"I love the weirdly smug feeling I get when we play to a crowd that is made uncomfortable by Moe shouting that they're arseholes"
GUTTFULL are a fierce, fun, feisty, ferocious and fucking wonderful queercore band from London and their new EP #NOTALLMEN will bring their kickass punk anthems directly into your ears. Loverboy’s Corinna Tomrley caught up with Moe Tasker (vocals), Cassie Fox (guitar), Gemma Gompertz (bass), Phil Whaite (sax), and Louis Richardson (drums) to talk all things queer, fabulous and righteous anger at misogynistic trolls.
She introduced me to the music of Downtown Boys, an incredible band who describe themselves as ‘bi bilingual political dance sax punk party from Providence’. I couldn’t imagine a band description more relevant to my interests (except I only speak one language and I’m from near Macclesfield). We saw them live last year, and instantly decided we wanted to form a sax punk band to sing songs about how angry we are about how fucked up things are.
We’ve known Moe for a while (she’s married to the bassist from Thee Faction), and she was at the gig with us having the time of her life. There was one point during Downtown Boys’ set where we were all dancing, Moe turned to us, and we realised she was the frontwoman we wanted. She took some persuading (she’s never been in a band before), but she’s a natural – an amazing stage presence and voice.
We then tried to find other people to join us, which was tough – everyone we know is in loads of other bands and it’s a nightmare to find anyone with free time for another one. Our drummer Magnus (who recorded the EP with us) found that he couldn’t be in three bands at the same time. Thankfully Kenickers, north London’s premier Kenickie tribute band, provided us with a rhythm section.
Gemma: I had my arm twisted to join Kenickers in February 2016, which meant I had to learn to play bass. Only I would say that what actually happened was that I learned to play 10 Kenickie songs on the bass, with the help of a bandmate. So, it was a big shock to be asked to join GUTTFULL – I had no idea what I was doing! I tried out with Magnus, and we joined the band together. It’s probably the best life decision I’ve made since dumping my then-fiancé in 2004.
Louis: Gemma used to work with my boyfriend. He mentioned I play the drums. Gemma asked me to join Kenickers after their drummer left. Kenickers dissolved. Magnus left GUTTFULL. Gemma asked me to audition. I got the job! I’m so glad you’ve given me this opportunity to be a part of something amazing! You all made me feel so comfortable when I auditioned, and I feel we all clicked musically very quickly. Also, what I like about this band is that we hang out.
Tell us about #NOTALLMEN
Phil: It’s about how the men who say ‘not ALL men’ are almost definitely those men.
Cassie: The EP is the first 6 songs we’ve recorded – we wanted to get our music out there as soon as possible. The tracks are mostly venting about stuff which makes us angry: mostly, the patriarchy.
Phil: I can hear a real difference between the three songs that we recorded at the end of last year at Soundsavers in Hackney (Arsehole, Keyboard Warrior and Mafu) and the three we recorded a few months later at Marketstall in Bermondsey (#NOTALLMEN, Does Your Girlfriend Know You’re Here? and Tits & Nails). The earlier recordings are a band still working out who we are and what the songs should sound like. The later ones are a confident band who know how we sound. And they’re better than ever live right now. I’m really looking forward to recording our album.
Gemma: We just really can’t bear men over 6ft. It’s why Magnus, the drummer who recorded all the EP tracks with us, had to go. No Tall Men.
WHY THE CAPS?
Gemma: BECAUSE WE LIKE SHOUTING
Phil: Because we’re desperate for you to notice us. Did it work?
Moe: Because why the fuck not?
Keyboard Warrior is awesome, enraging, empowering, joyful, stabby in equal measure. Tell us about these fucking trolls and what it’s like to perform this song?
Cassie: This song was a direct response to the horrible sexist comments left on the videos of my old band, The Wimmins’ Institute. It’s so pathetic that there are men who spend their evenings trawling the web looking for women to insult – and I imagine they think they’re pretty clever for doing so. The song is just taking them down a peg.
Gemma: I’m so glad Cassie wrote this song in the first place because the inspiration for it is genuinely grim, so as a response it’s perfect. It’s one of my favourites to perform live because I really enjoy joining in with the ‘I KNOW I’M FUCKING LOVELY’ line and members of the audience often say it’s their fave too. I can’t speak for them but the song certainly resonates for me, being a feminist on the internet and knowing you’re doing alright even as men wish death on you.
Like most queercore bands most of you have in other bands and are probably still in other bands in the scene. Tell us about some of them and what queercore in the UK means to you? Who are some of your fave bands out there?
Cassie: This is by far the most queer band I’ve ever been in. And it’s a lot more fun for it. Our music is more generally patriarchy-bashing though, so I would say we’re more riot grrrl, or whatever the intersectional feminism of 2017 equivalent is, -core.
Louis: If I’m honest I haven’t heard of queercore before. I don’t think being gay or bi or whatever defines a band genre. I dunno, maybe I’ve been out of the loop for too long on this one.
Phil: We’ve got lots of love for queercore bands like The Potentials, Gladiators Are You Ready, Trash Kit, Camp Shy and Shopping. We’ve got things in common with lots of them (politics, DIY, aesthetics), but right now the vast majority of our songs aren’t ‘about’ being queer. That said, me and Gemma have started writing songs for GUTTFULL, so watch out for those. Plus we’re both really excited by 200 Duty Free Fags, our new band with Zak from The Potentials.
Gemma: I get that at the moment our songs on the surface aren’t ‘about’ being queer but equally we’re there, in that scene. It might be less noticeable to us because Loud Women puts on such a high proportion of queer bands that we think it’s normal, but it’s not – not outside the specifically labelled queer nights/fests. Queers are my gang, my people, it’s my scene and our audience and lyrics are hella queer. Yelling about Trump is more necessary for some groups than others. We go down terribly when the room’s full of cis, het, white men. Our queerness forms an essential part of our ethos, not to mention our aesthetic, and our fans are able to be openly queer in the DIY spaces we perform in.
Are we in a neo riot grrrl era or is it one long line of queer feminist punk greatness?
Cassie: There’s definitely been a massive swell of riot grrrl type bands in the past few years – bands like Skinny Girl Diet, Dream Wife, Dream Nails, The Ethical Debating Society, and Petrol Girls, playing hard-hitting punk rock with an explicit feminist agenda. I am old enough to remember riot grrrl in the 90s, so I guess I can legitimately claim influence from Bikini Kill, L7, etc. But most of the bands playing nights like LOUD WOMEN are in their 20s – their musical references are much more recent. I wonder if their mums played them Huggy Bear in their nurseries? What seems to be the more important influence of these bands is the oppressive times we’re living in. Women have got so much to be angry about, and feminist music gives us the tools to help raise up our sisters.
What are some of the best and worst things about gigging with GUTTFULL?
Moe: Best: I can 100% trust these cats to back me up in a fight.
Worst: Being forced to listen to Kesha on a long road trip
Phil: I’m convinced that the Kesha question is what’s going to end this band.
Best: The rest of GUTTFULL.
Worst: Men who stand at the front giving us evils. We wrote literally ALL THE SONGS about them! What’s their problem?
Gemma: Best: Being in the best gang; the weirdly smug feeling I get when we play to a crowd that is made uncomfortable by Moe shouting that they’re arseholes.
Worst: All the talk of anal sex in rehearsals. For which I only have myself to blame because it’s always me who brings it up.
Cassie: Best: What Phil said! I love my GUTTS big time. I’d also add, we’re starting to play gigs now where people are singing our songs back to us, and that is such a buzz. That seems to have happened really quickly too – maybe that’s because the words are mostly just swears, and everyone loves a swear. It’s still awesome to see a crowd dancing and grinning and singing along to our stuff – such a kick.
Worst: That I’m not allowed to play my cat birthday song.
Phil: Actually, the cat song question might be what ends this band.
We’re all about the glitter and the sequins. Let’s talk about the band aesthetic.
Phil: Our band aesthetic is ‘Blue Peter on a hen do’ (with thanks to Lily from Fightmilk). We are very much a glitter and sequins band. One of the best things that happened to me in GUTTFULL was when Cassie gave me her sequined jacket. It’s hot as hell, in both senses. But I love being in a band that dresses up, and gives me permission to dress up, even if it means I turn up to work with slightly more nail varnish than the dress code specifies.
Gemma: I grew up with Manic Street Preachers, Kenickie, Suede, etc. The glam trash aesthetic has always been there but was pretty latent until I moved to London, found my disco dolly friends ten years ago and joined bands (later on). More is always more and sharing the glitter is absolutely caring, so I visit it on any bandmate that’ll let me, and Phil is the perfect model.
Phil: You’re much too kind. Personal aesthetic: Glitter at the start, sweat at the end.
Louis: I’m gay, I naturally sweat glitter
Gemma and Phil, are you paying homage to Our Lady Of The Thighs, Mariah in Glitter when you smear that silver streak on yourselves?
Phil: Not consciously. For me, it’s mainly because my make-up skills are rudimentary at best (Gemma helps me a LOT) and glitter streaks are easy to achieve in a hurry. But Mimi has been working on me subconsciously for a number of years, so I wouldn’t be surprised.
Gemma: If anything, she nicked the idea from me.
On that note, what’s your favourite Mariah Carey song?
Moe: HEARTBREAKER! Although her voice is like pure butter on I Know What You Want, but she’s featuring on Busta’s track, so it probably doesn’t count. But it was a MASSIVE tune for me and my mates when it came out.
Cassie: All I Want for Christmas – it’s in my top five all-time fave Xmas songs.
Gemma: I’m going to have to say Honey because Without You probably doesn’t count, does it? Anyway, the 90s stuff, because I am stuck there.
Phil: Anytime You Need a Friend – playing it every night was one of the few good things about the Christian touring band I was in when I was 18.
Louis: Vision Of Love. My boyfriend once lip-synched it to me word for word. It was a beautiful moment.
GUTTFULL’s debut EP, #NOTALLMEN, is available from Bandcamp
Listen to it on Spotify
Follow them on facebook