Formed in 2008, Beverley Kills describe themselves as an ‘all-girl punk-rock attack’! Comprising Georgie (lead vox), Juliette (drums), Kate (guitar and b/vox) and Elisa (bass and b/vox) the band released their debut EP ‘No Cash Value’ on 9021GO! Records in 2010 with their eponymous debut album released the following year to positive reviews, including an 8/10 in Vive Le Rock magazine! A second EP 'On the Trail' was released in late 2014.
The band has played all over the country, sharing bills with some notable acts, including The Slits - who dubbed BK ‘Best Support of the Tour’!
Kate was kind enough to give an interview ahead of their appearance at Loud Women Fest on September 2nd.
Could you give us an overview of Beverley Kills? How did you meet? When did you start?
We got together in 2008. We all used to drink and go to gigs at the same pub, the Portland Arms in Cambridge, where Georgie (vocals) and Elisa (bass) also used to work. Juliette (drums) was looking to start a new band and having heard each of those girls sing and play there, she set her sights on recruiting them. I (Kate, guitar) joined after a mutual friend suspected I was the missing piece and introduced me to the others. Turned out we all knew loads of the same people but somehow our paths hadn’t crossed before. Which is weird because Cambridge is pretty small.
Had any of you been in bands before?
Juliette used to play in a much-loved Cambridge band called The Saffs and I played guitar and bass in various bands over the years, in Essex and Cambridge. Georgie and Elisa had both performed solo in the past.
Who would you list as musical influences?
It depends which one of us you ask! There’s a mix of pop, punk, alt-rock and grunge running through our veins. From The Who to early Green Day to Mega City Four to the Runaways to Veruca Salt to Heart. Elisa also thinks Dio is her spirit animal and has a penchant for classic rock but we try to rein her in ;)
Did you have a fairly clear idea of the sound you were aiming for from the start or has it evolved?
We had no idea we would end up sounding like this; none of us had played together before and although our tastes overlap we’ve all had differing musical ‘educations’. We planned to only do punked up cover versions to begin with but we realised pretty quickly that we had more in us. Especially once the harmonies started coming into play and we all got delicious chills.
You had an EP ‘No Cash Value’ out in 2010 followed by your debut album Beverley Kills in 2011. What sort of subject matter do you explore in your music?
Whatever we feel like singing about. And we all find we’re more prolific songwriters when we’ve been annoyed by something or someone.
Have you had any subsequent releases?
Yes, we released the ‘On the Trail’ EP through R*E*P*E*A*T* Records in 2013, on gorgeous red vinyl.
How does the creative process work in BK? Is there one main songwriter or is it very collaborative?
We all write our own songs which we then bring to the others for various tweaks
and touches; that’s when songs really start to sound like us. It’s very supportive and very collaborative and we love it that way.
What is the music scene like around Cambridge? Are there plenty of opportunities for bands to play?
It’s changed quite a bit over the years; like most other towns across the country, we’ve lost venues, such as the legendary Boat Race (now just another trendy wine bar). However thankfully there are promoters who are working hard to make sure gigs still happen and we have been part of some really great shows here. We mainly still play at the Portland when we play in Cambridge but the Corner House and the Boat House are also busy with gigs (perhaps it’s to do with having the word ‘house’ in their names).
I noticed you’ve had some impressive support slots including The Slits! Do you think BK are at their most fully realised live?
Yes, whether it be a full on, plugged in gig or a ‘stripped back’ acoustic set. We have different sides to us, both of which go down well live. Plus playing live is the most fun, empowering thing we can do all together.
A lot of female musicians seem to experience a degree of sexism, what has your experience as musicians in the punk/DIY scene been like?
Well of course it’s happened to us too, especially at the beginning, when even music-centric men, who you hoped would know better, were making various remarks and gender-based jokes. They clearly tickled themselves pink with some of the band names they (uninvitedly) came up with, and there was a sense of novelty and that a band of all women couldn’t last. Well, it’s only been nine years, so maybe it won’t. None of theirs have... On the other hand we’ve had loads of support from people who have been to see us play and from a lot of the awesome punk bands we have shared bills with – male and female - who have been really complimentary about our music and the way we interact. That’s been really nice.
You have been going since 2008, and there seems to have been a real upsurge in feminist punk bands and Riot Grrrl over the last couple of years. Does it seem like the musical terrain has changed for female musicians/bands in the time you’ve been going?
We talked about this and think maybe the fact there is still a need for events and compilations featuring female bands only shows the terrain hasn’t changed that much. It’s still seen as a bit of a spectacle. Although it’s always great to see women getting together and starting their own bands but the same old problems which have nothing to do with the music aspect still rear their ugly heads, as well as newer ones. We all know groping at gigs is a problem. We all know there’s often a creepy guy there just staring or taking photos (the Petrol Girls know all about that one) or remarking on what you look like on a Facebook band page photo. There’s also the men who come up after you play and tell you what they think you should have done differently. ‘Oh you should smile more on stage’, or ‘you need to turn your guitar up’ (despite having been hounded by the sound guy to turn it down). Finally, a comment I overheard about another female band: ‘they’re beautiful young women; what have they got to be so angry about?’. Well, duh.
As an aside, Riot Grrrl isn’t a genre; it was a movement in a certain place at a certain time; its spirit lives on some ways but noisy women in band does not automatically = Riot Grrrl. I think that particular label gets stuck on too easily. ‘Girls to the Front’ by Sara Marcus is a great book on the subject!
Capitalism tries to create a sense of anxiety and insecurity, in women particularly. Do you think a sense of community and exploring your creativity helps in resisting those pressures to conform and consume?
Yes, as does talking about it amongst ourselves and with others around us. We talk all the time, about everything, and that sense of solidarity outside the music as well as inside it is really important to us and we want other women – especially younger ones who feel the anxieties and insecurities you mention – to discover that same sense too.
What are your plans for 2017 - will you be out gigging, do you have any planned releases?
Well, we have two weddings to play at (one belonging to one of us!). We also have a few gigs between now and the end of the year, including of course Loud Women fest on 2nd September. We’re on a split flexi single with another wonderful Cambridge band called The Baby Seals, which is again being released by R*E*P*E*A*T Records, whom we love. The launch is on 21st October, at the Blue Moon, Cambridge. We’re also intending to work on songs for a 10 year anniversary album!
What bands and writers have you been enjoying lately?
Between us, music-wise, bands like Bully, Doe, Natterers, Werecats, The Lawrence Arms, Wimps. Books-wise we all enjoyed Viv Albertine’s Clothes/Music/Boys. Lately I have been loving Carrie Brownstein’s autobiography (finally got round to it!), Beth Underdown’s ‘The Witchfinder’s Sister’ and ‘The Gracekeepers’ by Kirsty Logan (both amazing fiction).