"The BBC rang our press agent up and said ‘we’re doing an interview for bands from deprived areas’,” says Liam Creamer, singer with Rotherham’s thisGIRL,“ and we were like, ‘What?! We come from nice houses!’ “We got there and did the documentary, and the guy was like ‘no, it’s not deprived areas, it’s areas you wouldn’t expect rock bands to come from’”.

“It’ll be alright, but they’ll edit in bits like ‘…and they came from really shitty houses’,” adds drummer Ryan Jenkinson. “They’re from really bad areas and they got beat by their dad.”

But it is true, Rotherham’s previous musical output so far can be summed up in just two words: “Jive Bunny”. As towns go, it possibly isn’t an obvious one to produce one of the most vibrant, entertaining and goddamn fantastic emo-rock bands to come out of this country.

thisGIRL are back in South Yorkshire after a gruelling tour schedule that would make the most battle-hardened rock band groan. After an almost non-stop two years of support for rock luminaries across the length and breadth of the British Isles, the band return to Sheffield on a date at the Barfly.

Since forming in 1999, out of the ashes of Rotherham bands Marsha Ray and Hood, the band have constantly travelled the country gigging their arses off, picking up a deal with the independent Lockjaw Records on the way, and releasing debut album ‘Short Strut to the Brassy Front’ in April this year.

This gig is part of their current headlining tour, with support from labelmates Tribute to Nothing. Previous outings have seen them share a stage with (among others) the Wildhearts, Pitchshifter, Cave In, Biffy Clyro, Reuben and Hell is for Heroes.

“We’ve been lucky,” says Ryan, “almost all the bands you mentioned there have requested us to be in their show. People think we buy our way into stuff because we play with so many people.”

It seems that thisGIRL’s recent success has caused a case of sour grapes among their local music brethren, who seem to think they bought their way to where they are. Meeting the band you realise this is far from the truth – it’s a mixture of pure talent and bloody hard graft.

“There’s so many shitholes everywhere, in every corner of the country,” says guitarist Chris Shepard, “I can’t really count how many toilets we’ve played to be honest, and not one of the tours has been less than two weeks long.”

“People don’t realise how difficult it is for a Sheffield band to play the same four fucking venues every week,” says Ryan. “Work it out, you need to get out and play different places. And 90% of the time it’ll come to nothing, there’ll be no-one there, but other times…”

The Lostprophets turn up?

Wales’s most famous nu-metal band are big fans of thisGIRL, and are often snapped wearing thisGIRL t-shirts on stage.

“They come and see us at any gig we play anywhere near Wales,” says Ryan. “And buy about six t-shirts each,” adds bassist Matt Westley.

Added to constant gigging and celebrity fans came a torrent of very positive feedback from some of the major music publications, with NME’s Steven Wells practically losing bodily fluids over the poor young lads. They were described as the “only band worth losing your virginity to this year”.

To lump the band in with emo, with the whiny wallowing that seems to be the modern definition of the genre, is perhaps unjust. People should maybe leave the pigeonholes alone, and know the band as simply “bloody good rock”. Just because Matt does wear shorts so big he makes MC Hammer look like he’s wearing hotpants, doesn’t mean they’re a big shorts band.

The band themselves are wary of labels. As Ryan says, “the pigeonhole thing’s quite worrying, cos you end up part of a scene for a while which then ends”. Liam has been quoted as saying emo is a “pile of wank” (which he is adamant is a comment taken out of context), and the band’s influences are varied. They would love to support Tool, but have been mainly listening to Pink Floyd and the Cinematic Orchestra on the tour bus.

Seeing them live it’s easy to see why people love ‘em. Liam, who is rather quiet in an interview situation, becomes a god-like figure on stage, leaping around and taunting the audience like a bizarre rock-loving lovechild of Roddy Woomble and Howling Pelle Almqvist. The constant gigging has done them no harm whatsoever, and the practice has honed them into a fully-formed rock monster, so incendiary that you wonder if they should be allowed to play during the firemen’s strike.

Although their live shows get practically universal rave reviews, the band acknowledge their debut LP was somewhat rushed. “It wasn’t really an album it was more an EP. We only did it for our mates really. It was just a little more successful than we planned!” He smiles and shrugs. “Ah well!”

Christmas will see a break from the thisGIRL touring machine, and give them chance to write the follow up to ‘Short Strut…’, which should see light of day around March next year. Will this be the one that sends the band into the major leagues? They remain modest.

They don’t reckon on ever playing the world’s stadiums, and when pushed believe it will be the infernal Jive Bunny that’s remembered as Rotherham’s musical heritage rather than them (although Matt maintains it’ll be the Chuckle Brothers). However when you’re as good as thisGIRL, nothing should be ruled out.






Rotherham’s finest thisGIRL stop off in Sheffield on their current million date tour

words: Pete Mella

pics: Jon Enoch

December 2002


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