Erin (Lady Bits): Hi! Oh I like your background.
Beverley (The Tuts): Yeah we’re in the garden!
Erin: We’re not!
Nadia (The Tuts): Oh my god, let me take a picture, this is great.
Erin: OK, so this is our first Skype interview, and we’re super excited to just talk band-to-band.
Krishanti (Lady Bits): OK so obviously we know a lot about you guys already, but just to give you a quick introduction, I’m Krishanti, the singer and guitarist for Lady Bits.
Erin: And I’m Erin and I’m the drummer.
Beverley: I’m Beverley and I’m the drummer.
Nadia: I’m Nadia, I’m the lead singer and I play guitar.
Harriet (The Tuts): I’m Harriet, I play bass.
B: The Tuts! Three-tone inn’t?
N: Three tone!
E: So obviously we know you guys met in high school.
B: Yeah we met in high school. How did you guys meet?
E: Craigslist… online.
N: You met online?!?
E: Yeah, we were both looking to join an all-girl rock band, like riot grrrl, and she was a guitarist, I was a drummer, and we just found each other.
K: And then the friendship followed! So were you guys friends first?
N: Unfortunately, yes, we were friends. Basically this is how it happened—in year 7, you know when you just turn up to school and you’re like who the fuck is going to be in my class—Bev was actually in another form and she got moved, so by fate we met. Because our names are alphabetically next to each other in the register, I was seated next to her. So the friendship only happened because of the alphabetical order.
H: But you could see that as fate!
N: And then there was this thing where you had to vote for class rep, and I really wanted to do that. You could vote for yourself but Bev was too slow to do that so I said to Bev—you vote for me and I’ll vote for you—but I didn’t vote for her, I voted for myself! So when they counted the votes, I only got two votes—me and Bev. In the end, it just this white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes who got nominated for class rep.
B: She wasn’t even enthusiastic at all.
N: I really wanted it! So anyway, we became mates. The Tuts started when we were at school and there was this other bassist Emma, who was not dedicated, wouldn’t show up to band practice. She could tell we were going to kick her out so she quite before we could kick her out. And then she got engaged…. To cut a long story short, then we signed up for this contest, it’s called Live and Unsigned.
H: You know those scammy things where you pay to enter…
N: It’s almost like X Factor, but just for bands, and you have to pay for registration, and imagine, they make 15 pounds registration on thousands and thousands of bands…whoever is running this scam is really, really fucking rich. We didn’t have a bassist and we’d gone through a few bassists and they were just not dedicated, didn’t click, no chemistry. Harriet is in Colour Me Wednesday and it did cross our minds, but she was already in another band and you can’t do that sort of stuff. Then Harriet volunteered, and said “you lot need a bassist, I’ll pick up bass just for this audition that you have.”
B: When Harriet heard about us doing this thing, she was like I can’t believe you signed up for it, it’s so obvious it’s a scam…’’
N: So then Harriet came. We did this audition and they were like “All right girls…”
H: It was a man with a clipboard and a headset, really patronizing and positive, like too positive, to tell us we hadn’t gotten through…
B: Harriet was like, once this is over and done with, then I can get us on track. She booked our first ever gig outside of our hometown. That’s when it all really started.
E: That’s amazing. You found your magical third and then she brought you guys outside the neighborhood.
H: The fact that I was an outsider to the band meant that I could look at it in a different way, and I saw potential for The Tuts even before I was in the band. That was 2011.
E: Let’s talk about DIY—you guys are 100 percent DIY, right?
B: Yes, you as well?
E: Totally, 100 percent. So you guys crowdsourced your latest album.
N: Yeah, so with DIY, we do everything ourselves—all the creative ideas, social media, bookings, press. We all have a role in the band as well—Harriet books the gigs and tours and does a lot of press. And recently I’ve started doing a lot of press as well and I do social media. And then Bev will contact the smaller bloggers/reviewers/press—and what else do you do?
B: (long pause) Drums!
N: So yeah, we’re DIY. People think we want to be DIY, but really, we want to sell-out. We want a million-pound deal. Now we’re ready. I’m ready to sell my soul. I’m ready to wave goodbye to the punk scene.
(Whole band waves goodbye)
N: Goodbye, undercover racists, I’m now going to play for the openly racist!
H: We’ll still always be DIY though, because we’re control freaks. But it would be good now to have an extra person, someone we trust.
N: Yeah, on a serious note, we are DIY and we do really love it, and we recommend it, and our tips for being DIY are—don’t wait for people to come to you—go and reach out to people.
B: Twitter is the best. Use Twitter.
N: And yeah, we crowdfunded our album and hit our target in five days. We have the best Pledge campaign in history because we do weekly updates where we give them sneak-peaks, snippets, exclusive content. I love Pledge
, I can go in there and look at the graphs, analytics…We’ve had over 700 pledges now and for a DIY, unsigned band, I think that’s pretty fucking epic.
E: So let’s talk about touring.
H: So we had a tour that started September 14th—15 dates over a few weeks. This is our first album where we decided to just go everywhere. We’ve chosen a lot of support bands that are in the DIY scene.
N: Did you see the video? The tour video on our Facebook? Bev did that. It’s a montage of our best footage, kicking mic stands and stuff. You know sometime I might miss it and I’m like, “Shit!!”
H: So yeah, half a country tour. Then afterwards we have a quick mini-nap and be like, “get on with things!”
N: I’m just waiting on loads of people, they’ve all dangled the carrot in front of us and we’re waiting to hear back… So you know Kathleen Hanna right?
K: Yeah, I actually just saw her last week in DC, playing a show with The Julie Ruin. Just to digress real quick because this is something I wanted to talk about… so Kathleen Hanna, who is this accomplished singer and musician, is on stage performing, and some random dude in the audience yells, “Take your top off!”
N: No way!!!
B: In this day and age?!?!
K: In 2016! It’s astonishing for me, that a woman who is at the peak of her career and has gone through all this shit….
N: Did she say anything?
K: Yeah, she said, “I will fucking punch you in the face. Can we get security in here?” Which is the appropriate response, but it’s just…
B: The fact that she has to do that.
H: The fact that people feel like they can shout at her while she’s performing on stage.
B: Yeah cause when things like that happen you just get that sinking feeling in your stomach, even when you may be like, “oh, yeah, get security,” and look really confident, your stomach is in knots.
H: And this man, is trying to own the show—“It’s about me!!” When it’s not about you, it’s about her! It’s like he’s trying to put his stamp on it.
N: You know, once when we were supporting Kate Nash, she jumped into the crowd and hyped everyone up, and this guy in the audience, he pinched her bum. And then when she got back on the stage, she was like, “watch out for that guy.”
B: “He’s a predator!”
N: And then we went up to the guy and smashed him on the head with a plastic bottle.
H: Yeah Nadia was like “boom, boom, boom” on his head. And then he got kicked out by security. Always got to make friends with security!
N: Yeah. So Kathleen Hanna thought we were too big to support which is why she didn’t ask us. She was like, “I see you more as a headline band, which is why I didn’t ask you.”
K: So then would you say you guys are heavily influenced by riot grrrl?
B: We found out about riot grrrl after we started playing music.
H: And now it’s something we’ve appreciated since.
N: It happened accidentally. We were just feminists. We wanted to play instruments.
B: It was very much like—if that’s something we liked, then that’s something we would do. If I wanted to play drums, I played drums. If we wanted to skateboard, we went out and got 10 pound skateboards. If we wanted to play tennis, we would go and play tennis.
H: I think not all of your influences are from day one, they evolve over time. My influence was Julianna Hatfield, and it’s weird, she was never really accepted in the riot grrrl scene because her music wasn’t really heavy, but a lot of her music is quite feminist and I feel like she’s a good role model, but she was a little bit more towards the grunge/indie side. And then since, obviously, we’ve just absorbed so much.
N: I learned about riot grrrl really late on. I was like, “what’s all this?” Then I was like “Oh…”
H: I think it was different in the UK because it was a lot bigger in America.
B: Yeah. But it’s good to watch, to see all the documentaries and read the books (I’ve picked up a few books about it), because when I read about it, I can relate to all the things that they’ve gone through and all the things that have happened.
N: What I’m trying to say is, it happened naturally for us. It’s not like we read something about riot grrrl and decided to start a girl band.
E: I feel like lately there have been a lot of girl bands that are just “one-tone.” So playing with Krishanti, who is so amazing, and is a woman of color, for us, has been so different, like a different scene almost, because we bring something different, just like you guys. The scene of all-female bands, or just female rock in general, is kind of one-tone.
N: Yeah, one-tone. What the fuck! We need to out these one-toners!
K: And for us, it’s something I didn’t even think about or realize until we sat down and were like, OK, we’re playing a show with these bands tonight, and then that band next week, and then some other band… and then we sat down and realized they’re all white bands. It’s very important for us to play with other women, as I’m sure it is for you guys, to support other women in punk, in the DIY scene. But there’s also that extra intersectionality of being inclusive of women of color in the scene, and we don’t really have that space.
N: The punk scene is a load of shit. You can quote me on that. Fakes, phonies—I can’t be bothered with them anymore. Where we are, over here, there are some really supportive people, we share each other’s videos, we make an effort online to show support to these bands and use our platform to help other people. But there are some bands who just play up to being “socially awkward,” and they are a little socially awkward, but then it just comes across as rude.
H: I think it can instinctively be something to hide behind, to not show support for other people.
N: Literally, there are bands boycotting us. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like, especially with the white people in the punk scene, they should go out of their way to show a band like us support. Because, at the end of the day, they’ve got their privilege. This is what (my friend) Jennifer Doveton said to me the other week—society puts these people above us anyway, so they need to go out of their way to take a step back and show support to bands like us but because we’re working class, authentic girls and maybe our accents intimidate them or something and because we blare our own horns and are like, “Look at us. We’re so great, we’re so awesome”—that’s a defense mechanism because we got fucked up at school, and we had to cuss the bullies back otherwise we’d just get stomped on. We’ve developed this attitude just from the area we grew up in, and the schools that we went to, and the people we had to cuss back to stick up for ourselves. That’s just embedded in us now—we have this attitude about us and I think sometimes it intimidates people in the punk scene and they feel like we’re full of ourselves and they don’t need to support us, but really it’s a defense mechanism, because if we don’t shout out about ourselves, who the fuck will, because they clearly aren’t. So, there is this undercover bitterness going on in the scene.
H: Yeah, I think the punk scene is great for bringing people together who feel like they don’t fit in anywhere. But there’s a point where it’s like, you’re too comfortable now, you’re in your bubble of white, middle class people, and maybe think about that. About who you surround yourself with, who you show support to. I think that’s really important. I know some people grew up in very small towns where there were just white people—that can’t be helped. But then it’s what you do later with your life.
N: My mate, she was saying to me that people will look at you, if you’re of color, and be like, I can’t relate to her, she’s not like me, therefore I don’t like her.
H: Yeah it might even be a subconscious thing. But I just think people need to check themselves.
N: There’s only a small fraction of black and Asian people in the UK punk scene. I can count them on one hand. It’s really fucked up. And it just pisses me off when people don’t show us support, because even if we’re shit, they should still show us support.
B: Yeah, they should. They should be showing us support.
N: There’s one band that’s really famous, and they obviously saw our video. And this other guy, this popular white guy, spoke out about our video and said this was an awesome video. And then the other guy was like, “yeah bro, isn’t it?”
B: Because he needed another guy to validate it. It’s obvious that he had seen it before that.
N: Another thing that people do, is they play up their social awkwardness, so that they get sympathy votes…
B: “Will anyone come to my gig tonight?!?!” But for us, it’s like “We want to party with you! We want you to come out and have a good time!”
E: I feel like we’re in the same kind of boat—like the punk scene should be 100 percent inclusive and it’s like people pick and choose and are like, “you’re not like me”—but that’s not the point.
K: And there’s already such a huge barrier to entry—as a woman of color playing an instrument, deciding to be in a band, make albums, play shows—you already feel like you’re going up against so much, so then to see people within the scene who are not even giving you that credit or support can be demoralizing.
B: Yeah, it puts you off.
E: Ok, so a few other questions. What’s your creative process, as the three of you?
N: Basically, me and Harriet are the main songwriters. Sometimes I might write a verse or chorus and then I’ll get stuck, so then I’ll take it over to Harriet and she might add a bridge, little bits and bobs to tie it all together. There are some songs that I wrote on my own and some songs that Harriet wrote on her own.
H: Yeah, it’s like I get these little presents Nadia gives me.
N: Most of the time I’ll come up with chords I like, and then just start penning out some lyrics in my diary, and then come up with the melody of what I want to sing, because the melody is the really important thing… I want to start writing new songs, I want to start working on a second album!
E: Amazing, already! Now Beverly, drummer to drummer, do you come in once they have the song?
N: Bev added some lyrics to “Blind Lover,” just saying!
B: Yeah, usually I’ll just come in—they’ll have a song, we’ll have band practice and they’ll bring it to me – and obviously since they’ve been playing it they’ll know what certain parts need. I’ll make the backbone of the beat that runs throughout the whole song. They’ll come to me with drum noises like, this need “dun dun dun dunnnn” and I try to translate that to… drums. There are certain songs like “Dump Your Boyfriend” that has a certain style I have to add to. Everytime I play it, I think of Meg White or Ringo, how they have certain styles of drumming, and I feel like with that song I need to have a certain style.
N: It’s one of our older songs.
K: I think one of my favorite songs off the new album is “Always Hear the Same Shit”—it’s so high energy.
N: Fucking hell. That song was instrumental for ages, we use to just play it instrumental and shout “Always Hear the Same Shit” and then Harriet added lyrics to it. The reason it’s called “Always Hear the Same Shit” is because when we were at school, because it’s that old, a lot of our friends we would hang out with were Asian and their parents never used to let them out. We’d be like “Are you gonna come out after school,” and they’d be like, “No, my dad won’t let me,” and we’d be like, “Aw, always hear the same shit!”
H: It’s funny because all the lyrics I added after had nothing to do with that. The lyrics I wrote about that—have you heard of the idea of a starfish? A friend who’s a starfish—where they try and be you. You know how you have a different relationship with each one of your friends? They’re standing in your place and having that same relationship with all of your friends.
E: OK. So I’m going to totally geek out and ask you guys about your gear. What do you like to play?
N: We’re like really snobby when it comes to gear. We like playing the best stuff (laughs). My uncle used to be in an Indian band, and when he and his wife divorced, he went back to his home country, which is Malawi. And when he died out there, he had taken his best guitar back home with him and that was a Gibson SG. So one day, me and my mum went to visit family in Malawi and I wanted to bring this guitar back. And I didn’t know what to expect, my other uncle was like “there’s a guitar here, just take it.” I opened the case and was like, “Woah!” So that’s the guitar that I’ve always played, Gibson SG custom, it’s got three pickups, proper vintage, 1970s, made in America, and worth shit loads of fucking money. I remember Barney from Sonic Boom Six was like, “oh, is that what your dad got you, then,” and I was like “No, you dick, it’s my dead uncle’s.” And then my amp is an Orange amp, Tiny Terror. For pedals I have a Black Secret which I use for my solos, and a Tube Screamer and I just have my guitar running through that all the time it’s really really really really nice.
B: I have a Mapex, all white drum kit. It’s really nice.
H: So I play a Fender Mustang, but it’s a ¾ scale. I find it hard in the UK—there aren’t many options for short-scale bassists. They’re really hard to find unless you spend shitloads of money, but I bought mine off my friend Katie who plays in a band Personal Best who are really good.
K: Did you start off playing a full-scale and then move to a ¾?
H: No, I always played a ¾. It’s for a few reasons. It’s what I first learnt on. I’m very small and I find that most bass guitars are just really big and heavy and I also have a back problem so I was like, this is just so not cool how I can’t access any really cool instruments and we jump around the stage. Me and Nadia jump into the crowd, we get on our knees—I need something that I can move around in. My bass now is incredible. So I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t want to play something ridiculously heavy.
B: We’re also sponsored by Orange. I want to get sponsored by Zildjian. Their cymbals are the best. I’ve got Paste and Sabian ones right now, but I want to get Zildjian.
E: Zildjian! Yeah that’s what I use. They’re awesome.
N: OK we’ve got to do we have a video shoot in the morning and I’ve got to test drive a car I’ve never driven before.
K: So what are you guys looking forward to after you get back from tour?
N: Holiday!!! (laughs)
H: I know more big things are going to happening.
B: Once a band gets an album out, everything comes after that. Things happen.
N: We’ve always been chasing things. After your album’s out, you keep doing that, but things start coming to you, which is really great. Because the album itself is just a vehicle for reaching new things. I want to hit 100,000. We want world domination.
H: That’s all we want. It’s minor right? (laughs)
N: You know, the next single off the album is “1982.” Just to give you a bit of background on it—even though we’re DIY, last year for a brief period of time we signed a contract with a manager because we thought we’d take the risk.
B: It was awful.
N: He was really, really shit. He promised loads of things that he didn’t deliver on. And anytime we had a question, like, “why didn’t you get us this,” he’d get on the defensive and be like, “it’s ‘cause you’re shit. It’s ’cause you’re crap.” And we couldn’t fucking take that shit. And then I was like to Harriet go write a song about it and she came back with a banger. So that’s going to be our next single and we’re recording a video for it tomorrow.
E: Ok then…Lightning round! Favorite song to play live?
B: I love playing “Do I Have to Look for Love.” I love the look on people’s faces when we do our dance routine in the middle of the song.
H: “Do I Have to Look for Love?” and “Give Us Something Worth Voting For.”
N: Current fave is “Something Worth Voting For.” It’s a proper anthem—political, gang vocals, shout bits, and it makes me feel like Billy Bragg—a.k.a. a white middle aged man…excellent!
E: Favorite song on the new album?
B: “Let Go of the Past” and “Tut Tut Tut,” but it changes all the time, though for right now it’s them two.
H: “Dump Your Boyfriend.”
N: Depends what mood I’m in but probably “Con Man” ’cause of the epic chorus.
E: What artist will you be listening to in the tour van?
B: McFly, Paramore, Dappy, and Busted.
N: Busted, Dappy, Avril Lavigne, Ariana Grande, Destiny’s Child.
E: What U.S. city do you want to dominate?
B: Boston, I love that accent.
N: NYC—love it there! Kathleen Hanna lives there too, and so do Aziz Ansari and my new fave comedian Hari Kondabolu.
E: Favorite snack before a show?
B: Lots and lots of water and brownies.
H: Vegan chicken balls.
N: Vodka and coke.
E: Well Tuts, you have two major fans here and it was so nice to meet you all! Thank you for talking to us in your garden (laughs).
B: It was so nice to meet you guys as well!