wears the trousers magazine

introducing belladonna
August 31, 2009, 5:16 pm
Filed under: feature, voice on the verge | Tags: , , , ,


voice on the verge #37: belladonna

visit Belladonna on Myspace

Picture this: two Northerners, both regulars of Darlington Working Mens Clubs, happily demolishing pork pies and sipping bitter while rocking out to The Prodigy during commercial breaks on ‘The A-Team’. On the face of it, these are not the traditional interviewees of Wears The Trousers. And not only do they defy tradition, but also stereotype as these pie-munching beer guzzlers are the two somewhat stylish members of Belladonna. Claire Hill (bass, vocals) and Sarah Wilson (drums, vocals) have been making music together for 9 years, and while their music has been assigned to ‘garage punk’, they will not be shut in one box. Sweeping from flat staccato punk assertions to curling pop riffs, the girls have their own style and do not conform to any band fashion. With debut album Hey Weirdo! (the response to which might be “Who are you calling weird?”) released earlier this month, our trusty questionnaire was thrust upon the girls to clear up the mystery of how one ex-member of the Official Kylie Fan Club and one with a girlie phobia of spiders came to step up to the plate in the name of female attitude and diversity.

* * *

What’s your middle name?

Sarah: I don’t have a middle name and I always wanted one as a kid. You know, when you’re in the playground and everyone’s saying what their middle name is – I couldn’t play ’cause I didn’t have one. Recently we got compared to Chaz ‘N’ Dave in an NME review. I don’t see it myself – they have beards and everything – however, me and Claire decided that those could be our new pet names for each other. So now I’m thinking Sarah ‘Chaz’ Wilson has a nice ring to it, what d’ya reckon?

What were you like at school?

Claire: I was a total swot at school, I used to stay behind and help the teachers and everything. That all changed the day I discovered Thunderbirds – the drink, not the weird puppets – and the opposite sex!

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

Sarah: Aside from me mother shouting “come in for your tea”, all sorts and everything. I was at one point a member of the Kylie official fan club but then graduated onto Guns ‘N’ Roses and Metallica, then moved through into Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, before morphing into a genuine indie Britpop chick – it’s no wonder I’m confused.

Which female musicians have most inspired you?

Claire: Peaches is amazing. We went to see her at The Cockpit [a venue in Leeds] and were totally blown away. She’s so full of confidence and is a great performer.

Sarah: I loved all her outfits too, she looked amazing and seems to naturally have the guts to do whatever she wants regardless of what anyone thinks. We’re not really inspired by just one person though, we try and take something from all sorts of infuences – films, books, fashion as well as other musicians, male or female.

What was the first band you saw in concert?

Sarah: Well I think it’s safe to say I’ll win the ‘who’s coolest’ trophy with my answer to this one. It was…fanfare please…Showaddywaddy. Hope you’re suitably impressed. I was 5, it was in Weston-super-Mare and clearly changed my life and turned me into the rock ‘n’ roller you see before you today.

What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your record collection?

Sarah: Strangely not Showaddywaddy. Probably ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ by Kylie on 7″, back from my fan club days.

What would you be if you weren’t a musician?

Sarah: It would still have to be music orientated, maybe tour management. You get to be part of the band team, making sure everything is right for them and that the show will go ahead correctly and as planned. I would imagine you’d get a pretty good buzz when the band take to the stage and you know you contributed to the gig being a success.

How would you describe your new album in 10 words or less?

Claire & Sarah: Beautiful, weird, fuzz, beats, sexy, bleepy, strong, lush, lollipops, beer.

What kind of person would have sex to it?

Claire: Someone who has good taste and rhythm. Actually one of our really good friends has just admitted to us that she’s done just that and we’re still not too sure how to feel about it – a bit weirded out or oddly flattered.

If you had to pick one song from your repertoire to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?

Sarah: That’s sooo hard to answer. Maybe ‘We Are Your Diversity’. It switches from a punky, Bowie-esque verse, to a super pop chorus tune and a disco break in the middle. That song incorporates lots of different influences and takes people on a little journey of where we’re coming from. Also, we think the title sums us up.

What’s your funniest studio memory?

Sarah: Ooh, there’s so many to choose from. Strange things happen when you’re shut away with the same three people and not much daylight for days on end. The studio is residential and we’d decided to get an early night as we had an extra long session booked the following day. We both have a bad phobia of spiders, and unforunately there was one in our bedroom! I decided to be brave and catch it in a glass, after chasing it round the room for a good 15 minutes, Claire helpfully assisting by screaming lots – cheers hun – we had it cornerned. As I reached up to get it, three more appeared. Three!! Well, I’m brave, but not that brave. We had to go and wake up our producer and ask him to come and remove them. Super embarrassing. We didn’t know him that well then as it was early in the sessions – poor guy. He’ll have heard a load of screaming and giggling from our room, then us banging on his door asking for help! We really felt like strong, confident rock ‘n’roll women that night – NOT!!

What’s your favourite song to cover and why?

Claire: We don’t really do any covers. We’re trying to get people to listen to our tunes rather than us playing other people’s tunes. If we were going to down that line, maybe something by The Prodigy. That’d be fun. They’re all about amazing basslines and big beats and so are we.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?

Claire: I once, many moons ago, worked at Burger King. It was awful. Every Friday night at about 11.30pm, drunken fights would break out among the customers. We used to have to get all the tills and all the staff and lock ourselves in the office until the police arrived. I stuck it out for a year and a half, all for minimum wage and a crap burger.

What’s your tipple?

Claire: Beer, beer, beer. We actually did a gig recently where the promoter seemed far more interested in the fact we were two beer drinking women – “a rare breed” apparently – than he was in our music. So, erm, yes. Two pints of bitter please, ta.

If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of characters would you play?

Claire: Hmmm, maybe something like ‘The A-Team’, only we’d have to call it The B-Team, tearing round in our van, saving the day and turning rubbish into good stuff to fight the bad guys with.

Sarah: Sounds just like when we go on tour!

What was the last good book you read and how did it affect you?

Sarah: I’m just reading In Search Of The North by Stuart Maconie. It’s really good, and has bizarrely started to give me strange alien flashes of pride at being a Northerner. It’s all good; however, it does make you want to eat pies when you read it.

What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?

Claire: My black frock coat from Japan. It looks punk rock, and it’s great for gigs even though it’s really hot. I sweat buckets but it’s worth it – gotta suffer for fashion.

What’s your favourite quote?

Sarah: “Remember your dreams are your only schemes / so keep on pushing” – Curtis Mayfield

What are your pet hates?

Sarah: Miserable, moody people who don’t direct their issues to the right people or problem and end up taking them out on everyone else. They need to look outside of the box of their own bullshit.

Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?

Claire: A piece of toast, absolutely. I’ve seen ghosts before and it scared the living daylights out of me. So yes, I’d much prefer a slice of toast with lemon curd and a cup of coffee please, ta.

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

Claire: Got up.

* * *

Joanne Gibson
Hey Weirdo! is out now on Vandal Records [review]


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