It's Monday, new music fans, which means only one thing: it's time to hear from your brand new band of the week. Today, we unleash the sounds of "pathetic purveyors of pop" Kermes, whose upbeat indie-punk flits from dreamy soundscapes and scratchy guitars to boisterous pop punk and back again, and sets serious subject matters including transgender identity, depression, and being an increasingly visible target in an increasingly hostile world, to their unapologetically scattershot and raucous noise.
We catch up with vocalist Emily Rose Teece to find out more about the band and what they've got lined up for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
"Hello! We are Kermes, a bunch of sad punks from Leicester. We are Emily Rose Teece (vocals, guitar), Beth Morris (bass), Jordy Delaney (drums, hair), Tom Trigg (guitar, being tall)."
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
"We all met while we were at Leicester Uni – Trigg came up to me (Emily) at a solo show I was playing, introduced himself and immediately asked me to start a band. I lived with our original bassist Dani, we ended up getting our next-door neighbour Jordy to play drums, and we spent three months playing these terrible, slow, miserable songs. And then I realised I was transgender, started transitioning, got really angry about it and the rest is history."
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
"There’s loads really – Sleater-Kinney, The Spook School, The National, Young Fathers, Cloud Nothings; we take a bit of pride in not sounding like any one thing. Making this record, we were also listening to a lot of band that we’ve become friends with too, like Taco Hell, Ash Mammal, Me Rex, Fresh and loads more."
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
"Punk, queer, sweat."
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
"We obviously spend a lot of time at shows, and you see a lot of bands who just don’t look like they give a shit about anything. Without wanting to sound like an awful narcissist, we care a whole lot and I think it shows. I’ve learnt that by being on a stage I have a voice and I can create this momentary community with other queer people, and that shared experience is really powerful. So, every time we play, we’re all trying as hard as we can to get that connection. Also, I just think we’re the best band in the world. Sorry, other bands."
What’s the story behind the new album We Choose Pretty Names – how did you approach writing and how did it come together?
"It was written over about a year in our usual way – I make crappy demos and give it to the others, who turn it something big and amazing and loud. We did about 80% of the tracking in two days at Seamus Wong Studios, and then spent six months doing overdubs and mixing in our producer’s (John Helps, Leicester music scene luminary) spare room. Truthfully, it was an elaborate excuse to hang out with his cat. Anyway, the long and short of it is that it took absolutely ages, but we wanted to get it right and I think we did."
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
"For a while, I had this obsession with the album being a closed loop – that the end of the last track would have this huge wall of feedback that would play perfectly into the noise at the start of the first track. Near the end of overdubs, John and I went to what was our practice space at the time (a room at this youth arts charity called Soft Touch) specifically to record all this noise, and I remember sitting in front of my amp with four distortion pedals on, hitting my guitar with a drumstick, and the whole time there’s people from Soft Touch walking past looking incredibly confused about the whole thing. I think we were doing that for about half an hour and we used, like, 10 seconds of it in the end."
What, in your opinion, is the stand out track on the album?
"I think the general consensus in the band is We Choose Pretty Names – it’s the most ambitious song we’ve ever done, both musically and lyrically, and it’s super, super cathartic to play live."
What do you hope people will take away from the album and your music in general?
"The whole thing with Kermes is trying to fit lyrics about serious stuff – queer community, transition, gender dysphoria, sexism, anxiety – into fun punk-pop songs. I hope that people, particularly those who have been marginalised traditionally, can find solidarity and strength in it, but mostly we just hope people want to dance to it!"
What's been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
"Probably our first proper tour last March. We played a lot of new places, with the shows ranging from incredible to awful, but people were so nice and supportive and enthusiastic about our band and it felt like we came into our own a bit. We didn’t even lose that much money, which I would consider a win when it comes to DIY touring."
What can people expect if they come to see you live?
"Punk celebration, excessive glitter, dancing and Big Pop Songs. I may also sweat on you. (Sorry.)"
What are you most looking forward to about the future – what’s coming next?
"We’ve got a pretty big year set up – our album launch show in Leicester, UK tours supporting Happy Accidents and itoldyouiwouldeatyou, and we’re planning our first European dates with a New York band called Great Wight. Mostly we’re just really excited for people to finally hear this record."
Kermes' debut album We Choose Pretty Names is out on April 13 via Robot Needs Home Records.