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An Interview With The Lollies
By Peter Mattinson

Let's get the basics out of the way: The Lollies are Kate St Claire (Vocals/Guitar), Jane Mountain (Vocals/Bass), Rachel Angel (Keyboards) and Matthew Lazowski (Drums). At least they were more of that later.

(If you want to know the full details, go to their website - www.thelollies.com - it's all there, biographies, MP3's, mailing lists... isn't the internet a wonderful thing?)

So, what else? You might want to know what separates the Lollies from the countless other contenders out there, all playing any gig they can get, trying to steal glances from A&R; people and other music industry types. Well, the difference is that this lot have already got the attitude needed to make a mind-numbed generation drag themselves up and take notice.

Let's start by asking for New Years Resolutions:

JANE: God, if only we could predict the future and know what's going to happen. The Lollies' entire career has been one surprise after another, so I don't expect this year to be any different. Our new single should be coming out soon though, which is brilliant, because it's my favourite so far.

KATE: Well, my new year's resolution was to give up chasing boys for a year, except, well, as a friend pointed out, half of our set-list seems to be about boys I've dated or had crushes on, so this may prove problematic. Then again, this may be why our next single is going to be "Call The Girls.

So the interview: I suggest if the Lollies stand a chance in the modern world. What with an endless supply of boy/girl bands - most seemingly made of man-made materials - on one side, and a endless supply of dreary young men with acoustic guitars (most of whom seem to have listened to Jeff Buckley too much) on the other.

KATE: Hey, don't go dissing prefab pop. The Ronettes and the Shangri-Las were the prefab pop of their day, you know. Bubblegum music is the naked truth, and don't forget it. There is no rule that says that catchy pop can't be intelligent and well made, and that intelligent music can't have a sense of fun, and that's what we're here to prove.

For a genre that supposedly prides itself on being cutting edge, indie music is behind the times when it comes to gender equality. Look at every other style of music, be it rap or R&B; or what-have-you, and you see sassy, intelligent, independent women like Missy Elliott and Destiny's Child at the top of their genres. And then you look at the future of indie guitar rock, and women have just been written out of the story. So where the hell is the indie guitar- rock Destiny's Child? Fuck, where is the female Radiohead? I think that's a great big hole in the mass market that we're just perfect to fill.

JANE: I believe practically any band has potential mass appeal, if they're shoved down people's throats with the right amount of manipulation and marketing. But that's the cynic in me! Our youngest fan is about 4-years old and lives in LA, our oldest is around 65. There are loads in between, so that's pretty mass.

So there's the attitude. Optimism and cynicism. On the note of indie music, the Lollies covered "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?", turning the Virgin rail paced original in an Indie Disco stomper.

Both St Claire and Mountain have interesting backgrounds which they bring to the band. Prior to the band, Mountain was a Techno DJ and also had a four month stint working the reviews desk at Q magazine. Why the turnaround from playing techno to bass in an indie band.

JANE: It's all Blur's fault. I went off guitar music entirely when I was a techno DJ. But when I heard There's No Other Way, I was converted and got helplessly sucked in to the world of Britpop.

And as for the career in journalism?

JANE: I don't think I wrote for the typical 35-year-old male that Q targets, and the typical 35-year-old male who was my editor couldn't stand to see anyone write with any flair or originality. Maybe if they tried to cater to a wider audience, people would read their magazine, but who am I to say?

St Claire meanwhile, has a passion for drone-rock. So, any chance of the Lollies swapping catchy melodies for two chord hour-long symphonies of white noise? Maybe not yet, but you can't knock the girl for not trying.

KATE: It's always like this little game in the studio, trying to sneak space-rock into the songs without anyone noticing. A tremolo here, a smallstone there, a little farfisa drone while no one is looking - like listen to Pearls on headphones, and it's pure dronerock. It's amazing what you can get away with when you just stick some really catchy girly harmonies over the top, and no one notices!

It's really interesting, cause we were talking about what it is that interests us in music. For me, the two most important things are texture and harmony, and the least important are probably beats and lyrics, which is clearly why I like dronerock so much. Jane said her priorities were completely the other way round, so it's a good thing we're in a band together.

On the other hand:

JANE: Kate pretends she wants to be in a drone-rock band, but she doesn't really, cuz otherwise she just would be. We all like certain elements of drone-rock, and they work in a pop environment, so when Kate thinks she's being sneaky, really we're aware of what she's trying to do and (usually) fully behind it.

Things can't always go to plan. After the last two gigs of 2002, keyboard player Rachel Angel threw in the towel. When asked on replacements, St Claire responds with "Please allow me to introduce my cousins, Kelly St.Claire, Michelle St.Claire and Beyonce St.Claire..."

The songs: Lyrically, the Lollies manage to combine melancholy with the sort of upbeat tone that could make even the most ardent raincoat hugging indie kid leave the bedroom and wear bright colours. Songs of motorbikes, 24 hour shopping and desire (of love and fame) And yet, the sort of humour the Lollies specialise in (i.e. girl goes into work and shoots boss) could easily be understood.

KATE: All our songs (well, the ones that aren't about boys) are one of two things - revenge fantasies or wish fulfilment. Writing a song is the best revenge in the world that there is - your boss treats you like dirt, or a boy spurns you, or one of your friends betrays you, you write a song about it. You turn it into a joke, you work out your anger or your frustration, and next thing you know, the song's on the radio, they hear it, and the whole world is laughing at them. Best feeling in the world.

They are a way of coping with awful things in life without wallowing in them. My mum always used to say that to me, when life seems really terrible, that you have a choice, whether you transcend your problems, or you wallow in them. Laughing at things, diffusing their sting with humour, that is my way of rising above them.

We do have a twisted sense of humour, yes. I often wondered if that was a cultural thing, and if our sense of humour wouldn't translate. I was raised half in England and half in the States, so I've spent half my life being misunderstood in one way or another.

The songs are fantasy, they are wish fulfilment. If people can't understand that, if they don't have the ability to laugh at themselves, the way that we laugh at ourselves, they're never going to understand us, so I'm not that bothered.

So, last question: If, when, however, wherever, whenever the Lollies get signed to the big label and are given the token silly money advance, what to spend it on?

JANE: A massive country house with a gym and a studio. And of course I'd hire a personal trainer and an engineer to make sure the purchases didn't go to waste.

KATE: I'm not really that materialistic. I'd buy guitars or amps or effects or studio equipment or something, how boring is that? No, wait, maybe a stereo, a really massive fuck-off huge stereo, because I've not got one at the moment, and I really miss being able to play stupidly LOUD music. I'm thinking really small, aren't I? I'm supposed to say a mansion or an island or a private jet, right? And a butler. Can I have a butler, please? I've always wanted to butler. I'd hire a butler to mix my drinks and fix my life.

For information about gigs, releases and other Lollies-related stuff, see the second paragraph of this article.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Album Reviews:

The Lollies: "Taste"

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