The Suffrajets

Arbroath Viewfield on Friday 2 June 2006

The Suffrajets are no strangers to challenges and hard times, despite being involved in a big coach crash, and losing their drummer to that other band, they have worked away and are building up a good sized hardcore following, known as the “Suffrajet Army”.

They specifically requested to the 150 capacity Arbroath Viewfield against their labels wishes, and caught up with them a couple of hours before they were due to play.

Alex Gillings (Vocals, rhythm guitar): “What have we got planned for the summer? Well, I’ll finally try and get a suntan!”

Gemma Clarke (Drums): “We’re planning to tour, and we’re hoping to play some big name festivals which are still in the pipeline, and we’re doing a couple of little festivals, like Secret Garden, and just tour continuously!”

The band are refreshingly clear about what they want to do, bassist Vicky Kingston tells us how the band always enjoy touring, and it’s clear that the band enjoy playing to a live audience, something which is always to commended.

So with the support of mainstream music magazines, why do they decide to play some smaller venues like a hotel/bar/music venue in Arbroath?

Claire Wakeman (Lead vocals, lead guitar): We played last time, and it was the highlight of the tour, everyone went mental! Also, we got a free cooked breakfast in the hotel room!”

Vicky: “The smaller venues are the most important for the live music industry, when the venues get bigger you lose the whole atmosphere and intimacy.”

Alex: “The gig we played here last time was amazing, it was off the wall. I got the microphone smacked in my mouth about three times. You don’t get that down south, everyone here is really up for it. I got bitten in the face last time I was here, but we’re resilient, you can try and eat us and we still keep going!”

So how did the band get around the fact that their label didn’t want them to play the venue?

Claire: “We just said that we’re doing it!”

As a band, they’ve been involved in music, all four members seem very conscious on connecting with their fanbase.

Gemma: “Are there enough female role models in music? No, look at drums, who is there? Meg White.”

Alex: “There’s quite a few female guitarists out there, but there’s not a lot of female musicians out there on a scale of men to women. They are out there though, and they’re mostly pretty good.”

Vicky: “There’s a lot of them who aren’t taken seriously.”

Alex: “Yeah, some people are like “There There”, and it’s just like “F**k off! If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to be hard, really hard, you can’t be apologetic if you get a couple of knock backs.”

The band have experienced their fair share of knock backs over the years they’ve been playing together, Gemma and Alex formed the band when they were 14, and have worked hard ever since in getting a solid foundation for the band to perform. So how do they feel about some of the new indie bands who are acquiring fame and success almost instantaneously?

Alex: “All of us, together or individually have been gigging for more than ten years. It seems like the worse the musician you are and the least time you’ve been together, the better, they just seem to set up a webcam in their bedroom and they’re famous! They seem to come along, think they’re the best thing since sliced bread, and they’re all bad Libertines rip-offs! We’ve had people say we’re too old, we’re 22! They say they heard of us five years ago, but that’s not a bad thing, it shows that we have longetivity.”

Gemma: “The thing is, if you want to listen to the best, you listen to the originals! You don’t listen to this naff, factory churned out, conveyer belt crap!”

A phone call arrived from their tour manager asking if the band knew where the keys were for the room which contained all their equipment, so the interview had to be rounded up.

What advice do the Suffrajets give to new musicians wanting to make an impact in the music industry?

Vicky: “Work hard!”

Alex: “Assume everyone hates you, don’t think everyone will like you, if you go in with that mentality, you can handle it. If you ain’t, go home and have cocoa with your mum!”

Claire: “We’re being really positive today, aren’t we!”

The Suffrajets are playing a large amount of dates over the summer, and release new single “Worthy” on the 26th of June. They’re a refreshingly hard-working band, something to be commended with so many bands achieving near instant fame. Oh, and they are the first band I know of whose drummer owns a pet goat called “Izzy”.

You can catch the Suffrajets around the UK around about now and at the Secret Garden festival.

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article by: Matthew Shaw

published: 12/06/2006 08:46