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Sad Girls To The Front: Introducing Kamikaze Girls

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 Written by Laura Johnson

Kamikaze Girls want you to know something: it’s OK to be sad.

They called their debut EP ‘Sad’. They have merch emblazoned with the slogans “sad girls to the front” and “sad girls got your back”. Lyrically, they used their opening statements to discuss topics ranging from anxiety to addiction.

Sounds a bit heavy, right? Well, it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that everything the Leeds duo do is accompanied by fuzz-laden, shoegaze-influenced guitar lines built around punk sensibilities and the best riot grrrl has to offer. This is a space where opening up is empowering. Vocalist and guitarist Lucinda Livingstone and drummer Conor Dawson are now poised to release their first album, ‘Seafoam’, and it doubles down on the formula.

Kamikaze Girls have only been making music under the moniker for two years, but Livingstone and Dawson began cutting their teeth in separate bands - Livingstone in a pop-punk outfit, Dawson in something more ‘twinkly’ - as far back as 2009. They soon began playing shows in the same orbit, with Dawson later engineering an in-store performance of Livingtone’s.

Fast forward a few years and Livingstone relocated from Hull to Leeds. The pair were at the same college while Dawson’s band was fizzling out. The first Kamikaze Girls jam soon found them covering a song by Michigan-based punks the Swellers alongside a guitarist who left to become a chef. The next domino to fall saw Livingstone swapping four strings for six. They were off.

“The music we were writing in the old bands was all our collective interests pulled in different directions, so it never really had a unique sound,” Dawson said. “It was just a load of different influences. Every song sounded a little bit different and it didn’t know what it wanted to be.”

Following some dabbling with backing tracks and click tracks, which they thought were “sick at the time”, they made the decision to embrace their reduced line up. Overcompensating was out, a raw approach was in.

“As soon as we were a two piece that was how it was going to be,” Livingstone said. “Everything was going to be raw and there were going to be no barriers, no metaphors. Everything was going to be you get what you see. It’s the same with the music and it’s the same with the lyrics. Some people write really well in metaphors, really great wording, and some of the best literature is like that. But the lyrics that I always related to growing up were stuff that just said it how it was. I guess that’s what I tend to go for in my writing.”

‘Seafoam’ sees the band staying true to the intentions expressed at their inception. The album opens with One Young Man, which was written by Livingstone as an attempt to get closure after being robbed at gunpoint in 2014. It was saved from the cutting room floor only through Dawson’s persistence in driving home its worth. But the song is not unique in discussing difficult topics. Weaker Than examines the aftermath and consequences of a suicide attempt, while Berlin came about following what Livingstone terms “a meltdown” in the city while playing guitar on tour for Personal Best in 2016.

“I lived in London at the time, had a career and then I was on tour  and I was just like, “I don’t want to be in London, I don’t want to have a career, I want to play music,” Livingstone said. “You know, that thing that everyone does. And then I went home from that tour and quit my job and moved back up north within a month. It was quite impulsive, but it was the right thing to do.”

It seems that acting on impulse has served Kamikaze Girls well in general. They sent their 2015 debut single, Tonic Youth, to Fest organiser Tony Weinbender before it had been released to see if it could blag them a spot at the influential Gainesville punk weekender. It did. It was also during a run of the mill rehearsal that Livingstone came up with ‘Sad’ highlight Ladyfuzz, which gave its title to her zine. The mag recently featured an interview with Ren Aldridge of Petrol Girls, who makes a guest appearance on ‘Seafoam’ track KG Goes To The Pub.

But those impulsive moments aren’t always creative. Sometimes they mean knowing when to stop. Following ‘Sad’ they toured so relentlessly that by the time they returned to the UK last autumn they had only a handful of songs ready to record at album sessions booked in for the following week. They pushed those plans back to January, briefly took their foot off the gas and focused on putting pen to paper.   

“When we came back I didn’t have a place to live and was staying in a place where I had to get the bus a lot,” she said. “I was writing my lyrics on the bus like Eminem. I remember texting you [Dawson]: “I’ve just written three sets of lyrics, I’m so ‘8 Mile’ right now.””

In the space of 10 months Kamikaze Girls have released their debut EP, taken their music to different countries and written, recorded, and designed the artwork for their debut album. Now it’s time to tour again, but with new material in tow.

Having only recently returned from supporting Gnarwolves on their UK run, Kamikaze Girls will soon head out on a co-headline tour with Nervus. Earplugs are recommended. “Conor is the hardest drummer ever,” Livingstone laughed. “Every sound guys is like, ‘The cymbals are a bit loud’. But you can’t turn Conor down. You just have to turn everything else up.”

‘Seafoam’ is out on June 9 through Big Scary Monsters

Kamikaze Girls Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat June 10 2017 - MANCHESTER Gullivers
Tue June 20 2017 - DUNDEE Conroys Basement
Wed June 21 2017 - EDINBURGH Bannermans
Thu June 22 2017 - LEEDS Wharf Chambers
Fri June 23 2017 - IPSWICH Smokehouse
Sat June 24 2017 - LONDON Sebright Arms
Sun June 25 2017 - WATFORD White Lion
Mon June 26 2017 - SOUTHAMPTON Alex
Tue June 27 2017 - BRIGHTON Hope and Ruin
Wed June 28 2017 - PORTSMOUTH Edge Of The Wedge
Thu June 29 2017 - CARDIFF Buffalo

Click here to compare & buy Kamikaze Girls Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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