Electrelane are a queer indie rock band who went on “permanent hiatus” in late 2007 to the devastation of art school lesbians and twee gay boys world wide. Since their teenage years the band created a whole new space in the British alternative music scene for emotional, feminist inspired indie rock reminiscent of the likes of Neu!, Stereolab and Sonic Youth.
Recently they announced a comeback tour across Europe and Australia and Sam Salvidge and Rachael Cilauro (from the Melbourne queer night Orlando and upcoming new night Tomboy) talk to Mia Clarke, guitatist and vocalist from the band to discuss Chicago, The boss and the welcome return of Electrelane.
Will this be the bands first time to Australia?
We came out in 2005 for a few shows to promote our instrumental album Axes. We did shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane so it was great to get a bit of a chance to explore the place.
How did you come to the decision to go on tour again?
It came about very organically. Our last show was in 2007 and even though we didn’t break up we certainly didn’t think we’d be playing together so soon. But then we were emailing each other and chatting and we just got back into the idea.
Do you expect to get some new fans from this tour or do you think you’ll be playing to a committedElectrelane fan base?
We certainly hope to pick up a few more fans from this tour. We were surprised about it how many new fans we had when we did a few festivals in Europe. That was really encouraging that people are still getting into our music.
We love Electrelane’s interesting covers and we were excited to see you’ll be playing the Bronski Beat track “Small Town Boy” at your Australian shows. Is that a collective favourite for you guys?
We do all love the track, the lyrics are quite touching for all of us and of course it’s a major gay anthem so that’s a bonus. We also do a Bruce Springsteen track “I’m on Fire” and we’ll be playing that at our shows as well.
Did you have a favourite act on that tour?
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see too many bands on that tour, yeah never get to see many bands when you are on tour! We did see Warpaint in Istanbul who are a favourite of ours we played one really fun show with a local Brighton band Espen and the Witch so that was a real pleasure, they are a quality act.
For the uninitiated what does an Electrelane crowd tend to look like?
Lots of queers, lots of indie music fans I guess. The band’s ages range from 28 to 34 so I guess we tend to pull a late 20′s kind of crowd. But then we have a lot of people who are in their late 50′s, it’s great to have that kind of mix.
Brighton, England is where you guys first started and just happens to be a place that a lot of Australian lesbians tend to do a queer pilgrimage to. Do you have a favourite venue there?
Well I’m living in Chicago now so I don’t know heaps about Brighton anymore, new stuff keeps popping up all the time I’m told.
What can you tell us about the music scene in Chicago?
There is a really good garage band that I’m quite into called White Mystery. Oh yeah and also a band called White Light. It’s strange but a lot of Chicago bands seem to have “White” in the title. Oh and I can’t forget to mention a great local band called Bloodiest. Chicago has a really thriving musical culture and that’s one of the things I love most about the place.
You’ve got a Chicago based band that you play in as well right?
Yeah I do have a side project called “Follows”. It’s pretty relaxed, we play a gig once every few months, I sing and play lead guitar in that band.
So I guess last time you were on touring it was pre- global financial crisis. Have you seen much of a change in the European band seen this year?
Can’t say I’ve seen heaps of change but that’s the nature of doing tours, you don’t really get to immerse yourselves in the places and so don’t get to know exactly whats going on behind the scenes.
You guys are known for your strong feminist principles and for playing political tracks like “The Partisan” that took a snipe at Bush and the Iraq War. Have you been involved and/or inspired by the Occupy Movements in your respective towns?
Don’t know about the others but I definitely went to some of the Occupy Chicago marches and been following it online and in the news.
You guys seem to have a really tight tour schedule, playing a show every night in three cities. Do you all have things that you have to get home to quickly?
Yeah it is an intense tour schedule and you always wish you had more time to explore the cities you are playing shows in. I am studying at the University of Illinois so I have to get back to class!
Wow, what are you studying?
I am studying a bit of British Literature and doing some psychology. I am just starting as an undergrad because I joined the band so never got to go to college when my friends did.
Oh no, does all this study mean you won’t have time to do a new album?
We’ve definitely had a talk about that over email, do all want to do it so that’s an important first step right? We’ve just got heaps of things to figure out logistically and time wise. When we were all living in the samecity we could meet up for after work and work on a record together but it’s a lot more complicated now.
There have been some great albums like David Bryne and Brian Eno’s Everything that Happens Will Happen Today that they managed to create by sharing files and chatting online. Do you think you guys would work like that or do you really need to be in the same space to make it happen?
Look we’ve obviously never worked like that before but we might be able to, we should give it a shot, it could be the most economical option since we are spread out across Chicago, LA and London.
Thursday, March 22 | Manning Bar, SYDNEY TIX http://manningbar.com
Friday, March 23 | Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE TIX http://cornerhotel.com
Friday, March 23: Liberty Social, Tomboy Queer Disco Electrelane DJ set
Saturday, March 24 | The Zoo, BRISBANE TIX http://thezoo.com.au
- by Sam Salvidge and Rachael Cilauro