Having recently supported PINS on tour, and received acclaim for their eponymous debut album from the likes of Mojo and Q Magazine, London collective Madonnatron would seem to have had a pretty successful 2017.
We’ve been in love with them since their hypnotic power left us completely spellbound at The Finsbury in March, and so we thought it was about time we caught up with the band to talk about their debut album, negative female stereotypes, sequins and Tina Turner’s crotch…
Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about Madonnatron?
We are four comrades engrossed in a mutual compulsion to make music. Importantly, music that communicates something of our shared experience and observations about our lives so far – things that amuse us, enrage us, frighten us, excite us – and our intentions. We are all people who understand what it feels like to be an outsider, and we are all people who champion this position. We share a certain wickedness, and that in itself is something of an impetus. We are all state educated. We have a collective passion for lamé and sequins.
How did you initially all get together and start playing music?
It was a random fermentation of fortune… Melary (our former front person) suggested we form a band, but (like some unsuspecting lab technician) left Beth, Stef and Charlie in a rehearsal space alone on one too many occasions. We grew our sound like rampant bacteria having an orgy in a sonic petri dish. We threw Joanie (a friend and former flatmate) into the mix after Mel quit the band. Like the rest of us, she couldn’t play either so there was an assuring equilibrium of discordant chaos.
Your eponymous debut album is pretty spectacular and seems to have been a great success, receiving praise from the likes of Mojo and Q Magazine, which is awesome! How has the experience of releasing an album been for you? What would you say has been the main thing you’ve learnt from the experience?
We have been unquestionably amazed and delighted with the response that the record has received… I think that we are all largely still in shock. It was a difficult record to make for so many reasons – we had limitations because we were technically inept and had to learn how to play the sounds we wanted to hear on the job, which was long. We all worked full time, one of us was pregnant and had a baby two weeks after the final recording, and we had to re-group at very short notice when our singer left. We made the record out of sheer audacity really, and fully expected to be slated from on high. The process of being in the band had been like a slow burning humiliation on so many occasions that we no longer cared what anybody thought about it. We were just thrilled that Trashmouth Records (who produced us) had given us the challenge. Essentially, we have learned that action is required if you want to make anything happen, and that you can really communicate something if you refuse to conform to expectation.
And are there any ongoing themes running throughout the album?
It appears that there are, but we hadn’t really acknowledged that ourselves until others commented on it. Various people have noted that most (if not all) of the songs are based around negative female stereotypes and wondered whether this was a theme. It wasn’t, but there is a lot of raging machismo in the music world – we are merely raising a petite finger and inserting it into the darkened caverns of these territories, and wiggling it around a bit while we’re in there daaahrling.
Who would you consider to be your main musical influences?
Collectively our main influences are probably: Can, Joy Division, Iggy & The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, Nick Cave, PJ Harvey, Kate Bush, Rod Stewart, The Pointer Sisters, Drone and Raga music.
We were blown away by your fantastic live show when you played for us at The Finsbury a while back, and since then you don’t seem to have stopped – playing with bands such as PINS and Future Of The Left, amongst others. Has one particularly live show stood out as a highlight for you so far?
The recent Fluffer Pit Party supporting The Black Lips, alongside Future of The Left, and Warmduscher without a doubt! It was fucking wicked. The bands were all immense and the 360 degrees stage was dynamically such a buzz – the audience are more involved, it felt like being in the fucking Thunderdome, we thought Tina Turner might ride out on a pig and demand that we sign her crotch.
We’re loving the video for ‘Cat Lady’ – can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
Well the song itself is examining the concept of the “cat lady”, described by Wikipedia as: “A cat lady is a cultural archetype or a stock character, often depicted as a single woman, a middle-aged or elderly spinster, who owns many pet cats. The term can be considered pejorative, though it is sometimes embraced.”
We wrote the song to explore the idea that these ladies are not necessarily lonely and/or victims of their own madness, but instead have private knowledge and secrets that they have no wish to impart. They reject society because they are of a superior habit. In this case, the cat lady is a killer who has stuffed some men in order to enjoy their company. Perhaps they were simply too irritating in their previous incarnation? She lives alone and is captured by her inward fantasies of being a cat goddess / table dancer. And why not? With the help of the notorious Lou Smith, we all had a perfectly marvellous time prancing around in cat costumes and doing pelvic thrusts under the disco lights at the Windmill Brixton, where the dance shots were filmed. Roald Dahl’s most excellent story ‘The Landlady’ also had a significant contribution.
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other new/upcoming bands or artists you’d suggest we check out?
Sex Cells are just amazing. We invited them to play at our album launch and were blown away. We love the dynamic between them on stage.
Melt Dunes create a psyche sonic experience that is cathedral sized whilst being low down and dirty. We’ve played on the same bill a couple of times and there are moments when it feels like you can’t believe that these sounds are actually happening in front of you. It’s immense.
ARXX were were the other support band when we did the show with PINS in Brighton recently. There are only two of them (Hannah on guitar & Clara on drums), but they sound like a full band and have excellent vocals. These women know how to rock!
No Friendz. Their frontman Angus Steakhouse is such a talented musician, as well as being an amazing performer on stage. We just released a split 7” single with them on Trashmouth Records and will play with them at the Trashmouth Christmas Party at the Windmill in December.
And, as we near the end of the year, what’s on the horizon for Madonnatron in 2018?
We are currently in the process of recording our second record with Liam and Luke at Trashmouth Records. They are really good at what they do, and are completely about the music. We are also gearing up for a UK headline tour in Spring of 2018 and hope to leave our audial residue in music venues across the land. Irrespective of this, it is fairly safe to say that we have quite frankly, no idea what the future holds for the Tron… a ban from the Vatican most likely.
Madonnatron, the eponymous debut album, is out now via Trashmouth Records.
Photo Credit: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto