For anyone who is bored to TEARS with the garage-rock-by-numbers, dutifully churned out by poster boys like The Strokes, The Vines and the bloody Libertines, The Lollies - funny, wise, pop grrrls from London via the US - are a revelation. Their existence on Planet Pop is akin to that of an exotic Pina Colada cocktail surrounded by puddles of stale lager. Their very BEING defies the tepid, boring, regressive predictability of the bands that are lauded in the music press every week. The Crescent? The Datsun's? Fuck off! They've invented their own genre, fabulously described as Rock Candy "Rock that's hard but sweet, bubblegum pop with intelligence." They claim to be "the missing link between My Bloody Valentine and Britney Spears" and they are here to destroy indie-pop.
Kate St. Claire (guitar/singing), Jane Mountain (bass/singing) and Matthew Lazowski (drums) formed The Lollies for much the same reason as ANY bunch of fame-hungry young hopefuls forms a band: everyone else sucked and frankly, they'd do a much better job of being famous. On a more base level, the ladies behind the Lollies wanted to meet cute boys, though, being too smart and too fucking super-cool to be groupies, they became musicians instead. Thank the lord for that then.
"We formed three years ago as a reaction of pure disgust to the music scene around us. People assume we're trying to save indie-pop - fuck that, we're here to totally destroy it." spits Kate gallantly. "Music has become so polarised - on one hand, you have Serious Boys making Serious Guitar Rock, and on the other, you have airbrushed dolly-birds making vocal chart -pop and there's no middle ground."
The Lollies though, are an effortless mix of anti-macho indie cool and snappy pop suss, like The Ramones, Kenickie, The Undertones and Elastica before them. And they won't rest until they're on CD:UK on the telly in your living room while you eat your Coco Pops on a Saturday morning.
Says Jane: "We never wanted to be an indie bedroom band that only reaches a few thousand people. I want to be loved by Britney Spears fans and adored by Destiny's Child fan club members, because that will allow us to open up a whole new world to people who only have access to what they hear on the radio or what is sold in chart shops." Kate adds: "Any band that says they want to remain indie or unknown is either lying, or has an independent source of income. Me, I have rent to pay! I would love to be on top of the pops and sell a million records."
Exactly. Whether the Lollies will scale the dizzy heights of the charts remains to be seen, particularly in a time when Reality TV-produced pop puppets are ruling the roost and anyone with half a nugget of a brain or a sense of individuality is pushed overboard, but as Kate points out: "You have to believe that it's possible, or else why bother coming out of your bedroom 4-track studio or playing gigs anywhere except your own living room?"
The Lollies have been dismissed in some quarters for being 'disposable', 'trashy' and - gasp! - fun. The thing is, the sort of heads-up-their-arses people who make these claims are the sort of people who don't understand that being 'pop' does not mean being vacuous. That being funny does not mean being stupid. That being clever does not mean being boring. The Lollies write wise, life affirming lyrics that just happen to be set to ace punk pop tunes.
Says Kate: "We started this band with a very deliberate aim. I wanted to sing about things that were very mundane and quite ordinary. Look into the lyrics of The Shangri-La's or The Supremes or The Ronettes, they often addressed very serious issues but presented them in a very down to earth way. I slip things into songs with humour: 'Jonestown Mascara' is a hand-clapping surf tune that just happens to describe eating disorders and how women suffer for the beauty myth. I'm not going to condescend people and go "Ooh look, I'm being political, I'm addressing an issue here." That's a major problem I have with riot grrrl - I won't be lectured at by Kathleen Hannah any more than George W. Bush."
Despite their problems with the constrictions and expectations of Riot Grrrl, The Lollies have been involved in a number of female-oriented music festivals since their inception, including last years Ladyfest tour.
Kate explains: "It was important to do it. There are so many stereotypes about what feminists or female musicians are. We wanted to prove you don't have to be a man-hating lesbian spouting radical politics to be a feminist. We were playing accessible, intelligent rock songs about boys. This is a face of females in music, and a face of feminism that needs to be seen. On our most recent tour we went back to some of the places the Ladyfest Tour had been and there were all these young women who had witnessed it and it had inspired them to go out and start their own bands. Then you realise it was worth it - that it made a difference in some people's lives."
Flick through the pages of an NME or a Kerrang and chances are you'll be able to count the number of females musicians featured within their pages on one hand. Female artists seem to face an uphill struggle in garnering the respect and the column inches awarded to their male counterparts. Unless you're Kylie and they're waffling on about your arse of course. So, has their being a predominantly female band affected The Lollies in any way?
"I wish we lived in a society where being a creative woman wasn't viewed as something odd or even notable." sighs Kate. "Every time you read an interview with a male musician, no one asks him about his masculinity. It might be more interesting if they did: "So Eminem, how do you feel you represent males in music?!" As far as the band goes it's been a double-edged sword. We're lucky in that being female brings us a uniqueness, but other people's expectations are just so limiting! It's really frustrating when you write songs that draw from a vast profusion of influences, yet people will only ever compare you to say Sleater Kinney or Kenickie because those are the only female bands most people know and they assume you can only ever compare girls to other girls."
Which is why I'm not going to compare them to anyone. The Lollies are simply a brilliant, articulate pop group who will make your heart flutter and your feet want to dance. Their awesome, awesome, AWESOME debut album, 'Taste', is out now on Fortune and Glory. And if you're still in two minds about whether to buy it, here's Miss Kate St Claire with the hard sell:
"Was your life saved by rock'n'roll? Can music save your mortal soul? Do you, do you, do you, do you wanna dance? Are you ready to RAWK? For those about to SUCK, we salute you! The Lollies' album will be your new best friend, it will carry your books home from school, it will make you taller, smarter, thinner, firmer and more attractive to the opposite sex... OK, no it won't, we lied. But when the boy/girl of your dreams spurns you, it will take you out for a beer and let you cry on its shoulder. And when you want to go out on the pull again, it will fix your hair and lend you new shoes, let you cut the queue and get you on the dancefloor. Unlike therapy, t'ai chi, philosophy and Digital TV, it WILL make you happy. I laughed, I cried, it was better than 'Cats'. Thank you and goodnight."
Catch The Lollies live at the following night spots:
Oct 29 - The Metro Club, London - with Kicker, 99
Nov 16 - Junktion 7, Nottingham - with Chris TT, Fairy Traders, Liberty Ship
Nov 18 - Joseph's Well, Leeds - with Harvey HD
Nov 24 - The Cavern, Exeter - with Harvey HD
Nov 25 - The Portland Arms, Cambridge - with Harvey HD
Dec 19 - The Casbah, Sheffield - with Harvey HD
Dec 20 - The Arts Centre, Norwich (Wombat Wombat Xmas)
Dec 22 - The Head of Steam, Newcastle - with We Start Fires (Ladyfest benefit)