GIRLSCHOOL

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

The all-female British hard rock band Girlschool released their debut album "Demolition" in 1980 and have since become one of the more well-known acts from their country. Georgios Sidiropoulos did this interview with the newest member of the band, guitarist Jackie Chambers, in December 2004.

My love affair with Girlschool started in the early 80’s and my first Girlschool gig was on the 6th of December 1986 (supporting Nazareth at the Halla Sportova in Beograd, ex Yugoslavia). Ever since the band kept releasing quality album after quality album and all the shows that I have personally witnessed were great shows (never have I seen a gig that is not at least very good). Your band –and I believe quite rightly so- was tagged as the “female motorhead.”. Even though I definitely do agree that you have the row energy of motorhead, I increasingly find that since you have joined the band (so especially in the last 2 albums), the band has kind of added a new dimension / a gear …whatever you want to call it. I believe that your material has become more diverse now and therefore even more interesting. What is your take on a personal level on those remarks and what do the rest of the girls believe, in case that you are aware of their believes on these 2 issues.
CHEERS that¹s very encouraging to hear. I think that as a band Girlschool has matured naturally anyway, when I joined I just added my own influences to the huge pool the band already had giving the songwriting yet another direction. I think that the band as it stands now works together really well, we understand each other in the studio and on stage.

Judging from the credits in the track list of the last album(s), I see that you are very actively involved in the song writing process. Related to previous question then: what new elements do you think that you bring to the Girlschool compositions? Can you also tell us a bit about your musical background and previous activities in the “music industry”? Previous bands that you have played with or co-operated with as a composer, etc.
Again because I grew up a musical generation behind the other girls I was heavily influenced by more of the punk scene than the Rock scene whilst growing up. I loved the bands like 'The Ruts¹, 'Sex Pistols¹, 'X Ray Spexs¹ and 'The Ramones¹ amongst others and then got into bands like 'Killing Joke¹, 'Lords Of The New Church¹, 'Wall of Voodoo¹ and 'Bill Nelson¹. The biggest influence I¹ve ever had though would be ŒAlice Cooper¹ he can do no wrong in my eyes and 'The Cult¹ too which I think often comes through in a few of my guitar riffs, so I¹ve been told, sorry Mr Duffy. Today I love bands like 'Foo Fighters¹, 'Green Day¹ and 'Rammstein¹ so as you can see if you add Kim and Enids favourite bands which would be from the 'Led Zepellin¹, 'Deep Purple¹ era then there¹s quite a mix there. The album was mainly written in my home studio. For the most part I¹d write a few backing tracks, burn a couple of CD¹s for Enid and Kim, they¹d come along later with ideas for lyrics and some changes and we¹d kind of put it together from there, it all worked out quite well.

Can you also tell us a bit about your musical background and previous activities in the "music industry"? Previous bands that you have played with or co-operated with as a composer, etc.
I was about 17 when I first picked up an electric guitar. I¹d really always wanted to be a singer so I bought the guitar to actually write songs on and taught myself how to play. I started off playing in a couple of local Punk/Rock style bands called 'The Parasites¹, 'Flowers For Agatha¹, and 'The Crisps¹. I put a band together called 'Déjà vu¹ we picked up quite a bit of interest and decided to move to London but split up a year or so later. I stayed here and played with quite a few different bands most of who¹s names I¹ve forgotten now before joining 'Bleech¹ who were signed to an 'Indie¹ label, after they split I put together an all girl band called 'Virago¹ which had a little exposure here before eventually splitting up. It was around 1995 that I met Kim McAuliffe and we started writing together, a totally different project to Girlschool which eventually lead to me joining the band when Kelly Johnson left. Besides Girlschool I also have a couple of publishing deals going for songs I¹ve written and spend more time doing that than anything else these days but hopefully if we get a decent tour this year I¹ll get away from my computer screen for a little while.

To an outsider it appears that there is a considerable delay from the time that you have recorded an album and you start touring for it, to the time that it gets released. At least this is –in my opinion- the case for the last two studio albums. Is there a particular reason for that and can you tell us when you intend on releasing the DVD that you were filming at the Garage, here in London at the 8th of December (’04)? Also can you tell us how many cameras were rolling, because I could only see 3 around the stage, since I was in the front row?
It does seem stupid I agree, it¹s not the way the band would like things to work out but quite a lot of time it¹s out of our hands. For example the album was supposed to have been recorded and ready for release before we started the UK tour earlier this year but that just didn¹t happen and believe me it wasn¹t the bands fault we stuck to our deadlines. The same happened again when we went to the States so we¹re hoping that 2005 we can finally promote the album and the release of the DVD which is scheduled for release in February, here¹s hoping that that actually happens this time.

Also can you tell us how many cameras were rolling, because I could only see 3 around the stage, since I was in the front row?
I believe there were 4 cameras in total, hand held ones too which is unusual, we¹re usually falling all over cameramen and their leads when we¹re filmed abroad.

As it has been proven once again, you have an army of loyal fans that never miss your gigs and always turn up. I see many familiar faces in each one of your gigs. You have not been in the band at that time, but I remember very vividly that many Londoners had to travel 2 (that was the case with me) or even 3 times to catch you when you were recording the Live CD at the Phoenix Plaza in Wokingham, which approximately 65 kilometers from London.
You¹re right, we have the most loyal fans ever, almost every gig I recognise a few faces at the front. The London gig was a great example of that, as there were fans who had travelled from Germany and Holland as well as a few that came from up and down the UK. The girls told me that years ago the Barmy Army would turn up at gigs and sleep in telephone boxes, or wherever they could just to see the band, now that¹s a fan!

It is also impressive that many of the ex- Girlschool members turn up at your gigs. Kelly Johnson and Cris Bonacci even joined you at the stage for the last ­and quite chaotic- encore (Take it all away), so they will probably make it to the DVD. I¹ve also seen Tracey Lamb your ex-bass player (she can be heard in the only live album that you have released in 1996 and of course the excellent all female band Rock Goddess: readers go and buy the first and S/T album from this band, as it is a must buy album), hanging around after the show. Where do you attribute the fact that not only your fan base is so loyal, but even the leaving members tend to still support the band with their presence at your gigs? Is it all peace and love in the Girlschool camp then or do any catfights taking place from time to time too? (I hope the last bit is not too intrusive, if not please don¹t answer this last bit).
We¹re all really good friends still and tend to hang out together a lot. I share a flat with Kelly Johnson, Denise and Cris live about a mile away from us and Tracey Lamb is always at our house anyway so whenever we do a London gig it¹s like a big party. Gil Weston came along to a couple of gigs when we played locally to her too. As you could see by the chaos of the encore, it wasn¹t really planned we just asked them do you want to come up and they did. It should be interesting to hear how that turned out as half the time Kelly¹ s lead kept coming out her amp and I spent most of the time on the floor retrieving it for her, what fun.

Even though your new and truly excellent album “Believe” has just been released, I would like to ask you if you have any other songs ready or left over from previous recording sessions or even songs that even though you have rehearsed, you did not have the opportunity to record so far?
We do have a few half finished songs and there¹s always new ideas there to work on, we¹d never be short of songs if we were to record another album as there¹s three of us that write.

Last question. How often do you have the opportunity to rehearse as a band? Do you rehearse when you have material written that you need to perfect in the rehearsal room, or do you also jam and then keep whatever good comes out of a session?
It all depends on what¹s coming up for us, when there¹s any gigs booked we¹ll get together and rehearse beforehand and the gigs themselves always help the band to be tighter anyway. If we have a new song to sort out we quite often try it at a sound check and if it works then we¹ll put it in the set that night. We¹re also fortunate that I have a small studio and Denise has an electronic drum kit here so we could get together in my flat whenever we wanted to, to write or rehearse up anything new.

Thanks for all the lovely music and the great memories that you have given us through the years. I hope that Girlschool keeps rocking our world for many many years to come. Thanks for the interview.
You¹re welcome, hopefully we¹ll be playing a lot more gigs this year and we¹ll see you at some of them.


Links of interest:

Girlschool