It took hard-as-nails girl gang PINS a week to self-produce one of the most eagerly awaited debuts of the year. Engaging in all sorts of analogue voodoo at Liverpool's Parr Street Studios – chewing up tape machines, backmasking guitar parts and capturing the sound of footsteps so that they may be added to the stew – the four-piece finished up with Girls Like Us; a brooding guitar pop-noir treatise about “being yourself.”
Lamenting the dearth of female musicians in their hometown, PINS fought against the odds to assemble their band and to deliver the record. With the deliciously reiterative "Lost Lost Lost", they scale the walls of insalubrity, "Get With Me" boasts haunting spoken word and "Velvet Morning" raises a toast to jangling surf-pop. Utilitarian guitar lines cut through wails with their hummable choruses throughout. We've been waiting an age for this album. Stream the release below, and read our interview with the band's lead singer/guitarist Faith Holgate.
Dazed Digital: How does it feel to have finally finished the album?
Faith Holgate: It's been really good! We recorded it at the beginning of the year and we've been sat on it a little while waiting to get it out there. I'm excited to see the actual vinyl with the artwork that we designed and play it on my record player; that's the best bit.
DD: You produced it yourself. How was that?
Faith Holgate: We recorded it in Liverpool but we it was important that it was self-produced. We recorded it at that particular studio because we were looking for somewhere that had a lot of analogue equipment, different tape machines and stuff that we could experiment with. It was a really big space which was great so we could get lots of natural reverb. We recorded our tape and EP at our practice space so this was our first experience of going into a legitimate studio.
DD: In what ways did you manipulate the sound?
Faith Holgate: At the time I was listening to a lot of Thee Oh Sees and the Black Lips so we played their records to the engineer and told him we wanted to make the tape machine sound like that – with a kind of natural flicker. So it came through the tape machine backwards then we played over it backwards. We recorded footsteps too; it was just fun experimenting and trying stuff out.
DD: How critical are you of the album?
Faith Holgate: There are some songs that I like more than others. It's always a compromise between band members. Some of us would be dead set on certain songs. “The Darkest Day” was a really troublesome one that we kept re-working over and over whereas “Lost Lost Lost” was one of my personal favourites as I wrote it at home. It was interesting to see how it could go from being an idea in my head to one of our collective favourite songs on the album.
DD: You assembled the band last year. What lengths did you go to?
Faith Holgate: It was quite difficult. You would assume that that in the city there's going to be a lot of female musicians because there are lots of male bands so we assumed it would be easy but it really wasn't. It took about six months – at least – to get a full line-up.
I think there are probably a lot more female musicians out there but they just need a push. We need more girl bands
DD: Do you think there's a gender divide in music?
Faith Holgate: No – but at the beginning of starting PINS I started trying out to be in lots of bands and most of them were guy bands, a few with one other female member maybe. I'd go and meet them and they 'd tell me to play a song and would be like OK, you can play the guitar so we'll have you in the band. But I never really felt like they actually wanted me to be in the band because I was a good musician I felt like it was more so they would stand out. I had my own ideas so I thought I'd just do it myself. I don't think we have a hard time in that nobody makes us feel bad about anything and we're friends with so many bands, but there's just a severe lack of females that play music. I think there are probably a lot more female musicians out there but they just need a push. We need more girl bands.
DD: When you see “all-female band” emphasised, does it bother you?
Faith Holgate: I really don't think it's necessary to classify us as an 'all-female' band, no. I've read loads of things about us and now my eyes don't even recognise that that's what it says anymore, I just skim over it and get to the bit about the music and hope that everyone else does the same thing.
DD: Your album's called Girls Like Us. But what kind of girls are you?
Faith Holgate: Having a band is a real platform for being able to be exactly who you want to be. I just want everybody else to feel the same way, that's why it's called that. It's just about being yourself.
'Girls Like Us' is out Monday September 30th on Bella Union
Follow April Clare Welsh on Twitter here @AprilClareWelsh