She Drew The Gun is a band on the rise. Having recently won the Glastonbury Music Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition, which awarded them the chance to hit the main stage at this year’s festival, the UK psych-pop band will release their debut album, Memories of the Future, on April 22nd, which was produced by The Coral’s James Skelly.
Skelly took an almost immediate kindling to lead singer Louisa Roach’s talents, while she was still a solo act performing at various open mic events. With influences spanning from The Beatles to Patsy Cline, She Drew The Gun has a psychedelic, politically-charged, experimental sound that is hard to ignore.
In our new interview, Roach told us about coming up as an emerging artist, how she came to be selected to perform at Glastonbury 2016, her dream festival line-up, and more.
How does the release of your debut album, Memories of the Future, approaching so quickly feel?
It feels pretty amazing to be honest. The first album is a big thing, especially if you’re an album kind of person, which I am. We’ve been doing it quite a while and the date of it is finally here, it feels exciting and a little bit nerve racking, because [we’re] going to put something out in the world. But mostly it feels great.
Where did the album title come from?
I was reading some Kurt Vonnegut stuff at the time and I think it was a line in one of the books and I really liked that part. At the time we were trying to think of what to call the album. I’m not sure if it’s a direct quote, but it was an idea from a Kurt Vonnegut novel. A lot of the songs on the album, there’s a bit of a science fiction theme [to]. Maybe not totally a theme, but there’s a lot of other worldliness in it and I wanted to get that across with the title, so that’s where that came from.
The Coral’s James Skelly produced the album. How did he come aboard and what did you learn from working with him?
He came aboard when I went to do a live session on a local radio show. Someone who knows James had me play in. He showed him some of my music and introduced us. I went to meet James, just went ‘round to his house, played him some tunes on an acoustic guitar and he really liked them and said we could start working on an EP. The first song went so well, that we just ended up doing an album. It was pretty amazing, because I’ve always loved The Coral’s as well, so I already saw James as a hero of mine, musically. Being in the studio with him, I think I learnt loads, but it’s really that you’ve got to have someone that you can trust your music with, to be able to bounce ideas off and talk about everything with. He’s really great to work with.
Do you think he helped you guys grow at all?
Definitely for me. When I initially started working with him, I was working on my own and ever since then, he’s helped in all ways really. It’s great to have someone who you can talk about music with, who’s got good ideas with what kind of way you can go. Just to talk about other artists and have that ongoing conversation about music.
What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
I would go in and record vocals and guitar. A lot of the songs I’ve written on a guitar with riffs and vocals over the past. So we went in and that was the first thing we recorded. We set a beat and a click, then recorded my guitar and then the vocals. Sometimes we would just record the guitar and then putting some other stuff to it, but it was all based around the guitar and vocals. Everything else we’d put in afterwards and build the tracks. The last thing we put on was the drums on most of the tracks.
Many songs on Memories of the Future are autobiographical. Was there any hesitation on your part to include as many personal experiences in your music as you do, or is it something that came naturally to you?
Someone was asking me why I write the songs [like I do], or do them in the way that I do, and I think it’s always because I feel like I’ve got something to say about something, or to someone. Whether it’s one person, or to everyone, it feels like I need to say something. I think that’s where it comes out, whether it’s that I need to say to someone that I miss them, or I need to say I’m not happy with the way that I see things happening in the world. I don’t think I’ve specifically gone out to write any songs about anything, it’s just something that I needed to say.
Your track “Poem” is a very political song. What was the inspiration behind that track?
I saw in the news that the police in London were moving homeless people off the streets, because it was bad for tourism and they wanted to make the place look neater. I was like “that’s so messed up.” I started talking about it in the balance of a poem, I didn’t plan it to be a song at that point. I started writing and kept coming back and writing more, it kept growing into a big poetic rant. I performed it a couple times as a poem and started to think in the back of my head that I should turn it into a song, so that’s what I did.
I saw something in the news in London a while back, that they had gone to the crevices that people sleep in and put spikes in. Did it have anything to do with that?
That’s exactly the kind of thing I was seeing. I was seeing that they were moving people off the street and putting up these spikes everywhere to stop homeless people from being around. I was like “what kind of place is this? This isn’t what we should be doing.” I think at the moment, homelessness seems to be getting worse. There seems to be more people sleeping rough, definitely around Liverpool. Lots of cities I go to, you can always see homeless people, and it’s becoming more visible. [But] you can’t just put spikes up everywhere. You’ve got to look at the problems that are causing it.
You won Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition on April 9th, and you’ll now be performing at at this year’s festival. Who are some of the artists you’re most excited to see there and be playing alongside?
I’m really looking forward to Beck. I’ll probably be there for Earth, Wind & Fire, because that sounds like fun. I’ve seen Muse before, they were amazing. I’ll try to catch Santigold, I like her stuff. There’s the obvious ones, but I don’t know, everyone says at Glastonbury it doesn’t matter who’s on, or where. The whole thing is just amazing. I’ve never been, but we were going to go this year, we had tickets to go anyways, so I was already excited about going. But everyone says don’t worry too much about who’s on, just enjoy the whole thing, because it’s a pretty one of [a kind] place.
I have a friend who went back in 2007 who said the same thing. I was looking at the lineup this year and there’s some stuff I definitely want to see, but nothing that really screamed to me that I hadn’t seen. Other than like you said, Muse. But he said don’t even think about it, just go, it doesn’t matter who’s playing.
Yeah, and I think we’re getting a couple more gigs around that time, so we’ll have to work around that, [and] just go with the flow. We’re just trying to get as many gigs as we can.
If you were the one to be curating it, what would your dream festival lineup be?
I’d probably get Radiohead headlining, Tame Impala, Father John Misty – I’m going to see him in Liverpool and I’m looking forward to that. PJ Harvey, I’m really looking forward to that as well, hopefully I get to catch it, I don’t know what else we’re going to be able to catch. Perfect lineup, I’m sure I’ll kick myself later, but they’re the main ones who come to mind right now.
How have you evolved as a songwriter from your days playing open mic events to now?
I think it’s important to do a lot of gigs when you’re starting out. It’s good for any nerves, to go up. Maybe some people take a massive jump, but it’s been quite nice to keep moving up. Starting from scratch, it feels like you keep on pushing on, instead of everything happening at once. I think that’s the good thing, because it feels like you’ve always had a little bit of momentum, it’s good practice. It’s just good to get out there and listen to other people.
You started by yourself, do you think working with the band has brought on evolution in your writing process at all?
We’ll probably find out more now, because this album started off as just me writing on my own, but now I’m starting to think more about writing as a band. I’m writing songs, but I’m not finishing them completely and I think I’m writing stuff that’s more open to let’s see what happens. I don’t know if that’s going to stay like that, but we’ll see after this.
With this album, there’s a palate of different musical influences ranging from experimental to psychedelic to politically-charged singer-songwriters. Who are some artists that you drew inspiration from while creating the album?
I did a lot of playlists of songs that we were talking about and things like that. My first love in music was really old country songs that my mum used to sing with me, [like] Patsy Cline, when I listen to [her] it feels like home. Further on than that, my favorite songwriter is John Lennon, I love the Beatles. There’s some deep-seeded influences like that, but then, you’re taking influences all the time, so everything that I’ve liked since then [as well].
Also, when we were recording the album, me and James were talking about a lot of different songs that might be good influences on the album. So we did end up with a palate of different things to look at. We were looking at stuff to make a dreamy kind of sound. A lot of it was “this sounds a little bit like that, that’s good.” It wasn’t necessarily intentional, but you meet something and you think “that sounds a bit like that, that’s cool, that works.” I’d say there’s those deep-seeded influences there, I guess there’s some 60’s in there, [and] some 80’s influence [as well].
She Drew The Gun will perform at Glastonbury 2016. Buy tickets here.
This article can also be found originally posted on aestheticmagazinetoronto.com