October/November 2013

by Briar Lawry

Fresh Talent: Grrlfriendz

by Briar Lawry

Fresh Talent: Grrlfriendz

Asked to describe her band in five words or less, Annabel, the guitarist of Grrlfriendz, pauses for a moment, before laughing and saying, “Welcome to Planet Lesley’.” It couldn’’t really be anything else.

‘Planet Lesley’’ is their moniker for drummer Sophia’’s bedroom – which doubles as the band’s rehearsal space – and by extension the whole band’’s musical home away from home. ‘Welcome to Planet Lesley’’ is the name of the Auckland three-piece’’s debut album.

With lyrics like, ‘I’’d rather be alone’’ (The Bubble) and the even more direct, ‘Sick of books / Sick of teachers / Sick of uniforms / Sick of school’’ (School), the album is a window into adolescent life. Their raw sound holds up against the music of their collective riot grrrl inspirations – Bikini Kill, The Donnas, The Runaways et al – which isn’’t bad for three girls who have only been playing together for a year and a half.

As with so many stories of band formation and success, there’’s a good dollop of serendipity in the back-story of Grrlfriendz. Toyah (the band’s singer and main lyricist) and Sophia had known each other for years and were toying around with the idea of starting a band. When a mutual friend heard the pair asking about any good female guitarists, Annabel’s name was put forward. All three collaborate in the songwriting process, each track evolving organically from the ground up.

Their debut album was recorded in two live studio sessions with Bob Frisbee, the producer behind the likes of Rackets, Street Chant and The D4. Straightforward as live recording may be however, it took ten hours of listening to the album in 23 different configurations before the band settled on a final track listing.

A ‘new’ song is aired each week on bFM’s Dinner Party show, followed by release of the track on the Grrlfriendz’ Bandcamp page. Not ones to skimp on execution, each track also has its own cover art, and each week a new piece by a different artist has been featured on their Bandcamp and Facebook pages.

With the release of ‘Welcome to Planet Lesley’’ under their belts, Grrlfriendz aren’’t about to ease off. A second album is already in the works, and now that the local music scene is paying attention to their particular brand of youthful punk exuberance, expect to see big things from these three teens.