Category Archives: interviews

interview: the franklys

by tim forster

The Franklys: Jennifer Ahlkvist, Fanny Broberg, Zoe Biggs and Lexi Clark. Tim interviewed the band by email.

could you give us an overview of The Franklys?
Two of us are from Sweden and two from England, and we play frenetic garage rock with heavy and psychedelic overtones á la Led Zeppelin-Blondie-Strokes-QOTSA-punk-pop-rock-madness. We’ve toured across both the UK/Europe and America, including festival slots at Isle of Wight, Download Festival and Camden Rocks, and our debut album is out early 2017!

what artists have influenced you?
BlondieThe StrokesLed ZeppelinQueens of the Stone AgeArctic MonkeysThe RunawaysGreen Day, to name but a few. Bands that we are currently enjoying … Petrol GirlsThe TutsWHITELa LuzMuncie Girls and Tom Jones.

how would you describe your sound?
We never want to be put in a ‘box’ so we try to get lots of different elements or the unexpected into our songs, whilst keeping a sort of heavy garage rock backbone to it. We definitely sound different to how we did a few years ago, and that’s great because you want to keep pushing forward.

you play a broad spectrum of gigs: from Isle of Wight to Download to LOUD WOMEN to small town venues. is it hard to adjust to different settings?
There’s no denying there is a different feeling and vibe to those varying venues, but we never change or try and stifle our performance for anything. Even on the tiniest of stages (or floors!) we are still trying to bring as much energy to it as possible, which usually means a guitar in the face or a cymbal in the back, but it’s all part of it!

the rock scene is historically very macho – but do you think things are improving? Casual sexism, overt sexism … it’s still out there and still happening, of course not only in this industry. Personally I feel like things are improving, but there is such a long way to go and we have to keep pushing for changes. Maybe it’s because of who I follow on Twitter, Instagram etc. but there seem to be a lot more visibility of musicians who are female than there ever was, and it’s getting better every day. But, then again … in the mainstream, I’m not convinced many are breaking through to the public consciousness, which means you have to really seek these out and be motivated to do so.

  • “How many male musicians do you think have had a sound engineer come up to them and try to change the settings on their guitar for them in the middle of a soundcheck? Or has anyone ever said, ‘oh you play well, for a boy’?”

We are still scratching our heads over this A+ comment from a sound engineer the other week ‘oh where’s the drummer, probably gone off to buy some new shoes…’, hmm …

what plans do you have for the coming year?
We are currently finishing up mixing and mastering our debut album, which will be released early next year. It’s been a long time coming and we can’t wait to share it with everyone. And we have just announced a few live dates, which you can check out here. We’ll be celebrating the launch of our new single with a gig at The Shacklewell Arms on 2nd November, hope to see you there!

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touring Brexit Britain as a non-white musician

by vanessa govinden

Little Fists: Vanessa (bass), Ste (guitar), Soph (drums). Photo by Matthew Hussey.

Two weeks after Britain voted to leave the EU, I was walking down my street when a guy in a removals van shouted, ‘You’re fucked!’ as he drove past.

I’d like to say that’s the only time I’ve experienced something like that, but it’s not.

I was born and raised in West London, though my parents are first-generation immigrants from Mauritius.

They chose to give me a neutral name – Vanessa – with no religious connotations, which confused a lot of people when I was growing up. ‘Are you Hindu? Are you Muslim? What are you?’

In truth, I was always a bit of a strange kid – a brown girl with dyed red hair and painted blue eyebrows, listening to punk, grunge and metal from the age of nine – who never really fit in until I found my bunch of misfit friends.

But two days after 9/11, I experienced a different sense of division. I was waiting at a bus stop when a car full of guys threw cans at me and shouted, ‘Go back to Pakistan, you fucking terrorist!’

That was the first time I realised that people could view me in the most basic terms – a dark-skinned person – and attack me for it. I’m not trying to play the victim here.

I just want people to know that this stuff still happens and that it can have consequences which aren’t always obvious.

That driver’s taunt rattled me. I had a friend’s birthday to attend that night but I didn’t feel up to leaving the house.

And that’s when it clicked: in two months’ time, my band would be heading on tour around the UK, playing places where the majority of people voted Leave.

I play bass and co-vocalise in Little Fists, a trio from London inspired by the ethos of punk, riot grrrl and queercore.

We decided to release a split seven-inch with Fight Rosa Fight! – a like-minded trio from Cheltenham who play the same type of shows: safe spaces and DIY venues, feminist nights and fundraisers – before going on a week-long tour together.

Then Brexit happened. Social media lit up with stories of people being openly racist and I braced myself for abuse. What had seemed like an amazing opportunity began to make me feel vulnerable.

The dread built up until I had a panic attack the night before the tour. My whole body was tingling – and knowing that I needed a good night’s sleep only made it worse.

It felt like the attack would set a trend for the week ahead: that there would be more nights like this regardless of what happened.

I knew there was every chance that the tour would pass without incident, that I’d be with people who had my back in any situation. But anxiety doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you just can’t reason your way out of it.

Little Fists. Photo by Matthew Hussey.The next day, approaching the train platform as we were about to leave London, the dread intensified again. But I didn’t want to let my friends down and so I stepped on board, knowing there was no turning back.

The first date of the tour was Queer Fest Nottingham. Last year, when we played the Femmington Spa Queer Fest (in central Warwickshire), an encounter stuck with me.

The venue was in the basement of a pub where some of the regulars were curious to know what was going on downstairs and what was queer about it. One guy asked me, ‘Punk is punk. Why are you making it gay?’

At first I thought maybe he meant that punk was universal and that he couldn’t see any need to put labels on it.

So I invited him downstairs and explained the concept of a safe space – an environment where anyone can feel free to express themselves without fear of being made unwelcome on account of their sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or any other factor.

He responded by saying, ‘Yeah, but what if someone tries to bum me?’

I think that lack of awareness fed into my anxiety. This wasn’t just about racism.

Little Fists and Fight Rosa Fight! on tour with their driver JC. Photo by Kate Rosanne.Going on your first tour means putting yourself out there, in unfamiliar places, in front of people who may not see the world the way you do. And I have to admit, there were moments where I questioned the wisdom of doing that.

In Leeds, a friend had a bottle chucked at him and called a faggot while walking home from our gig.

In Liverpool, we popped into a pub to use the bathroom one afternoon and I instantly felt like we were going to get our heads kicked in.

Later that night, our guitarist and co-vocalist Ste (who is Irish) was questioned aggressively about his identity by someone on the street.

In Manchester, another panic attack struck the moment I stepped into a shopping centre. I have no idea what triggered it. That’s the thing about anxiety: it just announces itself without explanation, overpowering the logical part of your brain.

Soph, our drummer and co-vocalist, suggested we get some fresh air. While we were sitting outside a cafe, this man – a normal looking guy in his sixties – came over and got a little too close. He stared at me in disgust and grunted something unintelligible under his breath – a burst of primitive disapproval, basically.

Soph jumped to my defence but the guy simply walked off. That’s the thing connecting these incidents: there’s no conversation; people won’t even stop. It’s cowardly but it still really affects you. And the worst part is that you can’t say anything back.

Little Fists and Fight Rosa Fight! on tour with their driver JC (far left). Photo by Cassie Agbehenu.The best response was just to get on with the tour which – those moments aside – turned out to be an incredible life experience. The shows went well, the crowds were great and the two bands grew close.

Brexit came up a lot in conversation, but there was a lot less doom and gloom among people than I’d expected. Instead there was a sense of sticking together and getting through it, which, for me, is what the name Little Fists is all about: power in unity.

I’m not a natural performer. I enjoy being in this band but when it comes to playing live, there have been moments where I thought, ‘Why am I forcing myself to get on stage? We could easily just jam every week for the sake of catharsis.’

But by the end of the tour, I just wanted to keep going. My outlook felt much more positive.

Maybe it was the process of facing up to challenging situations, maybe it was realising how lucky I am to have such a supportive network, maybe it was taking comfort in the knowledge that DIY spaces are in much better shape outside London.

I just know the next time we go on tour, I won’t feel so anxious.


Check out Little Fists on Facebook or Bandcamp. AND, come and see them play on 7 Oct at our We Shall Overcome fundraiser at T.Chances.

Article originally published in Huck magazine.

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introducing: dolls

by tim forster

DOLLS: singer/guitarist Jade Ellins and drummer Belinda (Bel) Conde

you’ve been together 2 years. did you have a clear idea of the sort of sound you wanted from the start, or has the DOLLS sound evolved?
jade: When we were first jamming together I was still very much in my ‘blues rock’ stage. So every song was very riff-based, with wailing vocals. I was a bit scared to use more pop-based chords back then as I thought it might sound cheesy. I got into listening to more punk and ‘arty’ bands such as Bikini KillSonic Youth and Ought about a year ago so our sound changed a lot. I realised pop chords weren’t the problem, it was more what you did with them. Now there is hardly a blues riff in sight!

how would you describe your sound now?
bel: I think our sound is a mixture of wanting to ‘get out’ what frustrates us about the current society we live in, with a touch of Jade’s ballsy vocals and my loud drums. We like to make an impact through our music and really reach out to our audience.

what were your early musical influences?
jade: My parents are both musicians so music was always around. Pretty much as soon as I could move they gave me a guitar. Thank God! I loved classic rock bands when I was little as my Dad used to play them all the time in the car, like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I also loved a bit of Britney and Christina though, I still do!

bel: I didn’t come from a musical background at all – I had to fight my mum over the years to get a drum kit! My early influences were serious heavy and nu metal bands, such as Slipknot and SOAD. Hehe…

how does the creative process work: is it collaborateive, or is there one main songwriter?
jade: I generally will have the chords and a basic structure of a song ready before I take it to Bel and our other co-writer, Sam. I find it really difficult to get songs out of jamming and rather have some time to myself first to decide what kind of song it will be. A few songs have formed out of us jamming them on the spot, like ‘Kid Kannibal’, but that is quite rare now. Other times Bel may come up with a drum beat that I find inspiring or Sam may come up with some chords that I want to work with.

you were excellent at LOUD WOMEN fest! is it on stage where you are most at home, or in the studio?
jade: Thank you! Performing on stage is definitely why I do this. It’s actually my favourite thing to do! That’s why I don’t mind us gigging all the time and never understood when other bands would complain about it. The studio is still bit of a weird environment for me, however we have just been recording four songs with Jim Sclavunos (GrindermanNick Cave and The Bad Seeds) which was a brilliant experience. I felt like I needed to go and practise a million hours after working with him as it was so inspiring.

bel: Being onstage is where I feel the most comfortable! I love playing live and I believe that is the best way to put our music across. It’s great to get good feedback from our gigs!

what has your experience been like in the alt rock/punk/DIY scene? is it a better place for women than mainstream culture?

both: The punk DIY scene, where they put on female-fronted bands in particular, has been great. We haven’t experienced any sexism and always feel supported. Which is why these nights exist! The general alt rock punk scene can be very different.

  • “There are a lot of male ‘punk’ bands that still think it’s OK to belittle you, or expect you to be a bit shit as you are a woman.”

Some of these bands have even had female members in. I guess sexism is still more dominant in mainstream culture, but it can happen anywhere.

what bands and writers are you enjoying at the moment?
jade: I’m loving Parquet CourtsHindsAngel OlsenOughtQueen Pj and the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds new album is ace!

bel: I really like King Gizzard & The Lizard WizardThee Oh Sees and when I need to chill out I go for Bowery Electric.

what’s next for DOLLS?
both: We have just recorded four tracks. What will happen to those four tracks is still a bit of a mystery. Hopefully they will become super popular, we will become mega rich, and we will be able to finally afford a roadie so we don’t have to carry our shit around with us on the tube!

Thanks to Tim Forster for letting us use this abridged version of his interview. You can read the full version on his blog here.