words: Pete Mella
pics: Andy Brown
Rotherham lads form thisGIRL, get good, play a thousand gigs a year (or something) and get to watch Liimp Bizkit sidestage. Well you can’ win ‘em all.
It was December 2002 when we last caught up with the touring rock machine that is thisGIRL. Eighteen months later we catch up with them again, as their first album proper’s garnering some very good reviews and they take a breather between their still incessant gigging.
“We’ve done about 800 gigs,” estimates drummer Ryan.
“I reckon about 957 and a half,” says singer Liam. “And that wedding we played that time…”
“We’ve not done as much as last year though…,” says guitarist Chris.
“We’re getting older, and more withered,” says Liam. “That’s why we’re having to employ people to change our colostomy bags on stage.”
But even though they’re already veterans of touring the UK, Europe and parts of America, the band still have an average age of 21. It’s this constant touring and travelling that’s honed them into the band they are today. It’s also led to some interesting on the road tales. Since the last time we spoke, they’ve played with the Deftones, Cyprus Hill and Limp Bizkit, but seem unchanged by their brushes with fame.
“We could have made an appointment to see Fred Durst,” says bassist Matt, “but we didn’t think it was that much of a big deal to.”
“But [Durst’s] bodyguard came into our dressing room,” says Ryan. “He just walked in and went ‘Limp Bizkit say you can watch from the side of the stage’, and walked out. We didn’t even want to watch them but we felt guilty not doing. He’d invited us!”
“He’d have been weeping in his tour bus if we hadn’t,” says Liam.
“But while we were stood at the side of the stage watching them, obviously doing our duty,” says Ryan, “who’s stood behind us but fucking Chad Kroeger from Nickelback!”
Inbetween hobnobbing with the great and good (and Chad Kroeger), they’ve been busy in the studio. The band’s new album ‘Uno’ is out now, and is the first album release on the new Drowned In Sound label, which has already seen single releases from Leeds’ Kaiser Chiefs and London’s The Koreans. They’ve shopped around for a deal over a year since parting company with indie label Lockjaw, and finally found one that suits them.
“I think a lot of people have shopped us around too,” says Chris, “which is part and parcel. We were getting shit from other labels, deals had clauses. This just came at the right time, a wicked deal.”
“For every album we sell we’ll probably see about four quid from every one,” explains Ryan. “Any other deal, there’s like a standard in the industry that you get 14 and a half per cent, PDP. So for every album you sell on Sony, you see fuck all.”
“That’s why that Mick Hucknall bloke set up [his own label],” says Liam, “because he thought, ‘what was the point in a big record label when I could set up my own and release our records?’”
There was also creative issues with the deals they were being offered.
“People want you to change your shit,” says Ryan. “We refused to change our music for labels, it’s like the only people who you’d ever think about changing your sound for, apart from yourselves, is fans.”
‘Uno’ has been produced by Black Sabbath, Judas Priest (and recently Shaznay Lewis) producer Chris Tsangarides, and is a far cry from 2002’s ‘Short Strut To The Brassy Front’ mini-album, something the band are quite reticent about. The new album’s title reflects the fact that, to the band, this is album number one.
“I think it is the first album,” says Ryan, “only in very loose terms can you call the last one an album. It’s a load of demos recorded by 16 and 17 year old kids, in a fucking cottage in the middle of nowhere. Somebody should get locked up for that!”
“It shouldn’t have been released,” says Liam. “It’s like someone doing it in their bedroom on a tape recorder and releasing it as an album.”
“Except we did it in a kitchen…,” says Chris.
“Yet people still judge us on that,” says Ryan. “‘Do you like thisGIRL?’. ‘Yeah, I heard the album and don’t really like it…’”
What does continue in the new album is the band’s skewed individualism and eclectic inspirations. They’re obviously sick to death of being pushed to describe their unique sound. Sandman asks anyway.
“Someone was trying to describe us and they called us jazz/funk/emo/metal/nu metal/pop…,” groans Liam. “I’d say we’re a typical rock band, with guitar bass and drums. Just the energy from us playing those instruments.”
“The thing is you end up pigeonholing yourself,” says Chris, “that can only last as long as that genre.”
“I just think it’d be really boring if you just stuck to the same sort of music all the time,” says Liam.
“It’s like if you just listen to rock music, you’re wasting so much potential,” says Ryan, “and as a band we listen to so much different stuff.”
“We’re like a sponge,” says Chris, in full-on analogy mode, “we absorb and then release it down your back, like a trickler into your butt crack.”
If all goes to plan, this new album should be the one that allows the band to live up to the expectation they’ve had since their early, pre-‘Short Strut…’ press. ‘Uno’ has had very favourable reviews in magazines including NME and Rocksound, and there are already at least five fansites dedicated to the band - including one female fan that’s created a website dedicated purely to Liam. Does it scare him or excite him?
“Definitely scares me I think!,” says Liam, wide-eyed.
“You’ve got to feel flattered though haven’t you?,” says Chris.
“Oh yeah, it’s definitely flattering, but also strange at the same time! No I am quite flattered though, definitely.”
“Yeah, there’s this one female stalker you’ve got,” complains Ryan. “I’ve got about six and they’re all male! I’d rather have that one, I am quite jealous. You can have my six male guys if you want as well. Take them off me hands.”
Then of course there’s thisGIRL’s fans in the Britrock fraternity, the likes of Lostprophets and Hell is For Heroes practically never being seen out of the house without one of thisGIRL’s distinctive shirts. One “lucky” fan even got hold of one of the Lostprophets’ t-shirts in an online auction. Or, um, so they thought.
“Someone’s apparently sold one of our t-shirts on eBay,” says Chris, “sold it for £25. Apparently he said it was one of the guys from Lostprophets’”
“It was actually his cum rag,” says Matt, matter of factly. “It was that guy who came to Manchester. [To rest of band] youremember… big guy. His girlfriend got punched… And he was like ‘I use your t-shirt as a cum rag’”.
So with a tour of Australia and, erm, The Orkneys looming, as well as writing and recording this album’s follow up, it does seem fame may well be heading thisGIRL’s way. So what will they do with their celebrity status?
“Kill meself,” says Liam.
“Probably be exactly the same as I am now,” says Matt. “Do nowt. Just be fatter and richer.”
“I’d use it to my advantage,” says Ryan, excitedly. “I read in the paper today a guy from Blue went to Aya Napa he got his mates to line up a load of birds at the end of the night and picked one. That’s the shit I’d pull, believe me!”
“I’d probably try for a little pop career,” says Chris, “then if it all went wrong I’d go really druggy and die in a flat somewhere.”
As the four of them head out after the interview for a good old fashioned night on the town in Sheffield, this is clearly a band who’s experience and common sense are way past their relatively tender years, and one who’ll never allow their feet to leave the ground too much. And also a band it’ll probably be hard to ignore in the upcoming months. Just make sure you get your t-shirts from a reputable dealer…