London DIY punks, Breakup Haircut give us the lowdown on First Timers Fest, getting together after an APB on Facebook and outdoor kung fu, amongst other things.
Breakup Haircut formed for First Timers Fest 2019, and have since been described as ‘instantly charming‘, ‘a mix of nihilism and slapstick guaranteed to put a smile on your face‘, and ‘a pop punk version of the Scooby Doo gang‘.
Defined by fierce basslines, humorously relatable lyrics, and a vehement determination not to recycle the same three punk drumbeats, they’ve been making pals, taking names, and solving mysteries left, right, and centre.
Breakup Haircut released their first EP, What Did You Expect? I Got It Off The Internet! in September 2019, five months after formation, with Manchester-based label, Hell Hath No Fury, to praise from many quarters.
They came across our radar on the brilliant To The Front compilation from Colin’s Punk Rock World, with their track I (Don’t) Wanna Do Things.
Their raw DIY style fits well over here, so we wanted to know a bit more about the band.
We caught up with Ripley, Ishani and Jordan for a chat on Zoom.
P3dro: Where are you and what are you doing?
Ishani: All of us are at home!
Ripley: Yeah, at home, working full time. Apart from the boring stuff, keeping up with music, practising for when we can get back together and trying some new hobbies, like mini painting. I didn’t get on too well with jigsaws. And some outdoor kung fu.
P3dro: That’s actually quite a lot to pack in! Where are you based?
Ripley: We’re all in London, but in different corners of the city.
Ishani: I’ve mostly been taking a lot of walks around my corner of London. I’ve been learning to embroider, but, mostly I feel like I’ve been walking, and walking around.
P3dro: We think you’ve been more active than quite a few people we’ve spoken to.
Jordan: Mostly the same. Teaching and trying to stay active in some way. I got a new teaching job in the middle of lockdown and it’s a subject I’ve not taught before. So, I’ve been winging it and that’s quite fun!
P3dro: Tell us a bit about the band. How did you get together?
Ishani: We started from a Facebook post! Ripley had posted in a group called First Timers, which is a festival in London where people can get together and form their first band, or it’s the first time playing that instrument in a band. So, Ripley had posted an APB for people and Delphine and I responded.
We ended up meeting at The Tate and had a couple of ‘get to know you’ hangouts. Then we wrote a bunch of songs together. And Jordan came in around two or three months later.
Ripley: After the trip to The Tate we all established that none of us were particularly keen on The Tate.
P3dro: That’s one of the best band meet up stories we’ve heard for a while! Tell us a bit more about First Timers, that’s a new one to us.
Ishani: Ripley and I are both on the First Timers committee, now, because we enjoyed it so much as an experience. First Timers was originally [organised] in conjunction with DIY Space for London as a festival designed to de-mystify music and to make it accessible for everybody. There is a series of workshops, every other Sunday, where you might learn the basics of guitar or drums or synth. They’re all quite cheap, about £5, and accessible. At the end there are some socials where you can meet people and see whether you get along and to play some music with them.
And then, at the end of the season, usually in May, there’s a festival of two days where all the bands who got together can play a set. And it’s everybody’s first show. It’s always really friendly, because people want to support their friends who are doing something for the first time. So, it’s a really positive and warm environment.
Ripley: Yeah, we’re currently running workshops online, so the spread of people isn’t limited to London this time. They are also always on a pay what you can afford basis, so no one is turned away for lack of funds. If you send an email to First Timers, we can sort out free tickets.
P3dro: Where abouts is the festival?
Ishani: Normally at DIY Space for London, but they went down this year, so at the moment, it’s a mystery!
Ripley: We’re working on it.
P3dro: Do you think there’s any prospect of it happening live this year?
Ishani: This year, probably not. It’s normally in May and we’re not expecting indoor events to be able to happen until at least June or July. But next year it will probably happen.
Ripley: And we’re still hoping maybe to have some socials after the workshops have finished. And that should hopefully feed into the upcoming 2022 season.
P3dro: That’s a great story. And you’ve done amazingly well from going from First Timers to doing a gig with Big Joanie.
Ishani: Yeah, that was last January, before everything locked down. That was our last gig.
Ripley: Yeah, it was such a good gig.
Ishani: Yeah, we went out on a high.
P3dro: And the other big news we’ve read is you have a record deal with Reckless Yes
Ishani: Yeah, they messaged us last January (2020).
Ripley: We were supposed to have a face to face meeting with them a bit later, but we had to do that online. They’re really nice, really cool, both with their ethics and their roster, so we’re really excited to be on the label.
P3dro: Does that mean there’s new material on the way?
Ishani: The way is so long. But, we are truly on it.
Ripley: We have a lot of material set up. We started recording in the summer and then the big lockdown happened, so as soon as it’s safe we’ll get back to recording.
P3dro: Have you been managing to get anything done remotely, or are you one of those bands who really needs to be in a studio?
Ishani: We have no experience of recording at home!
Ripley: We did use some rudimentary bits in [the first] lockdown because some of our songs were not quite finished. So in order to get things finished, or even started, we would record a bit and then put it in the group drive folders in Audacity They were really rough, but when we were allowed to go back into a practice room it gave us a really good starting point.
P3dro: Where do you think you get your influences from? You have a fairly DIY / lo-fi sound.
Ishani: With our first record, I think a lot of the lo-fi sound just came from the way we recorded it. We’d played our first show and then the next day, we went back to DIY Space and banged out that entire record, live.
So everything you hear on that is one take and it was, basically, we wanted to get something out and ride the high of having just done the gig. And then get the first release out as soon as we could. That was with Marcelo at Rachmuth Records – he’s a pinnacle of the scene.
Ripley: Yeah, he was really good to work with. He did a really good job for us.
P3dro: There’s a track on the EP called ‘Why Can’t I Be Cool Enough To Move To Berlin”. What’s the attraction of Berlin?
Ishani: Err. I wrote the words to that song. I wrote the first verse before I was even in the band, I think. It’s kind of me jibing. I used to work in Start Ups, so it’s me [having a go] at those people. There’s a very specific type of person who swing dances, rock climbs and moves to Berlin at the age of 27.
It was just me having a bit of a go. But it also kind of ended up about being about happiness is where you are.
P3dro: So, what’s next for the band? Do you have any plans? Can you make any plans?
Ishani: We have a festival booked for June. So we’ll see how that goes. And then, hopefully, we’ll make this [new] record as soon as we physically can. Hopefully, by the summer. And then, once made, we’ll see how fast we can get it out.
Ripley: We’re down for the Loud Women Fest in September. We go to that every year, so I’m so stoked for that as well. That’s September. The line up is always great and I can never feel feel my feet the next day.
P3dro: When you say “the next record” are you planning another EP, or …?
Ishani: We’re going full album. We have a lot of music in the backlog. We’ll see how it works out when it’s all down, but, yeah, we’re planning an album.
Ripley: We have song ideas that come from different people in the band, or riffs or lyrics. We make a big thing of having different vibes, but everybody can contribute.
I’ve been in bands previously where [someone] has said “No, I’m the writing one” and that wasn’t pleasant. It didn’t last. But this is really nice because anyone can bring anything to the table. Everyone has their own kind of styles they can bring into the practice room, which gives a kind of flavour that makes it a band song. That’s [good], how it really comes together.
There are variations at times, but we hope it has our energy.
There is that singles v albums thing. But if I really like a band, then I want to listen to their album.
Ishani: There is gonna be a process which will be interesting to shake out. But, because we write everything together, I can always tell the difference between our songs. But, maybe that’s me as I’ve settled into being in this band. The generalism that has followed us so far is that we’re having a lot of fun. And that’s coherent enough for me.
Ripley: Yeah, that’s the most important thing for me as well. Fun and friendship. As lame as it sounds.
P3dro: We’d say with most bands we’ve spoken to it’s the ones who have different influences and different things they can bring into a studio is probably getting on for being one of the most successful formulas.
Ishani: I think we all have really different influences. Delphine is really influenced by classic rock, I think, as well as more old school punk. I wish she were here, so she could say that with more authority than me.
Ripley: She’s a big fan of pop punk as well.
Ishani: I had a massive prog phase and then I was wanting exactly the opposite.
Ripley: I’m classic punk, EMO, 80’s rock. I also like a lot of J-rock – I love the energy of it and try to put some of that in. I’ve also been looking at some classic metal bass lines and techniques.
Jordan: I was always a metal kid, but I’d always taken lessons from people who didn’t teach that [style]. But I’ve listened to quite a lot. My mum was always into pop and 80s disco, so I’ve had a good amalgam of both. But making stuff is fun and if you have lots of things to draw from it becomes new and exciting. So that wide array of things we listen to is all good.
P3dro: Recommend a band or an album you think we should be listening to right now.
Ripley: I’ve got one. I’ve been really into Hospital Bracelet and their new album ‘South Loop Summer‘. Really melodic punk with amazing lyrics. Absolute banger.
Ishani: I was thinking about dropping Hospital Bracelet as well, so I’ll have to think of something else. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Beatles. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of ‘Rubber Soul’. More recent listens, I’ve discovered there’s a whole genre of playlist dedicated to the feeling you get when you’re being chased through a castle and it’s mostly minor 70s disco pop.
It’s very niche, but it’s also really good. It’s a real vibe!
Jordan: I could give you quite a lot. I walk the dog every day and we both quite like long runs, so music is aplenty. On my running playlist, I have three albums. There’s the new Touché Amoré album, if you like sad boy hardcore. ‘Make Room’ by Destroy Boys is very good and the Ariana Grande album, ‘Thank U, Next’. Compared with Touché Amoré, which is sad, break up boy music, then this is sad break up girl music.
I’ve also listened to lots of late night Woman’s Hour as I teach media. It’s not music, but it’s worth a listen.
Photos credit – @thsheridans