Interview by Stuart Huggett
Slum Of Legs are a six-strong pop gang from Brighton. When they’re not swapping their instruments around, they usually line up on stage as Tamsin (vocals), Kate (guitar), Maria (violin), Michelle (drums), Alex (bass) and Emily (keyboards).
Tamsin describes the band as, “A giant pop-psych, punk monster with twelve legs”. Their first gig was last April, supporting Ace Bushy Striptease, and they’ve since then they’ve released a demo tape through Brighton’s Tuff Enuff records, with their debut 7” due out in July.
Although this year’s gig is Slum Of Legs’ first at Indietracks, Emily played the festival in 2007 with The Chemistry Experiment, and has appeared more recently as one of the Another Sunny Day DJs. Michelle will be playing twice this year too, as she’s also in the newly reformed Blue Minkies.
All of Slum Of Legs except Kate took part in this interview, which ended up filling a hole in the band’s diary when a support slot with The Julie Ruin was postponed. Rather than stay at home moping, we went down the pub.
What can an Indietracks audience expect from a Slum Of Legs show?
Tamsin: All of our songs are pop songs but a lot of them are quite sad. I realised when we were recording the single that there was one where I was dead, one where I was a ghost, one where I was a stalker, one where I was a murderer, one where I had multiple personality disorder and one where I was just really, really miserable. So I’ve specifically written a nice cheery one for Indietracks which is gonna be all about dancing.
Alex: But we’re not gonna play it. We’re gonna play all the horrible songs.
Maria: But you can absolutely dance to them.
Tamsin: You can expect stand up drums, you can expect swapping around instruments. You can expect screaming. I’m trying to learn to do some death metal singing too. I can’t promise I’ll be doing that at Indietracks but I might have it ready in time. You can also expect virtuoso violin, bass thunder and guitar chaos, ‘cos we’ve got three muffs in the band. The pedals.
Michelle: And possibly a live séance.
Tamsin: We were gonna do a séance when we were recording our single but we were banned ‘cos the studio used to be an undertakers. So we’re gonna do it at Indietracks.
Michelle: On stage, during a song.
Tamsin: Possibly. We haven’t decided yet.
Emily: It depends. I would say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to break into the church at midnight and do it” but then they probably wouldn’t like that.
Michelle: If we caught the train they can’t stop us.
Tamsin: If people want to come and join in that would be good as well. I’m sure there’s lots of spirits of dead railwaymen there.
I’m not sure the church is actually haunted.
Emily: It’s haunted by the spirits of bands who’ve played at previous Indietracks. I played in the church at the first one. The only one I missed was when I moved to Brighton and thought, oh god it’s just too far away. Then Stereo Total got announced after I’d already decided I wasn’t going to go, so I kicked myself for it and I‘ve been back ever since.
Who else has been to Indietracks before?
Michelle: I’d always wanted to go but I hated festivals. Then I went just for a taster last year and thought, this is great!
Tamsin: I’m usually massively alienated at all festivals and want to kill everybody and take photos of people looking miserable, but not at Indietracks. It’s like being at a giant Jonathan Richman concert.
Alex: The first time I went I was another band’s plus-one and I got to stay in the Travelodge.
Maria: I love a Travelodge but I love festivals and I love camping.
Tamsin: Yeah, Maria’s gonna put my tent up ‘cos I haven’t got a fucking clue. I can’t be dealing with it.
Michelle: You could always live in the fort.
Emily: Yeah. We spend all our time there anyway. We’re the ones stealing Buckfast and hanging out in the pub.
What else are you looking forward to at Indietracks?
Tamsin: Well I’m interested in going back to that little town where there was that sign in the hairdressers.
Michelle: “No vibrators kept overnight.”
Alex: But we’re all most excited about the owls.
Tamsin: The owls are the best thing ever.
Alex: And that ostrich who’s pretty cool. Geoffrey the ostrich.
Tamsin: I want to meet him.
Emily: He won’t let you meet him but you can look at him. There’s also one of the donkeys that bit Jimmy McGee (of The Bobby McGee’s). He had to punch him.
Tamsin: Do you know, I’ve really never had a waterfight. So I’d really like to have a waterfight with someone.
What can you tell us about your single?
Tamsin: We’re really pleased with the results. We only had to do four tracks but we ended up finishing off six. We’ve got fuckloads of songs, basically. If anybody wants me or anybody else to write songs for them to order, I’m happy to do that as well.
Emily: Maybe we should turn ourselves into one of those song poem industry things. They can send their lyrics to us and, for a nominal fee, we’ll write the song.
Tamsin: I think we should.
Michelle: Like ‘Blind Man’s Penis’ (notorious song poem by John Trubee).
Emily: “It’s erect because he’s blind.”
Michelle: I wish I’d written that.
Tamsin: We’ve got so many songs. The main problem is, do we do the noisy ones? Do we do the pop ones? Sometimes there’s an assumption that we’re a ramshackle, self-taught riot grrrl band but Maria’s got an MA in music, Kate’s had guitar lessons.
Have you encountered many sexist assumptions about Slum Of Legs?
Tamsin: It’s not been too bad but at one Brighton gig, one of the bar staff wouldn’t give Kate her free drinks ‘cos he didn’t believe she was in a band. And she looks more like a rock star than any of us. She wears silver trousers.
Emily: Yeah, but I dunno if it was that because she was a girl. We were all getting free drinks.
Alex: We’ve been really lucky ‘cos Brighton is actually a really good place to be a girl in a band. I can’t speak for everyone’s home towns but I’m from Staffordshire and if you’re a girl in a band in Stoke it’s not the best place.
Emily: I think the reason why we’ve avoided it so far is ‘cos we are pretty new. We’re not that big, so we’re in a nice little bubble where we’re feminist, queer-friendly people, and not that many people have heard of us. As soon as you start getting written about on the blogs, it changes. It happens to people like ‘Lan (Alanna from Joanna Gruesome), who speaks out really well, really eloquently, and they just get so much violent misogyny back.
Tamsin: I’m sure if we come across it we’ll fight it with fiery vengeance and there will be a horrible immolation of some kind.