Bono, Noel Gallagher and the like are not the most obvious company for the four-piece who go by the names L.E.D., Clottie Cream, Naima Jelly and Rosy Bones, known collectively as Goat Girl.
But the fast-rising band found themselves rubbing shoulders with mainstream rock royalty when they won the Breakthrough Act gong at the swanky Q Magazine Awards night last week. They shared with award with fellow firebrands Idles.
Guitarist L.E.D, also known as Ellie recalls: ‘It was quite surreal because Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher and all these pretty famous people were about. We weren’t expecting it. I was like, I’m probably going to leave halfway through because I’m not a huge fan of awards ceremonies as they’re quite boring… They’re a bit more fun when you win though,’ she laughs.
Their self-titled debut album came out back in April, hitting the top 30. And with 19 tracks ripping past in a brisk 40 minutes, it highlights their ram-raid approach to genres, from Krautrock to country.
Reflecting their lives growing up in London, the album touches on politics, social commentary, sex and the sleazy men they’ve come across. But the lyric that’s attracted most attention is from Burn The Stake: ‘Build a bonfire, build a bonfire / Put the Tories on the top / Put the DUP in the middle / And we’ll burn the… lot.’
Do the band consider themselves to be political?
‘Yeah, I think we probably are,’ says Ellie after a moment’s pause. ‘We do say stuff like we want to burn the Tories, but I think at times it’s focused on a bit too much – there are loads of other lyrics within our songwriting. Maybe because it’s a bit daring or there’s something shocking about saying you want to burn the government, that people are always first to ask about our political views.
‘But I don’t see us as more or less political than the average person – we’re not political activists. When those songs were written it was a time when tuition fees were going up, so we couldn’t go to uni, or if we did, we’d end up in loads of debt, and it seemed quite unfair that the wealth gap would pave the way for the future in terms of what people could do.’
She expands on their lyrical themes: ‘We’re always going to talk about things from our own experiences and the time we’re living in, and in that respect it’s always going to be political.
‘I do get why people don’t write about current issues, it can be hard. I’m not the lyricist – I’d find it hard to put in words like [Clottie Cream] Lottie does, but I think she does it very well.’
Meanwhile, the track Creep taps into the wellspring of anger that runs alongside the #metoo movement – a real-life run-in with a pervert on a train.
‘I think every woman does go through having to deal with creepy men, unfortunately, and it’s making people aware that it’s not a shocking or rare occurrence – it happens every day, and it’s mental that it does.
‘With the #metoo movement, I think that it’s great, but I think it’s putting pressure on people who don’t want to talk about it - it’s not always the right thing for people to share what they’ve been through, but to be aware of it is good.’
The group developed their scuzzy tunes as part of the scene that has grown up around the Brixton venue, The Windmill, which includes acts like Shame, Bat-Bike, Fat White Family, Horsey, Sorry, and many more.
And Ellie says that being part of that scene was helpful to them: ‘I don’t think we would be the band that we are if we weren’t going to The Windmill from a young age and seeing bands. It made it seem like it was more accessible, and for us to be a female band in that space, and to say what we wanted to say – everyone was super-open, the music wasn’t all of one ilk, it’s quite diverse.
‘When we first started going to The Windmill, we saw people like Fat White Family and the Phobophobes and Bat-Bike, and we’re fans of them, but normally when you go to a gig at The Roundhouse or bigger venues, there’s this weird kind of wall between the performer and the audience, but at The Windmill I feel like that’s broken down a bit and it’s an all-encompassing thing. It is more intimate.’
The group signed with Rough Trade Records – and it was a no-brainer for the women when the legendary label came knocking.
‘There were other labels interested, but it seemed the most obvious choice to go to Rough Trade. I’d been going to Rough Trade in Brick Lane with my dad from when I was a kid, they were the only gigs I’d be allowed to go into, and then from 15 I’d go on my own. I saw Crystal Castles there with a friend. That’s the shop rather than the label, but they’ve always stood out to me – and they’ve always signed things like The Smiths, British music that’s paved the way.’
So do they see themselves as part of the same British indie lineage that runs back to bands like The Smiths?
‘Everyone likes to think they’re making history, but you can’t put that pressure on yourself, or you’ll go a bit mad,’ says Ellie with a wry chuckle.
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Wednesday, October 31