Since we heard the opening riff of ‘Always Happy’ by Bristol trio Grandmas House, the Get In Her Ears team have been hooked on their sardonic, thumping post-punk sounds. Formed of guitarist & vocalist Yasmin Berndt, drummer & vocalist Poppy Dodgson and bassist Zoë Zinsmeister, the band combine gritty guitars, powerhouse percussion and visceral vocals to create intensely relatable anthems. They were busy cutting their teeth on the UK gig circuit before Covid-19 put an abrupt stop to live music. The trio decided to use their time in lockdown constructively, quickly writing and recording new material, including recent singles ‘Always Happy’ and ‘Small Talk’.
We caught up with Grandmas House to talk about recording fun music videos in lockdown, where they’re looking forward to playing once the current Covid-19 restrictions have lifted and the context behind their latest singles…
Hello Grandmas House! For anyone who doesn’t know, can you explain how you met and originally formed as a band?
Yasmin: We all went to uni together in London. Then me and Poppy moved to Bristol afterwards and then we dragged Zoe along with us well.
Poppy: Yeah, we were like “you’ll love it here!”
Yasmin: We did have a different bassist before Zoe actually, who we also met at uni. She lived in London still and she was commuting so much and that didn’t really work out. Then Zoe moved to Bristol and became our new bassist, so that worked out pretty well. We’ve all been living together now for three years.
Does living together make things easier in terms of recording and writing songs?
Yasmin: We usually go into the studio now that we’re getting a bit more serious about music, but when we started the band it was just demos recorded on all of our phones. We didn’t know how to edit music so we just cropped all the recordings together. But now we try to go to a professional and take it into a studio and stuff. Obviously because of Covid-19 and all the studios being shut, we did have to record a few things from home. We did a few vocals on the mic from home, but that’s it.
You’ve recently released two single, the first of which being ‘Always Happy’. I read that you came up with this track really quickly and unanimously agreed on the context. Is that usually the case when you’re writing songs?
Poppy: I feel like usually it does happen like that, it just flows out. We’re very much on the same wavelength, but there are occasionally times where we get stuck on a song for ages.
Yasmin: I think I think if it doesn’t flow, it’s just not the one. If we’re working on a song and we have to kind of really, really try to make it work, we usually just take ourselves away from it and try something else. I do feel like our really good songs are usually the ones that literally just completely flow out of us though.
Poppy: We know if we’re working on a song for more than an hour, it might be time to put it on the shelf. Sometimes we come back to them of course, but we usually get a good feel for whether a song is working or not quite quickly.
‘Always Happy’ is a song about the misconceptions we have about people’s confidence in social settings and also online. Talk me through what the track’s about, as I know it’s based on your own experiences of performing on stage as well.
Yasmin: I feel like everyone is a bit taken aback by how we are onstage and how loud our music is, especially because our name is Grandmas House, which is quite calm…
Zoe: The track is a mix of thoughts about social anxiety, performing on stage and how people perceive you online, as well as how you show yourself online too. In between songs when we’re on stage, people have said we’re always so smiley, and then we suddenly just start screaming again. There’s been a few gigs where Poppy has been on the drums, looking really, really into it and angry and then as soon as a song ends she’s doing this cute giggle.
Yasmin: I think we’re definitely confident off stage as well. The song is definitely more about mental health and social anxiety that is generally present, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be talkative or chatty after a show. I think you definitely just see a snippet of us, or any other band, when we’re on stage. You don’t see how nervous we are before as well.
Zoe: That adds to the adrenaline we get whilst we’re playing though. It’s been built up beforehand which is great, so performing is definitely an outlet for that.
The accompanying video you directed for ‘Always Happy’ definitely showcases the fun and the more serious sides of the track. Talk me through it…
Poppy: Originally we were going to film it with some other people, but because of lockdown we suddenly had to try and make it ourselves, but it was so so fun!
Yasmin: We’re quite good at coming up with ideas – if I do say so myself. We love coming up with visuals and talking about would look good aesthetically. So for the video we had three main shots in mind and we were just really lucky and happy with how it came out, exactly how we imagined it.
Zoe: We were really able to create the atmosphere that we wanted for the song. It’s quite a personal song I think, so the fact that we could make it ourselves with no other kind of creative input was really nice.
You’ve also released a new single ‘Small Talk’, which forms part of your two-track cassette release on Brace Yourself Records which Zoe designed the artwork for. Tell me what this track is about…
Yasmin: It’s just about not really liking small talk. It’s one of the first songs we ever wrote. It’s quite a straightforward, snappy, loud, quick song – which I think a lot of our songs are. It’s a bit of a contrast to ‘Always Happy’, it’s a bit rougher and a bit more like our earlier sound.
That’s to the point, I like it. The UK government have teased us with the potential lifting of lockdown restrictions & return of live music if their step-by-step plan over the next few months. If it does work, is there a particular venue or festival you’re keen to play?
Yasmin: We’ve announced that we’re playing Dot to Dot Festival which is so exciting. That’s in Bristol, Nottingham and Manchester. We’ve never played in Nottingham before, so that’s gonna be fun.
Zoe: I honestly feel like we would take anything and play anywhere right now?
Yasmin: I mean, we usually take any gig that gets offered to us because we love playing, but especially now I think we would take anything!
Poppy: I think if we were dreaming big we’d love to play End Of The Road Festival. But yeah, honestly anywhere….
That sounds good! I know we’re all approaching 2021 with caution, but do you have plans to record or release more music this year?
Zoe: We’ve recorded an EP, which will be coming out this year. That’s very exciting.
Yasmin: We’re almost done with it. Covid-19 got in the way of it once again, the studio we were recording it had to shut, but it’s nearly get ready to go. Hopefully we’ll do some more music videos as well.
Looking forward to hearing that! Finally, can you recommend some new music for us to listen to?
Collectively: Ooooh yes! Grove, they’re from Bristol and they’ve just released an EP. Sinead O’Brien, deep tan, LIME, Katy J Pearson – always a favourite! We’re just playing all of these bands on repeat at the moment…
Thanks so much to Grandmas House for chatting with us!
You can buy a copy of ‘Always Happy/’Small Talk’ on limited edition cassette here.