Poisonous Cunt have been with us since early 2017 playing everything from squatted basements to those big fucking festival stages. They are: Alexia – drums, Amandine – vox, Harri – guitar, Keef – Guitar and Tali – bass. They’ve now given us a debut album MAKE ME A SANDWICH which can can downloaded or found in Vinyl form at their shows and from DIY distributors. They’ll be playing a fair bit of it at their next London gig at Grow Tottenham on Feb 15th. A while ago we sent them some questions. We got this back:
So how did this even happen?
Harri – I met the lads in 2015 when I moved from NZ, I’d been in a band before but not in the UK and really, really wanted to make music with people again, after a couple years of mega shenanigans Alexia and Amandine suggested I join them for a jam with Keef at DSI around the start of 2017, and we just clicked, it was so much fun, we didn’t really think it would kick off into a proper band but once we started we couldn’t stop. ‘Enema procedure’ was our demo ep, up on bandcamp which we recorded with Tom Shot, it was a good taster of what to expect from us but i think we’ve developed our sound a LOT since then so were pretty excited to get our full length out. We’ve played too many gigs to count now but they’ve pretty much all been wicked amounts of laughs and fun, and when Tali joined on bass it just got even better, she fit in perfectly straight away.
Keef – We’ve all been mates for ages, but me, Amandine and Alexia probably really bonded at Obscene Extreme 2014. There weren’t many London lads there but we all were and so we hung out and got extremely smashed. Later we all participated in wrestling matches at my 40th…. Further bonding ensued. Eventually we chatted about jamming at DSI, the studio I helped to run. Alexia and Amandine brought their mate Harri who had been in bands before she moved to London and was looking for something here. We all thought it would be a one-off but there was an immediate spark and we knew we had to follow it. We wrote the music for at least 2 or 3 songs including Sick at the first jam! That was January 2017, by the following month we were already playing our first show in The Artesian Well, a squatted pub in Wandsworth. Later the same year, after adding Tali on bass, we were on tour in Serbia and Macedonia having proper joke times with Tout Suite. We all properly went for it from the start!
We made the Enema Procedure EP with Tom at DSI, then last year we started recording the album with Sam at the Cro’s Nest whichis soon out on vinyl. We’ve slowed down a little in 2019 as everyone has had a lot going on, but I reckon we’ve done in the region of 60 gigs already which is a fair old whack!
Tali – My first introduction to Poisonous Cunt was when Amandine came bounding towards me at a Napalm Death show at the Forum saying she’d just been jamming with Harri, Alexia and Keith. She was so excited she genuinely fell over. That could have been because of all the beer on the floor and in our bodies though. They didn’t have a bass player at this point and didn’t plan on getting one, and they absolutely smashed when they played, but then my vocal cords stopped working and I had to stop singing in the band I was in at the time. It was decided that the world couldn’t lose another cunt making loud noise so I dusted off my old bass and joined in the glorious mayhem that they had already begun. The band had been going for around 7 months by the time I joined, which was in July 2017, so it’s been going a while now. They had their first EP Enema Procedure out already, and then we went into the studio in 2018 to record a full length album, which is out now. Start lubing up your ear holes cos it’s got some serious girth. No idea how many gigs we’ve played, I’d say it’s around 70, but my concept of numbers and time can be quite abstract so take it from the others on this one.
Harri – L7, 7 year bitch, babes in toyland, eyehategod, weedeater, limp wrist, system of a down, pentagram to name a small few.
Keef – The Slits, Transvision Vamp, Motorhead, Poison Idea, Crass, Seven Year Bitch, Wat Tyler
Tali – Melvins for riffs and hair do’s, The Slits for attitude and utter loose gooseness, Eyehate God spanking Pizzatramp with a wet fish for bass sound, and Winnie The Pooh because he’s wise as fuck.
Alexia – the bands that have had most influence on my drumming have been oldschool italian punk (Negazione, Stinky Rats, Indigesti) crossover thrash bands like D.R.I and Cryptic Slaughter, early grind bands like Napalm Death and Cripple Bastards, and the weedian sounds of Sleep and Weedeater.
Amandine– Most of the bands above I’d agree with (good thing otherwise probably be quite hard to make tunes together). Love a slow sludgy sound and I think Mike WIlliams (EHG) has a lot of influence on the vocals for the first album. Sabbath’s gotta have made an impact. Also Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn for attitude, phrasing and guts.
What is the song writing process & do band members bring their own individual aspects to it?
Harri– We’ve all had an input on song writing, sometimes someone will come to practice with a full song and sometimes we piece together riffs and ideas that we’ve had that aren’t full songs yet, i find it really helpful to have other people around when writing songs as there’s extra ears and brains listening and working out bits that need a lil something more or pointing out bits that don’t quite work.
Keef – Undoubtedly everyone has contributed. Amandine writes all the lyrics and has put a few riffs in there, the rest of us have written songs individually or in combination. If everyone in the band doesn’t like a song or even a part it doesn’t go in there, so it’s extremely collaborative, especially compared with previous bands I’ve been in.
Tali – someone usually comes in with a few riffs and a basic structure and we learn it and then jam it out. Sometimes people bring songs in that are more fully formed, but everyone always brings their own unique spice to proceedings.
Amandine – My favourite songs have been written together – with the riff roughed about in practice and the lyrics knocked together with input from a couple people. There have been some particularly productive sessions such as the time Alexia had a few riffs and some lyrics that she had been working on that she invited me to have a look at before practice. I went and she played them and we fine tuned bits and thought about the structure a bit. Once we were in the practice room things went really smoothly; Anti-People and Idiot both came out of that practice. Sometimes it’s helpful to strip things back and have only a couple people work on developing a song before everyone else is added to the mix.
What is the scene like these days? Favourite venues? What other bands on the scene do you like playing with?
Harri – there is always room for improvement, but as a whole i think the uk scene is wicked, so many insane bands and although venues aren’t in a huge abundance squat gigs and parties are there giving us a space to make a racket.
I think the birds nest in Deptford is my fav venue in london but living in leeds i am biased to Temple of Boom which i reckon is the best punk venue in england. Some wicked bands that i love to play with are Ona Snop, Horse Bastard, Gurnal Gadafi, Implement, Nothing clean, Nazi killer, Mr Lizard (they werent able to make it to the gig we were supposed to play with them but they are killer) and loads more the list could be endless
Keef – I think it’s holding up well despite the loss of some of our favourite venues over the last few years. The quality of bands is still great. Having places like Noahs Ark and the Church – big squats with a direct connection to the band with performance spaces we have been able to use – has been a huge bonus for us. We like to keep it underground as far as possible. Bands? Do One, Dad, Coproach, Fidget obviously, Tout Suite until they split up, Sewer Trench, Gurnal Gadaffi – there are so many great bands on the scene and we’ve played with a big chunk of em.
Tali – the scene is pretty great, there’s a lot of people being really active, and making it their own. Be that squat shows, DIY shows in venues, festival stages, takeovers and entire events, parades, cabarets, protests, exhibitions and actions. A few fave venues are The Birds Nest in London, the Old Abbey Taphouse in Manchester, Temple Of Boom in Leeds and The Albert in Brighton, and of course the various squatted spaces we find ourselves in regularly. Even though so many venues have been shut down over the last 10 years, it’s just inspired people to own it and make things happen. Live music doesn’t feel any less electric than it did previously, if anything it has a more urgent, purer energy to it. It’s also encouraged a wealth of insane and innovative performers to come through, and also play together, as our spaces become more all-encompassing to provide a platform for everyone who isn’t shiny enough for the Guardian Arts & Culture Guide. Love playing with Fidget, Dad, Tout Suite, Do One and Jizmik Hunt.
Alexia – Tout suite when they were still going, Do One, Sewer Trench, Binge Drinker and Rotten Foxes we’ve ended up playing with multiple times, they’re good mates. Personally some of the bands we played with that have really stayed with me have been The Menstrual Cramps, Pussyliquor, Deux Furieuses and Gay Panic Defence! Also Dad, Fidget and Gurnal Gaddafi are our bbfs
Best/strangest/worst gigs you’ve played?
Harri – Weirdest gig would have to be in Bitola in Macedonia, it was a sick show but we had some baby nazi hanging around outside that ended up following us to the promoters house and slashing a tyre! Boomtown was mad but I’ve never been so scared in my life, so many lights. The float for Pride Punx in the London Pride Parade was definitely a highlight for me, cant really put into words how insane it was to play in front of that many people on a moving truck.
Keef – Two of the best (and most extreme) would be doing the Pride Punx float at London Pride in 2018, shortly followed by playing a pretty big stage at Boomtown. Top days! We don’t play bad gigs but the second one in Macedonia, where little 15 year old Nazis were hanging round outside looking well sulky, was a bit of a crazy one. They followed us back to where we were staying and stabbed a tyre on the van before being chased off by the promoters mum! It really showed us we weren’t in Kansas anymore….
Tali – one of the best was in NoviSad in Serbia. We’d spent around 12 hours trying to get there, after an initial delay of having our tyres slashed in Macedonia by nazis the night before. We finally got on our way and got stopped by border cops who went through all our stuff and found all of Keith’s dildos, and then wanted to stick their fingers up his bumhole. We powered through by drinking some homemade rakia we’d bought on the roadside, and after getting lost and thinking we’d missed our slot, we finally got in just before they had to close for the night and smashed out a killer set, with our tour buddies Tout Suite chicken-pitting at the front. I suppose this could also be classed as the weirdest and the worst.
Describe your noise?
Harri – when people ask what our music is like I allways kinda struggle to give a straight answer but iItend to go with: ‘raging whore-core sludgy hardcore punk with a lil drop of pop’.
Keef – We try to mix a range of extreme styles with a party vibe, I don’t think it’s definitively “feminist” in outlook as much as it’s about equality and being enabling and sex-positive.
Tali – Nice music for nice people.
Alexia – Oozy.
What are your songs saying to us?
Tali – ‘Pills’ is a socio-political song I suppose, as it addresses the culture of using some kind of blanket remedy for any situation or feeling that needs to be heightened or overcome, and how different versions are perceived and marketed. There’s issues of class, gender and warfare surrounding each and every medical and recreational drug we take, and shifting values of acceptance, denial and hypocrisy make for an insight into the current anxieties and fears in society.
How can the underground scene become a properly inclusive space?
Harri – I sometimes see people getting a free pass because of there involvement in the scene. This is all over not just England but i personally think if people have been proved guilty of sexual assault or intentional violence or mental abusing people that that is a one way ticket FUCK THE FUCK OFF this includes WOMEN assaulting MEN, it blows my mind how someone can let it slide that people have been violent in relationships and not been called out because they are female THAT AIN’T EQUALITY
Tali – Stop the speciesism. More dogs promoting shows. When’s the last time you saw a tortoise on the decks? I’ve only ever seen two bears running the bar at a show, what kind of inclusivity do you call that? It’s disgusting.
Who do you give your time & music to?
Tali – we usually play benefits for grassroots organisations or in support of radical actions that we align ourselves with. Raising money for anything is fucking hard, so if you have a skill, talent or resource that could contribute some fu fa to a cause you care about its an important thing to utilise. £100 from door takings at a show could go a long way, especially when combined with other donations from people doing the same.
What are you up to when you’re not making people’s ears bleed?
Harri – i also play in a 2 piece PV band FiDGET, sew lazy punks patches on for them and give people bad hair cuts.
Keef – I run DSI Studios and play in a bunch of other bands so most of my efforts go into making people’s ears bleed.
Tali – I run Pride Punx, I make little films and music videos for my job and for fun, I volunteer as a massage therapist at a homeless charity in east London once a week, and spend the rest of my time getting lost in alarmingly small areas and dropping my phone.
Alexia– thinking about what my next snack is gonna be
What questions should we have asked but didn’t?
Keef – You could have asked us about our plans to come up with a Poisonous Cunt branded lube called Bum Juice.
Images by Guy Smallman