Interview: Lady Bird
The all-smiling, all-snarling, all-dancing punk trio caught up with The Mic backstage in Leeds to talk about their headline tour, a debut album and social evolution.
Over the course of the past eighteen months, Tunbridge Wells trio Lady Bird have attempted to cause a perpetual shift within our social consciousness through the medium of brash, witty punk rock. Having worn the label of one of the UK’s brightest new sparks, the band are now putting plans into motion for what looks to be a momentous debut album campaign over the next twelve months.
The first signing to Slaves’ Girl Fight Records, the band’s blend of sarcastic internal dialogue, fervent tongue-in-cheek wit and ferocious instrumentation has gained comparisons to their label mates and fellow Tunbridge Wells contemporaries, yet their debut EP Social Potions offers a profound insight into the psyche of the self-confessed ‘big thinkers.’ A snarling riposte to the fabrications currently embedded within society’s twisting fabric, the EP is a liberator of the determined and a champion of the voiceless millions.
Following the release of the EP, the trio consisting of Sam Cox (vocals, guitar, organ), Alex Deadman (guitar) and Joe Walker (drums) completed a sold-out UK headline tour to critical success and reconvened with The Mic backstage in Leeds to talk about what the future holds and how their first headline tour went down.
Speaking of their headline tour, the trio were understandably giddy. “Nottingham was the first gig out of town, at the Bodega, and we were all surprised,” Cox confesses. “It became very real suddenly seeing so many people there. We had a great experience meeting up with some Buddhist crew in Nottingham as well, who welcomed us into the house and cooked us this massive spread and put us up in actual beds for the night. It was next level, it really set the pace didn’t it guys?”
Deadman adds “It was a very good stage and the rest of the tour was as mental as Nottingham was. It was the first time I’ve certainly ever experienced this and probably the boys have as well, where you’re turning up and (you) still worry that no one is going to be there every time. There’s something in the back of my head from doing gigs when I was sixteen and trying to get your mates down and when your mates didn’t come down, there was basically no one at the show.”
Despite joking about the potential for venues to be empty on show nights, the band experienced something of a surprise ahead of the Leeds stage of the tour. “In Leeds, doors had already been open for twenty minutes right and no one’s in the venue, and we’re like fucking hell it’s supposed to be sold out,” proclaims Deadman. “We were like ‘shit there’s no one in!’ But everyone was still queuing up outside. I remember Noel Gallagher said once how he loved his job because it was like watching people on a night out, every night. And it is literally that – you just like to feel that connection with people and feel the good vibes. Just to be in a space that’s positive and creative is amazing.”
Positive and creative spaces are the optimal environments for a band like Lady Bird. Stalwart advocates of increasing mental health awareness and promoting personal well-being, the band’s latest single LOVE tackled the issue of toxic relationships and society’s conventional reliance on one sole definition of the concept. With the arrival of the music video and an acoustic version of the single, the band joke about what’s next to come: “Well we’ve actually got LOVE Orchestral!” states Cox. Deadman chimes in with “And then we’ve got LOVE Gamelan,” whilst Walker offers “And the throat singing that will go along with it. That’s why my voice sounds like it has recently, to get ready for the throat version!”
For all their comedic endeavours, the trio are noticeably serious with what the future holds and nothing has greater prestige in the minds of the band than the prospect of releasing a debut album. “We’re demoing at the moment and then writing, and then mid-July and August we’ll be making a long body of work,” states Deadman. “An album basically. We’re in the depth of pulling tracks together and starting to realise our dream as it were. Because I’ve never made an album and that’s going to be a real privilege to get a moment to state your intent and state where you’re at in life and have that bookmark of the album.”
Asked whether the creative process for the album has been more freeing than having to churn out singles, the band are hesitant. “Kind of, not really,” answers Cox. “We’ve had a whole heap of approaches to writing music, but what it has given us is the opportunity to put some pressure on ourselves to actually really get cracking because we’ve always been writing in whatever form. But in this situation we’re all sort of all systems go, so there’s loads and loads of stuff coming out.”
With a clear goal, there is a noticeable momentum building behind the developing band, and their writing process has seemingly quickened accordingly. “We’ve developed a bit of a rhythm really,” Cox says. “Like all things in life when you develop a rhythm with it and become used to thinking about it and acting on it frequently as opposed to just occasionally, you then start to develop a bit of a knack, and we have at the minute – we’ll go into a rehearsal, we’ll lay down an idea musically with the aid of some sort of words and melody and then we’ll record it on the phone, do another one. I’ve got this job where I work in this door warehouse where I’m on my own and I can just shout and sing all day, write all the lyrics down, come to the next practice and then we sort of piece together the arrangement and then on to the next one. We’ve just recorded two solid demos through that practice.”
Time and practice looks to have rubbed off on Alex Deadman. “I think like what I’m learning again with stepping up the writing in terms of we’re writing for something now; we know what we want to get to. Whereas before we were writing and then we’d decide what we want to do with it,” he says. “Having that faith in the creative process and knowing that if something’s not quite where you want it or doesn’t sound where you’re imagining it to be, you’ve just got to let the song come to you. And yeah we’ve done these couple of demos and we’re just like ‘oh fuck it’s way better than I kind of thought it was’ and ‘I think that’s the one.’ I’m not trying to be too precious about this sounding like this or ‘we’ve got to be like this,’ I’ve just got to be myself and trust that it’ll come back. I think we’re starting to see that now and we’re all growing in confidence with how good we think it’s going to be.”
Speaking about the content on the album, Cox is resolute that the core values of social evolution will permeate the record. “We’ve got the concept now for the album which we’ve been sitting on for ages and it encompasses all the things we’ve previously mentioned. One hundred percent it’s a continuation of that trail of thought and now we’re adding colour.” Deadman weighs in by saying “I think we’re kind of adding to what we’ve already put out there. Those stories and those sparks of imagination that Sam has so eloquently put on Social Potions and the following singles I think are going to start to come into slightly clearer view once the album’s out and there’s a clear message of what we’re saying.”
He continues by saying “I also think musically we’re just developing and getting better day by day the more we write and play and talk about different ideas. We’re allowing ourselves that room to experiment and do things that we wouldn’t necessarily try before or be listening to a piece of music that’s nothing like you’d imagine Lady Bird to be. I want that essence, there’s a lot of stuff we can cite as influences. One thing for me was The Good, The Bad and The Queen album [Merrie Land] – that sort of epitomisation of England right now and what it means to be proud of your country but also kind of disgusted as to where it’s headed. This album will be out post-Brexit and I think that’s significant; it’s a significant period in this country’s time and it’s a significant period for a lot of people in terms of finding spirituality and finding ways that they can deal this very harsh world we seem to find around us and I think that’s exciting.”
When questioned about what message the trio want to give fans on the record, the band seem divided. “I think it’s this brave new world for me isn’t it, in our new country. It’s like it’s not the fabric of life but the world around us is changing and I think it’s just about being able to deal with those changes,” offers Deadman. Joe Walker on the other hand looks for a more lifting message: “It’s got to be about hope as well doesn’t it. It’s easy to give up hope right now, you’ve got to trust that life will find a way.” Whilst both members go on to agree to disagree, the band’s charismatic and charming frontman manages to encapsulate the mixed feelings perfectly. “I think what both of the boys are saying really shows the two different, almost opposing shades of the situation,” Cox proclaims. “It does seem quite hopeless sometimes but I think the thing that we all have is the ability to dictate where our future goes which is exactly what our album is about and that is reflected in our environment as we grow and develop. Although we can feel like we’re the victim of our circumstances, be it Brexit or be it a relationship in your life whatever it is, what’s hard to realise is in these moments of darkness or whatever you want to describe it as, we can navigate our way through that, which is exactly what LOVE is about. We really shape the future of not only our country but our planet and there’s so many people speaking out about the environment. When you look at the environmental impact with Extinction Rebellion and the cause that they’re making, it makes the Brexit conversation seem really pointless in some comparisons because we really should be focusing on the planet here rather than building walls.”
It starts to become clear throughout the duration of our interview that the band never seem so more in their element than when talking of the current standstill in British and global affairs, whether that be politics, climate change or social degradation. “It does show just how important that conversation is because people are running from the fear into just greater delusion,” states Walker, who is supported by Deadman – “Totally, I feel like the period in which we find ourselves within this country is kind of how divided everybody is, how confused and unsure where we’re really going or what’s going on and I think you can take that philosophically and look at it as we’re at this turning point where personally we need to make changes in ourselves and look at the way in which we live our lives. Environmentally or down to how you feel inside yourself, we know the crisis with mental health. We know the crisis with the environment. All these things in our world are one but what I think we talk about most and what these boys practice all the time is that it’s all in the heart. It’s within you, the power to create whatever kind of life is within you. I think as Joe said, we need that hope at the moment.”
No matter what precocious global situation we continue to find ourselves in day-by-day, Lady Bird’s passion for sparking conversation about these issues is an unwavering commitment to their growing sprawl of fans. Their scintillating live shows perfectly contrast the deeper, more contextualised studio recordings, making them perfect for both platforms, a rarity for a band still blossoming. With only a handful of live festival slots this summer, the writing and recording process for the debut record is the sole focus on the trio’s collective minds. As Britain’s political and social system regresses to new lows, don’t be surprised to see Lady Bird reaching loftier heights in the coming future.