Interview with Hey Charlie – Valentine’s Day at The Lending Room
BY ALICE MURPHY
Hey Charlie proved themselves a force to be reckoned with as they took to the stage at the Lending Room for the second show of their ‘Bad Things’ Tour. The trio’s setlist was a perfect blend of grungy guitar riffs and energetic rock n’ roll drumbeats with a healthy dose of girl power and, as always, matching outfits – giving a whole new twist to ‘Galentine’s Day’!
Before the show, I sat down with Lizz (guitar/vocals), Sophie (bass/vocals), and Lauren (drums/vocals), to have a natter on all things Hey Charlie. Read on to hear what the girls had to say about knocking down stereotypes about female bands, how they self-style and manage all their projects, and what to expect from Hey Charlie in the future…
AM: I found Hey Charlie on Spotify, which obviously is how a lot of people are finding new bands now. Is this bit of a blessing and a curse? People can find you through similar stuff they’re interested in, but also there’s a whole debate around royalties on streaming sites. How do you find that?
Sophie: I think we kind of suck a bit at streaming! I’m surprised you found us from streaming! So many people we know do so well and they have like crazy views, but we have more, like..
Lauren: Real fans!
Lizz: Not like real, but fans that become fans because they see us live. That’s kind of how we make our fan base a lot more than off of streaming.
Sophie: When we look at our Spotify it’s the same five hundred people that have saved it and listened to it like 5 times a day! Which is super cute.
Lizz: But obviously streaming is so important in this age. And we’re trying to adjust to it and for bands I think it is quite difficult because you make a lot less money than with records that are physically bought. But we were kind of raised with streaming, like Limewire. We were used to burning CDs and illegally downloading, like, Eminem’s albums!
Lauren: I do think it’s an amazing platform, though. There’s so many opportunities with Discover Weekly and things like that.
Sophie: Yeah, people don’t really buy that many CDs and actual albums any more, but you can figure out other ways of trying to make money. And vinyl’s coming back now, so people buy that. And merch, stuff like that.
AM: On that topic of merch, you guys do everything yourselves – you’re totally self-managed and self-styled and set up all those things yourself. How do you stay on top of it all? Does it feel like work, or is it more enjoyable than that?
Lizz: Basically we try to stay on top of it! And I think we do a pretty good job of it. But it is a lot of work, doing everything yourselves.
Sophie: All the creative stuff is really fun, but then you’ve got a backlog of like thirty emails and you’re like fuck..!
Lauren: Because there’s three of us, it’s like, ‘who’s answered what?’ and we need to delegate tasks to everybody. So every day we’ll wake up and send each other voice notes like ‘you do this’, and ‘you do this’.
Sophie: Yeah, we’re still getting used to it!
AM: So you don’t have one of you as the ‘the organised one’, or the ‘PR one’ – it’s more as it comes?
Lizz: We do it all together. It’s more a team effort, which is nice because that’s our thing as a band that we do with everything and it kind of reflects that!
AM: I saw a post the other day on your Instagram story which I loved – it was about how the music industry can be indifferent to talented women and infuriatingly nice to mediocre men, which I thought was a really great way of putting it. Is this something that you feel impacts you directly as an all-female band?
Sophie: Yes! It was Nina Nesbitt. She did an interview where she said that, and it’s just so true. You don’t always really realise it, but are kind of aware subconsciously that it’s happening. And then when I read that I was like YEAH! For fuck’s sake, that’s what it is. That’s why there’s so many mediocre, middle-of-the-road guy bands not really doing anything different or special. Doing the same thing that’s been done before but somehow everyone’s just like, WOW! And then we’re trying to do something a bit different.
Lauren: I think people are just very unwilling to take a risk on an all-female band because we’ve grown up with like, only pop acts, they think that’s the only thing that works. The only band that have really worked recently is HAIM. So they think we’ve got one female band, we don’t need any more.
Lizz: We do get people from more the industry side who are like, “oh wait what? You guys actually play your instruments? You do it live? You actually wanna do this?” And they just don’t understand that all girls can be a band, and we play our own things, and we write everything ourselves, and we manage everything ourselves. They’re just like “what’s going on?”
Sophie: Yeah, there’s no one out there that’s really doing it, that labels or industry can look at and think “oh, they can be like them”. So they’re a bit like “oh, where do we take them?”
Lauren: Yeah, that’ the thing. They can’t really put us into a box, so it worries them. There’s no model to follow, essentially.
AM: I know when I was fourteen or fifteen and learning to play guitar, it would have been great to have more bands like Hey Charlie to look up to, but it just wasn’t really a thing! Do you feel like you’re setting new precedents with what you’re doing, and can make up the rules a bit?
Sophie: It’s not that no girls play instruments, it’s just you don’t really know who they are. We’re not big enough that most fourteen-year-olds round the country know who we are! But that’s why it’s kind of important that more bands, more all-female bands, do break. Because there’s so many bands, and I think there’s a lot of females out there playing instruments and doing this thing, but they don’t really have a great platform.
Lizz: We’ve seen it with our fans and people that have come to our shows. There are girls that come up to us and thank us, because they now started playing guitar or bass or drums, or formed a band, or they want to cover our songs. And that for us is why we do it, why we stick together, because we want in the future there to be an idol for those kind of people that we didn’t have as young girls.
Sophie: It was so cute actually, we played Truck Festival over summer and this mum came up to us and she was like, “My daughter just saw you guys play and her favourite band used to be Little Mix but now it’s you guys and now she wants to be you”.
Lizz: And that’s great, because that’s somebody will now want to go and learn and instrument and that’ll be interesting for them, rather than just singing. We all sing as well, but it’s another thing to pick up an instrument. Learning an instrument can teach you a lot even if you don’t stick with it in the end.
AM: One of my favourite things about your songs I’ve been listening to is that a lot of the ‘characters’ that the songs talk about are girls, which is not always something that you hear a lot of. Is that something that you cultivated deliberately, or does it happen more naturally?
Lizz: I mean, we are girls, so I guess we write about the struggles we face, the things that make us happy.
Lauren: Yeah, we’re writing from a female perspective. Young women nowadays. And I don’t think that’s necessarily written about very much.
Sophie: I mean, some songs like ‘She Looks Like a Dreamer’ are obvious like, it’s pretty blatant – we were pissed off, you know what I mean! But then it’s also pretty easy, sometimes even to just change the pronoun to make it more interesting! Sometimes you immediately say ‘them’ or ‘I’, but how about , oh, ‘she’?
AM: When people see your image and hear the term ‘girl band’, do you think they’re then surprised when they hear what you’re writing about and the sound that you have? Is it not what they expect?
Lauren: Absolutely! I think a lot of people expect us to be just a manufactured pop act, really poppy, y’know. I think our image as well, it really plays into that, and kind of throws people off. So when they come to our shows they really don’t know what to expect, and they definitely do not expect what we do. But I think that’s kind of a cool thing, to be honest.
Sophie: We always wanted to create that contrast with the image and playing with people’s expectation, and kind of… tricking them! Especially when we first started with the American Apparel skirts and really innocent, cute little vintage look. And when we’d play – we’d walk into a venue, and people would be like ‘oh!’ and you could tell they were just rolling their eyes, thinking “oh God, look at these girls that obviously can’t play”. And then we’d start the set and be like “ha ha, in your face”.
Lizz: And then they’d want to suck up to us, like ugh!
Sophie: Yeah, you can wear a short skirt and play rock n roll!
AM:This is the second date of your tour, and you’re going all across the UK. Do you have plans beyond that? Can we expect more singles in the near future, or even an album?
Sophie: Definitely some more singles coming soon! We wrote a song which is for a TV show, which apparently is coming out tomorrow. And we’ll be releasing some more singles that we recorded in summer when we went out to LA.
Lizz: Yeah I think we now want to be less precious and we want to just release stuff for people to hear and we’ll write it as the new sound is developing. And obviously we’re thinking towards an album but… we need the money!
Sophie: Yeah, someone give us money!
Lizz: Yeah, to properly make the album that we know we can make.
Lauren: I think as well, people release music little and often, that’s what people want nowadays. Putting out a massive body of work, that’s something we wanna really wait for when we have the right platform and fan base.
Sophie: We wanna build our fan base, and play lots of shows, hopefully do some support tours, release lots of music… and then just see where we take it!
You can catch Hey Charlie on their ‘Bad Things Tour’, headlining across the UK until 23rd February. Their new single, ‘Bad Things, is available now to stream and download.
Image Credit: Ramble On Records