The Suffrajets

www.RolandDopson.co.uk/interests


"If there's one thing that we really want to promote it's young people in our community getting into venues" - ten minutes in and finally we have reached the first (and as it turns out, only) serious point of an otherwise insane interview. Alex, lead guitarist, singer and seemingly spokeswoman for the band continues, "We've got so many young followers and they just get turned away. If you're sensible about it, the majority of the music industry listeners are kids". Gemma (drums) interrupts her, "They're the ones that buy it. The people that actually get to go to see the band and listen to the band are all over flippin' 20".

At the tender age of 19, The Suffrajets are taking the country by storm with some exhilarating live performances capped by a happy-go-lucky attitude towards pretty much anything that life on the road can throw at them. Having said that I knew they were going to be trouble as soon as their tour manager wished me luck before the interview. The three girls are very different in personality but compliment each other well. Gemma is hyperactive, not sitting still for five minutes, talking and giggling without pause for breath, Alex has a more serious, calming side to her and Charlie (bass and vocals), is quiet and thoughtful throughout - by far the quietest of the three.

Let's start at the beginning shall we? The three-piece all hail from north-east London and talk (incessantly) like characters from Eastenders. Alex and Gemma have known each other since they were six. They decided to start a band, which, by their own admittance, wasn't much cop, they "bashed and crashed around for about 3 years" and then met Charlie who "could actually play". Despite a name change, which they refuse to talk about, they have come up with a corker of a name. "The spelling's different isn't it? We take from the Suffragette meaning the girly bit, as in we're girls, but we're not the whole women's lib, we hate men sort of shit." Alex tells me, putting me somewhat at ease.

They site their influences as Patti Smith, Bowie, Portishead, Nirvana, The Doors and more recently they have been listening to Puddle of Mud, Deftones, Linkin Park, Eminem, Incubus, System of a Down, POD, Kid Rock, Speak no Evil... and the list goes on. Gemma sites drummer Ali Byworth as "the most inspirational man in the world" and also admires Britney Spears - "Britney's great. I saw her on the Frank Skinner show and I've got full respect for her - he did that piss-take and she just laughed. There ain't many that would do that. And she's going out with that geezer from N'sync. Nuff said." Non-musically they admire Lee Evans and their parents.

They have recently recorded their debut album in L.A. and are full of tales from their time across the pond. "I've never eaten so much junk food in my life. It was great! What's more, not only could we eat loads of junk food, it was warm while we were eating the junk food", Alex enthuses. Aside from eating lots, they also met Vanilla Fudge drummer Carmine Appice. Gemma, not realising she was in the presence of the man who "basically invented rock drumming" told him that she just wanted to "lie on the floor and dribble", referring to another one of her many hysteria fits. Gemma starts telling me about how strolling down Sunset Boulevard completely knocked her back, setting Alex off on a Kathy Burke-esque story about attempting to cross the road - "It was such a mission. We all looked like lobsters - typical British."

When quizzed on their favourite gigs to date they give multiple answers - Camden Palace and the Water Rats in Kings Cross but their "best gig as a band is obviously Whiskey-a-go-go in Hollywood", Gemma states. She also admits to loving Peterborough - "it does make a big difference when the crowd are 'avin it as well". They have played in Moles a few times before and certainly seem to like the place ("It's a cute venue", Gemma tells me), despite the smallness of stage.

After a short fit of the giggles, they decide to go for some food - they extinguish their cigarettes and leave me with this pearl of wisdom - "You think we're scary now - wait 'til you see us onstage." And they couldn't have been more right. The glorious racquet they make belies their years and they piss all over lazy journo comparisons to Placebo and Hole. Charlie and Alex share vocal duties - Alex's voice possesses a gritty, grizzly rasp, while Charlie's is more strawberries and cream.

Gemma breaks her stool mid-set, they engage in some banter with the crowd, who are slowly but surely drawn in by them. The secret to their success is simple: They enjoy themselves onstage, they can really play and they have great songs, such as "Hello World" and "International Superstar". In short they are fantastic both in person and onstage and will certainly be around for a long, long time. Grunge-punk without the hang-ups is a very fine thing indeed.

Related pages

Official Suffrajets Website
The band's official website.

Designed and written by Roland Dopson