Hands Off Gretel – Lauren Tate Interview by Alex Teitz
Hands Off Gretel is a 3 piece alternative band from South Yorkshire. Led by the stirring vocals of Lauren Tate the band evokes a throwback to punk and grunge of the early 90’s. They crowdfunded their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen and are now working on album #2. FEMMUSIC was honored to speak with Lauren Tate. For info visit http://www.handsoffgretel.co.uk/
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
LT: My technique is kinda different each time I play, depending on what I have on me at the time. Sometimes i stick a drum loop on and sing over it making up little melodies before recording them and trying for ages to find the chords on guitar to match and other times I start with a chord progression and sing until I get a hook. Not that all my songs have hooks though , my new ones are much catchier. I think that’s cause the first ones I ever wrote started with a feeling, I’d hammer on the same 4 chords and shout all my lyrics on to paper sometimes forgetting to even give the song much melody at all, it’s only later that I’ve focused on both melody and meaning.
FEMMUSIC: It sounds like you’ve had a busy summer touring and will be going into the studio soon to do the follow-up to Burn The Beauty Queen. What was the biggest lesson you learned making Burn the Beauty Queen?
LT: Yeah, the tour seems to have lasted forever I’m really looking forward to taking a break from it to record and write some new songs, these are driving me up the wall already haha! No no, I really like what I did with Burn The Beauty Queen I think it’s just part of me to disregard my work the second it loses its newness. I learnt to always speak up during the mixing process, sometimes if you hear something you don’t quite like or your gut instinct is to change them you imagine after a couple listens you will get over it and get used to the parts you aren’t quite confident with but that is not true at all. Next album I’m not stepping foot into the studio until I’m confident in what it is I’m wanting to create, I need to know the songs inside out before I accept them as complete, many songs on Burn The Beauty Queen i sing with much more meaning now, we play them much faster and there’s so much more energy in the live show that I want to capture in the next album.
FEMMUSIC: What are your goals for album # 2?
LT: I want to get on a support tour with a big band that I love like SLAVES or GARBAGE or something, I want the radio to actually like us for the first time even if they’re a little nervous to give us a spin and I just want to go up that next level and attract lots of younger new fans, I think the most important thing is reaching that younger audience and getting more people to our shows. I’m gonna give the new album all I’ve got.
FEMMUSIC: What are the biggest differences you would like to make with album # 2?
LT: More radio friendly tracks with sweet harmonies and catchy hooks mixed with dirtier grungier louder more insulting less commercial punk tracks. I just want that mixture of sweet and sour, I want to throw people off a little who will just predict we will duplicate the sound of BTBQ. I don’t wanna pigeon hole myself into just the Alternative Rock genre, I want to mix it up a lot more than our first album and show more sides to us. I already have way too many songs I just can’t seem to narrow it down!
FEMMUSIC: You are currently an independent band. Would you ever sign to a record label? Why or why not?
LT: Well I guess that totally depends on the deal and everything involved. This one guy saw me at a festival and told me he wanted to sign me, he gave me his number and told me to give him a call he then asked me “What is your bands name” I was like “oh… so you haven’t actually heard my music?” he said “no I just want to sign you based on your look alone”. People like him make me fear the music industry, there’s a lot of jokers that big themselves up and offer you the world without a clue of what they’re doing. I think eventually we will need a label, especially when it comes to funding albums, tours and world domination. I just want to be confident in my brand first, I want to prove that there is a demand for the music we are making, that people are coming to our shows or nobody will take us seriously and they will just mould us into another generic pop band.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
LT: The only time being female has held me back has been with other women in music. Guys are usually fine with me, I mean obviously some men see a girl playing a guitar and jizz their pants but I can handle that. That’s nothing in comparison to the awful feeling I get from the way some girls look at me when we share the same stage. There is a lot of jealousy and bitterness between girls in bands, especially because theres not many women in music so every woman is a threat to the lime light. I never get it though. I think there is this fight to be the better feminist a lot of the time. It’s like… you can’t be feminist because you show your tits, you can’t be feminist because you have guys in your band, you can’t be feminist because you wear too much lipgloss… blah blah and theres this huge rule book and women start to alienate each other with their rules of how to be ‘the perfect feminist, the perfect front woman, the perfect voice of a generation’. Everyone pretends to know better and the cattiness you here between girls in bands you just think “can you hear yourself”? haha! Like… can you not hear the bitterness? I am yet to feel the girl power i fantasised about, it can be such a venomous place when everyone is fighting for the same crown.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with or tour with and why?
LT: I want to play a gay pride event with Courtney Love, P!nk, Linda Perry, Lady Gaga and Amanda Palmer because they are all my favourite rockstars ever. Especially Lady Gaga, she is so much more than a pop star, I take so much inspiration from her art!
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
LT: Ok one thing that I really hope does change for real is I wanna see upcoming young bands headlining the big festivals, I want to see new talent pushing through and the oldies moving aside to let others be the new rockstars. Every-time I go to a festival I swear it’s either Alterbridge or Aerosmith headlining, I want the new Steven Tyler to come along and kick his ass… Politely of corse haha, we need fresh blood to idolize. I want to find my generations Joan Jett and Courtney Love instead of fantasizing of a time I missed when they where in their prime. I want to tell my grandkids about the bands that were of my generation, I want to see the new Janis Joplin screaming right in front of my eyes, It’s not fair because bands from the 80’s still hog the limelight and as much as I love them, I ache for the excitement of something