Pisces baby born 1997, Lauren Tate is a singer-songwriter, producer, director and artist from South Yorkshire, England. Growing up the eldest of three, Tate was a secondary school dropout, writing and self producing music from her bedroom from the age of 15. Delving into many musical genres, singing both hard-rock/grunge-punk in her current band Hands Off Gretel, Tate most recently stripped back to a softer, raw Americana sad-pop sound with her first solo album in 5 years, ‘Songs for Sad Girls’.
‘Songs for Sad Girls’ will be released on 20th September on her own label Trash Queen Records (UK), Tate recorded and self-produced 11 of the 14 tracks in her home studio.
“I planned to get my album produced by someone when I could afford it, but there was a certain magic and honesty captured in my recordings that I knew would really move people. My lyrics are honest and brutal with songs about domestic abuse, body image, feminism and fear of dying. I wanted it to sound like a girl writing in her diary, unapologetic and imperfect like real girls are.”
‘What About the Kids’ is the 2nd single from the debut album and is released today, alongside a new music video directed by Lauren. ”The song is from a child’s point of view speaking to her father addressing gun violence in America. I wanted the song to highlight issues around gun control and the importance of children’s future in a world where nobody is listening to them. I wrote this song to sing for those that won’t ever get the chance to do so.”
Lauren not only self-produced and recorded all instruments on her debut album she designed all the album artwork and merchandise too. Described by BBC Introducing presenter Christian Carlisle as a ‘One Woman Record label’.
Three down and one to go and Sunday is a pretty big deal around RPM HQ as our mates are playing on the Introducing stage later but everywhere we look its clash city. At one point we wanted to see four bands all playing at the same time across the complex so it literally came down to the toss of a coin where we would go and who we would see. With the venue opening at midday we needed to be in the Empress to catch a band we’ve covered a lot lately and who’ve impressed everyone whos seen and heard them. Hands Off Gretel take the stage to a really healthy crowd considering the day and time and proceed to entertain with a really tight performance as the band really locked in like their lives depended on it and the audience was right there with them. After catching the first 30 minutes of the set we then had to cross the divide via Almost Acoustic where Ratboy was performing his magic to a full room we managed to catch him driving swords through someone’s arm and a more gentle coin trick but we couldn’t stay as all roads lead towards the Introducing stage where Trigger Mcpoopshute took the stage looking rather splendid in their religious outfits. I even heard some punter comment that Shovel had a decent set of pins in his sheer stockings! I did turn to see what depraved human had such thoughts on the lords day. To be fair Trigger knocked out a rather impressive set of Welsh hardcore fuelled by late-night kebabs and strong cider whilst entertaining and putting a smile on peoples faces with their tales of everyday folk and cheeky charm.
Having seen the band turn in some loose sets this was a different Trigger with a much tighter sound with Bam at the drum stool. Songs like ‘Skidmarks and Spenser’, ‘Sheep’ and ‘Drinking With The Big Boys’ were going down a storm in front of a very impressive audience and it was only 1.15pm but the only question people were now pondering was ‘Fish Or Bird’? Fuckin’ loons. Who writes songs about penguins? Bloody entertaining though.
Right that’s three rooms already and it’s not even 2 pm so it must be time to head to Casbah to see if Dan Banger has turned up this year and low and behold he’s bloody made it and finally, Pizzatramp are in the house and what a fuckin’ beautiful noise they make live. Regardless of if its some tiny venue in the bowels of South Wales or the cavernous Club Casbah at Rebellion Pizzatramp are on fire right now as Sammy plucks that thunderous bass and locks in with Dan they are a formidable force and their Hardcore is a beautiful thing they open with ‘CCTV’ and its brutal ‘Claire Voyant’, ‘He’s Gone Full Mitchell’ and the quite brilliant ‘Millions Of Dead Goffs’ pretty much make up the opening salvo of their set and I’m happy and it seems like half of Blackpool have gotten the memo and decided to turn up to see Pizzatramp with ‘Grand Relapse’ getting a decent airing their (Brown puckered) Star(fish) is burning brightly. We cut the set short and dash over to the Opera House for Johny Skullknuckles Kopek Millionaires who have just gone on by the time we catch our breath.
‘sometimes (Love Just Isn’t Enough)’ sounds fantastic and the change of pace from hardcore Sunday to power pop punk rock was just what I needed. I love Johnys style of writing and a lot of his material reminds me of early Hanoi Rocks and ‘Tell Me Baby’ sounded great as did ‘1981’ from ‘Dirty Beef Hands’ but the ray of sunshine in what has been a difficult time recent for Johny was his touching tribute to Kathy which touched everyone in the Opera House and got a standing ovation and the track of the set ‘Punk Girl From Another World’ an exceptional set from The Millionaires.
After recently seeing Suede Razors in Bristol Johnny and Darrel urged me to pop into the empress and catch the set so if it’s good enough for those two, of course, I was going to be there. so grabbing my spot on the barrier more for something to lean on than anything else the band duly took the stage and Darrel Wojick fresh from checking out Trigger McPoopshute takes the stage and proceeds to ram down some sweet boot boy rock and roll mixing the best of Slade with Rose Tattoo with a bovver boy take on the Four Horsemen. ‘My city’ kicked off proceedings and for the next half an hour and some they rammed it down the Empress ‘TV175’ going down a storm and the punters flooded in. ‘Passion On The Pitch’ was dedicated to Blackpool fans and their fight for their club and it was nice to hear some Americans and a Canadian knowing their shit and fuck the Oystens would have gone down well. ‘Bovver Boy’ was a particular high point of the set. a band who have the chops and know-how to rock and roll and will always be welcome over here if the USA still won’t let them ply their craft.
One of the must-see bands on the introducing stage had to be Rotten Foxes who turned up looking rather splendid in their double denim, cut off nut huggers and wrestling belts. They really put on a show for those gathered in the sweatbox. As for what they played fuck knows, it was absolute pandemonium and punk as fuck with Charlie Harper whistling on the sidelines whilst members of Zero Zero, Pizzatramp and Trigger knew where the only place to be at half three on a Sunday afternoon was and that was in this very room sweating like Ian Krankie in a wardrobe. The songs came thick and fast, fuck, make that very fast as bodies flew around, Hardcore as fuck. An absolute pleasure to witness such beautiful chaos done so well. True to their single ‘Arrive Raise Hell Leave’ Rotten Foxes absolutely killed it. I wish it had gone on longer and it would have been awesome to see these boys tear somewhere like Casbah a new one with this racket. Don’t quit it’s only just begun. Rotten Fuckin’ Foxes!
We needed to grab some food so Svetlanas were forfeited as was our planned peek at Teenage Bottlerockets (next time for sure). Dirt box Disco are up next and with a quick pint, we head for Club Casbah. Having Weab quit the band to go his own way it left Spunk Volcano to take over lead vocals and this being the first opportunity for us to see the band we first caught way back when they had no more than a couple of shows under their belt this was going to be interesting but seeing so many people turn up and stay til the end must have put wind in their sails as they knocked out classic Dirtbox after classic dirt box with ‘My Life Is Shit’ seeing a frenzied pit chanting the chorus back to Mr. volcano must have felt good that they decided to carry on post Weab. Something of a Rebellion fixture it wouldn’t be the same without them.
Empress is beginning to heat up again as CJ Ramone takes the stage and for the next hour we’re treated to a whole bunch of classic Ramones tunes and some choice cuts from CJ’s solo records all that was missing was a track or two from Bad Chopper. ‘One High One Low’ from the new album slipped in comfortably alongside classics like ‘Bonzo Goes To Bitburg ‘, ‘Rock n Roll High School’ and ‘Rockaway Beach’. ‘This Town’ also off the new album sounded huge but was the aperitif for Blag The Ripper who entered the fray to creepy crawl around the Empress knocking out ‘KKK Took My Baby Away’. CJ then gave a wonderful tribute to his former bandmate Steve Soto who had been performing with him and who died only little over a year ago as last year Adolescents gave a tearful tribute to Soto ‘Rock On’ was apt. the next special guest happened to be Blags bandmate Nick Oliveri.
as if the Empress wasn’t hot enough ‘Warthog’, ‘Commando’, ’53rd’, ‘Sedated’, ‘Blitzkreig Bop’ and to wrap it all up why not go over the top with a sparkling version of ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’. Thank you and goodnight. Fuck me that’s how to do a festival – No bullshit – no fucking around just bish bash bosh! It reminded me of Buzzcocks who were mentioned several times over the weekend and amusing stories were regaled they were a band who got festivals and usually just blitzed it – well, CJ Ramone just did that – 29 songs in an hour, Smart!
We’re in the home straight now and it’s still pretty full-on We toyed with the idea of going into Empress for The PRofessionals but it was too hot so we went for a wander around the bizarre and dipped in to catch the start of The Skids who weren’t mucking about and once they’d put up the correct graphic giving away the fact that The Damned were indeed playing the Machine gun Etiquette set later gave the game away, oh well the rumours were true. Doh!. ‘Of One Skin’ followed by ‘Charade’ it looked like they were playing the same set they were dishing out around Europe which is fine I’ve not seen the band since they reformed and by the sounds of it they were bang on form. Knowing I had one last lap to complete the heat upstairs on the balcony was almost unbearable and it literally felt like the ‘Saints Were Coming’ if I’d have stayed up there so back to Club Casbah for a glance at Conflict and DOA then settled for a few tunes from King Kurt a band I’d not seen for over twenty years hoping to catch some ‘Destination Zulu LAnd’ but alas it wasn’t to be as I had to venture via the backstage bar for some refreshments before making my way down the front for one final hurrah.
The Damned doing ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’ although I’d seen them several times on the last MGE Anniversary tour this time it was with added Paul Gray who always did justice to the Algy bass lines.
As the band took to the stage and Captain offered up the introduction of “Ladies And Gentlemen, how do?” the place seemed to be absolutely rammed and didn’t need an invitation to go nuts as the album was unfurled in sequence well, up until ‘These Hands’ that seemed to have been left off. Again not quite its entirety but it would have been fun to hear it for us anoraks. Man The Damned are on fire at the moment and seem to be really enjoying their time on stage. Vanian being quite animated tonight taking the lead with amusing anecdotes whilst Sensible being, dare I suggest it, quite restrained. Maybe the Wintergardens heat was taking effect whereas we all know Vanian has spent the day relaxing in his air-conditioned crypt so would be fresh as a daisy. Once they wound up MGE also missing ‘Liar’ as well I might add. They then proceeded to indulge a few extras like ‘Street Of Dreams’ and a rather splendid ‘Ignite’.
I guess they had to play ‘Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow’ before hitting the home straight with ‘Wait For The Blackout’ followed by the anthemic ‘New Rose’,’Neat Neat Neat’ and ending the set with ‘Jet Boy Jet Girl’ and the curtain was brought down on another exception headline set from the original punk rockers and still the best there is. Don’t let Hayward and Sutton tell you otherwise 😉 (DD)
With Dom over in the Empress watching The Damned for the bazillionth time it was left to yours truly to witness rock legends The Dwarves, big dicks swinging, give Blackpool’s punk rock community the bloodiest nose of the weekend. With HeWhoCannotBeNamed back in the fold, there is that added sense of danger and anarchy about the band as they launch straight into ‘Way Out’ and the Club Casbah mosh pit goes suitably apeshit. ‘Sluts Of The USA’, ‘Devils Level’ and ‘We Only Came To Get High’ follow like repeated punches to the face and just when I thought it couldn’t get any crazier a minor drunken skirmish breaks out in front of me during ‘Speed Demon’ and the sight of a topless female pit member sends Blag and the boys off into a world where there ‘Better Be Women’ and ‘Free Cocaine’. ‘We Must Have Blood’ sees He Who and Blag demolish the drum kit, and in a shower of beer, they are gone. Wow! Band of the weekend for me and many others. Don’t agree? Go fuck yourselves. HA! (JH)
Rebellion Sundays are real hardcore as the body is usually wondering why it is being subjected to continued alcohol, dehydration and stairs, stairs and stairs. So having an unbelievable line-up makes it all worthwhile and following playing another set I shot across to the acoustic stage to catch Catlow (of the Poly Esters) set the afternoon on a great footing. A Pizzatramp, Suede Razors 1-2 gets me right in the mood to swing by the Arena to catch Birmingham’s utterly brilliant The Liarbilitys. Their Antagonisms record sounds fantastic live and Birmingham’s Bleeding is surely one of the best punk rock songs of recent times. I made a point of popping into the Introducing Stage at numerous points throughout the weekend, sampling some really excellent bands (that Rotten Foxes set was something else!!) but one that really stuck with me was Tequila Mockingbyrd. The female quartet were devastating and really should be checked out, as their Hanoi Rocks meets L7 swagger is infectious. This led me nicely into catching something very familiar but no less good in the shape of Welsh stalwarts Foreign Legion. Marcus Howells might have led the band in its many forms for decades but they show no signs relenting in any way and are on top form with a set of old standards are spot-on new songs. With the finish line in sight, I head back to join the hordes watching the Professionals before watching The Dwarves deliver the ultimate coup de grace. What a weekend? When can we do it again? (DS)
Rebellion 2019 was an absolute pleasure from the superb company to the many bands I met shook hands with, had conversations with to the work colleagues also covering the festival to the incredibly hard-working and always smiling staff keeping the bars stocked to make sure everything was hunky-dory. The bouncers who did their jobs well especially the guys n gals in the Empress who did amazing jobs and always with a smile to the catering staff and stallholders to the people like Darren Russell Smith and Jeannie Russel Smith, Stu Taylor and Daryl for putting this incredible Festival together keeping the prices real. Dod and the photographers who do such an excellent job in capturing it all, the stagehands and sound and light guys for doing such an amazing job under so trying circumstances and the good people of Blackpool for being so welcoming time after time and all the band we saw turn in such awesome sets and the bands we didn’t get round to seeing maybe next year. The PR people for running such a smooth operation you all make this festival lark look like a piece of piss. The artists upstairs along with the people who were interviewed and interviewers and finally all the punters who love alternative music and keep the scene ticking over buying the music and the merch. I have a list of bands who should play next year who would go down a treat if anyone wants to know.
Rebellion is always a pleasure and never ever a chore. Now can I go to bed and get some sleep please? Same time and same place next year? Fan-Fuckin-Dabi-Dozy!
Authors: Dom Daley, Johnny Hayward & Darrel Sutton
Its August and this week sees us roll with our comprehensive Rebellion Festival round-up so why not run our twent choice cuts from our perspective. We’d have listed the likes of Zero Zero and Rotten Foxes but they’re not on Spotify so we’ve gone with a solid old and new twenty plus. Check em out there has to be something for every taste in there. Remember kids don’t just stream go out and watch these bands and buy their merch and music. It keeps them making the music we love.
Well, we’re almost there folks its Sunday on our preview and by now there will be sore heads, aching limbs, sunburn, and ringing ears and aching jaws from having such a good time and laughter that’s usually how Sunday pans out but not necessarily in that order. By now you will have got the hang of how to best navigate your way through the Winter Garden and how best to avoid the heat and there will be some who are only now getting into the swing of things and only just warming up. We’ve already opened a book as to what state our friends Trigger Mcpoopshute will be in before they hit the introducing stage. I just hope Blackpool has enough Special Vat on tap because they will find it and the Karaoke bar. Anyway, I digress.
On with the show. first up will no doubt be a very early start for many as Hands Off Gretel hit the Empress Stage between 12:50pm – 1:30 pm. With their recent album and live shows, they’ve had plenty of praise around these parts and it’ll be great to catch them on such a big stage and big room compared to the tight confines of Clwb Ifor Bach. But wait, get your time warp daps on because there are more clashes than outside a Swansea v Cardiff derby. 1.55 also sees our mates the wonderful Kopek Millionaires return to the festival in the Opera House and hang on those Welsh herberts Trigger McPoopshute are also kicking up a shitstorm over on the introducing stage at 1.15 and if you shout loud enough I’m sure they’ll play ‘Sheep’ and my favourite ‘Skidmarks & Spencer’.
It’s just not fair because Pizzatramp will be causing offense and singing songs about Goths at 2 pm over at Club Casbah or whinging about having their fuckin’ backs being fucked and calling Bono names but I can guarantee they will be entertaining and totally crushing the room. Next up for me will be those filthy garage punk noise bringers Rotten Foxes again on the introducing stage where double denim hot pants will no doubt be the order of the day and songs about Danny Dyer will be belted out for the gathered masses. Around the same time, The Svetlanas will also be delivering the noise over in The Ballroom and they went down very well last year. You could stay put and chill because up next is the pop punk of Teenage Bottlerockets in the Empress. Or no doubt like many will head over to Club Casbah for your annual fix of Dirtbox Disco at 5.10 pm. If you haven’t had enough Hands Off Gretel frontwoman Lauren Tate will be putting on an Acoustic performance in Almost Acoustic but I’d imagine you’d have to get there early as it will be busy.
It’s still very early evening and hopefully, you should be just warming up by about now and pacing yourself. You’ll hopefully have just taken in a bunch of new bands on your radar and awaiting some more established bands who will be along later. There are a dozen bands playing the Introducing Stage on Sunday many of whom I’ll admit to not having heard but will always dip in because its stages like this where the future headliners might come from and who knows, your new favourite band. Isn’t that the beating heart of what Rebellion Festival is all about? You can stay in one venue all day long and come across a whole gambit of bands some you’ll love some you’ll know the name of but have never heard them and others will blow you away and all indoors under the same roof alongside friendly staff who make it such a special place to watch alternative music night after night after night. Anyway, I digress.
The Witchdoktors play their garage punk rock n roll just before Foreign Legion kicks in with their Oi! infused street punk. Weaving around the stages takes some skills that you should no doubt be a Jedi master at by this point so negotiating Conflict, DOA and then King Kurt will be a piece of piss right? Yeah right. and if you’re still in one piece The Motherchuffin’ Dwarves are taking the Casbah stage home tonight and will no doubt devastate what’s left of the audience. I see they’re down for a 55-minute set so it looks like they’re playing twice then kids 😉
Anyway back in the Empress the final curtain call sees CJ Ramone knock out a whole bunch of classics from 7 pm and lets face it he’s never let us down and his new solo album is a bit tasty as well so in fairness throw your laminated stage finder timetable out the window buy yourself a Dark Fruit and just follow your ears and you’ll be taken to a stage that will put a big smile on your face. The Professionals follow CJ then The Skids follow the Professionals but its top trumps time for me because the Damned close the festival that is as long as The Dwarves haven’t raised the Winter Gardens to the ground from the Casbah at the same chuffing time! it’ll be a flip of the coin no doubt or we will have to split review duties and by witching hour it will all be over – done and dusted. Back to our hotels and B&B’s with our pathetic bruised and beaten carcasses dissecting our weekend – our long lost weekend down the musical wormhole that is Rebellion festival. If you’re still in with a chance of going but can’t decide to take it from us you won’t regret it – not for a second (well that might be a lie – your legs might be saying otherwise) There is no other festival quite like it in the UK and we love being a part of it year after year. I’m packed and ready to rock n roll now where did I leave my kiss me quick hat?
Two venues? Two gigs? at the same time! No I didn’t split myself in two it’s the thing I love about Womanby Street in Cardiff, now the pressures off and developers have been sent packing it really has become a vibrant hub of the Underground music scene, catering for all musical tastes and the atmosphere. Sense of belonging and camaraderie in the crowds lurking outside three venues, all within 50 feet of each other, on both sides of the road, shows what happens when you get things right.
Walking towards Clwb Ifor Bach for another superb offering from our friends at Pity my Brain (you really should keep up to speed with their offerings, they never disappoint and always put on gigs with integrity) I picked up the sound of a band starting up in the Moon Club, I know that voice! So took a quick detour to be confronted with Red Light Syndrome, now you might well ask who? But take it from me these guys are a band that are really coming together. I’ve caught them twice over the last month and what is starting to come together is a sound grounded in Husker Du, tipping a nod towards Jawbreaker but all the time showing a Lemonheads grasp on pop sensibilities. Craigy Rees is starting to build in confidence as a front-man and Dean on Guitar is bringing the noise with a gorgeous punk rock edge to the sound. The too short set to an ever-increasing crowd drawn in from the outside is met with a more than appreciative response.
Nipping back across the road to Clwb Ifor Bach and we catch the start of Tribeless , its always a pleasure to catch a young band on the up but bringing their own sound into what could be classed as classic rock, with a leaning towards the alternative. (Listening to the single post the night there’s a definite hint towards prime time Evanescence) and in front-woman Lydia McDonald they have a genuine star in the making.
Next up we have Bottlekids and a band I’ve been looking to check out for a while Joe Grogan, front -man of the mighty Graveyard Johnnys side project and right from the start that un-mistakable vocal hits you and your off that punk rock underpinned sound drags you out of your seat and draws you right in to the moment. With a new EP due, available to pre-order on the nite, or here (https://bottlekids.bigcartel.com) and a touring schedule that is rapidly filling up they’re in the exchange in Bristol alongside Riskee and the ridicule and the Mighty King Prawn, (what a triple header) October 18th. I would suggest you jump on board pretty quickly! These guys aren’t hanging around.
Time is absolutely flying by tonight, and with an early curfew, we’re into the headliners Hands off Gretel before we fully have time to cool down from Bottlekids onslaught.
The music-press I have to say are for once right in tune with a band and a rapidly growing following and everything is in place for Hands off Gretel to explode out of the alternative underground and hit those bigger arena’s. They have the image and with the addition of Becky Baldwin on Bass we have a twin focus a counterpoint to frontwoman Lauren Tate, people in the know might have caught her with Triaxis? If not why not?
From the opening chords the crowd are up for it and worth noting tonight, in what is usually a heavy male-oriented audience I would have put the ratio at almost 50/50 great to see and with none of the behaviors that have crept into some of the larger venues and audiences. With Hands off Gretel, you can’t help but make comparisons to some of the bands that exploded out of Seattle at the peak of grunge, but it’s tighter, been brought up to date and not just sung but presented by Lauren and the band. I think the image, the attention to detail, the sound and most importantly the potential for crossover into the mainstream is huge. I’d love to see them on a stage with the likes of Garbage.
As the set moved on you could feel the band picking up on the crowd’s energy and shifting through the gears, in turn driving the crowd on, the Mosh pit got bigger and bigger and by three tracks from the end had spilled onto the stage!!
Tracks like SASS, My Toy, Kiss me Girl and Punk Rock leveled the place and again way too quickly they were gone. But on finishing the set the band joined the crowd, taking photo’s, chatting and spending time with the fans, nothing was too much trouble, remember this was a sell out crowd too!!
Now the last time I though a band was on the verge of hitting the big time was a band called Estrons, and they blwdi split up. So this time I’ll hold my thoughts, but catch Hands off Gretel now, before they move from the smaller more intimate surroundings, everything’s in place for world domination.
In a world of beige bands and radio stations that force feed the masses with bland, manufactured music that has nothing to say, alternative rock is well and truly underground.
We need rock stars, we need larger than life characters. We need songwriters and performers that do have something to say and are prepared to deliver the goods. More than ever grassroots, DIY bands need our help as it’s a freakin’ jungle out there, a day to day struggle for a band to stay alive.
The recent PledgeMusic debacle has not helped matters. Being fucked over by the very platform you have put trust in to get your music direct to your fan base is possibly the worst thing that could have happened to Hands Off Gretel, at the most important time of their career.
The band is out of pocket and the fans are out of pocket. But where there’s a will there’s a way. The world needs to hear this album and with the help of their fans, Hands Off Gretel have maybe succeeded in being even more independent than they ever dreamed of.
The title of Hands Off Gretel’s sophomore album says a lot about the attitude of their singer, chief songwriter and resident art co-ordinator Lauren Tate. Planning world domination from her bedroom in South Yorkshire since she could probably hold a crayon, this girl has ambition and she knows what she wants. Hours and hours listening to Hole, The Distillers and Pink. Creating artwork, writing lyrics and dreaming that one day she will show those who bullied and those who put her down that she could succeed…that she could be somebody.
While their debut album ‘Burn The Beauty Queen’ was a lo-fi, grunge obsessed ride, Hands Off Gretel have taken things up a notch with ‘I Want The World’. The hooks are more instant, the choruses stick like glue and the guitars are even more furious than before.
The change was evident in the first single and album opener ‘Kiss Me Girl’. An ode to lesbian desire, with a killer hook that adds a commercial element to Lauren’s inner Brody Dalle. It’s a game-changer of a song that takes their post-grunge/alt 90’s sound to another level. It’s the blueprint for their new sound and the perfect anthem for angst-ridden teens who feel alienated from the world.
And this is where Hands Off Gretel have a serious advantage. They appeal to a disenchanted youth, as they are still a part of that demographic. Lauren especially, while cute and diminutive, has a fire in her belly and can pen angst fuelled lyrics as well as her peers ever have. She has real stuff to write about. Kids will relate to her lyrics, girls will want to be her, boys will want to be with her. They are a poster band for the new generation.
The recent change shows a new confidence and self-assurance from a band who I have been watching evolve. With the recent addition of Becky Baldwin on bass, the band look and feel like a cohesive unit live. With two strong female characters and long-standing members Sean Bon (guitar) and Sam Hobbins (drums), it all just seems to have gelled.
Anyway, I digress. The previously released singles/videos were enough to whet the appetite with their No Doubt meets L7 vibes. ‘S.A.S.S’ is a dirt-smeared and groovy, dancefloor filler with a killer chorus. Exciting, sassy and cool as you like. The title track is a big middle finger to the naysayers. “I’m the rudest, I’m the cutest, I’m the one that hurts” she croons before exploding in a helium induced diatribe. With furious guitar work from Sean, it’s a song full of angst and fire. It could be their best work to date.
In total contrast, the following ‘Blame Myself’ is more commercial, slicker. In the verses, Lauren is sounding more like her heroine Pink than ever before. In a similar way, ‘It’s My Fault’ has that same pop suss, that great use of sugary sweet melodies. ‘Freaks Like Us’ is a cleverly penned anthem for a disenchanted youth, a song that demands you hold your lighter in the air.
This move towards a more commercial sound is a natural songwriting progression for a girl who has been finding her feet as a songwriter, not just a singer over the past couple of years.
The grungy vibes are omnipresent. With its guttural, screamo vibes, wah-wah infused guitars and pumping bass, ‘Milk’ is a mash-up of ‘Heart Shaped Box’ meets ‘Pretend We’re Dead’. And the hyper album closer ‘Rot (All The Good Things)’ is a final shot of adrenaline to the vein, as it has one of the most instant and memorable hooks you will hear this year.
Whether its shades of KatieJane Garside craziness, Pink’s spot on pop suss or the angst of Courtney Love and Brody Dalle, Lauren Tate’s vocals and melodies are the driving force behind one of the most exciting underground bands we have here in the UK. Punk infused angst with fuzzy guitars, loud/quiet nineties vibes, dreamy pop anthems with lush backing vocals. Yep, with the songs and the style to match, they got the whole package, baby!
In 2019 it’s fair to say rock stars are a dying breed, especially the female role models. You wanna know who has the balls to fit into Joan Jett’s leather jacket? Who has the “fuck you” attitude of Courtney or L7? Well, with a mass of two-tone dreads, khol smeared eyes and ruby red lips, a diminutive Yorkshire lass is happily being Alice In Grungeland every day of the week and it’ll take more than PledgeMusic to destroy Lauren Tate’s dreams of world domination. Are you man enough to follow her down the rabbit hole?
South Yorkshire band Hands Off Gretel deal in 90’s Grunge swagger, deliver riotous live shows and have enough bubblegum hooks to scale the top of the charts baby! It’s no surprise to find their Pledge Campaign for sophomore long player ‘I Want The World’ currently sits at a staggering 230%. Not bad for a relatively unknown and completely independent band.
We caught up with lead riot grrl Lauren Tate to get the lowdown on all things pink and girly and find out exactly what she’s been up to, locked up in her bedroom all these years.
Your pledge campaign reached 100% in under 24 hours. Were you expecting such a quick response? Ah, dude! It was crazy, we were all sat hitting refresh every second, it was so exciting! I’ve teased the album for a while; people were ready and willing to pre-order it. I was blown away that we hit it so fast though, it really gives me so much hope for the future of independent music.
Your new album is entitled ‘I Want The World’ …so what’s the message there then? ‘I Want The World’ is about how I’ve felt since I was a little girl. I’ve always felt shushed and muted, with everyone always telling me to shut up or stop being unrealistic, leaving me constantly thinking of ways to give everyone who doubted me or ridiculed me the middle finger.
‘I Want The World’ feels like my rebellion. I’m chewing gum, I’m not smiling because someone told me to, I’m not just being a nice pretty girl, I’m fucking angry sometimes and I deserve more, be it friendships or respect from others without being patronized. ‘I Want The World’ to me, means ‘I deserve more than this world is gonna give me and I’m gonna kick and scream until I get what I want’!
You’ve always been an independent DIY band, handling all the artwork, design and even producing the videos. Why choose now to go down the PledgeMusic route? The Pledge route to me is the best way for independent artists to self-release their music. It shows there is demand for your music, that your fans believe in you without needing a label to put it out for you. With Pledge too, you’re giving fans exclusive content. You can get personal with them, which would never be an option signed under a label. I’m not saying getting signed is a bad thing, I think if you’re wanting to be world famous it’s easier to be signed than it is to get there independently. But until the right deal comes along on my terms, I have no interest in searching for a record label.
Recent singles ‘Kiss Me Girl’ and ‘S.A.S.S.’ suggest a more commercial direction and a definite sense of stepping things up a level. Was this the intention when setting out to write the album? The first album I ever wrote was our first album. Before then I’d written a few acoustic songs here and there, but I’d never done an album before. Since that point in 2017 I’ve learnt so much about myself playing live and working with song formulas, that this time around I was just naturally better at composing songs. I knew more about what kind of artist I was too, without worrying about what anyone else wanted me to be. Songs like ‘Kiss Me Girl’ and ‘S.A.S.S’ came to me almost instantly, it was a very natural progression for me mixing more of a melodic pop sound with distorted heavy fuzz guitars, creating the newer sound we have now.
You’ve gone through a few line-up changes in the past, which is not unusual for an upcoming band finding their feet. Going by recent performances, you are certainly at your strongest live right now. With the addition of Becky on bass, does it feel like the band are now a cohesive unit? Yeah, I mean it’s bound to happen within bands. I’ve always been honest, I wear my heart on my sleeve and if anything feels wrong I gotta speak up about it. I think people who judge bands for having lots of line-up changes should try spending tour after tour with the same people without going nuts. You find out very fast if you can spend that much time with another human and with us, whenever anyone has left the band, it’s always made the line-up stronger because you can’t force something that just isn’t meant to be.
You recently toured with The Virginmarys, how did you go down with their fan base and were their fans even aware of Hands Off Gretel before seeing you live? Weirdly, we had a load of cross-over fans I didn’t even know about. I was announcing us each night imagining nobody knew us, but the majority of the crowd knew the songs. We picked up loads of new fans from those shows, it was a blast. The Virginmarys boys and their tour crew were lovely; we were saying we would defo do some shows with them again.
What’s your favourite venue to play? I’d say one of my favourite is my hometown venue The Old School House in Barnsley. The stage is a great size, same with the room and the sound rocks! We’ve played plenty of shows there which always sell out.
Lauren, you have become a bit of a role model for alternative girls, tackling issues in your lyrics that the mainstream avoids and advocating women being authentic, strong and true to themselves. Still, in this day and age, there is a lack of truly great female fronted rock ‘n’ roll bands out there. Why do you think this is and do Hands Off Gretel have the power to help change this? Sure, yeah. It’s always great to motivate and inspire young women. Growing up, I looked up to my biggest role model P!nk and I held onto her every word. She changed my life and she’ll never know that. It’s small changes that change the world, one individual at a time. I believe yes, 100%, I alone can contribute to a better future for girls and boys.
All my life I’ve been talked down to by ‘authority figures’ and teachers and made to feel like I couldn’t achieve even a quarter of what I have up to now. I’ve played with lots of women in bands, they are everywhere in the underground scene, just ready and waiting to break out to the mainstream rock stations and festival line-ups that still are mostly all-male bands. I think everyone realises now, with social media being a wonderful platform, that there is inequality still to challenge in society, and as long as people continue to speak out about this and create platforms for these passionate, angry women to have a voice, the world will have no choice but to listen.
You’ve had abuse from girls in the past online, but do you ever get heckled at gigs, and if so what’s the weirdest experience? I’ve had abuse from everyone online! It just hurts like hell when it’s a girl because I believe so passionately that women should bring each other up. People love to believe I’m a bitch, I think they really want me trip up and fall flat on my face because things are going well for me. I’ve had it all my life with teachers and kids at school, I’ve done this independently for so long without any mentoring or help. I know all eyes are on me when it comes to trolls and haters online and I’m determined to prove them wrong. Haha YES!!
One time this man wanted to buy pictures of my feet for $500, but he wanted me to give him a free sample, then he intensely stalked me and created multiple profiles attacking me with insults and threats online because I said I didn’t want to suck my own toes for money, that was weird haha! Gigs are alright though; I think the biggest stalkers and dick pic charmers prefer to stay behind the keyboard!
What was the best year for music in your lifetime? I pretty much missed all the ones my dad talks about seeing, as I wasn’t born until ‘97. It gives me hope though, I feel sorry for kids growing up having to listen to their parents banging on about the good old days. Sure the music back then was raw and brilliant and most of my favourite bands never made it past 1999, but I’m focused entirely on the current time and this generation of music because this is my generation. I’m so excited when I hear amazing bands that nobody knows about, being in a crowd of 10 watching something spectacular before everyone else knows about it.
At what point after you were born did you discover who you were? Probably around 14 years old, when I chopped off all my hair and started listening to The Distillers. Before that point I was totally lost, trying to be popular, trying to fit in listening to N-DUBZ, I was so chavvy it’s unreal. I cut off my hair and became hated at school, it was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.
When you hear the word ‘successful’, what comes to mind? I think of being in a position where I don’t have to suck anyone’s wrinkled balls to get what I want. I mean, I’d never do that hahaha but I think of success meaning ‘I am now a boss bitch’, I think of finally being respected by those that have ignored me in the past and continuing to be authentic, making a living off my own self-built empire.
If you could have a drink with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and what would you drink? I’d sit in my music room with Freddie Mercury and ask him what his last thoughts were as he died. Did he feel quenched by his life, did he reach his goal? I obsess over death, it’s my biggest driving force because I’m so afraid of my time being up and not being finished with my creations. We’d drink a little vodka and cry together.
Hands Off Gretel announce new album ‘I Want The World’ to be released March 29th via Puke Pop Records
Watch the band take over a skatepark with the new video for the title track released today!
“A riotous tangle of bubblegum riffs and rebel girl swagger” Planet Rock
Formed in 2015 in South Yorkshire when frontwoman Lauren Tate stuck two-fingers up to the repressive school environment that trapped her and dropped out, the 16-year-old self-confessed misfit wasted no time in finding an outlet to channel every bit of the alienation and despair experienced within those concrete walls into something cathartic and creative. And Hands Off Gretel was born.
Inspired by the volatile and liberating melody fueled noise of bands such as Hole, The Distillers, Nirvana and PJ Harvey, Hands Off Gretel quickly set about creating the perfect soundtrack of sugar-coated grunge-punk for Lauren to vent and rail against the issues of body image, mental health, celebrity, childhood and loneliness she felt enraged by, all of which were addressed from a fiercely female, unapologetic, feminist perspective.
Recorded at Monnow Valley studio in Wales, new album ‘I Want The World’ is set for release this coming March 29th via the bands own label Puke Pop Records and features twelve-tracks hugely addictive, and sometimes vindictive, melodic rock that is unafraid to blend the heavy screeching distortion of grunge rock with the catchy hooks of bubblegum pop, whilst keeping true to their original roots in punk rock.
“I Want The World is a song about how I’ve always felt since I was young,” explains Lauren. “It’s me pouting like a child and saying ‘no! I want more than what this world is going to give me.’ I channel Veruca Salt from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory when I sing it. I am being obstreperous and impossible like a child, kicking and screaming until I get what I want.”
“It feels like I wrote this album 6 years ago in a school toilet whilst skipping class and hiding from the world,” continues Lauren. “The way I felt so ostracized and alone like I didn’t fit in anywhere. It became my mission to sing for the outcasts, the weird kids, the ones that feel misrepresented in society and left behind like I do. I made it my obligation at 15 to make as much noise as possible as a young woman, to challenge everything.”
“‘I Want The World’ is about how I’ve felt since I was a little girl,” she adds. “I’ve always felt shushed and muted. Everyone’s always told me to stop showing off or stop being unrealistic and so I’m constantly thinking of ways to give everyone who doubted I could do this or ridiculed me the middle finger. The album is about feeling rejected and acting out, wanting acceptance from a society you don’t even want to be part of. I’m channelling my childhood throughout it all, always being alone and fighting my own battles. The only track that doesn’t fit this theme is Kiss Me Girl, that’s just my lesbian anthem because I felt the world lacked them and I wanted to piss off homophobes.”
Fiercely independent, Hands Off Gretel produce and control every aspect of the sound and image. Their loyal and passionate international fan base has grown organically from years of work, interacting daily with fans on social media, creating artwork, videos and merchandise, building not just a band, but a brand with a very clear identity. Their hugely successful Pledge Music campaign to fund the album hit 100% of their goal in less than 24 hours and currently stands at over 200%, combined with PRS Foundation Emerging Artist Funding, which has helped Hands Off Gretel bring the sounds in their heads to life on their own label.
“With the new album we wanted to incorporate more of a pop production to our sound, capturing the wildness and brashness of the fuzz guitars and heavy drums mixed with a flirtatious pop fruitiness,” describes Lauren. “The songs have a pop arrangement at the core”
“I worked hard at crafting catchy melodies and layering my harmonies throughout the whole album,” she continues. “All the while keeping the grit and angst people love in our live shows. It was the most natural progression for us being able to express ourselves in different ways without losing what we have at our core.”
Over the past 3 years, the band have played over100 UK headline dates, toured Germany and played major festivals, including, Rebellion Festival, The Great British Alternative Festival, Isle of Wight, Amplified Festivals Download and Camden Rocks festival. They have built themselves a solid reputation for their live shows, which are as visually compelling as they are musically, with Tate like an ever-evolving chameleon, you’re never quite sure what you are going to get.
With tastemakers ‘This Feeling’ picking the band up for their “Big in 2019’ predictions and support from Pirate Studios, the industry is starting to take notice of a band that are making a lot of noise under their own steam. As Northern Exposure put it “Hands Off Gretel are a time bomb waiting to go off”
Catch the band live at the following dates:
Sat 19th Jan – ‘Big In 2019’ This Feeling – Nambucca London
Thurs 28th March – London Album Launch – Nambucca London
Fri 29th March – Home Town album Launch – Old School House Venue Barnsley, South Yorkshire
So its that time of week again when your getting ready to head out the door but don’t worry RPM are here to put a spring into your step and a smile on your face but most importantly a tune in your head. this week Ben Hughes offers up three tunes he thinks would cheer up any day of the week and especially a Monday so here goes.
Butch Walker – ‘Closest Thing To You I’m Gonna Find’
Butch Walker has fast become my favourite singer/ songwriter over the years and this song, taken from the 2011 album ‘The Spade’, is one of his most heartfelt and uplifting country-tinged tunes. This performance, taken from a Fender Studio Session is probably my most watched video on YouTube and encapsulates everything I love about this guy from Georgia. The tone of that signature telecaster is unreal, the passion and emotion in every note is unsurpassed. The sentiment of the lyrics and the notes he hits on the final chorus, it sends goosebumps through my very soul. Utter musical perfection.
PJ Harvey – ‘Good Fortune’
A go-to song to cheer me up any day of the week. Polly Harvey can do no wrong in my eyes, I love the jangly, carefree feel of this tune. The way it builds in the chorus, the vocals are perfection. So upbeat, rapturous and sultry all at once. Love the video too, PJ on a night on the town, is she drunk? She looks it! Possibly the only woman to make swinging a handbag look cool.
Hands Off Gretel – ‘Kiss Me Girl’
Gamechanger of a song from the Yorkshire band. Here, Lauren Tate has upped the ante. While the previous material has been good, this ode to lesbian desires takes their post Grunge/alt 90’s sound to another level with a killer hook that adds a commercial element to Lauren’s inner Brody Dalle. She’s a Riot Grrl who knows what she wants and I think she’s gonna get it! She even produced the video. Watch out for big things when they release their as yet untitled second album.
Brand new video to accompany the new single ‘S.A.S.S.’ from Hands Off Gretel sees new music from the band before they head out around England and Scotland for some shows. Formed in 2014, Hands Off Gretel features Lauren Tate (lead vocals, Guitar), Becky Baldwin (Bass guitar, backing vocals), Sean Bon (lead guitar) and Sam Hobbins (Drums). Founding the band at just seventeen, band songwriter Lauren is also behind all of the band’s art design, merchandise, music videos & album art visuals creating HOGs own unique style aesthetic.