“Never kiss a Tory”: An interview with Peaness
I’ve just started a zine called Mother’s Pride. It’s a riot grrrl feminist underground punk zine whose manifesto includes inspiring and supporting women to pick up guitars and sing and scream.
The first interview for the zine is with local band Peaness. I get to the pancake shop early with a tripod to set up the camera and test the sound. I get permission to film from the manager, promising to keep the swearing to a minimum and stay in the corner where we won’t film the other patrons. Peaness arrive and we all order these amazing scotch pancakes. I have mine with peaches, ginger, honey icecream and maple syrup. With our orders taken, the manager kindly obliges in turning down the music and we begin the interview.
HG: Hi I’m Hannah Golightly and I’m here at Hanky Panky with the band Peaness [gestures to the band who all chime in with a friendly upbeat “hello”] Not as dodgy as that sounds, honestly! Hanky Panky’s is a pancake shop in Chester. Peaness is a band- and lovely ladies as you can see. I’m here on behalf of Mother’s Pride zine for our first interview. [Balla gives thumbs up to the camera while HG and Peaness go]: Woo hoo!
HG: Sorry, hello Rachel, Jess, Balla.
Jess: I’m Jess. [waves]
Balla: I’m Balla. [waves too]
Rachel: I’m Rachel, hi! [waves]
HG: So erm, first of all, who came up with the name?
[Balla and Rach point towards Jess.]
Jess: I guess that’s me then. I think it was just on tumblr, just as like a funny thing. We couldn’t think of a name for ages so like…
HG: It’s quite hard at the moment, coz everything’s kinda taken isn’t it.
Balla: Exactly, isn’t it.
Jess: So we just went with that.
Balla: We just saw the peas and added the ness.
Rach: It all started off as a joke
Jess: [nods> It did start off as a joke.
Rach: It kind of stuck.
HG: It’s a good one, I like it. Er, I was in a band once, called Slutbomb and that was meant to be a joke but some people took that really seriously and we were like “no, that is a joke.” [laughs]
Rach: There was a guy who um, there was like a guy the other day on the internet who said “oh you’ve got a disgusting name”.
Balla: It offends some people.
Rach: There are a few people who disagree with it, but it’s just a name…
Jess: It’s just a bit funny.
HG: Yeah. I mean, you’ve been played on the radio haven’t you? How have the DJs handled it, coz obviously you can’t see the spelling which is P.E.A.N.E.double S.
Balla: We did get called Penis the first time we played on the radio. [HG laughs] and we very quickly had to correct the DJ.
HG: How is it pronounced?
Balla: Pea-NESS. [smiling mischievously]
Balla: [nods and smiles] Peaness.
HG: So I was just gonna ask, who are your influences, music-wise?
Jess: I think we’ve all got a bunch of different influences.
Balla and Rach: Yeah.
Jess: We all like rock music and indie music generally and pop songs.
Balla and Rach: Yeah.
Rach: We’ve got a few songs that like started off being called like ‘Drenge songs’ so it’s like certain influences for certain songs. And then we’ll all start writing lyrics for it.
HG: You mean like Drenge the band?
Balla and Rach: Yeah!
HG: I like them. So quite grungy then?
Jess: I don’t know, we all like a bit of everything to be honest.
Balla: We listen to a lot of Death From Above. We’ve been to see them live twice together.
Jess: Courtney Barnett…
Rach: Yeah, Courtney Barnett.
HG: Did you go to see her in Liverpool?
Rach: I went to see her.
Jess: [points to Rach] Oh yeah!
Rach: I love Courtney Barnett.
Jess: She’s deffo been our personal muse, this past year.
HG: I met her! I nearly interviewed her.
Peaness: Ahh yeah! [points camera at HG to shine spotlight on the claim to fame.]
HG: She’s great.
Balla: Jealous. [smiles]
HG: I was just gonna ask you: Do you think it’s important for women like us (I’m obviously a musician as well. I don’t know if you knew that) but um… do you think it’s important for women like us to see other – well and for other women – to see you know, other women, um, in bands and like Courtney Barnett and stuff. Do you think it’s important to have people you can like, who you can see doing it as well? Or do you think it’s not important if it’s good music?
[Interrupted by the waiter, who brings over glasses of water to the table]
Jess: WATER!!! Ha ha.
All [to waiter]: Thank you.
Waiter: Coffees are on their way.
All to waiter: Thanks.
[Jess and Balla sip water]
Rach: I think it’s important to have influences for younger women going into music. Someone to look up to really, coz naturally, girls look up to other women. [shrugs]
Balla: And, I also think it shouldn’t be made a big deal of, the fact that we’re all girls. An all girl band. Like all girls.
Waiter: And there’s three Americanos.
All [to waiter]: Thanks.
HG: Well that rather awkwardly leads me on to my next question, which is um: What advantages do you think women in bands have, if any, over guys?
Jess: Not sure…
Rach: There shouldn’t be any advantages really. It shouldn’t make a difference what gender you are.
Jess: There probably are some, but, I don’t want to comment on them.
Balla and Rach: Yeah.
Rach: There shouldn’t be.
HG: And do you think Sexism has been an issue for your band?
Rach: Not really.
Balla: Not really, I mean like [gestures to Rach] You’ve mentioned it before in our biography and stuff, like facebook, we haven’t mentioned that we’re a three piece girl band. We’re just a three-piece band, we’re just all girls with killer music, so.
Rach: You wouldn’t mention it if it was all guys, so…
Jess: You wouldn’t call if it was all guys a ‘three-piece all-male band’
Peaness: Yeah. [laughs]
HG: Ironically, is this feminist interview the most sexist thing you’ve come across?
Peaness: Err… [pauses, then laugh]
Jess: I suppose!
HG: That’s actually really good – if this is the only time anyone’s made a really big deal of it. That you’re girls.
Jess: I think we’re just. We’re lucky.
Jess: It’s obvious. It’s obvious it’s around and it’s not an issue.
HG: I’ve had some pretty bad stuff.
Jess: And most, most female drummers do. But we’ve just been really lucky that, well, either we ignore it and we don’t even realise it’s going on and brush it off or nine times out of ten, [shrugs] everyone’s fine.
Rach: I’ve had it like, that someone’s been like, “ah like, you’re really good. You’re the best girl drummer I’ve seen” and like, “you’re good for a girl”
Balla: Yeah you get it, being a drummer.
Rach: I suppose it’s like, you don’t really see it as often as… as you know. But I’ve not had it in the band, much from just playing, as a drummer.
Jess: Do you feel like, playing with some males, you’d get singled out?
Rach: Yeah, like “you’re good for a girl” and stuff like that.
Jess: And it doesn’t happen as much with us.
HG: Erm… What’s your creative process? Like who writes what in the band?
Balla: We kind of do it together.
Jess: It’s split.
Balla: One of us will just come up with an idea and it basically just goes from there.
Balla: We’ll take it to band practice and play it and [gestures to Rach] you’ll come up with drum over the top and [genstures to Jess] you’ll come up with basslines or something. Like if I’ve written something…
Jess: Or we’ll start with a bassline or with a drum beat.
Balla: Yeah, it’s like “let’s write a new song. Right, play a chord, go!”
Jess: And then it just happens.
Balla: It just happens, yeah.
Jess: There’s no specific process.
Balla: Yeah, there’s no… Unless one of us has sat at home and come up with a full song or something ourselves.
Jess:…which has happened. But yeah, it’s just really, just random.
Rach: We can always like adapt it really. Like each person will add something to it.
HG: So do you have really good musical chemistry and creative chemistry?
Balla and Rach: Yeah.
Balla: I’d say so.
Rach: We all have got the same ideas about what we want it to sound like.
Balla: The more we’ve played together and the more live shows we’ve done…
HG: Well you sound really good on your EP, No Fun. I really enjoyed that.
Peaness: Thank you.
HG: What does Riot Grrrl mean to you? You know like, what women do you look up to and did you have some female icons growing up?
Jess: I guess my Mum, first of all… she was always someone who…
HG: Rock on Mother! [laughs]
Balla: Rock on Mother’s Pride zine! I don’t know… I’d probably say my dad, to be honest with you, because my dad was a musician as well… well he still is.
HG: What kind of music does he do?
Balla: He used to do like covers and stuff like that, but I used to go to his gigs. I’ve been going to gigs since I was a baby. Like my mum would take me along and… I’d say I mainly wanted to become a musician because of my dad.
Everyone: Aww. Aw that’s nice. [Balla smiles and puts her thumbs up]
Rach: I don’t really have any cool ones. I used to like Avril Lavigne.
HG: Get out! [laughs] Or do you think that was due to a lack of prominent females?
Jess and Balla: Yeah. [Rach smiles]
HG: You had to have Avril Lavigne?
Rach: I used to LOVE Avril Lavigne. Let it go! [laughs with everyone]
Balla: I’ve still got all her albums. [laughs]
Jess: I’m gonna say Lisa Simpson. I LOVE Lisa Simpson. She’s my role model. Fictional. But she’s still the best.
HG: Well, if fictional’s all you’ve got then, you know…You’ve got a new record coming out in April. Do you want to tell us a bit about what that is?
Balla: Yeah, go on Jess.
Jess: OK, so, we’ve got a new song coming out called ‘Oh George.’ It’s about George Osborne.
HG: Do you mean Gideon?
Jess: George Osbourne.
HG: Gideon rebranded himself as George to sound more ‘down with the people’
Jess: It didn’t work.
Balla: Gideon? I think if he just left his name as Gideon, he’d be more down with the people. [laughs] Gideon! [Shakes her head]
Jess: So it’s about how much we hate him, basically.
HG: [laughs] How much you hate him?
Jess: Yeah. [laughs]
Balla: Basically yeah.
HG: I think this track is gonna be popular somehow.
Balla: Definitely with the budget as well and stuff like… after we voted and stuff like that.
Rach: We just got really wound up about it.
Balla: Yeah, we just got really wound up about how things turned out.
Balla: And we were just like ‘right, George.’ [laughs]
HG: So are you quite a political band or do you just write about whatever you’re thinking about?
Jess and Balla: I wouldn’t say we’re a political band.
Balla: But we follow it. It does pop up.
Jess: We follow it and it’s obviously an issue, being the age we are.
HG: How old are you?
Jess: We’re all mid to late twenties, so it’s an important time to be paying attention to these sort of things because we don’t live with our parents anymore, so now all those things are actually things we now have to deal with so we’ve got to stay on top of what’s going on.
Jess: I’ve got my T-shirt today, that says (it’s a Los Campesinos! T-shirt) “never kiss a Tory”!
[HG zooms the camera in to get a good look at the image on the T-shirt, which is, quite mystically, an image of Cameron snogging a pig. Who knew how psychic this T-shirt would turn out to be huh?]
HG: Oh my God. How sexy is that?
Jess: Never kiss a tory. So er, you can tell, we’re not Tory supporters.
HG: Good. No Tory supporters allowed in the zine.
Peaness: No. [shake heads, Balla gives thumbs up]
HG: OK, thanks very much for coming. It’s been lovely to meet you.
Peaness: Woo hoo! [All wave]
Jess: Thank you very much.
Balla and Rach: Thank you.
The new single ‘Oh George’ by Peaness is out now via bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify.
And you can read more from Mother’s Pride here.