A friend recently mentioned something that’s never occurred to me before. He said that making music requires an enormous amount of restraint. That, whether it be at the songwriting or recording stages, holding back is of utmost importance.
Restraint. Patience. Modesty.
These may not be the first words that spring to mind while listening to the screeching sprawl that is Girl Band’s music. However, if you zoom in on their 2015 LP Holding Hands With Jamie, which was meticulously written and self-produced, you can hear the discipline. It is a methodical record; each stab of guitar and gurgle of bass strategically placed to maximize discomfort.
That same level of focus was evident at Baby’s All Right last week, where our own Emily Daly covered the group’s rapturous gig. The Irish foursome, comprised of guitarist Alan Duggan, vocalist Dara Kiley, drummer Adam Faulkner, and bassist/engineer Daniel Fox, were on point throughout, delivering a streamlined spike of rage in sound only.
At times, his feet obscured by heads in the crowd, Duggan looked as though he was kicking someone’s head to the curb. Snapping at the waist and convulsing slightly against his own instrument. Turns out, that’s just how he plays guitar.
But for all of their sonic violence, the guys in Girl Band are an amicable bunch. I sat down with Duggan and Fox before the show to chat about concept albums, Glenn Branca, and a winking dog.
Audiofemme: It seems like people have finally come to grips with your sound. Have the horrible comparisons to grunge you’ve faced in the past stopped yet?
Alan Duggan: Yeah it’s finally stopped.
Daniel Fox: Yeah, like Pearl Jam references and stuff…
Oh! I didn’t see a Pearl Jam reference! It was a Nirvana reference I think…
DF: Yeah, it was a Nirvana reference.
Which is worse? I think Pearl Jam.
DF: Of course, Pearl Jam! I really like Nirvana. I hate Pearl Jam.
What are you guys currently working on?
AD: We’re just writing new music. Pretty much.
DF: Got some songs, yeah. We’re not going to play any of it today, (laughs) but uh, yeah we’ve got loads.
I know you guys have said in the past that techno/electronic music has been more of an influence than people might assume. What electronic musicians have been listening to lately?
AD: At the moment I actually haven’t listened to much techno in a while. I’ve been listening to a lot of Tim Hecker for ambient electronic stuff. That new Factory Floor song sounds pretty cool. It’s called “Yah.” They’re really cool. They’re on DFA Records. They’re from London. I think. But yeah just really good techno, kind of early techno sound. I don’t think they still have a live drummer, but they had a live drummer and weird guitar sounds-all very stylized as far as the visual aspect…I don’t know. They’re just really, really good.
That’s an area of electronic music that the mainstream doesn’t always grasp: that there are sects of it that are outside of just trying to make people dance…something more orchestrated than just “four on the floor.”
DF: I’ve been listening to early electronic music people. The BBC had a lab where they were basically figuring out how to do it, called “The Radiophonic Workshop.” It was in the ‘50s. There was this woman Delia Derbyshire who wrote the theme for “Doctor Who.” So it’s all these weird like (makes space noises). A lot of those kind of people really set the tone for what ended up being electronic music. But there’s a lot that can be done with it as opposed to just dance music. It’s a whole sonic palette that people just associate with dancing, really. Which I always thought was weird.
Since you signed to Rough Trade and you started touring internationally, have things changed with your place in Dublin? Are you still accepted in the local music scene?
AD: Yeah, it’s always like a real warm welcome when we go back and play Dublin, you know what I mean? Ireland’s pretty supportive.
I know you guys produced this record, which sounds fantastic. Is there a dream producer you’d love to work with? Or do you think you’ll continue to do it yourselves?
DF: I like producing. I mean, it’d be cool to get peoples’ perspectives, but-
And you worked as an engineer, correct?
DF: Yeah. That’s what I do in my spare time. So yeah…sometimes working with a producer could be-especially for the first record, could probably be a hindrance really, to have to re-explain something…