No two Girl Band shows are quite the same, but the reaction’s often a mirror image. There’s always barging, limb flailing, maybe even a standard dose of crowdsurfing, but for the most part people are just entranced. Every move the Dublin group make is met by a mixture of bewilderment and giddiness. One of the things you’re more likely to see at one of their gigs - rather than an adrenaline-fuelled mosh - is a room of smiling faces. It runs counter to the band’s cutting noise punk, but it’s the instinctive reaction, to defend force with humour.
That’s how Girl Band treat things, too, as it turns out. In an interview with DIY, guitarist Alan Duggan says there’s a lighter side to what they do. As they approach a headline appearance at DIY Presents’ sold out Roundhouse Rising showcase, we chatted to Duggan about his group’s first couple of years, and what’s round the corner now they’ve signed to Rough Trade.
How did 2014 go for you? It feels like you’re still going at your own pace.
The thing about doing it slowly - we didn't necessarily intend to do it like that but it's been nice to be able to do it at our own pace. We've been able to make our own decisions. We haven't had to rush into anything. With every choice there's been to make we've taken our time with it. It's just good that it's getting attention now, as things are exactly as we want them to be portrayed, which we'd much rather be like as that's far better than being rushed and not being happy with things.
How did you find translating your sound to bigger stages last year?
The main thing about the bigger venues mainly is that they have bigger PAs. You know you've got better on stage sound, but mean one of the shows we played with Slint in Glasgow was a bit weird. That was one of the biggest shows we've played, with over a thousand people... But what was weird about that show is that there was a barrier, and that's the first time we'd ever played - besides festivals - at an indoor venue with a barrier! It was a little bit weird. We're not used to that at all. You can kind of pick up an energy off an audience a lot quicker without them.
“We just want more definition. We want to keep the live aspect of [our sound].”
— Alan Duggan
Is it safe to say you’re always trying to inject a sense of humour into what you do?
I think it's been picked upon already in a certain sense. It's very important to us. I don't like music that's serious... Well of course I do, but I like music that has this certain sense of humour about it. You can get more out of it. We prefer that. All the older punk bands have that kind of attitude as well... It's just important because we're just not like that.
Ending your sets on ‘The Cha Cha Cha’ is quite the move.
It always gets a laugh! Which is great because that's what it's for. We played a show in Rotterdam in this squat with all these punks, and it was our show but I don't think a lot of people knew our songs and were mostly just checking us out for the first time. And we ended with ‘The Cha Cha Cha’ and a big mosh pit broke out, but it was hilarious because by the time it got going, the music was over and there were a lot of really confused people standing around wondering why there's no music. Which was good - it's funny when that kind of stuff happens.
How’s the album going?
We're still working through it. We haven't said anything is definitely on the album or definitely isn't. We have a vague idea of tracks that we want to put on but we're just going to wait until we're ready to record it. We're planning to record in May, which again is far away but we want to give ourselves a bit more time. We put out three singles this year but we have it had a lot of time do a lot of writing because we've been touring a lot, and we have a couple of ideas that we want to work on. So we're going to work on it up until around May and then just head in and record a bunch of tracks and pick whichever works best. I'm pretty sure ‘My Daughter Paul’ will be on there though as we really like that. We do know we want to keep it around the 40 minute mark, so I can't see it being any more than 10 tracks or so, as the newer tracks are getting quite long. Some are more than seven minutes long so we just need to work on it.
How do you see your sound progressing?
We just want more definition. We want to keep the live aspect of it. We've started using a lot more percussion because we know when you're actually there live it's very loud and very immediate, which is quite hard to transfer over to a recording. A lot going on in the background can help keep the momentum going, so we've been thinking about things like that. There's not necessarily anything we want to achieve that we haven't already, but we want to keep it live and we just want to do it the best we possibly can. We're going to record in Dublin again, which we've used all the time up until now and we are pretty sure of what we want but each song will take its own little spin if you know what I mean. They'll all be recorded in the same week or two. We've been going to this studio since the very first demos we out up in 2011, and it's handy because we just feel at home there. It's easier to make a progression as it's somewhere we've been before and we're comfortable there. We don't want to sit in some fancy studio and think we're going to record an album now, this is much more of a natural thing and we don't have to make such a big deal out of it.
The Blawan cover - was that an important moment in the band’s history?
For us the big turning point was actually on the ‘France 98’ EP - there's a track called 'You're a Dog' on it and that was the first time we wrote a song that kind of was completely groove orientated and didn't have a chorus. It was a progression for us in the sense that we were working on how you could take a basic idea and really push that one basic idea, so for us Blawan was a similar thing in the sense that it was like 'okay, here's this one idea, this one thing... How do you keep it going?' If you hear some of the newer songs now they take on the same principle - they're almost always based around one note.
Kicking off from 7pm on 21st February, Roundhouse Rising is sold out and it’ll be streamed live on DIY.
WE’VE GOT A FAVOUR TO ASK
We’re often asked by potential advertisers about you, our readers. So we’d really appreciate it if you’d offer up a bit of information about you, and your music-loving habits by filling in our 2019 readers’ survey.
(Don’t worry, none of what we’re asking for is personally identifiable - and no questions are compulsory.)
More like this
The two-day festival is returning for its sixth year this May.
They have them mesmerised by noise and that’s exactly how they want it.
Two years ago, Girl Band cancelled their touring schedule and all but disappeared. Now, Dublin’s surrealist noiseniks are back with apocalyptic second record ‘The Talkies’.
Where the unlikely meets the possible.