The Golden Grrrls are Eilidh Rodgers, Ruari MacLean and Rachel Aggs from Glasgow (Rachel replaced Lorna Gilfedder). They’ve released two singles on Night School, ‘Beaches’ and ‘New Pops’, both in 2011, and a split tour single with Sea Lions came out last year. Those early releases had a lo-fi rawness born of necessity but the smart ideas and energetic delivery made you think of early New Zealand bands like The Clean and Scottish bands like the Pastels. Now they’ve developed their sound for their self-titled debut album without losing the naïve style that charmed us in the first place. It's released at the end of February on Night School Records (Europe) and Slumberland Records (US).
Golden Grrrls tour the US in March but before that they support R Ring (Mike Montgomery and Kelley Deal’s band), along with Slushy Guts and Equinox the Peacekeeper on Friday, 8 March at the Lexington. Tickets are here.
Elisabetta P and Ged M spoke to Ruari at the end of January 2013.
SXP: How did Golden Grrrls form originally?
Ruari: I started recording some songs on my own just to do something productive over the summer a few years ago. Some friends of ours who promoted shows in Glasgow heard them and asked about playing for them. Eilidh and I worked together and had talked about playing together so that seemed like a good way to do it. We've had some different people playing with us, we've existed in our current form for around 18 months or so.
SXP: You’re touring the US in the spring. Is this your first time in the US and are you looking forward to it?
Ruari: Yeah, can't wait for it! I really never thought we'd get the chance to do something like that, it was kind of a shock when it was first suggested. I think we've been really, really lucky with the way things have worked out over the last few months. Slumberland picking up the record has been one of those things and has made a lot of other stuff possible.
SXP: Tell us about the album – your early singles had lots of punkish energy but were very simply recorded. You’ve got a bigger recording budget now but are you able to keep that earlier vibe?
Ruari: Haha....yeah, I'd like to pretend somebody gave us a load of money and said, "go ahead and make a great record!" but it wasn't really like that unfortunately, we stuck to a pretty tight budget. Our early singles were recorded in one day in Eilidh's dad's living room with a friend of ours using borrowed equipment and it was definitely a step up from that. For the album we actually went into a studio, although it was one built and run by our friend Jamie in an old factory building in Glasgow, and took about 8 days or so to do it. I think as far as a sort of vibe goes, it’s probably not that far from those singles. We recorded live as much as possibly, some of the songs weren't fully formed when we went in to record them, so I think there's still a kind of looseness to a lot of it. But it was definitely a conscious decision to write songs that had developed stylistically for the album; I didn't want to make a record that was just one fuzzy power pop song after another. And we have a different line up now: Lorna was in the band when we made those first recordings but much of the record was written after Rachel joined, so I guess that's played a part too.
SXP: Your album’s coming out with a mix-tape. Any hint as to what’s on it and is it a solo or collective effort?
Ruari: It’s collaborative, we picked five or six songs each, just stuff that we've been into recently.
SXP: The Slumberland roster has a particular reputation but do you feel an affinity with other indie guitar-based bands?
Ruari: With many of them, yeah definitely. I'll be honest, I don't really listen to a lot of indie-pop so apart from the most well-known stuff I wasn't really that familiar with many of the early releases, although Black Tambourine were a band that I was listening to a lot when I first started recording stuff by myself. We've played with various bands who've been on the label in recent years and pretty much always got on well on a personal level as well as liking their records, bands like Brilliant Colors, Veronica Falls, Sea Lions, Crystal Stilts, Girls Names. And from working with Mike over the last few months it’s definitely felt like we share a really similar view about lots of aspects of how to go about being a band in this day and age, what's important, what's not. He's just tried to help us as much as he can to do what we want to do and let as many people hear our music as possible.
SXP: Like the Twerps and The Sea Lions, we hear something of the early Flying Nun bands, which is a fantastic influence to have. Are you fans of that scene?
Ruari: Absolutely, yes, without a doubt. I really love so many of the bands on that label and a lot of other NZ music of that era, I'm always really happy when people say our music reminds them of those bands.
SXP: And how did you hook up with the Night School label, which has an eclectic set of artists to say the least?
Ruari: Michael who runs Night School used to live in Glasgow, although that was before I moved there. We shared a circle of friends and just by coincidence ended up playing some shows with his band Please when we were in London a couple of times. He mentioned he was thinking of starting a label and asked if we would be interested in doing a single. None of us really knew what we were doing and I half expected to end up with 200 copies under my bed but he really pulled it off and it sold out pretty quickly. We did another single and there were a few more releases on the label that did pretty well, then we were asked if we wanted to do an album which was great, it all just seemed to work out. Almost all of the lucky things I've mentioned that have come about have been through being on Night School, I'm really glad we've gone from being the first release on the label to putting out an LP and having some exciting stuff to look forward to over the next few months. It’s been really fun!