With their latest album Age Of Indignation (review here) garnering swift critical acclaim, and with a few choice album launch shows under their belt, September Girls chat to Stephen D’Arcy about the political attachments to their music, SxSW, commercialism, hitting the road and more before they head off on a wider tour of the UK.
Hi September Girls! How are you all? Age Of Indignation was released last week, are you happy with how it has been received so far?
Sarah: We’re good thanks. Yeah we are really happy with how it’s all gone, especially here in Ireland as a lot of the themes on the album are relevant to what’s going on here at the moment. We had our album launch at the grand social last Friday and it was so much fun, really great crowd there who seemed to be into it so that’s always good. It’s pretty scary putting something that we’ve worked so hard on and that’s very personal out there to be judged and not knowing what way it’s going to go so it’s a great feeling to read all of these great reviews. It’s nice to have your work acknowledged y’know?
Sonically the album sounds great. There’s a great mix of lo-fi sounds and high end production. You recorded Age Of Indignation in Orphan Studios as opposed to home recordings like your previous releases. Is this something you will take forward to future releases? Or did this record require the studio to achieve a certain sound?
Sarah: After our first album we recorded an EP, Veneer, and went into a studio to do that. I guess our sound was moving in a less lo-fi direction so it was best to record in a studio rather than at home. By the time we wrote AOI our confidence as song writers had grown and we knew exactly what we wanted to sound like. We had worked with Sean Coleman from Orphan Studios before when he mixed our first album. We wanted to try out different sounds and experiment a bit and take our time to make sure everything was right and Orphan Studios had the facilities to help with that so it was a no brainer. I’m sure we’ll take various processes with us on any future releases, and most definitely record in studios from now on….provided we have the pocket money to cover the costs, I don’t think it was a conscious decision to record earlier releases at home, we had no budget and studios aren’t cheap!
The album seems to be a reaction to a lot of issues (Abortion, LBGT rights, women’s rights, even maybe the recession) Irish people have gone through over the last few years. Did these issues come into play during the writing process?
Jessie: As songwriters we tend to write about what is weighing on our minds at the time, and for us, the issues you mentioned were certainly influential on our songwriting. I know personally, those issues are at the forefront of my conscious a lot of the time and I feel really privileged to have an outlet where I can turn my anger into poetry, and vent my frustration in an artistic way rather than become just another angry Internet commenter. Not all of the songs are political per-se, but they all are very personal in one way or another.
If the issues above were an influence, how important do you as a band, think it is for musicians to reflect social and cultural changes in their music?
Jessie: It’s interesting because we didn’t set out to make a political or social-commentary album, but it kind-of turned out that way. As I mentioned before, the five of us each write from a personal place and therefore these songs turned out to be very reflective of the current climate. I think it’s great when musicians reflect social and cultural changes, it gives music a sense of purpose, and hopefully might even open the eyes of some listeners, or let them feel that they’re not alone in feeling dissatisfaction with society. That said, I also think escapist music has it’s place in culture too. After shouting about the patriarchy it’s okay to go and sing about how you can’t feel your face to forget about how shit the world is.
You got to do some promo for the album over in the States, including a few shows at SXSW. The festival has been criticised over the last few years for being heavily influenced by brands and sponsors and not giving enough attention to new acts, how did you find it this year? Is it still a relevant place for emerging new acts?
Lauren: The festival is huge, and yeah you can be overwhelmed by the big corporate element, which I think we were the last time we were there in 2014. This time though, we managed to stay away from all that – we played some really great spots around Austin, and decided to stay in and around them and just absorb what was going on there. In doing that we managed to see some really interesting bands as well as connect with the people who’d seen us play. SXSW might not be the place where a small band is going to blow up necessarily, but definitely relevant from the perspective of reaching new people who may not have ever heard you otherwise.
As well as the US dates I mentioned before, you had your album launch in Dublin, followed by Cork and now have a string of dates booked for the UK. Are there plans for more shows? Perhaps in Europe?
Sarah: We are looking at and discussing further dates for the rest of the year. We would love to go to Europe so hopefully we’ll get there.
Some members of September Girls play in other bands, is this other creative outlet needed at times? Almost as a release? Or is it more so part of the addiction of playing music, that you need to be playing/writing even in your downtime from September Girls?
Sarah: Personally it’s a bit of both, I don’t play music with other people too often, but when I do I guess it’s to let off some steam, maybe some heavier or punkier kinda stuff that just isn’t September Girls. It’s nice to play different styles though because eventually they link back into each other and lends a musical hand to each other if that makes sense. It’s good to have a bit of variety I guess.
Lastly, what are September Girls plans now? Is there an idea for the next release or is it far, far too early to even think about?
Lauren: Jeez slow down! Yeah definitely way too early to think about that! The plan for now is to enjoy all our hard work paying off by having the album actually be out there and getting to play gigs to support it. Being in the studio writing and recording is great, but now we’re excited about the part where we get to be out playing live. Inspiration comes when it comes, so the next few months may lead to something new, but for now it’s all about taking it one gig at a time and having fun. It’s all a labour of love, so it’s important to take a breath and appreciate everything as it comes.