Interview Upbringing: Girls Names

The Belfast post-punks’ guitarist Phil Quinn talks influences and inspirations.

Bleak as you like, Girls Names’ to-the-bone take on post-punk reaches dizzying new highs on ‘Arms Around A Vision’. The group’s fourth full-length, it sees them delve into both crushing, emotional darkness and surgical precision to breathtaking effect.

It might be a surprise, then, to delve into the influences behind Girls Names guitarist Phil Quinn’s artistry. Below, he undergoes our Upbringing grilling, sharing his musical memories, influences and inspirations - everything from Coldplay, to Scatman John, to Will Smith and 20th century high art. Well, it’s certainly diverse.

Read the DIY review of ‘Arms Around A Vision’ here - Girls Names play the following before they hit up SXSW:

18 Manchester, Soup Kitchen
19 London, The Lexington
20 Kent, Ramsgate Music Hall
21 Norwich, Arts Centre
22 Birmingham, The Sunflower Lounge
23 Edinburgh, Electric Circus
24 Glasgow, The Hug & Pint
25 Galway, IE, Roisin Dubh
26 Cork, IE, Cyprus Avenue
27 Limerick, IE, Upstairs at Dolans

What was the first gig you ever went to?

The first gig I ever went to was Coldplay on their ‘Rush of Blood to the Head’ tour in 2001, I believe. I wasn’t that fussed, but being 13 my mate’s parents wouldn’t allow him to go alone. It was at a huge arena and we were sitting at the other end from the stage. Shite. Best bits were the kid in front of us who was off his nut and was thus dragged from the standing area by security to cool off in the seat in front of us. That and this giant blue lightsaber like light that blazed across the ceiling. The things you do for mates…

Were there a good supply of venues in your hometown?

There were but a few have closed down. I especially lament the closing of the Menagerie, possibly the last bastion of weirdness in Belfast. RIP.

Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?

It was either ‘Scatman’ by Scatman John or ‘Blue’ by Eiffel 65. Powerful stuff I think you’ll agree. Tried the former at karoake recently but was left feeling the latter upon failing miserably at keeping up with the Scatman.

‘Scatman’ - Scatman John

What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?

Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz. First time I ever rushed out to buy a single. I thought it was pretty catchy, good b-side too as I recall.

What’s the story behind you getting your first instruments?

I commandeered my Dad’s old acoustic guitar from the late 60s that had just been lying around the attic gathering dust. I bought my first electric from Argos a few months later with money I’d saved from my 14th birthday.

What’s your worst musical habit?

I’m doing my best to avoid them and think I’ve managed that by and large….I do like to go on satirical bluesy pentatonic runs now and then. Don’t expect to hear them on record any time soon though.

What was the first album you ever bought with your own money, and why?

That was ‘Willenium’ by Will Smith. I was sucked in by the ‘Wild Wild West’ theme tune. Buying a record with Will2k on it too was just an added bonus

‘Wild Wild West’ - Will Smith

What kind of inspirations outside of music have an impact on your songwriting?

I try to bring some ideas from certain 20th century art forms to music ideas involving minimalism, repetition, breaking from the past, a volte face from current aesthetical norms and such like.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a musician?

Do whatever YOU want.

If you could be any band from the past two decades who would it be, and why?

I’ve spent 15-20 minutes labouring over this question and can’t honestly think of one, from a musical viewpoint at least. Maybe one of those rich ones?

Girls Names’ ‘Arms Around A Vision’ is out now via Tough Love.

Tags: Girls Names, Upbringing, Features

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