London-based riot grrrl quartet Dream Nails have made something of a name for themselves for their blazing, politically motivated punk-rock since they arrived on the scene last year, culminating with them being dubbed a modern-day equivalent to “The Ramones meets Bikini Kill”. When you learn that their mission statement is to make music which is angry, political, but also something they themselves would have liked to have danced along to as teenage girls, the label begins to make perfect sense.
Fresh from the release of their new single Tourist – a blistering punk rock missive which takes aim at the world’s creeps and emotional predators – we catch up with all four band members below to find out more about the band, the danger of Pringle pain and what they have lined up for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
Anya: “I play guitar and sing backing vocals and I’m from London.”
Janey: “I sing and dance and I’m from Reading.”
Mimi: “I play bass, sing and I’m from Toronto, Canada.”
Lucy: “I play drums and sing unofficial backing vocals. I’m from London.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
Anya: “Janey and I met through feminist direct action. The final lineup took a little while to get together but Lucy joined us and then Mimi, and now we are a full set of glossy, fierce nails.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
Anya: “We wanted to start the kind of band that we wish we’d heard as teenage girls. Something openly feminist, political and angry, but a band you can dance to and have a joyful time with your sisters as well.”
Janey: “My life’s purpose is to do everything I can to make the world less sexist, and to end violence against women. Music is an amazing platform to do exactly that – through singing about the issues themselves, taking up space onstage, and making sure venues work with us to reduce harassment for women in the crowd.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
Anya: “Witch. Punk. Mayhem.”
Janey: “Catchy, raging, gleeful.”
Lucy: “Chip fuelled jokes.”
Mimi: “Thirty, flirty and thriving.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
Anya: “I think being unapologetically feminist automatically makes us stand out. And our music is fun as hell. So that in itself is a cool combination. But we’re also very much part of the DIY queer punk scene in the UK and we’re so proud of being part of that family of bands.”
Janey: “We sing and talk about really serious things, but we also have a lot of fun and laugh at ourselves. I think one of the most important things for bands to do is be able to laugh at themselves – there’s so much pretension and perfection in the industry and we’re just as a human as anyone else.”
Lucy: “Preach what Janey and Anya say really. There are still so many try-hards who are boring as hell, with no jokes, few actual opinions, no real social and political engagement, and little originality. I’m going to big us up and say that we have these things and the results are so fulfilling and fun that I have complete faith and belief in what we are doing and creating.”
Mimi: “I really appreciate that we have outwardly feminist banter onstage and it’s refreshing to be a part of.”
What’s the story behind the single Tourist, and how did it come together?
Janey: “Tourist is a song about creepy men who appear in your life and are really interested in you when you’re not in a good place. They seem to get a kick out of playing the hero and it’s a fucked up power dynamic that they abuse.”
Anya: “Tourist was actually the song we auditioned Lucy with. She came up with a banging beat for it within milliseconds of picking up those drum sticks.”
Lucy: “I was so nervous and had very little confidence and experience, but when they played me the opening verse I knew what to. I was possessed by my drumming foremothers and they didn’t fail me.”
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What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the single?
Janey: “We took crystals, candles and aromatherapy oils in the studio. Recording can be a really anxiety-inducing and stressful experience where you need to maintain focus for a long period of time, and we found all of those spiritual aids helped.”
Anya: “We’re really into our astrology, and when we recorded it we realised how much it sounds like Janey is saying ‘You’re just a Taurus’ instead of ‘You’re just a tourist’. No offence to those well-grounded bulls of the zodiac, but it had to be dealt with in the studio with clearer pronunciation.”
Lucy: “For some of the vocal recordings Janey asked me to pull her hair while she sang, I think it gave her more go. Also I ate a lot of Pringles and got a belly ache, that’s a pretty sad story though.”
Janey: “Pringle pain is a real problem.”
What, in your opinion, is the stand-out track you’ve released so far, and why?
Anya: “I think that everyone should hear Joke Choke. It’s a 01.19 minute slamdown of people who make rape jokes.”
Janey: “I agree. It always stills the crowd when we play it live.”
Lucy: “We have a vinyl out in early 2018 of our song Vagina Police, it’s so rousing I always play it too fast. Sorry girls.”
What do you hope people will take away from the single, and your music in general?
Anya: “I hope people will hear Tourist and feel empowered to say no creeps and emotional vampires, because they’re better than that and we’ve got you if you ever need reminding.”
Janey: “To love yourself, to trust your instincts, to value yourself and to find your purpose and community in activism.”
Lucy: “I want them to feel like they can start a band. I want them drumming, strumming and singing by lunchtime the following day.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
Anya: “SO hard to pick just one because 2017 has been incredible for us! But I’d say touring Europe with Cherry Glazerr in May and June. It was so eye opening and Clem, Devin, Tabor, Sasami and their tour manager Alex were so safe!”
Janey: “The progression of our burgeoning YouTube series ChipAdvisor, where we review the chips we eat on tour.”
Lucy: “Headlining the women-only Sisterhood stage at Glastonbury two years in a row at 1am.”
Mimi: “My first tour with Dream Nails supporting Petrol Girls across France, Germany and Belgium.”
What can people expect if they come to see you live?
Anya: “Obviously we are a riot and a joy to watch, but more than that, women come up to us after and tell us we make them feel brave. So expect to come away feeling brave.”
Janey: “Laughter, ferocious dancing and infectious energy. Oh and if you’re a woman or non-binary person, you can expect to have space right at the front by the stage. No tall blokes in your way!”
Mimi: “Janey melts the man-berg at the front by inviting all of the women and nonbinary people to come up.”
Lucy: “They will see four mates having jokes and playing songs written with love.”
What are you most looking forward to about the future - What’s coming next?
Anya: “Writing more tunes, touring in new places and hopefully going to North America!”
Janey: “I’m looking forward to touring in Sweden next April! We’re playing at a straightedge festival which I’m really hyped for.”
Lucy: “Introducing new audiences to our music and playing for younger crowds. Do not underestimate the power of teenage girls.”
Mimi: “Definitely upcoming tours, but I’m most excited about all of the new songs we’ve got and for recording them!”