Over the years, the North East has produced a steady crop of angular-yet-astute indie rock bands (The Futureheads, Maximo Park etc), so it’s reassuring to find in Roxy Girls a group ready to grab the baton.
Having met one another in and around Sunderland hub Pop Recs Ltd - a record store, café and creative space set up by indie popsters Frankie & The Heartstrings back in 2013 - where drummer Aidan volunteered making coffee -each step of their life as a band has seemed to somewhat perfectly fall into place - each step of their life as a band has seemed to somewhat perfectly fall into place. “Five or six years ago, [Heartstrings’ guitarist] Michael McKnight introduced us and said, ‘Oh, Tom, do you like shoegaze?’,” recalls frontman Tom Hawick, at home in the city just a week before the release of their new EP. “I had no idea what shoegaze was at that point, but I said, ‘Yeah, I love it!’.” The rest was history.
"We've just managed to wing it, but I guess that's a good skill to have!"
— Tom Hawick
Since then, the quartet have bagged themselves live slots supporting the likes of The Murder Capital, Drahla, Mush and loads more across 2019, building a reputation for their intricate but scuzzed-up post-punk. Behind the scenes, however, they’ve had to dive in the deep end. “We’ve never all been in the same city since the band started,” continues Tom; while three of the members are originally from the city, one currently lives in Leeds, with another over the river in Newcastle. “We’ve gotten used to that over the past couple of years though. Last year, we played 40-odd gigs, but we only rehearsed seven or eight times, and we just managed to wing it. I guess that’s a good skill to have!”
From that initial almost-accidental formation through a couple of years of “winging it,” they even found their current label home of Moshi Moshi in a fairly innocuous way. Label boss Stephen Bass tuned into a Marc Riley session the band played, they explain, and messaged them saying, “If you’re old-fashioned enough to want to put a record out, please consider us”. “It’s happened in phases,” Tom nods, “but it’s probably been as organic as it could be.”
Now, with new EP ‘A Wealth Of Information’ on the horizon, they’re feeling even more comfortable in their own skin. “When we started, none of us really had any experience of being in bands,” he admits. “And although there is some good stuff on the first two EPs, this is the one we’re most happy with. It focuses on mundane life and the situations that people all go through, in one shape or form, at some point in their life.”
You might call their path so far lucky, but Roxy Girls are proving Sunderland’s musical lineage is still far from mundane.
As featured in the June 2020 issue of DIY, out now.