The PINS have confidence in spades. Sure, sometimes confidence comes off as cockiness, but there is confidence in knowing who you are and what you want. The band put that confidence to good use for just over 33 minutes on their debut LP, Girls Like Us, and they nailed it. With ridiculously catchy riffs, and, yes, guitar solos, the band pulled off a timeless guitar record. It's rock and roll, plain and simple, and should keep the genre police up late at night dissecting influences and trying to fit the band in a box. Impeccably crafted, Girls Like Us sounds like it could have been heard in a New York City bar during the post-punk period of the late 70's, it also sounds like it could have been heard on MTV's 120 Minutes during the mid-80's, and it also sounds like today.
But Girls Like Us isn't all about guitars -- the bass lines jump, the poor drum kit begs for mercy, and the vocals crackle with cool electricity. However, perhaps the greatest quality is the vocal harmonies, subtle yet striking, each voice adding a delicious ingredient to the already lovely stew. Then toss in some infectious yelps to complete the recipe for disarming fun. Debut efforts aren't supposed to be this good.
The band took time out of their busy summer of touring and work on their second album to talk about the songwriting process, creative outlets, and what they're up to this summer.
What are the PINS up to this summer? And how is work on the 2nd LP coming along?
Faith – This summer we have shows dotted around, we’re doing Camden Crawl and Best Kept Secret this weekend. We’re sorting out the next release, I think we are doing something special before the next LP. I don’t want to give away too much just yet.
Lois – We're really enjoying working on the next LP, we never stopped writing anyway, but it's good to get to the stage where you're bringing everything together. Between working on that and playing shows, we're going to have a busy summer.
Is the songwriting process a collaborative effort?
Faith – It varies and I like it like that, some of the songs come from bashing it out in the practice room, a real collaborative stream, but other times I’ll sit in my bedroom alone recording demo’s. It’s good to have that balance of both.
Describe the genesis of a song. When you write, does the environment need to be right?
Faith – I don’t have any rituals or anything, usually I’ll have a small idea and I’ll set up my little make-shift studio at home and put some drums down and play the initial idea over them and see where it goes. Like anything – it only works if I’m in the right frame of mind. I have a lot of half finished songs that I gave up on because they didn't feel right at the time. I think it’s the same when we jam something out as a whole band, someone will start playing something and everyone will add to it until it takes some form then we play around with the structure. It’s not something that we can force out, we've tried! It just either happens or it doesn't.
Lois - If I'm writing, it's usually when I'm doing something else and I'll just get an idea that I can't get out of my head til I've sat down and recorded it. I enjoy it when I get a full day to sit and try stuff out, but they're usually the least fruitful moments, I work better under pressure and need somewhere to vent.
Are there any other forms of art that inform/influence the music? Favourite books/poems/authors/poets/movies/art etc.
Faith – I turn to poems when I want to fill my brain with lyric ideas. I like Sylvia Plath and Oscar Wilde. I'm not an expert in poetry at all, but reading it helps me feel neurotic and dramatic. It conjures up thoughts and feelings that are more interesting than what I might have just seen on the TV or what I saw when I was walking around town. I suppose a lot of PINS lyrics are a little bit fantasist, maybe that is why.
Lois – I really like a lot of film, video and performance art. I'm not sure how directly it influences our music, but it definitely inspires me in whatever I'm doing creatively. We're always putting ideas together for our own videos/sleeves/photo shoots as well as writing the music, it's good to take inspiration from as many place as possible.
Do other creative outlets outside the band help the band become better songwriters?
Faith – I don’t know, it all just goes hand in hand. I studied photography, and it’s something I’m interested in so I take my camera everywhere. I don’t know if that helps me write better songs but it helps document the band which I feel is really important. Photography makes you look at everything differently, makes you look at the situation you are in. That’s valuable when on tour. Often time is spent just doing the next thing, and then the next thing, but never really thinking about what it is that you are experiencing.
Lois – I like to be doing more than one thing at once, and letting all the different ideas and directions bounce of each other - I don't really know another way to be. You can come up with new ideas that way, but I think that 'better' songwriting comes with confidence, and knowing what's possible so you can push it further.
Girls Like Us is out now, and available here. The PINS will be performing at 9 pm Friday June 20th at Underworld in London for Camden Crawl, and then 1:30 pm Saturday June 21st at the Best Kept Secret Festival.
The PINS are:
Faith Holgate (Vocals/Guitar)
Lois Macdonald (Guitar)
Anna Donigan (Bass)
Sophie Galpin (Drums)
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