The state of popular music these days is dire, most of us would agree. Boring, tepid, nothing there at all. It lacks those key ingredients that make Pop so special – excitement and good songs. Perhaps not surprisingly, as it’s long been the way, bands rule the airwaves whose whole schtick is a pale copy of something that wasn’t even good in the first place. Or worse, ripping off what was truly Pop but leaving out all the important elements that made it worth paying attention to. And proper Popstars are a rapidly dying breed. Enter Pris, three glamourous young ladies who are here to change all that. Falling in love with them after seeing their “Blu Tack Baby” video earlier this year and going to almost every gig they’ve played since, I met singer Cat Gordon, guitarist Agatha Mol, and bassist Mary Gallagher at Camden’s The Spread Eagle to hear what they have to say. Sassy but sweet, intelligent and funny, they are a proper band too, lots of in-jokes and taking the piss out of each other, but all done with much love between them. I was struck most by their strong belief, spot on in my opinion, that the world needs them right now, and their desire to make POP! the way it deserves to be made and the way we deserve to hear and experience it.
So how did it all begin?
Cat Gordon: In a bedroom, on Garageband, a few angry words coming into my head and then a few nights out with these guys. And then Pris from that really. Pretty D.I.Y. in a way…
Mary Gallagher: It really was. My sister is her mate. Then we met Agatha on a night out.
Cat: Yeah, that was it really. A lot of teenage angst built up and then getting to the age, early twenties, and thinking ‘Maybe I’ll try and write some songs, express it, form a band’ and that was Pris. And obviously Blade Runner, I saw Blade Runner on the BBC one night and was like ‘That’s a fucking wicked name for a band, Pris. A prostitute replica, can’t get better than that.’
I like that…
Cat: Yeah, it’s great. I think it’s really good to have those references for bands. Once you’ve got your name you’re kinda sorted, aren’t you? It sets…
Agatha Mol: If you’ve got a shitty name then you’re going to be a shitty band.
Cat: If you’ve got a name like The Wombats, you’ve never going to fucking do anything.
Mary: I couldn’t imagine us not being Pris now.
Have you guys been in bands before? Because it’s hard to imagine songs this good coming from newcomers.
Cat: I’ve never been in a band before. This is my first try at it. Neither has Mary. Agatha was actually in a band that you know called The Hall Of Mirrors. But that was it really. Agatha’s really musical, technical-wise. Me and Mary are more kinda like-
Mary: And we need that.
Cat: Yeah, I think it’s a good balance. Agatha brings all the…she can create the songs, you send stuff over, I send melodies and Mary does as well, we send lyrics to Agatha and then Agatha forms the idea so…but no bands beforehand.
I’m impressed that you guys can actually sing.
Cat: I’m impressed that people think I can sing. I never really thought at the time, ‘Oh I can sing, I’m gonna do this’. It was more like singing to ABBA in the mirror when I was 8 years old, locked in the bathroom.
Agatha: And were you Frida?
Cat: Agnetha, actually. Well, let’s face it , I was probably Björn. With us it’s more to do with we just wanted to be part of a band and a gang, not actually be like ‘let’s try and sing’. I wouldn’t say to Agatha “Do you think my voice sounds alright?” It’s quite punk in the ethic.
I like that you actually sing. For the past 10 years there’s been this horrible trend of people with just sort of nice, inoffensive vocals but not actually singing and you actually get up there and belt it out.
Cat: Oh, thank you. I don’t know, I don’t know what I do…
Agatha: You go for it.
Cat: You just do something and then since we’ve been doing it, we’ve gotten nice feedback from it all and, I hate saying it, but it is quite natural to us just to be quite good, and yeah, pretty starry really.
Not that it matters that you can sing and play your instruments but do you think it helps when you’re trying to create something to actually have some sort of ability, because the world of pop and rock today is filled with people-
Cat: All you fucking need is some really good idols, some really good books that you’ve read in your life, films –
Cat: Yeah, ideology, that’s it. You don’t have to go to Britschool in order to-
Mary: Don’t get me started on Britschool. It’s the worst machine ever.
Cat: If you listen to good pop music you can write a fucking good pop song. Listen to ABBA, man! Greatest Hits, that’s all you need…in life. I know they’re not a cool band to like but seriously, how fucking influential are they? They’re AMAAAZING! I don’t mind manufactured bands but-
There is a lot of good manufactured pop-
Cat: Aw, massively-
Mary: Girls Aloud.
-but lots of it today is very, very boring, there’s nothing to it.
Cat: Yeah, when you’re young and you listen to Top 40 with Mark Goodier on a Sunday afternoon, and I used to record tapes and tapes of the Top 40, and it would range from pop music to indie music, it would be like Sheryl Crow or Joan Osborne and then it would be Steps or whatever but it was all different. Now when you listen to the Top 40 it’s –
Agatha: The same. It is the same.
Cat: Kinda Black Eyed Peas, robotic voice-
Agatha: It is the same. It’s a copy of a copy of a copy of copy until it wears out.
Cat: Charts failed me really. But you know, that’s probably the internet, isn’t it? But it’s sad because I listened to the Top 10 not long ago and it was just like a speeded-up voice, chipmunk-style singing and a dance beat, there was no alternative really-
Agatha: And usually only 5 words within a song.
Cat: It’s just not exciting to me anymore. And I don’t know if that’s just when you get older you don’t get as excited and maybe when you’re younger things are a lot more peachy and shiny but –
I think when you’re younger you’re experiencing a lot, there’s so much out there to learn about, then as you get older there’s less and less you haven’t already found that’s good.
Cat: Yeah. But I’m too arrogant to think that, I think that music’s got shit. And I’m not trying to make a sweeping statement, I know that is but I don’t think it is as…alternative as it used to be. There are really good bands out there, there are also a hell of a lot of shit ones.
Agatha: You never get a good one in the Top 10 or the Top 40.
Mary: You get that defeatist attitude like there’s nowhere else to turn. So you get together with your mates and try something different, and ignore everyone else. Which is what we’re trying to do.
Cat: Which is what we did. But we didn’t sit down and say ‘we’re gonna sound like this’
Mary: We feel really like ‘I wish I was from another era’ or‘I’m gonna try and make something different’ and make it at the time, that’s what we wanna do really.
Going along with that, you seem to pay tribute to your influences without actually being derivative, like using the records in the ‘Better You Look’ video, and Blondie and Kenickie I think are really good frames of reference to point to the overall effect I get from seeing you guys live or hearing you but I don’t think you actually sound like Blondie or Kenickie, I think you have your own thing going on.
Cat: Yeah, I think maybe it’s the blonde hair and the fringe that gets the Blondie reference and Kenickie is probably the ‘yeah, yeah’s we have in our songs, but that’s a massive compliment because I love both of those bands. And they were actually huge influences-
Mary: And they’re female, they’re strong, they have fun, their songs are catchy, so many female musicians at the moment are really straight-laced – ‘Oh my god, I don’t get drunk cause I might have a hangover’ or ‘I’m fat’-
So who are your favourite popstars?
Cat: Shirley Manson, Nicky Wire-
Agatha: Courtney Love.
Cat: Yeah, definitely. John Lydon, Sid Vicious. Sid Vicious is probably my ultimate pop icon.
Cat: (laughing, flattered) I LOVE that. Why is she your ex? I love her. That’s really nice. Yeah, we’ve been described as ‘Courtney Love’s angry offspring’ before, haven’t we? I think that’s wicked, cause when I hear our stuff I don’t think ‘that’s Courtney Love’, I hear my screeching, annoying voice and think ‘you sound the fuck…what do you sound like?’ That’s really cool that you can get the reference from that.
Agatha: It’s hard not to be a reference these days.
Cat: If I saw our band, I’d be so fucking happy. I look, I trawl on the fucking Internet and I don’t find anyone like us and then I find one and then I look at the drummer and I think ‘What a cunt of a face!’ And I think we’re pretty fucking perfect as a band, I think we’ve got what it takes, arrogant as that sounds.
Agatha: It sounds true to me.
So you mentioned books and films before, what about influences outside of music? What are your favourite books and films?
Cat: Elizabeth Wurtzel, Sylvia Plath, George Orwell, Bret Easton Ellis-
Agatha: Dostoevsky and Bukowski.
Cat: Bukowski is what me and Agatha bonded over when we first met. We just swapped books around then quoted Bukowski at each other, it was quite an emotional time for us. Mary likes Dr. Suess, The Cat In The Hat–
Mary: I’m probably fucking more well-read than any of you! Nietzsche-
Cat: Bret Easton Ellis though, Bret Easton Ellis is a huge influence. I think reading books sometimes is like listening to an album
Agatha: It’s important.
Cat: Yeah. And it’s deeply influential. Words, and lyrics, ideas, and imagery-
Agatha: You’ve got an intro, main theme, plot-
Cat: And characters as well-
Mary: And they take you away from this world, this shit world-
Cat: Yeah, escapism- yeah, there’s so many authors, I find it hard to list them all in my head…
So I’ve always said that there’s something about a really great pop song that’s akin to the feeling you have after you’ve first kissed someone you’ve really fancied for a long time. (much Aw’ing and laughter as Mary is teased about a boy she’s recently met) So what do you think is inherent in all great pop music?
Cat: Aw man! Yeah, sex and…every fucking thing really. There’s so much emotion attached to a pop song –
Mary: That happy anxiety you get-
Cat: Yeeeaah –
Mary: – when you remember–
Agatha: I guess it really depends like if you listen to the charts, the kind of stuff in the Top 10 now is probably-
Cat: Bad times. They’re like…zombies. Even like when you hear ABBA, they can make you – I know I keep referring to ABBA but it was just a massive thing in my life when I was younger. You hear a song and it’s really happy, like “Dancing Queen”, and then you hear “S.O.S.” and it’s just so sad, really depressing, and they sing it in this way…Sometimes a really happy song can remind you of something really sad and sometimes a really depressing song can be something so fucking uplifting. I guess it’s where you are and what you’re doing, but pop music…it’s just something else, isn’t it? Music’s like, you couldn’t really be without it, I couldn’t be without it. It’s something you can express anything through. People who aren’t into music are fucking lame. I just find it weird; surely you must like music? If you don’t like music you’re fucking dead inside.
So what about your individual songs, what inspires you guys to write? Let’s take the songs individually, “Blue Tack Baby” was probably the one that most people heard of you guys through, like me they saw the video and loved it, and it’s such a great song too, really really catchy.
Mary: That was the best fun, filming that video. It was like 5 a.m. after a gig. It was quite late, lots of drink, lots of fun.
Cat: A lot of our songs are very much inspired, to put it straight, by cunts. It is very much…anger, there’s a lot of bitterness in us. A certain music scene in the East End inspires us too much, we shouldn’t allow it to really. John Lydon said “Anger is an energy” and when I hear that, that makes my heart fucking beat, cause it’s so so true, that is spurring us on that far, that’s our ethic, that’s what we’re about. Everything is inspired by hate, our parents don’t own museums, we come from these other places feeling alienated and then suddenly meeting people that you want to write and work music out with and then being in a group and everyone just being FUCKING pissed off with everything and annoyed and sharing the same idols and reading the same books…
Do you have any particular favourites of your songs-
Cat: Every single fucking one. (Laughter). I don’t know why we’re not in the Top 10, I don’t know why we’re not Number 1 right now. We should be on the front of the fucking Sun. Our songs are fucking better than –
Agatha: Every single thing we’ve done is better than what’s in the Top 40.
Mary: It’s embarrassing when you look at people in the charts and at the festivals and they’re banging on about absolute crap, how they got with a guy or how they were let down in a job or how they’re heart was ripped out, you know what, get a fucking British wall up and be a bit harder. Our songs are better, punkier, they’re more fun.
Cat: I hate when people say ‘She’s a really good musician, she’s like this” just because…you know Adele would never ever say a bad word about anyone in the music business in case she meets them-
Mary: Apart from skinny girls, she did once say that she’d never wear short skirts, because she’d never sell her music like that. Don’t get me wrong, all sizes are welcome in my world, but when you go cussing people that are skinny just because you can’t sell records for being that way, that’s your problem. Don’t slag off the cheeky girls (much laughter) They pick what they do, they do it well.
So what does the future hold for Pris?
Cat: World domination, cover of The Sun with our tits out on page 3.
And my standard last question, say you’ve stolen a space shuttle and are flying it directly into the sun, for whatever reason, what would the soundtrack be?
Cat: Instantly I just thought ‘Star Wars’ (sings). That is a wicked question.
Mary: ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’.
Agatha: The theme from ‘Halo’.