Photo credit: Mark McGuinness
Daniel Fox, bassist for crusty noise-rock heartthrobs Girl Band, is actually guzzling down Guinness in a pub in Ireland while watching a soccer match alongside his band-mate/vocalist Dara Kiely when I ring him up. Fox and Kiely are reveling in the squawking and clattering anthemic earworm that is Holding Hands With Jamie (their Rough Trade debut) but the food-obsessed, 80s American underground rock junkies have found themselves mired in a bit of a kerfuffle surrounding bands with controversial names. Somehow Girl Band is in the thick of it, lumped in with the likes of Viet Cong, Slaves and Cuntz. Fox, though, promises he and his Girl Band mates—Kiely, Alan Duggan and Adam Faulkner—“aren’t taking the piss out of girls” with their band name (more on that in a bit).
However, gripes about their allegedly misogynistic moniker isn’t all Girl Band is facing at the moment. They were just forced to cancel a slew of live dates due to health issues (get well soon, dudes!) but the Dublin-based noisemakers—under the influence of idols Jesus Lizard, Sonic Youth, Shellac and Beat Happening—have managed to keep busy. With wacko bud Bob Gallagher in the director’s chair, they’ve rattled off a bunch of sicko vids to go with their sonically gnarly, neck-breaking riffs and screamage, a beast that fits neatly alongside fellow noise punks, METZ and Big Ups.
We were able to wrangle Fox from his soccer binge watching and beer swigging to talk his band’s beginnings plus we scored a new video capturing Girl Band in all its blood-throated yelping and guitar shards-spewing glory—this one minus the gore, guts and shlong of a certain bone chilling NSFW vid.
Noisey: First off, did you think there would actually be a backlash over your band name?
Daniel Fox: At the time of coming up with it, we didn’t really think about that kind of aspect of it and it was upsetting to have someone think that about you. I can see where people would be coming from but they are kind of inherently misunderstanding—I think if you met us as people you’d understand where it's coming from. It isn't a super ironic thing plus we are probably the least macho people, ever. Some people probably think we are taking the piss out of girls, which we are very much against. It was like “Look. We’re really against what you think where we’re coming from.” I’d really hate to think that we put any women off, or any people off. But you could only do what you do and if people choose to get offended, whether they are men or women, they are entitled to feel the way they feel about it.
Were there any other names you threw around before deciding on Girl Band?
Not really. It was a long time ago and none not nearly as stupid as Girl Band.
So you threw one out there and it just stuck. What about the videos you've guys made? Bob (Gallagher), the director you work with, has made some weird-assed shit for you. Where did you find that dude?
Oh yeah…Bob. He’s from Dublin and he had done some videos for some bands here. There was one in particular he did for this guy named Miles Manley and the song “Easter Morning.” It’s all these kind of Caravaggio scenes and renaissance paintings. The way he did it was just really simple and we really liked the way it looked. We had some mutual friends but I actually met him once before and we all just got along.
He’s a fan of Girl Band’s music, I gather.
[Laughs.] Yeah, I think so! He was at one of our shows. He was moshing at one of our gigs. He really doesn’t strike me as the kind of a person who would rock out that hard. I saw him in the crowd and I was like “Jesus Christ, Bob!” He’s a young guy and kind of quiet so I didn’t think he’d unleash the wrath of his rock that hard. [Laughs]
That vid for “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?” is totally fucked.
He came up with that idea and to read it on paper, it was like “Well, I’m gonna get this naked guy…” and we were like “We’ll see how it pans out and it’ll be interesting to see if this works.” Then we saw it and it was fantastic. I think our only artistic input into that video was just to have more penis in it. It was like “Bob, can you fit twenty seconds more cock in that?” He was like “Sure. Okay.” [Laughs]
None of you guys wanted to play the role of the naked dude lying on the table getting cut in half?
Nah, we’re too self-conscious for that.
Were you actually there for the filming of that video?
I think we were actually away gigging at the time, which is a shame because we would have to liked have been there. Unfortunately, we missed that one.
What about the other one with the pig for the song “Paul?” That one’s awesome and totally creepy, too.
Yeah, we were up for that. That was a lot of fun shooting that and we had a really good time. They are kind of dark videos but really fun at the same time. Musically, it fit in well because a lot of the music would seem it’s aggressive and dark but there’s always a big sense of humor aspect to what we do as well. So I think it’s a really good match.
The music does fit perfectly with the concepts of the videos.
I think Bob just intuitively understood the tone of the whole thing.
Were any of you guys donning the costumes in the “Paul” video?
I was in the fox costume and Dara was in the horse, then Alan was a boom operator and Adam was a runner telling people what to do on the fake set kind of thing.
Are there any more messed up vids in the works with Bob?
He just did another one for the single “Pears for Lunch.” It has a man with a TV for a head. It’s cool.
Did all of you grow up together?
Me and Dara were in high school together so I’ve known him since we were both like 13 and me and Dara and Alan have known each other since we were 14 .
Were you playing instruments already back then?
The three of us used to be in a band together when we were younger—we started a band when we were 16. We were of a shit version of The Strokes. It was of the time—an indie rock 2000s kind of thing.
Were you huge Strokes fans?
I love the first two records. Dara played drums in the band at that time and we had a different singer and a different guitarist with us as well—a five piece like The Strokes.
Did you wear get ups like The Strokes too?
I think every teenage boy in Dublin at the time probably tried his hand in dressing like The Strokes in those days [Laughs]. That band fell apart and it took us awhile to get this together. We met Adam a little while before we started the band. Adam is from the other side of the city. We have some mutual friends but we never really met each other and then I worked as a studio engineer and Adam’s old band was recording in the studio I was interning at the time. We met each other, got along and we were looking because Dara was saying, “I don’t really want to play drums. I wanna sing.” So we were looking for a drummer and I just had met Adam and said “Do you wanna come down and try it out?” I remember Dara at the time was like “If I’m not any good at singing and he’s better than me at drums, can I still be in the band?” We were like “We’ll see!” [Laughs.]
Turns out Dara could sing pretty alright, huh.
For sure. I remember the first practice we did—like we never heard him sing, let alone scream his head off. That first practice was like a duel audition because it was the first time we played with Adam and the first time we heard Dara sing. Adam just slotted in perfectly that first time. We barely even noticed and we were like “Oh, yeah. That’s fine.” But with Dara, it was like “Jesus Christ, dude!” screaming his head off. It was cool. He slotted into it.
Where does that anger come from?
Oh, a deep well. If you meet him, the funny thing is he’s probably the most polite, really incredibly nice person.
He seems to like screaming about “fucking butter” and ranting and raving about Nutella.
There’s a lot of food references. A lot of Dara’s lyrics are references to everyday stuff and they may seem mundane but they are kind of serial at the same time and the complete fuckin’ weirdness of the everyday.
Is there aggression you guys need to unleash by living in Dublin? How is it living there?
Dublin is like a big village. You kind of like know everyone and it’s fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s got a weird, self-deprecating humor in Ireland, ya know? And if you like drinking, it’s a good place to go.
What about the title of the record? Who is Jamie and why are you holding hand with him or her?
[Laughs] Jamie is one of my and Dara’s best friends from school and people always joke that me and Jamie are in love with each other, which is pretty much true. He also engineered the album—myself, Jamie and another guy Liam did all the recording. I think originally it was a joke that if I had a solo record it would be called Holding Hands with Jamie because I love Jamie. There was a long list of potential album titles, each one stupider than the last. [Laughs]
Holding Hands with Jamie is out now via Rough Trade