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Impulse And Experimentation: Baby In Vain On 'For The Kids' And Making The Band Worthwhile

Friday, 20 May 2016 Written by Laura Johnson

On the surface, it appears that we don’t know much about Baby in Vain. We know that guitarists Lola Hammerich and Andrea Thuesen and drummer Benedicte Pierleoni are all under 25 and from Copenhagen. We know they don’t have a bass player. But, in reality, all you really need to know is that they play squalling grunge of the goosebump-inducing variety and that, one EP in, they’re already a formidable proposition.

In April they released ‘For The Kids’ and earlier this month joined the Kills on their European tour, having been hand-picked by the band’s vocalist, Alison Mosshart. We spoke to Hammerich as she was preparing to soundcheck for the London leg of the run at Village Underground, delving into the band’s past, present and foreseeable future.

Although Baby In Vain came together six years ago, Hammerich and Pierleoni’s friendship pre-dates that. They met at an after-school music programme, when the former was 12.  By chance, fellow musician friends introduced them to Thuesen. They quickly asked if she could join their band. “We didn’t know if she could play at all,” Hammerich said. “Luckily, she was good and we stayed together.”

The only catch was that both Hammerich and Thuesen were guitar players, which left them sans bass. That didn’t faze the teenagers, who were more concerned with shredding “some cool guitar solos” than beginning the tedious hunt for a fourth member. They poured their energy into interweaving melodies and ran their rig through bass amps to fill the low end, a decision that later resulted in ‘For The Kids’ covering more musical ground in 20 minutes than most bands do on hour-long LPs.

One song from the EP, The Urge, which manages to conflate infidelity with the desire of a murderer, found producer Mads Bergland breaking with Baby In Vain tradition and replacing the rhythm guitar on the track with synth bass, though. That’s something, it seems, that the trio may revisit in the future as they continue to investigate new influences.

“A lot of stuff happened with the songs in the studio,” Hammerich admitted. “We just experimented a lot and we will continue to do so. When we write the songs we just use guitar and drums, but we try a lot of different things. There will be more of that I hope. When we started playing we weren’t into the same music at all. When I met Andrea there was a lot of new things that I started to like, and Ben as well , so I think we turned each other onto some music. We all listen to very different music. There are definitely a lot of different influences.”

The brilliance of Baby In Vain lies in their ability to mould these disparate strands into a powerful collective voice. But, the unpredictability of inspiration can be a challenge in itself. “I get a lyric or a melody, or something, you know in my head and I just try to develop it,” Hammerich said. “I don’t really know where it comes from. I never sit down like: “I have to write a song about this.” I don’t do that. It just sort of comes out.”

Prior to the arrival of ‘For The Kids’, the band had sporadically released singles, and one split EP, believing that they were a little way off crafting a full length. Riding those impulsive waves, the collection was recorded in two different sessions, with Martha, Muscles and Worthwhile written two years ago and Jesusfreaks and The Urge more recently.

Add to this the hype machine going into overdrive about an all-girl three-piece, none of whom,  at the time, had turned 21, and the trio found themselves under the constant pressure of expectation. That weight is addressed on Worthwhile and it’s something that, Hammerich admits, they still tackle presently. “It comes and goes,” she admitted. “It’s definitely changed a lot since the beginning. At the beginning it was just fun. Now it’s like work, with a little bit of fun.”

It seems the band are still toying with the answer to a question they effectively posed themselves: is it worth it? The response, for now, is a resounding yes, as Hammerich confirmed that the trio have plans to record their debut album this summer. “We’re just working on it as we have been for the last two years,” she said. “It’s a long process.”

‘For The Kids’ is out now on Partisan Records. A vinyl release is set for June 10.


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