The make-up on the album cover……………When I saw you in Edinburgh you were naked faced. Was it just for the cover or have you applied it for any gigs?
We’ve never done it to the extent that we did on the cover, it takes a long time to glue that amount of feathers and fake nails to your face! The album cover is a blend of make-up and photoshop painting, to get the details like lizard eyes, teeth and scales. Harri and Whitney in particular really enjoy painting and making visual effects. We do like to be a bit dramatic where possible, and to have a visual element to the live show, sometimes we project video. We’ve turned up in long sequinned capes, balaclavas, all sorts of costumes and there’s a bit of theatre in the performance style too. We may have some serious political points to make but music is about inspiring and entertaining as well as the line between scary and funny, serious and sarcastic, is the one we like to mess about with.
The look on the album is a little unsettling but at the same time evokes a bit of fun. A reflection of the music and videos? Some real messages tinged with your own sense of mischief?
Yes, there’s a message in our mischief. The historical and even contemporary representation of women, of femininity, of queerness, of various kinds of otherness that we experience, is a rich seam ripe for lampoonery. We are, as a group, compulsively creative and quite silly. We laugh a lot and can be pretty weird at times. Silliness is important, comedy is a great weapon, it’s quite cathartic as well sometimes. The ILL song video looks at some very real fears about the representation of women suffering from mental illness as either monstrous beings or defenceless victims. The Cock In My Pocket video explores some of these too, whilst cocking (oops) a snook at the concept of Penis Envy and the old taboo of female masturbation. There’s a lot of layers. If we were only into making music because people liked us then we wouldn’t still be going after all this time. If the songs are fun yet disturbing to the overly comfortable, then they’ve served their purpose.
Snooty wine tasty question. Whilst listening to the album I picked up a hint of PIL, an after taste of Souxsie and a darkness that was Bauhaus. Are you fans?
We have really diverse music tastes, we aren’t all necessarily into the same thing all of the time, and that drives the sound, which can’t be fit into one genre. But you’re not wrong, there’s an appreciation in the band for the artists you referenced and the album’s producer, John Tatlock, also had some classic hiphop in mind while he was recording and mixing. We like disco too, but who doesn’t?
Have you enough songs and money for a second album? When might it be due? Do you need me to tap a triangle or bang a gong on it?
We have a good few songs that we have written since WE ARE ILL came out and one or two that we had already written but weren’t quite yet able to perform to an album-worthy standard. So, yes, we have a good chunk of album two already written and some new ideas we are working on. Money comes in little dribs and trickles but We Are Ill is selling quite well, and nowadays we even sometimes get paid more than petrol for gigs! So we will hopefully have album making funds in the not too distant future. Your offer of additional percussion is definitely noted and we have also talked about getting some guest strings or brass players involved, because why not? Go big or go home!
I see that there are a few gigs coming up including the Royal Albert Hall. Cool. When is there going to be a tour and have you not yet been invited to play at Carlisle?
As yet we have not been invited to Carlisle but we would happily go! We are not sure about tour dates yet since there are day jobs, small businesses and university courses all vying for our time but once the 2019 Diary of Doom has been compiled we will certainly let you know! We are very excited about The Albert Hall, the Unstoppable Voices programme is an ambitious and welcome project to bring more unexpected artists to an iconic venue that is associated with a more traditional form of music, and it was really cool to be invited. Really looking forward to shout rude words at a bust of Elgar, never thought we would see the day. Good on them.
Lovely, thanks for the chat with Clunk. See you when required on the triangle and of course you’re invited to Carlisle!
Get yourself a copy of We Are Ill by ILL here
You won’t be disappointed!
You can see a video of Ill on the Clunk We Are Ill review page