Pillow Queens: Talking 'Calm Girls' With Your New Favourite Band

Huw Baines 14 August 2017

Track down Pillow Queens online and you’ll find a tongue-in-cheek description on their social media pages: “Your new favourite band.”

You chuckle, because winking bravado is fun. But then you press play on Rats, the opening song from the Dublin indie-rock quartet’s recent EP, ‘Calm Girls’, and the waters get muddy fast.

Its trickle of words become a giddy rush before a chorus that goes all in. The cogs start turning. “Are Pillow Queens my new favourite band?” you think. You hadn't really considered it until now but, fuck...maybe.

There’s something elemental about the EP’s three songs, but also a level of melodic precision that we might not expect given that they were initially released a matter of weeks after the band formed last autumn.

All four members share vocals, with Sarah Corcoran and Pamela Connolly alternating between guitar and bass, Cathy McGuinness on guitar and Rachel Lyons on drums. Their rich harmonies betray a songwriting shorthand that’s primarily concerned with delivering as many hooks as possible with minimal fuss.

“We had some fire in our bellies when we started Pillow Queens,” Connolly says. “So, while we’ve been having the time of our lives, we’ve also been very hands on with all things band related like getting the EP out, doing a music video, and organising the UK tour. We’re not ones for waiting around.”

Bound up in these pop songs are words that sink their teeth in. Connolly often focuses her magnifying glass on her own actions - notably on Rats - while Wonderboys takes aim at the toxic masculinity that props up lad culture.

“Usually when I write I'm only ever talking about my own behaviour and being hypercritical of my own actions,” Connolly says. “There was a guy we met in Bristol who was trying to give me his interpretation of Rats - which I really enjoy hearing - and when I told him I'm talking to myself the whole time I completely ruined his theory, which was a shame but he was very excited about it.

“Wonderboys is quite an exception when it comes to how I’d normally write, because it's so frank and straightforward about frustrating behaviour. My Virgoness really shines. And then I just go and eat the head off in the chorus, really.”

There’s a temptation to see pop songs as the ultimate form of instant gratification but, like a number of their labelmates at Specialist Subject, Pillow Queens are another example of a young band delivering social and political discourse in three minute wedges. Their Bristol fan had got the wrong end of the stick, granted, but he’d also spent plenty of time thinking about what the song means.

“It’s pretty difficult to write without your personal politics leaking in - at least thematically - if not explicitly through the lyrics,” Corcoran says. “Most people find songwriting to be cathartic and I’d probably agree. I find myself slipping in lyrics about things which I wouldn’t ordinarily discuss, and that feels kind of…indulgent?”

“Yeah, luckily for us - or not - the personal is quite political anyway,” Connolly adds. “If you see four queer girls on a stage singing a love song it's going to be perceived as political regardless.”

‘Calm Girls’ is out now on Specialist Subject.

  


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