I caught up with London indie-punk band Fresh the other week, ahead of their new album, ‘Withdraw‘, coming out on the 7th June. They’re absolutely lovely. Here’s what went down.
1) A basic one to start off: How did you all meet?
(Kathryn) I started Fresh in 2015 because I wanted to play in a punk band! I’d played in bands before but just in rehearsal rooms, never shows. I also wanted to try playing guitar and writing songs (I played bass on other people’s projects before that). So it was just a test, almost, to see if I could actually do it. At the time I felt like an anomaly playing music as a girl. I didn’t have much exposure to other women, queer people and trans people in bands in the scene like I am lucky to have now, so I felt like I had to get over a kind of invisible stumbling block in order to actually find the scene I wanted to be a part of and to know people in punk who were more like me!
(Dan) George and I have played in bands together for years. One of our old bands (Sad Blood – RIP!) were asked to play a show in London with a band we knew called itoldyouiwouldeatyou, and a band we didn’t yet know, called Fresh.
I always check out the bands we play with in advance and when I first heard Fresh I was very excited to see them play. I remember watching them play and just thinking “fuck, this is so good!”. We got chatting after the show and became friendly. I filled in for drums on their next show, when their drummer couldn’t do it, and never left.
We decided to do a Fresh / Sad Blood weekender a few months after we all first met, and when Fresh’s then-bassist couldn’t do the tour, George offered to fill in for those three shows, and the rest is history.
I still remember that show when we all met, and I’ve rarely been that excited watching a band like I did when I first watched Fresh. I actually welled up a bit and got emotional during their set. If I wasn’t in the band now, Fresh would undoubtedly be one of my favourite bands, and it’s a joy to be part of!
(George) I paid for the first two Fresh EPs on Bandcamp. If only I had known that I could’ve got them for free a couple of months later!
(Dan) We had another guitarist called James who wrote and recorded the first album with us. Unfortunately it didn’t work out with James and we asked Myles to come and jam with us after we played a show with his other band Me Rex.
It was very clear from watching him play in Me Rex that he is an extremely talented musician and we were all very excited to have him join the band. He’s brought an extra dimension to all the songs that we’ve written since he joined.
(Myles) I joined after the album was recorded with Fresh’s old guitarist, James. I learned the parts for the live show from listening to the album. There are slight differences in how I play some lines, but mostly it stays true to the record. James’ playing style is quite different to my own, there’s a lot of focus on solos and the bulk of the work is done by the left hand (or neck hand). It’s certainly had an influence on my playing and writing and I think that’s reflected in the new songs.
2) What’s the song writing process behind the band? Does one person tend to come with a fully fledged idea, or do you all jam it out together?
(Kathryn) The songs become completely different and (I think) better when I bring them to the others. The only thing we never change are lyrics. If I wanted to do this on my own I’d be a solo artist. I love the community of this band, and I hope they feel that the songs belong to them too!
(Myles) As a songwriter outside of Fresh I see my role within the band as something distinct from that, I see our position in relation to the songwriting as more akin to that of producers. It’s a question of listening to each song, interpreting it and judging what’s appropriate to contribute. I don’t think any of us would want to interfere with any of Kathryn’s lyrics or try to disrupt the the message of any of the songs. There are certain implied boundaries in place when you offer something you’ve created up for interpretation to any group of people, but these are established over time through mutual trust and communication between all of the members of the band.
(George) I’ve always said this is one of my favourite parts of being in a band where I don’t write the songs, working together with the rest of the band to find the right parts, the right harmony or the right balance is often the most fun. When things ‘click’ and it all comes together in a few minutes, there’s nothing as gratifying or excited to me (except for playing the songs live I guess).
3) ‘Get Bent’. Absolutely love the ethos of the song. Is it based off a real life experience, by any chance?
(Kathryn) Yeah, before I was lucky enough to know all the wonderful women and non binary musicians that I do now, the only people I knew who liked the music that I liked were cis guys at my school. They never wanted to play music with me and they always implied that I wasn’t authentically into music like they were, because I was a girl. It sucks. So I wrote Get Bent. It’s the second song I ever wrote! I like playing it at shows now because, petty though this may seem, it’s like a revenge tune.
4) On a serious note, it seems to me like there can be a lot of gate-keeping in the emo scene. Is that something you’ve noticed?
I wouldn’t call our band an emo band, but if you mean the alternative music scene in general, then of course. The more “serious” you becomes, the more of that you experience. We try to play with new bands, bands that aren’t all cis straight guys and we book all our shows ourselves, just by sending out emails/messages on bandcamp and taking that power into our own hands. Some of our best tours and friendships have some out of that direct communication. As long as you’re open and honest with people then there’s less exclusion, I think.
5) Your next record, ‘Withdraw’, is out June 7th. Is there a thread running through those songs that connects the album?
Yes – withdrawing! It’s such a good word. I have a tendency to shrink into my own head when I get upset or anxious and I think I wanted to examine that a lot more in these lyrics. I would say that this album is more introspective and reflective than our first one because of that.
6) Who are y’all listening to right now?
(Dan) The first couple of Queensryche albums, the album Demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep, and the new Angel Du$t record. Also a lot of lullaby covers of indie bands because of my daughter.
(Kathryn) boygenius, Lucy Dacus, Ezra Furman, Sidney Gish, Rosie Tucker, Charly Bliss.
7) You can bring anyone from history back to life for a 30 minute coffee. Who do you choose and why?
Hmmm ummm, Willa Cather! I love her books, and she lead an interesting life. I bet she would have some great stories.