Itʼs Lice and Goat Girl all aboard the same ship, and itʼs their turn to ask the questions. Gather forth as Naima Jelly [Goat Girl, bass] and Alastair Shuttleworth [Lice, vocals] discuss starting out shy, playing live and meeting Mark E. Smith.
Alastair Shuttleworth: I still havenʼt seen you guys play! How would you describe a Goat Girl live set to me?
Naima Jelly: Weʼre not exactly your typical band. We donʼt jump around a lot. Weʼve never done that, because when we started, we were quite nervous, so we didnʼt then – and itʼs stuck with us since. Itʼs kind of nice, as it means we donʼt have to show off. I guess itʼs just a projection of the songs, really. What about a Lice show?
AS: Itʼs weird. Our guitarist Silas is a bit of a war manager. He just stands there and watches over us. Heʼs a guitar genius. Our bassist Gareth is just running around, getting his dick out, naked...
NJ: Itʼs always the bassist, I swear [laughs].
AS: Exactly. Heʼs legitimately one of the weirdest fucking dudes Iʼve ever met. Heʼs just a renegade. And itʼs a weird contrast, as it kind of shows up how much of a non-musician I am. I play keyboards on two songs for twenty seconds, and I still fuck it up.
NJ: [Laughs] The same goes for us though – weʼve never officially learnt how to play our instruments. So, are you the singer?
AS: I sing in a very loose sense of the term. I shout vaguely. Thatʼs the thing – the others are literally three of the best musicians Iʼve ever met, and I just sort of showed up, so itʼs strange that I get to front it.
NJ: Thatʼs quite cool though!
Above: Goat Girl with their latest single, 'Man'
Mark E. Smith was literally about the sweetest man ever. He gave me a can of Holsten Pils, I got a photo with him, he shook my hand, said thanks for supporting and stuff. It was just out of nowhere. He was really sweet.
AS: Yeah, itʼs great. I just get to sort of float about. Whoʼre you listening to at the moment?
NJ: We went on tour with Jerkcurb recently. His musicʼs just fucking beautiful. It was one of those moments when youʼre like, ‘I canʼt believe I know that person, because theyʼre so ridiculously good.ʼ
AS: Oh, shit, yeah. I listen to Jerkcurb a lot.
NJ: Yeah, heʼs really good. Milk Disco are great too. And then, have you heard of Suitman Jungle?
AS: Oh, no, Iʼve not actually...
NJ: Itʼs the drummer from Micachu & the Shapes! Heʼs got all these live drums, and he just plays jungle beats on them for about an hour. Itʼs the most mind-blowing thing. To actually see jungle in a gig setting feels so out of place, but it works so well. Itʼs nice having more dance bands popping up in London. It gives people some moves, because the crowds can be quite static here sometimes.
AS: Do you know Blood Sport? They call themselves agro-beat, because itʼs kind of based on afrobeat – but with an industrial, post-punk aesthetic with Mark E. Smith kind of yelped vocals. Itʼs kind of horrible, but theyʼre one of the best bands on the planet.
NJ: Oh, okay, Iʼll listen to them now. Youʼve supported The Fall, right? What was that like?
AS: So, basically, when you get offered to support The Fall, the first thing you realise is that all of your friends in music have a story about Mark E. Smith.
NJ: I know, yeah!
AS: Shame actually supported them a week before us and Eddie Green, who is about the sweetest man Iʼve ever met, went up to him and tried to say hi. Mark E. Smith called him a “Southern cunt,” and kicked him out of his own dressing room.
NJ: Yeah, I heard about that.
AS: And then Idles got chewed out too, so I was fucking terrified. But after our show, I watched The Fallʼs set and thought, ‘Fuck it, weʼre not gonna get to play with them again – Iʼll try,ʼ and he was literally about the sweetest man ever. He gave me a can of Holsten Pils, I got a photo with him, he shook my hand, said thanks for supporting and stuff. It was just out of nowhere. He was really sweet.
NJ: Ah, I love The Fall to bits. Apparently he heard us play from his dressing room and liked it, which is nice! I did not even meet him though! What about The Country Teasers? We literally, just... without [Ben Wallers], it would be nothing – do you know what I mean?
Above: Lice relaying 'Gentleman's Magazine' for Breakfast Records
He was literally the only reason why we started, why we picked up electric guitars. I remember telling him that once when I was really pissed after a gig that we played with him. I was like, “You do realise youʼre responsible for all of this!”
AS: Yeah, absolutely, heʼs a total genius. Wait, your band and my band actually both put out songs that namecheck him! You guys had ‘Country Sleazeʼ and we had ‘Gentlemanʼs Magazine.ʼ
NJ: [Laughs] I know, I know... Thatʼs so funny. He was literally the only reason why we started, why we picked up electric guitars. I remember telling him that once when I was really pissed after a gig that we played with him. I was like, “You do realise youʼre responsible for all of this!”
AS: What was it like when you first played with them?
NJ: The first time we played with him was great. I think it might have been at The Ivy House in Nunhead.
AS: Oh, sick.
NJ: I think we were all kind of taken aback by it. All of this attention is just so well-deserved. Like, it wouldn't make a difference to him whether people cared or not – heʼs been working for years and years, just because he likes doing it. Heʼs just great!
AS: Yeah, and the amount of humility... Youʼre kind of expecting him to be a sort of blunt, brash figure, but he just isnʼt. I interviewed him, actually. It was meant to last just fifteen minutes, but I ended up geeking out to him for like an hour, and he was totally cool with it. I gave him a Lice t-shirt after the interview and said, “Dude, can you play with us?” About three months later, he came back to Bristol and supported us. That kind of humility is special, you know? You see it rarely! Itʼs the real deal.