15 May 2005 (released)
01 June 2005
The dilemma facing female bands like polka-dotted trio The Pipettes, is whether you would categorise them with all the other manufactured girl bands. While like Girls Aloud they sing and dance they do write their own tunes and are very much involved in the decision making and song writing processes. They are due to play at this year's Glastonbury Festival and they also have a three-track limited single out, 'ABC', 'Judy', and 'Simon Says'. Rose, Becki and Gwenno took time out to discuss being a girl group, their fascination with polka dots and much more!
Music News: So How did you all meet?
Rose: Well, basically our guitarist, Bobby had a contact with someone, and he kind of recruited us all individually. We all kind of knew each other, but not as a group. He asked us if we wanted to be involved and we said yes went for a drink and that was it. I think we had a few songs, he had a few songs, and we had ideas and gradually it evolved to what it is now because we all write songs, but it was Bobby who kind of started it off.
MN: Do you remember what your first performances were like?
Becki: I have footage of our first few gigs and it's amazing how much we're progressed. Not in an arrogant or cocky or confident way necessarily on stage, but just more assured, like our vocal harmonies more than anything and how we interact on stage.
MN: How have people responded?
Becki: London surprised us a lot because it's the one place that's quite hard for a lot of new bands because there are so many bands. We're not a London based band but we've done pretty well there.
Rose: We've never had anyone come up saying they hated us.
Becki: No, not yet, but I can see that happening on a headline tour!
Gwenno: And the girls as well, thats what I really enjoy the most, they'll come up and be all like â€˜I want to do what you're doing!'
MN: How did you get a support slot with the Magic Numbers?
Rose: We did a gig with them quite a long time ago in London and they really liked us and sort of said â€˜Would you like to come and support us on our tour' and we said â€˜yeah!'
MN: Is it hard being a support act, because the audience hasn't necessarily come to see you?
Gwenno: It's more of a challenge. I think having done gigs where people have come to see us, and at the last gig with the Magic Numbers I felt that some of the audience were people who had just discovered the Magic Numbers and weren't aware really of The Pipettes. We felt like that and it was a real challenge as soon as we all kind of went â€˜Oh, we're on' and they're not really dancing, because normally they're dancing straight away. We kind of rise to the challenge, that's what's exciting about the whole thing.
Rose: We're quite used to people not really knowing us anyway, so part of the process in our live shows is to put it out there. You can see the crowd virtually warming to you throughout the set and it's something we really enjoy. It's a really good challenge, and you really have to put the effort. We've never been able to rest on our laurels. That's what keeps our energy levels up.
MN: What are your influences? What do you listen to?
Rose: Well obviously the main influence is like sixties girl pop. That's kind of where the idea derived from.
Becki: And we all love soul and Motown, the idea of beautiful melodies, harmonies and that really lush full sound that you get from all those classic tracks and there's other things like a bit.
Gwenno: It's the feeling at the time with the some of the girl groups and how important they were. Women being women, being in control of what they were doing, that's what they were aspiring to. I feel that it's our time and we can actually do that.
MN: Are you concerned about being labelled a â€˜girl band'?
Rose: Not really. I think we're embracing it probably for different reasons that girl bands like girls aloud or whatever, like in a more classic way, but definitely. I mean although we do operate very much in an equal seven-band group [including the backing group] off stage, on stage it's pretty much a performance aimed the fact there are three girls and the fact that it's a girl band. We all contribute to the way it sounds writing-wise as well. I think some people assume that we're just these girls who swan in, do a song then bugger off again. Because we're involved on every other level, it's not like the girl bands that you see on shows like CD:UK, so people don't really know how to take us. I do sometimes feel that because I don't play guitar, and I'm singing and dancing that I'm not as valid. There's a snobbery that surrounds that, but we'd like to break through it, because you can do it.
MN: Do you think it's still a male dominated industry?
Becki: Definitely. We got all that with interviews and people react to us, like at different gigs sometimes you get a load of boys leering at you. It's not what I personally like.
Rose: We just want people to like the music really. The visual is something we care about because we all wear polka dots dresses and we dance and that's an important bit of what we're doing but I think people have funny ideas about things when they see three girls on stage.
Becki: It is hard though, because you've got your Britney Spears, Madonna and Kylie Minogue, who shed their clothes and get their arses out. But then again Kylie does make some really good music.
MN: What's with the polka dots? How did that come about?
Rose: That was part of the initial idea. It's like really nice for us to have a uniform as well. Because it's a striking image, people recognise it something we are affiliated with. Everyone kind of goes â€˜Pipettes, polka dots' and put the two together.
Gwenno: It's part of the performance. But everything's evolving though I find. The songs are evolving and the image will too.
MN: What do you do to chill out?
Rose: Go to the pub!
Becki: It depends what time we get there. We have times where we wake up in the town where we just did a gig then travel, so a lot of our free time on tour is spent on a mini bus.
MN: Would you prefer to a more indie type band or would you want to be really mainstream?
Rose: Well where we come from is a more independent set up. We didn't even have a manager until much later. We haven't had any support financially so it's pretty much been a self initiated project. The gigs we've played have been small venues where people help each other out. I can't really imagine being in a corporate world.
MN: Is it all hard work though?
Gwenno: It is hard work but when you have the single in your hands, and when the audience are singing along, that's what gets me. Its like, â€˜that's why I'm doing this'.