By Elle Kelleher
Dublin-based alt-rock powerhouse Bitch Falcon have conquered festival stages from Cork to Toronto, from Los Angeles to Cheltenham, causing pounding hearts and pounding eardrums wherever they go. University Express sat down with guitarist/vocalist Lizzie and drummer Nigel, to chat about their upcoming album, the situation with the scene and surviving a pandemic as a band.
University Express: Your debut EP, Staring at Clocks, is set to release on the sixth of November, are the two singles, ‘Time Trial’ and ‘Gaslight’, a good indicator as to the sound of the album?
Lizzie: I think there are one or two songs that are a lot heavier, a lot moodier, and then you’ve got the singles, which are a bit poppier, so I think you’ve a good mix of moods on the album.
Express: Are ye drawing on a lot of new influences, so?
L: Well, when we were writing the album, I was in a deep hole of Cocteau Twins
Nigel: I thought you were gonna say that you were in a deep hole of ketamine writing the album!
L: The sound of a horrible after-sesh!
N: I think that those songs started being written back as far as the beginning or the middle of 2018. Our studio was in the back of a church on Thomas Street – the church across from Vicar Street. There are offices there now, but we used to practice in a place called The Priory. Those songs started being written then, and I was listening to Mark Guiliana and beat music, and lots of neo-soul, jazzy, electronic stuff, and Barry had started putting us onto things like Blank Mass, which I had never heard of. I started listening to more of the stuff Lizzie and Barry would play in the car on our way to gigs
L: I was in a big Cocteau Twins phase, a lot of My Bloody Valentine, stuff I thought I knew, and then actually listened to and thought “Oh my God, this is brilliant!” I think before, it was a bit rock and roll-y.
N: A lot of Jack White.
L: Loads of Jack White.
N: The Dead Weather.
L: The Dead Weather was a huge one at the start, yeah. I think now it’s changing.
Express: Are ye getting stranger?
L: Yeah, definitely stranger. I’ve always loved strange music, but I think we had to develop a bit more confidence in expressing that ourselves, instead of thinking that we had to write straight up rock music. I think we pigeonholed ourselves early on to be this heavy riff band, but you grow out of it quickly. Of our old songs, I think ‘Of Heart’ is the most similar to what we’re doing now, even though that was one of the first songs written, I think that was the entry point.
N: Plus, these were the songs we started writing with Barry. Barry joined in 2017, 2018 maybe, and I guess me and Lizzy had figured out how to make music with each other at that point, and then someone comes in with completely new ideas and a completely different methodology. Barry was very prolific as well, he’d go home and have full demos, he could have ten done in a week that he’d be sending us back and giving us a lot to think about. What Barry was listening to had a huge impact, because he really spurred us out of a very slow-moving writing process that we had previously, and all of a sudden it was supercharged! There were a lot of ideas, a lot of activities bounced around. There are some really black metal riffs in here; wait until you hear the bass on these songs! Lizzie does this ethereal mania around it and these lush vocals and it’s mental, I love it. Lizzie uses the guitar nearly as a synthesizer.
L: There’s a lot of big guitar parts. Not big solos, but lots of feedback and just playing around to get weird noises out of the guitar. Just noise.
Express: How was it to watch opportunities just disappear due to Lockdown?
N: Ah Jesus, every day brought another ‘cancelled’ gig. Then, when you got to summer, everyone was on Twitter saying “Oh, I would have been seeing Bitch Falcon at this festival”, and you’re being tagged in these posts, every day it’s a reminder of these things that you’re supposed to be doing, but you can’t. In April, I just went “Everything is cancelled, don’t think about it, don’t engage with it,” that’s how I could cope with it.
L: I was suiting and booting for the hospital – I’m a nurse, so when everything happened I just went “Right, pandemic time, I’ve been training for this my whole career!”
Express: Frontline nurse during a pandemic, that must have been intense.
L: It’s more weird looking back on it. It’s like you’re in a sci-fi movie when you’re in it. It’s only looking back on it you go ‘Wow, that was mental.’ But it’s mad how well humans adapt to difficult situations, so we just did, and it wasn’t until afterwards we really thought about it. I placed the band thing in a different box.
Express: Can ye even think long term now?
L: There’s definitely potential for 2021 socially distanced gigs. I’d say next summer.
N: You can see people booking gigs now, and you’re kind of wondering “Will that happen?” and you’re trying not to get excited until closer to the time. It does show the resilience of the scene though, you have the ‘This is Who We Are’ movement, you have new promoters coming up, people are trying. All you can do is try.
Staring at Clocks drops November 6th on all streaming services and Bandcamp. Their pre-release singles are out now.