Track Of The Day: Petrol Girls – ‘Monstrous’

​”This is not all of me / I choose the parts you see” reveals Petrol Girls‘ vocalist Ren Aldridge in the opening lyrics to the band’s latest track, ‘Monstrous’. Stretched over visceral riffs and piston-like percussion, Ren’s lyrics compliment the single’s accompanying video (filmed by Martyna Wisniewska), which shows Ren and her band mates sharing intimate moments both on, and off stage during their tours with Refused, Thrice and La Dispute.

Ren articulately explains the feelings that inspired ‘Monstrous’: “(The track) is about feeling mined and drained and too much and not enough and, ultimately, monstrous. It’s also about how I sometimes feel on stage or on social media. Sometimes I find fronting a feminist band too much pressure from too many different directions.” Whilst Ren’s insecurities are laid bare here, with the band’s cathartic backdrop of noisy guitar and knockout drumming, ‘Monstrous’ feels like a lesson in spine-strengthening self awareness.

Petrol Girls are currently on their UK tour, and are set to headline Oslo in Hackney tonight (16th Jan – event details here). The band will then head to Scotland and Ireland later this month, before heading off to play European shows in February. They’ll also be visiting North America for the first time, where they’ll be playing SXSW and New Colossus later this year. 2020 looks set to be another successful year for these feminist punks.

Watch the video for ‘Monstrous’ below and follow Petrol Girls on Facebook for more updates.

Petrol Girls UK & Ireland Tour Dates 2020
Jan 16: LONDON @ Oslo
Jan 17: NOTTINGHAM @ The Bodega
Jan 18: MANCHESTER @ The Deaf Institute
Jan 19: GLASGOW @ Nice & Sleazy
Jan 21: BELFAST @ McHughs
Jan 22: DUBLIN @ Whelan’s
Jan 23: LIMERICK @ Kasbah Social Club​

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Petrol Girls – ‘No Love For A Nation’

Fueled by embarrassment over Brexit and frustration about how geographical borders hold us back; formidable activists and GIHE favourites Petrol Girls have been busy dismantling the fabric of the state in the video for their latest single, ‘No Love For A Nation’. It’s an anti-nationalist anthem designed to unite and fortify individuals, regardless of what country they were born in.

“Swap them, switch them, patch and stitch them” sings vocalist Ren Aldridge over visuals of her bandmates and their allies cutting and re-stitching world flags in to a new “rag” that forms the backdrop for the band’s live show. The track is lifted from the band’s recent album, Cut and Stitch, whose name was inspired by the ideas explored in the new song.

Ren articulates the motivations behind the new music video more poignantly than we ever could:

“This video is a collaboration between myself and the incredibly talented Martyna Wisniewska. The video is a manifestation of an art project I’ve been doing for ages, cutting and stitching national flags…

We shot this video on the way from Austria to the UK for our September tour, via Germany and France. Zock had the idea of hiring radical spaces to shoot the video in. DIY social centres and a radical bookshop – these are places in which radical organising takes place, where information can be disseminated and our community can gather. We filmed at Sub in Graz, Kafe Marat in Munich, Villa Bellevillein Paris and Freedom Bookshop in London.

It was in these kinds of spaces that I first encountered the slogan ‘NO LOVE FOR A NATION’ in the form of stickers, banners and graffiti, and it has informed my politics ever since. I’ve found that many people are quick to make accusations of naivety against those of us that question the nation state, but I would argue that it’s far more naive (not to mention heartless) to think we can continue organising human society in the way that we do.

Nations create borders and borders create violences like detention, deportation and the denial of safe passage. It is a bizarre and often cruel way of organising societies on the basis of where people happen to have been born. It is those on the fringes of these definitions that suffer their harshest consequences – refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. It is not acceptable that 18,000 people have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, because they were denied safe passage on the basis of their nationality.

Simultaneously, populist nationalism takes aim at these people, and uses them as a scapegoat for the failings of capitalism and neoliberalism. If history has taught us anything, it’s that we must resist the rise of populist nationalism that is sweeping the planet.

We stand in opposition to Fortress Europe but mourn Brexit as the result of populist nationalist politics and a xenophobic, dishonest and, at times, overtly racist campaign. We are not proud of Britain – we are embarrassed. Above all we are angered by the rise in racism and xenophobia since the Brexit result. We are deeply troubled and angered by the way in which populist nationalism has emboldened racists and fascists across the world.

At its core, the Nation State is just an idea – a notion – something that exists in our collective imagination and is consolidated through culture – through monuments and museums, through football and flags.

This song, video and art project aim to question and contribute to destabilising the idea of nations. Can we collectively imagine ourselves in a different way? The nation rose from the decline of the monarchy – what will rise from the decline of nations? Can’t we find better and more inclusive ways of collectively understanding ourselves?

The video also celebrates the punk community, which stretches across borders and nations, and has inclusive and anti-authority politics at its core. I feel like this community offers us a glimpse of what might be possible.”

Watch the video for Petrol Girls’ ‘No Love For A Nation’ below and follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Petrol Girls 2019/2020 Headline Tour Dates
November 20th: KIEL (DE), Altemeierei
November 21st: HANNOVER (DE), UJZ Korn
November 22nd: BREMEN (DE), Die Friese
January 14th: NEWPORT (UK), Le Pub
January 15th: BRIGHTON (UK), Green Door Store
January 16th: LONDON (UK), Oslo
January 17th: NOTTINGHAM (UK), Bodega
January 18th: MANCHESTER (UK), The Deaf Institute
January 19th: GLASGOW (UK), Nice & Sleazy
January 21st: BELFAST (UK), McHughs
January 22nd: DUBLIN (IRL), Whelan’s
January 23rd: LIMERICK (IRL), Kasbah Social Club

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ren (Petrol Girls)

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Ren, frontwoman of the brilliant Petrol Girls, to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that have kept her going whilst she’s been busy fighting & fundraising for a defamation case against a man in music industry for statements she made concerning his treatment of women.

Ren has written an intro to her favourite tracks, and we urge you to donate to the Solidarity Not Silence campaign – whether it’s £1 or £100 – every penny counts!

Ren: I’ve picked five tracks by artists that I really respect for the way that they’ve handled the issue of sexual abuse within the music industry. Many of them also faced defamation cases very similar to the one we are currently fighting as Solidarity Not Silence. We are still trying desperately to cover our legal costs and appreciate any donations that people can give, or awareness that people can raise of our crowd funding campaign

We are determined to win this case because the use of defamation law to silence survivors and their allies is yet another deeply unjust part of a legal system that is utterly stacked against survivors. In the wake of #MeToo this is more important than ever.

1. The Tuts – ‘Tut Tut Tut’
The Tuts are the other band involved in Solidarity Not Silence. During 2016 both bands spoke out about the behaviour of the man that is suing us, in solidarity with the survivors that we were aware of at the time. We received the first letters from his lawyers just before Christmas that year, and have been fighting it ever since!

I have so much respect for how outspoken the Tuts are about inter-sectional feminist issues and left politics more broadly, and super grateful for the huge amount of hard work they’ve done during this legal case, including organising a huge benefit gig at the end of last year! I’m so proud of all of us for how well we’ve been able to work together and support each other through this.

2. Taylor Swift – ‘Shake it Off’
I remember sticking on 1989 and leaping around the room when I heard about Taylor winning her case against David Mueller. She alleged that he groped her whilst they posed for a picture and consequently got him fired from his job. He then tried to sue her but she counter sued for a symbolic $1 and won following an incredible testimony in court, where she refused to take any bullshit: “I am not going to allow your client to make me feel like it is in any way my fault, because it isn’t.”

3. Alice Glass – ‘Cease and Desist’
Alice Glass left Crystal Castles in 2014 but as #MeToo gathered momentum she gained the confidence to speak up about her reasons why. In a post on her website she described horrific and sustained sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her former bandmate Ethan Kath. He then sued her for defamation but the case was dismissed in February 2018. When he appealed it in May 2018, he was ordered to pay Glass almost $21,000 in legal fees.

4. Venom Prison – ‘Immanentize Eschaton’
Vocalist Larissa Stupar wrote a public statement in support of survivors that spoke out about her former bandmates in Wolf Down. In her post she detailed some of her own experiences and ended with: “Enough is enough. I stand with the victims.”

5. Kesha – ‘Praying’
Kesha’s legal case against her former producer Dr Luke and record label Sony has been long, drawn out and bitterly unfair. It was overseen by a Judge that is married to a partner in Sony’s legal firm. Somehow Kesha pulled herself back to her feet and was able to release some hard hitting new music including ‘Praying’, which came out in the summer of 2017, just before #MeToo started gaining momentum.

Huge thanks to Ren for sharing her favourites with us. Follow Petrol Girls and Solidarity Not Silence on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Petrol Girls – ‘Big Mouth’

Always at the forefront when it comes to fighting for equality and fair representation; Petrol Girls have shared a powerful new video for their new single ‘Big Mouth’. Supporting the ongoing defamation case for Solidarity Not Silence – a group of women who are being silenced for speaking out against the behaviour of a man in the music industry – their new single is a necessary shout-back and a call to arms to support their activist sisters.

Vocalist Ren Aldridge explains more about the track’s context: “[Big Mouth] focuses in on voice as a physical sound that comes directly from our bodies, and also more generally as self-expression. There’s a lot of politics around who is heard and what that means, and many marginalised groups are only tolerated when they’re quiet. When they refuse this containment and control, they’re met with attempts to silence them.”

“Just one example of this is the defamation case which aims to silence the Solidarity Not Silence girls…whilst the case is ongoing, we are limited in what we can say about it, but encourage everyone to spread the word and donate to the crowdfunding campaign for their legal costs. They are determined to not allow their case to set a precedent for silencing marginalised voices in the music industry and beyond. There’s no legal aid for this kind of case – they need money to pay for their legal representation in order to pursue justice. You can get a Solidarity Not Silence t-shirt, as worn by Joe in the ‘Big Mouth’ music video, here.”

As well as Ren’s own powerful voice, the new single includes a sample of Poly Styrene’s iconic intro to X-Ray Spex’s ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours!’- with lyrics that still resonate with activists and musicians over forty years later. ‘Big Mouth’ is taken from Petrol Girls’ upcoming album Cut & Stitch, which will be released on 24th May via Hassle Records. A companion Rough Trade Publishing ‘Edition’, written by Ren, is also available to pre-order via the band’s official store.

The band will be touring extensively from the beginning of May, including in-stores at Rough Trades in the week the album is released, tours with War On Women and La Dispute, plus appearances as festivals like The Great Escape, 2000trees and Roskilde. Watch the video for ‘Big Mouth’ below and follow Petrol Girls on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut