By Lily Petkova
Known for their deliciously dreamy psych-rock tunes filled with groovy hooks, up-and-coming band Soft Girls & Boys Club are making their mark on the Nottingham music scene. I sat down with them over a cup of coffee, and with a cameo from the Hijinks, to talk about changing their band name, the rock’n’roll lifestyle, and unemployed snake-charmers.
Where did you guys get the name from? What does it mean?
Ben: One of the bands I listen to a hell of a lot had a first album called the ‘Strange Boys and Girls Club’ so we were originally going to name one of EPs that, but we had a bit of a problem with our original name being ‘Webbo and the Soft Boys’ so we had to change it. The ‘Soft Boys’ from the 70s got in touch with us and had a bit of a problem, so we got threatened with some legal action.
I think the new name is funkier anyway!
Ben: I wasn’t too keen on the original name because I didn’t like the fact it had my name in it. It seemed a bit egocentric.
Luke: He loved the fact he had is name in!
Sam: He’s really egocentric!
Ben: Yeah, I just wanted to call it the ‘Ben Webster Experience’.
Luke: Just ‘Ben’.
How did the band form?
Sam: Just getting stoned in Ben’s flat really!
Louis: Me and Sam are brothers, and me and Ben met ages ago from living in Melton. Sam’s mate Tommy met Ben through Sam through me kind-of. We know Luke from playing in the Leicester scene.
Luke: I play with Tom in another band and that’s how a bridge was formed and he was like ‘come on over’ and I was like ‘SURE’.
Ben: Luke’s the number one session bass player in Leicester.
Where do your lyrics come from? What’s your inspiration?
Ben: I write all the lyrics now. They all centre around how awful everything is and feeling sad, but in the happiest way possible. We’ve all got a lot of problems, and one of the easiest ways that I find to deal with it, other than smoking myself silly, is just to write them down and transform them into a song.
Sam: Happy melody, sad lyrics tends to be the combo.
Ben: I think the lyric content is sort of separate entity in a way because the music always came first. We wanted to do the psychedelic sort-of music, and then the lyrics were the horrible icing to the cake. We all listen to a lot of blues music so I think the sort of ‘oh it’s so terrible’ vibe, it’s all kind of that.
Louis: I think it’s quite a nice blend of music when you have a sad lyric content but blended with happy sounds. It creates quite a cool feeling.
Following on from that, what are your main influences as a band – obviously you mentioned blues music?
Ben: Right off the cuff, the one that glues us all together I’d say is the Beatles and every off-shoot of that possible.
Sam: I think we all come from that semi-background and the blues and stuff, but if you take more recent influences that directly influence us then I’d really often say Tame Impala. We hope to think that psychedelic sound is slightly reminiscent of them. Mac De Marco as well.
You guys live together and make music together? What’s that like?
Sam: It’s like living with a raging coke problem!
Louis: It’s a lot of fun and it’s very practical because we moved here to do the band. In terms of getting stuff done, it’s so much better to just talk rather than be on a group chat and arrange stuff. In that respect, it’s been great because if we need to sort something, it’s so much easier.
So, are you living the rock’n’roll lifestyle? Or is it a lot of cleaning and cooking homely meals?
Louis: You came in on the least rock’n’roll moment we ever have which happens once a month! I actually have the OCD in the band so I just end up mopping and cleaning, as you can see.
Luke: It doesn’t look like you have OCD.
Tommy: He’s a big OC/DC fan.
Ben: We like to dish out the mental illnesses slowly. Louis’ got the OCD, I’ve got the anxiety.
You guys recently went to play abroad? What was that like?
Tommy: It was good. It was definitely a headline tour…
Louis: We did 2 gigs in France. We did one in a little town in the middle of France and one in Paris after. We got a good reception and the French are wicked – in Europe, they seem to respond quite well to UK bands. They had a Union Jack outside the venue and we were headlining it. We want to get back out there really.
Ben: It paid for itself… UK and American bands there have almost got that leg-up.
What do you think of the Nottingham music scene? Are you thinking of moving anywhere else?
Louis: Notts is great. It’s packed full of bands. Even round here in Sneinton, there’s a venue downstairs, and rehearsal units and a record label across the road. It’s just surrounded by them.
Tommy: You can always hear bands playing as well in the evening time. There’s always some thrash metal band going crazy across the road.
Sam: It’s very supportive here as well. It was a decision we had to make before we moved here whether to go to Leicester or Notts, but we’re glad we picked here.
Luke: There’s lots more venues to play in Notts.
Ben: Plus we’ve met some excellent friends like the Hijinks. We just made a lot of friends here.
The Hijinks: We just hi-jacked your flat.
What’s your ultimate goal as a band?
Tommy: For me, playing Leeds or Glastonbury would be the main ones.
Ben: And to make music people won’t instantly forget because there’s so much throwaway rubbish in music. Obviously that’s delusions of grandeur but you never know; I’d like to think that if someone likes something that they like it not for a set period of time.
Obviously your music lends itself perfectly to summer, do you have anything planned for this upcoming summer or the rest of the year?
Luke: Playing Y Not festival
Ben: We’ve got a lot of recording to do.
Louis: We’d ideally like to be on more festivals. As you say, we feel like a perfect festival band but I think still even this summer we haven’t quite got our name out there enough to be booked a lot.
Tommy: I think it’s quite late in the game but I think Y Not is a big one for us and it’s the one we wanted. We got sent an email offering it to us for BBC Introducing so we were very chuffed with that. Next year, hopefully we can one up it and maybe do reading or leeds.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
Luke: We’d be a bunch of snake-charmers.
Ben: Unemployed snake-charmers. I can’t imagine snake-charmers make that much.
Favourite song to perform or in general?
Sam: I feel like we should say Treadmill because it came out yesterday.
Ben: Treadmill. PLUG.
Anything else you want to add?
Ben: Keep an eye out. We’re aiming for an EP in October so there’ll hopefully be an abundance of new songs then that people won’t have heard before! And hopefully people don’t get bored of the music we’re doing now.