Some people run away from home to join the circus: Genevieve Glynn-Reeves ran away from the circus to start a band

Gen & The Degenerates press photo
(Image credit: Marshall Records)

“I see it as a time capsule of what it’s like to be in your twenties, during the end of the world as we know it,” says Genevieve Glynn-Reeves. The singer/lyricist laughs, but there’s a sincerity in her tone. 

At a time when spikily confessional voices like IDLES, Amyl & The Sniffers and Kid Kapichi are so prevalent in rock, Gen & The Degenerates’ debut feels ripe for success. Produced by Ross Orton (Gang Of Four, Arctic Monkeys), Anti-Fun Propaganda is a smart, funny slice of the modern age, told in riffy, punky alt.rock vignettes. Online living, gender politics and global tensions are explored with incisive energy. It’s silly, sexy and serious. 

“I think we’re accidentally punk,” Glynn-Reeves say. “We like a lot of the 70s New York punk stuff, but we’ve hit a wave where punk is really resurging. Basically it’s the fact that I do the talky thing, but that’s more from me coming from a spoken-poetry background, because I did creative writing and drama at uni.” 

As a queer student carving a niche in Liverpool, Glynn-Reeves pored over the works of Benjamin Zephaniah and local writer (also her tutor) Jeff Town. She found a sense of belonging with bandmates Sean Healand-Sloan (guitar), Jacob Jones (guitar), Evan Reeves (drums) and Jay Humphreys (bass). They shared a diverse pool of tastes, from Metallica to Green Day to the Eurythmics.

“We’re best friends,” Glynn-Reeves says, “we got into a band because we loved spending time together, and we had to work out how to make the music make sense. A lot of that was Ross [Orton].” 

Raised in a “wonky” bungalow next to an A-road in Cambridgeshire, by a maths genius father and a florist mother, Glynn-Reeves had a free-form childhood. “It [the bungalow] had this amazing long garden that my dad let go completely wild. I grew up running around in wellies, and nothing else.” 

Storytellers featured heavily in her musical diet – Kirsty MacColl, Annie Lennox and various old blues singers, alongside the likes of Blondie and The Stranglers. As a teenager she wrote songs and jammed with friends, alongside working as a circus aerialist. She loved circus life and wanted to pursue it, until debilitating issues with ME (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome) ended that. 

It was a turning point. She poured herself into music and the band. She shaved her head, frustrated at the focus on her previous blonde-bobbed, red-lipsticked look. 

“I didn’t want to be for the male gaze any more,” she says. “It was in part to do with the health stuff, because that makes me so bloated, and I just wanted to be comfortable. But when I was in the ‘blonde bombshell’ era, that was the thing people took first. At first I was like: ‘This is really fun.’ But then I started to think: ‘People aren’t noticing how funny I am, how clever and creative I am’. So I wanted to force people to look at those other things first.”

Anti-Fun Propaganda is out now via Marshall.

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.