When talking to a band gives you the feeling like they have been friends forever, it is then when you realise why they can be so good on stage. This is the case with one of the most interesting new heavy rock metal bands out there, Black Moth. I call them “heavy rock metal” because it is hard to pin them under one genre; as they explain themselves in this interview, they do not want to stick to one genre and they like to mix their influences – this is clearly reflected in their music.
This is quite a long – but easy to read – interview. I decided to transcribe most of it because it gives you the real feel of the band. They are a bunch of friends (or “idiots with dicks and fannies”, as they claimed) from Leeds who are clearly having fun. Ahead of their gigs with the legendary L7, I talked to Harriet Bevan, Dom McCready and Dave Vachon about new music from Black Moth, L7, riot grrrl and sexism in rock and metal.
This is your first London headline show in 2015.
Harriet Bevan: Is it?
That’s what the press release and Simon [Glacken, iLike Press] said!
Harriet: Well, Simon knows more about us than we do!
Dom McCready: Yes, it is! Yes, I believe that is correct. Disregarding festivals, yes.
Have you played at the Underworld before?
Harriet: Yeah, we’ve headlined here before.
Dave Vachon: This is probably our local that’s not local.
Harriet: London local. I love this venue. There’s always a good crowd here. Great sound. Great people. It’s awesome.
Dom: We’ve played here more than any other London venue.
Dave: What is it, the fifth or sixth time?
Dom: Yeah, something like that.
You’ve already told me about Danava, what do you think of the other bands performing tonight?
Harriet: I’ve seen Spiders before. They’re awesome, they’re so much fun. They’re really infectious. I don’t know why but they remind me of a kind of really funk and almost-like KISS kinda party metal vibe. And I love Danava. I’ve never heard FreeNelsonMandoonJazz – I didn’t know they were playing until today but I just heard today that they play Black Sabbath covers with a saxophone playing the vocals. That sounds great. How can you go wrong with that?
Dave: I managed to catch a little bit on YouTube on my phone and I was a bit confused what was going on. I thought I had two videos going on at once with Sabbath and some fusion Jazz going on.
Dom: They’ve definitely won the best name competition for tonight’s gig. Easily. They should be headlining in my mind.
You’ll be playing London soon again with L7.
Harriet: Yeah! Super excited about that. L7 are an absolutely massive influence and inspiration and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about playing with any other band in my life.
Dave: She doesn’t get excited about playing with us. [Everybody laughs]
Harriet: I don’t know, it’s going to be one of those really weird ones. I genuinely feel a little bit nervous and I haven’t felt nervous about a gig in ten years, or ever. I already know Donita Sparks is a fan of Black Moth but still actually playing to her is going to be nerve-wracking. She’s just fucking bad ass. She’s the absolute ultimate war babe. She is amazing. But I think she will like it [the performance].
Has L7 and the riot grrrl movement been important for the band and you personally?
Dave: I think the genre is more important for what we do musically.
Harriet: I think the riot grrrl movement was fucking awesome and they made massive advances for women playing in bands and music. So, for that I will be forever grateful. I am a fan of most of the bands of that movement but personally and musically, L7 certainly and Babes in Toyland, the bands from that kind of movement who touched on riot grrrl in a philosophical way but musically they’re a bit gnarly, bad-ass, a bit more metal, a bit more heavy.
Dave: I always considered L7 as a grunge band.
Harriet: Yeah, they are. But because they were around at a similar time and they did Rock For Choice, they did a lot of feminist activism and they collaborated in some ways with Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) so there was overlap there. But musically, there wasn’t much overlap [with the riot grrrl bands] I think. L7 and Babes in Toyland are big musical influences certainly on me and the band with the rest of the riot grrrl movement being a sort of mind-set inspiration.
It’s awesome to have an opportunity to perform with your influencers.
Harriet: Yeah, I actually saw Babes in Toyland last week. They reformed as well, they played Shepherd’s Bush Empire. They were absolutely brilliant. Everyone was really behind them. And I think it’s similar with the L7 gig because everyone’s excited that they actually managed to do this, managed to put this together and reform. So, there’s a really nice vibe at those shows.
It’s interesting that a lot of these bands are reforming and there are a lot of new ones starting with similar style. Do you think the movement is experiencing resurgence?
Dom: I know that the grunge genre is having a sort of resurgence. Especially up north there’s loads of new really good grunge stuff coming out which I’m obviously happy about. I absolutely love grunge as a genre so I’m happy to see anything from that era or that kind of sound to come back.
Harriet: Yeah, me too. Massive grunge fan. I see grunge as more punk than punk in a way. It was at least picking it up where punk left off. In some respects there was less pomp and circus.
Dom: Well, it was a rejection of the hair metal shit that was going on in the 80s. Deliberately show un-musical solos and stuff like that. It grew off the less musical singing sort of thing.
Does having greater recognition of bands with female members and their talent help eliminate sexism in rock and metal? Or do we need to do something more?
Harriet: I think that the best thing you can do is to hope for more women to take part, leave the door wide open and, hopefully, for me, I like to inspire more young girls to get involved. In some respects by talking about it, you kind of perpetuate it. By making women “other” and what we very often get to be referred to as a “female-fronted” band as if that’s all what we are. And that should be just be incidental, every member of this band is in this band because of who they are as a human and there was never a case of “we’d like a male bassist, a female singer”. We should start calling ourselves “vagina-fronted cock-led doom metal”.
Dom: I hate tags and stereotypes anyway but I think the whole “female-fronted” tag needs to fuck off. I think you can’t force stuff, like Harriet said, it’s just a case of making it a more pleasant and accepting environment for women to be involved with and for them not to be a problem to be involved with. And then I think you will have more talent coming through. But at the same time, yeah, you can’t just try and force it.
Harriet: Yeah, I don’t know what it is. I still haven’t figured out the answer to this. It really amazes me, that’s why I’ve been doing this. There must be something that feels in some way hostile or not quite accepting for women about the environment. It’s still a bit of a sausage party.
Dave: The environment’s got a lot better recently though. When you look at the actual environment as in gig-wise, you get a lot more female engineers and crew working. At tonight’s show we’ve got a female engineer. It’s definitely changed since the end of the 90s. There’s a lot more females involved in it. Before it was a massive sausage fest. The 80s were just ridiculous.
Yeah, I noticed there’s a lot of women working “behind the scenes”.
Dave: Yeah, it got much more professional especially with crews and there’s not much drinking while working. There’s less idiots.
Harriet: There’s definitely some idiots. [Laughs]
Dave: The times have changed and it’s a much better environment than what it used to be.
Harriet: Yeah, I think so.
Dave: The toilets are still shit.
Harriet: Maybe that’s it!
Dom: Better toilets, more women! Headline. Next question.
Harriet: That’s our answer to the question! If there are better toilets, there will be more women.
Dom: It’s gotta be nice enough for you to take your mum there. [Everyone laughs]
Since you mentioned the whole female-fronted thing and since you have both sexes in the band, have you ever been treated differently because of that?
Harriet: I don’t think I’m being regarded as a girl anymore. We’re all bros.
Dave: Bros, pals, sisters.
Dom: I had a few times someone from another band or a friend say “what’s it like having a girl in the band with you?”
Harriet: It must be different in a way.
Dom: No, it’s not. Not for me anyway. I can’t speak for the whole band. Obviously, we’ve been in two bands together now and it’s never been a thing at all. Once a guy was like “Oh, what’s it like having a chic as a singer”. And I asked “what do you mean”. And he replied “don’t you want to bang her all the time?”
Harriet: No, she’s fucking disgusting.
Dom: Yeah, have you seen her?!
Harriet: We get drunk on tour but not that! [Laughs]
Dom: There are no drugs hard enough to make us do that.
Dave: I thought I was beautiful.
Dom: Not talking about you, Dave.
Harriet: It’s Dave we’re worried about everyone wanting to bang. [Laughs] Maybe I’m just not aware of it because people are trying to be a bit more careful, respectful to me.
Dave: No, we don’t respect you.
Harriet: I don’t mean you. But I don’t have people asking questions like that.
Dave: We do get weirdos. Well, not weirdos, they just don’t know how to say stuff properly.
Harriet: Yeah, we also get people asking “Don’t you want to sex it up a bit?”
Dom: How could we be anymore sexy?!
Harriet: Have you seen our drummer?!
Dom: Hello, there would be riots at our shows.
Sexuality has always been openly talked about in rock music. However, it’s usually been from a male perspective with the female used as an object to gaze at. Are you offering something new with your music and songs like “Looner”?
Harriet: I don’t think we’re offering something new. What I really liked about L7 – I think leading off from what we said a bit earlier – is that they were women but it was incidental that they were women. They always said they were an all-girl band because they were just the best musicians they knew. It was never about the gender. It was never about making a point about being girls.
Dom: I don’t think we can be claimed to be offering anything new. That would be a ridiculous claim. We definitely offer fun, have maybe a slightly more unique than usual look on things.
Harriet: The thing is, we don’t kind of sexualise the fact that we have a male and female mix in the band. But lyrically, there’s a lot of sexy content there [Dave adds: mostly ridiculous] yeah, mostly ridiculous – because sex is ridiculous…and wonderful.
Dave: Really ridiculous.
Dom: It’s very messy as well. You can never have enough towels.
Harriet: See how many towels we have?! [Points to a stack of towels behind me]
Dom: You gotta be prepared for any event.
Harriet: But yeah, just different. I don’t think we’re offering an alternative to the way things have been. I think we just have a bit of a sense of humour about it, I suppose. There’s no political agenda there for us at all. We just are what we are. A bunch of idiots with dicks and fannies.
Dave: And instruments. Dicks and funnies with instruments.
Last time we talked at Damnation, you said regarding the new album that you deliberately chose not to choose a musical direction for it. Is that still the case? Has there been any progress?
Dom: Yeah, we’ve been jamming out a few things and we’re going to start writing our third album in earnest this summer. And yeah, I think that’s always been the case for us. I really hate the idea of fitting neatly into a genre. I like to combine lots of different influences. If we’ve got an idea, even if it seems a bit weird we’ll still pursue it and we’ll still finish it.
Harriet: I think the only thing I would say in terms of direction; there’s always a kind of wanting to do what you’re doing but more. It’s just taking it to extremes as much as possible. I want it to be kind of weirder, heavier, all the things that we are but more. If that makes sense. And that’s the way we’re hoping to take it.
What’s in store for Black Moth after this gig and the L7 dates?
Dom: Like I said, we’re just going to get into the thick of writing.
You don’t even have summer festivals scheduled.
Dom: No, we’re taking a short break from playing and really focusing. I think we have to do that as a band because when we tour we sort of get swept away by that. And it can be really hard to focus on writing.
Dave: We use up a lot of our spare time for festivals.
Harriet: Yeah. Especially now that I live in London and the rest of them live in Leeds, it’s nice to take the time off. I’m going to go back up for a few weeks at a time and actually really focus on writing. That’s how we wrote that last album as well.
Dom: We have to say “we’re writing now, we’re not touring”. Otherwise it’s really hard. I think we like albums to be a cohesive product in a way. When it feels like an album, and it feels like it’s all together. If you are just writing sporadically every few months then sometimes it’s hard to get that.