with a guitar. I juggle a lot of hobbies, but between the band and roller derby, my life is full!

Can you offer some sage advice to other young singers and musicians who have the will to make music, but can’t yet find the way?

Jordan: Practice, and practice things you’re not a fan of. 

Ishani: I think for us, and maybe for others, it’s important to keep the focus on having fun and making noise and being around each other and trying new things – and delegating or outsourcing the things we have to in order to keep this a happy place for us. I’ve grown a lot as a person in this band – it’s been my first actual positive experience with teamwork maybe ever, because loads of the time teamwork as an adult is just segmented and ugly. Finding the right people is integral to that.

Ripley: If a situation isn’t working for you and is making you unhappy, it’s OK to bail. It’s not failing, and you will be fine. No matter how talented and motivated the other people are, if they’re not treating each other right, it’s not worth it and you shouldn’t have to put up with it. What I like so much about this band is that we’ve got a good mix of commitment and motivation, but also most importantly, we prioritise looking out for each other and check in to make sure everyone feels included and happy. It means we can trust each other, and also have lots of fun together.

Delphine: Don’t worry about what others say – think about your music as telling your truth. Just take that leap. 

How would you like history to remember Breakup Haircut in 100 years time?

Jordan: As the premiere hairstyle worn by the richest and most powerful elites who live simultaneously on the Earth and the Moon. When searching all the unique and powerful styles to choose from, they see a small link to our music.  

Ishani: Fondly. As people who provided a laugh and a shoulder to cry on and maybe even a place to go, if you need it. It would mean a lot to be a comfort blanket band.

Ripley: Like all bands from times past, in BBC4 music docs. But also hopefully just as music that people can enjoy and hopefully relate to and associate fun times and good memories with. 

Delphine: The band that talked about feelings and vampires, and had the most fun. Fame and fortune would also be nice…

BH are playing at the Finsbury in London on Friday October 11th and Weenfest at DIY Space For London on October 26th, More gigs will hopefully be forthcoming soon! The ‘What Did You Expect? Etc.’ EP is available digitally from Bandcamp (https://breakuphaircut.bandcamp.com/releases) and as a limited edition physical CD from the band at their gigs.

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