This week we’re tackling an issue that shouldn’t be a problem in modern music and society, but unfortunately still is. When we’re looking to define bands gender should not come into it. I mean, you wouldn’t dream of describing Foo Fighters, Black Sabbath and Guns’n’Roses or even Ash or The White Stripes as ‘all-male bands’ or ‘male fronted bands.’ So why do we persist in doing so with bands that have female singers or female members?
This topic is top of the list for London rockers Screech Bats, whose lead singer Esme puts it far more matter-of-factly than we possibly could: “We need to make the point that ‘FEMALE’ is not a genre of music. It’s important for us to not be seen as a ‘girls with guitars’ or ‘gays with guitars’ novelty act or a way to add diversity to a show. We have vaginas, we are LGBT, but we are musicians, forget what we have between our legs and listen to the music. In addition to this, we want people to note that we are not an all-girl band,’ if you need to label it – we are a female and non-gender conforming band.”
Far from being a novelty act, the quartet, completed by Lexi, Rio and Kit, have honed a fun, engaging, singalong punky rock sound that they describe to us as “Melodic punk-rock bangers. People can expect banger after banger. But intellectual bangers. Sophisticated bangers.”
And they’re not wrong, as Get Better, the first single from their upcoming second EP, is testament to. It opens up with a big rocky riff then an opening verse dominated by Esme’s fast-paced vocals. Fun drums in time with Esme’s vocals lead into a big singalong chorus that culminates in the lyrics “Since you’ve been gone I’ve been down so low, Are you better than this?, Since you’ve been gone I don’t know who I am, I’ll be better.” Check it out in the stream below:
Screech Bats formed when former Hearts Under Fire members Kit and Lexi brought in Rio on bass, then Esme as, in their words: “A lone wolf who stumbled into practice and stunned everyone with her siren-like song and rugged good looks. Pow. Birth of Screech Bats.”
Esme adds: “Each of us have different reasons for becoming musicians but I think in the end what it boils down to is that it’s simply a need. It’s an outlet, it brings us happiness, it helps us express ourselves. Band practice is therapy for us and writing an EP like this has been beyond cathartic. It’s not about chasing fame or money or wanting to be like who we idolise, we just want to have the best time making music with our friends.”
They release their new EP at the end of next month, and it’s safe to say they have evolved and matured not just their sound but the theme of their music with their upcoming record. As Esme told us: “The subject matter has shifted in this EP, from our slightly more whimsical last EP which was all about aliens, sloppy tongues and losing our virginity, to some deeper things we really wanted to talk about: depression, mental health, grief and loss, addiction and recovery.”
But anything really can influence them to write music, from the trivial of the awesome ET, which includes the line “Beam me up into the night to somewhere, Show me other life,” to the far more serious issues being addressed on the new record, such as on Get Better.
As Esme explains: “(The song) is much deeper than the surface level appearance of missing someone – it’s about suffering with mental health, being put in recovery, and understanding the value of the doctor and her staff who, in a very literal sense, saved my life and helped me to want to live a life to its full rather than end it. It’s a homage to the profound effect these people can have on us, and a thank you when we remember how they get up every day to do the same thing to new people, day in, day out.
“We wanted to give a positive message of how it is possible to recover, and we all feel strongly that this is a message that cannot be put out there enough during this current epidemic of still largely stigmatised mental health conditions, depression, anxiety, eating disorders. Conditions and illnesses that so many people silently struggle with every day, conditions and illnesses that prematurely take so, so, so many lives.”
Esme also tells us that the band members’ interests also extend outside of their music. She said: “Art and body modification as a form of self-expression is part of our identity, and goes hand in hand with our music and ethos. I own Boileroom Tattoo where me and Kit both tattoo out of. We are also all proud to be part of the LGBT community, we don’t eat meat and we are animal rights activists.”
The new EP Wish You Were Her is out on 30 March and available for pre-order here, and we’ll bring you a review of it very shortly so keep an eye out for that. You can see them live playing the Camden Rocks All Nighter at Nambucca on 23 February, and more info on their upcoming gigs is here. The band is looking into possible summer festival appearances ahead of getting back to the studio to write their debut album.