Since their inception in 1994, Lancaster’s Angelica have made the transition from shambolic toilet circuit gigs, limited edition 7” singles and Ash support slots to being card-carrying riot grrrl pioneers for the 21st century with admirable ease. Leaving a trail of dead kittens and decapitated love rivals in their wake and fending off lazy Kenickie comparisons in the only way they know how – by sounding absolutely NOTHING like them – Holly, Brigit, Claire and Rachel, deal in twisted punk rock, dark humour and sweet choruses laced with arsenic. They also count Babes In Toyland front lady Kat Bjelland among their mates and want to kick King Adora’s heads in. These are all good things. This autumn will see them wrap up a successful national tour and release their debut album through their new label Alma Flame. Let’s have a natter to them shall we?
How’s the tour been going?
Brigit – It’s been going great so far. The best gig was definitely Leicester - the audience were really receptive and friendly, everyone was jumping around and singing along to the songs. It was really good fun.
Rachel – I really enjoyed tonight too.
Holly – Yeah tonight was good. We’ve had some bad ones in our time though! I think our worst gig was probably Carlisle because no one was into it at all – I don’t think anyone in Carlisle cares about independent music. They were more bothered about getting drunk at the bar and going out clubbing afterwards.
Claire - everyone just stood at the bar, completely uninterested – pah!
Holly – Generally the gigs have been brilliant though – we just love playing live.
Although Angelica’s career has been steaming along rather comfortably for the past couple of years, what with being top-of-the-indie-chart regulars, setting people’s hearts on fire with some explosive live shows and being touted as the ‘next big thing’ by all and sundry, this July saw them split from their record label Fantastic Plastic.
Holly – Yeah… The split from Fantastic Plastic was due to musical and ideological differences really – but it was completely amicable. Basically they wanted to tie us down to a contract, which we weren’t happy about because we wanted to be more in control.
Brigit – We just wanted things to happen more quickly. They wanted to sign us to a long-term contract and get all these producers in and spend ages on the album whereas we just wanted to record it and put it out straight away – like we had done in the past.
So what’s next for Angelica? Is there still an album in the pipeline?
Brigit – Oh yeah - we’re releasing it in October through Alma Flame which is Kat Bjelland’s label…
Rachel – We’ve got a week to record it in which is quite scary!
Brigit – Kat is producing it and it should be out in October if all goes well. No long term contacts, no messing about. We’re just going to record it and put it out as soon as possible. We’re playing at the Ladyfest up in Scotland too, which’ll be great.
Strange as it may seem in today’s climate of ‘MTV or bust’ and music as a commodity, Angelica swear they will never sign to a major label. They have that rare and oft-forgotten virtue known as artistic integrity and sneer at lesser artists who relinquish control in favour of fame and money and stretch limousines. Commendable this may be, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to see Angelica on CD:UK giving fakers like Blink 182 a run for their money and being ROLE MODELS for the 14 year old girls out there?
Holly – The reason we wouldn’t sign to a major is because we want to be in full control of everything – the artwork, the music… at the moment we are in control of every aspect of the band, which is great. The thing is if you sign to a major you’d get told what to wear, what songs to release… you’d just be a puppet really and we don’t want that. We’d have to compromise too much if we wanted to go the major label route.
Brigit – Maybe we would if it was completely on our own terms but that’s so unlikely.
Despite the fact that Angelica sound like a deliciously potent Dinosaur Jnr / Jesus and Mary Chain / Sleater-Kinney / Belly cocktail, the fact that they are girls, with guitars, from the north, who have songs with choruses, ensures that they are always, ALWAYS compared to Kenickie by lazy, dismissive journalists who really should know better - Journalists who can’t deal with more than one girl band at a time. Are you listening NME?
Brigit – It’s just frustrating really, but people are always going to make comparisons.
Claire – Lazy journalism!
Holly – it’s the fact that we’re from the north, we’re quite young girls and we play guitars and we like to have a laugh on stage…
Brigit – we don’t sound anything like them though - our songs are completely different. Perhaps when we started it was justified as we sang about similar things, but not any more. People always have to label you as something though.
Claire – I think when we first started someone said we were the new shampoo!
Holly – it’s frustrating how the media always feels the need to champion one girl band – build them up and knock them down. But they can never ever champion a couple or a handful of girl bands. It’s still seen as a bit of a novelty.
So as an all girl band have you had any experience of sexism in the industry?
Holly – God yeah.
Brigit- It’s really annoying cos you always get things like – oh you play really well for a girl. You’re not bad for a girl band.
Holly – The things is if anyone is rude to you or treats you badly it’s easy to think ‘oh they’re doing it cos they’re sexist’ y’know? But we are quite wary.
Claire – they always tend to think you won’t know anything about the technical side of things which is frustrating.
Brigit – you just have to get on with it though. We don’t get that half as much as we used to.
As well as being rightly furious over the sexists that infiltrate the music industry, Angelica also have an axe to grind over King Adora – throwaway punk posers on a never-ending bad hair day with delusions of foxiness. Angelica think they’re despicable examples of human life. King Adora think Angelica are ‘silly little tarts.’ The incident culminated at Leeds Carling festival last year with a few onstage slaggings – ladies, what was all that about?
Holly – That’s completely in the past now!
Claire – I can’t really remember what it was about…
Holly – I think we’d just read an interview with them the week before and they were saying some things about women that made us really angry. They say ridiculous things about groupies and women in general just to be controversial and we were really drunk when we were on stage and it all came out!
Claire – We didn’t realise but after a drunken night in our tent at Leeds slagging them off, we woke up to discover that they were camping two tents down from us!
Holly – Didn’t they call us silly little tarts or something?
Claire – It’s all in the past now but obviously if we ever saw them we’d kick their heads in!
I like their style! Unfortunately, Angelica aren’t representative of today’s ‘alternative’ music scene. They’re too clever. They’re too innovative. They’re too female. It’s a sad fact that the pages of NME and Kerrang are still dominated by either heard-it-all-before indie boys or macho nu-metal jokers. Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park – we mean you! Yeah, so the charts are full of guitars again, but is this good for music?
Holly – I think it’s bad for girl bands and girl music. It’s a generalisation but all the nu-metal bands seem to be about as far as I can see is violence and beating up your wife and general sexism. It’s the same with hip-hop really.
Claire – that is a generalisation though because bands that were there at the beginning like Korn and the deftones aren’t really like that. The newer bands have been so watered down though – they can hardly be called alternative.
Holly – There’s no real space for women in that scene though – the female nu-metal bands that are successful are the ones that get their tits out or look sexy or whatever.
Brigit – Most of the metal bands seem to be angry for no reason… it just seems false.
Holly – It’s like with sonic youth they were a really violent, angry live band but there was a point to them being angry. It wasn’t just to sell records.
Seen as you’ve all been through the headaches and heartbreaks of higher education, do you have any tips for the new students starting University in September?
Claire – Oh yes! - Don’t go to any of the student bars or clubs, go to the local ones because they’re better. And blow your loan in the first term.
Rachel – NO! Don’t blow your loan in the first term or you’ll be skint like we were!
Holly – Don’t make any friends because students are rubbish!
Rachel – Stay away for freshers week.
Claire – Do a course that you’re interested in - don’t just go for the sake of it!
Rachel – Only go to the student bars during the day when the other students aren’t there! Have a year out and consider your options.
Sterling advice there kids - take heed! For more information on Angelica you can visit their website at www.angelicahq.com What are you waiting for?!