Squeezing into the cupboard sized dressing room next to the toilet at Brighton’s Hope and Ruin, we were greeted by a tray of avocado and the 19 year old Philadelphia duo Girlpool, made up of members Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad. Tividad, now adorning blue hair shook our hands, apologising for the avocado remains whilst Tucker pulled out some chairs, before we sat down and chatted about their sold out gig, the ‘fucking genuis’ that is Kevin Parker, Beyond Retro and the irritable tendency of words.
Have you ever played in Brighton before?
Harmony: Yeah we played here at the Hope and Ruin actually almost a year ago.
Cleo: It was really fun, good crowd!
Do you get to see much of the places you’re touring in?
C: We get to see some places, we got a day off here yesterday and walked around the laines.
H: There’s some really awesome shops and stuff, it depends on the place and the drive, but we usually get a good bite of a place.
Did LA inspire your music when you were first coming together as a band?
H: Yeah totally, having grown up there inevitably it’s everything, LA was such a huge part of our childhoods.
C: We met at this DIY place called ‘The Smell’ in downtown LA, we were playing shows together in different punk bands, Harmony was booking shows there and we were hanging out
Was it a conscious decision to not have a drummer and just keep it the two of you?
C: Yeah we were very attracted to the idea of it just being the two of us
H: We were like okay we should just make music together cause we had a very clear vision theoretically of this minimal pure sound of like whatever we were feeling at the time, and we don’t really know of another person who we feel like is riding this wave right now so I feel like we should just stick to this together.
Do you think it will always just be the two of you together?
C: I dont know! Who knows, right now it feels good the way it is.
What would you be doing if you weren’t making/performing music?
C: I guess we would be in college, its weird to think about, I mean my plan before playing music was to go to school, then I started playing music all the time.
H: I was in college and I dropped out while Cleo deffered a year. I was like lets just see where this goes, we didn’t know what would happen.
C: We just felt really distracted when we were doing anything else other than Girlpool cause it was the only thing we really cared about, so we were like maybe we should just follow that feeling
H: I remember texting Cleo in class like “I wish we were writing right now”.
Did you ever think that one day you would be touring the UK and Europe?
C: No we didn’t think we would be here, we were talking about being in school and deciding to drop out. Our plan was to continue playing DIY shows for a year and have a good time and write because we love doing it, we didn’t expect to have others assist in us doing it, like be on a label or anything.
You’re very honest in your lyrics, is that quite scary when you’re performing them to a sold out show like tonight?
H: I don’t know, I just feel like there’s no other way we could be honestly. Its just how Cleo and I communicate, we can’t bullshit and it would be scary to do anything else in my opinion.
C: It feels the most right, it feels good!
H: We just have to sing about what’s there; we just want to honour whatever we’re feeling.
Do you ever feel like your music is overshadowed by the label of being a ‘Riot girl revivalist act’?
C: Not really anymore.
H: I feel like when we first released the EP we felt a bit pigeon holed.
C: Also, we had written and put it out along time before our label put it out again so were sort of like we already have another album written, people are hearing this and we have all this other music too. Its weird to talk about music, its two completely different types of communication like playing music and talking about the music you’re playing.
What is the process like when you two write together as there’s only two of you?
C: We don’t argue, we definitely have differences but that’s the fun of it all. We both have different feelings and we talk about it before we can fully understand that person’s feelings and play in it.
H: It’s kind of like ‘Oh what were you feeling about this? This is the sentence I had and I was feeling this line but how can we make it a real feeling? How can we make it so you feel as close to it as I do?’ Mutually encompassing I suppose.
Is it hard to convey what you were thinking about when you’re writing?
H: I feel like its harder to convey what I’m thinking about when I’m talking about it, you know trying to articulate it.
C: I feel like its never one thing, words suck. Vocabulary is a nightmare and it takes us hours to get a feeling or a thought in a sentence because words are so daunting.
H: They’re just so playdoughey sometimes!
Who did you listen to growing up?
C: Bright Eyes. The first conversation me and Harmony ever had was about Bright Eyes at The Smell. We were like young teenagers saying ‘Omg you’re into bright eyes too’. Actually we were shopping today at Beyond Retro, we were in there and they played the whole album so we stayed in there for the whole record. Afterwards I went up to the person at the counter and was like ‘loved that Bright Eyes marathon’ – they literally didn’t say anything, I was just like cool. But its fine, I forgive.
H: I actually got this jumper and jeans from there!
What was festival season like for you this year?
C: We’re still doing them. We played End of The Road which was really fun, beautiful, it was incredible! It was just so lovely, so chill. We went to Ireland, never been to Ireland. We did Electric Picnic and saw Tame Impala which was fucking cool. We stayed like 5 hours it was so cold but we were like we need to stay. We saw them and literally spent the entire time in awe. We were smiling through tears!
Did you get to meet them?
C: No, we had to run we were really cold! I’m so interested to meet Kevin Parker, hes such a genius.
H: Cleo’s obsessed with him!
C: Hey shut up! I just think hes like doing something so cool, his music is so great. He’s a fucking genius, the headline of this article ‘Hes a fucking genius – Cleo Tucker’.
H: As long as he sees it and asks us to hang out with him!
C: I would do anything to play a few shows with him, they’re so good!
Besides Tame Impala, who would you want to support on tour, dead or alive?
H: Elliot Smith
C: Yeah fucking Elliot Smith would be really cool!
H: I feel like the reason I can say that, like so many musicians in bands, their image decays. Elliot Smith died before his image could be foiled, there was no down full, well like he obviously had a downfall. But I his creativity was never bad, it was too short lived, it never got sour, cause he died which is the same with Kurt Cobain.
C: Its better to burn out than fade away…
Interviewer: Daisy Lester
Photographs by Georgia Smith