FEW bands are more international and exotic than Party Fears.
They formed in Seoul but are based in Berlin. Not only that: they source members from Northern Ireland and Australia. It is a varied and multinational blend that goes into their musical palette. I talk to the band – mostly Eilis and Maggie – about how they got together and whether their music, which promotes feminism and whether there is an imbalance in the music industry. They talk about their eponymous debut album and memories making that. I ask about tour dates and what they have booked in the diary.
Party Fears give some new acts we should all be aware of and discuss their upcoming performance at Loud WOMEN FEST; whether they tuned into this year’s Glastonbury and advice for artists starting out.
Hi, guys. How are you? How have your weeks been?
I got a washing machine – my first ever. It’s pretty exciting.
Eilis: Good. The weather’s nice and all.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
Maggie: I’m the singer and guitarist. I’m from Northern Ireland.
Party Fears is kind of (a) Frankenstein’s Monster of Indie-Rock and nostalgia – for all the Rock music I never learned to play in my teens? Maybe?
Sometimes people say we’re ’90s; sometimes ’80s: we’re neighties (sic.).
Eilis: I’m the drummer and am from Adelaide, Australia.
I met Maggie playing in a previous band in South Korea.
Did you guys watch Glastonbury? Is that a festival you hope to play one day?
I watched Radiohead’s set in the bath!
Eilis: Maggie gave me running-commentary. It’s almost like I was there.
Can you tell me how Party Fears got together and whether there is an event/moment that compelled that band name?
Maggie: ‘Party Fears’ comes from an incredible song by The Associates called Party Fears Two; but it’s also a little personal, I suppose? I can be a bit of a head-melt!
As Eilis says: “She brings the party, I bring the fears”.
Eilis: Maggie and I first met is 2013 in Seoul, South Korea.
One morning, on her rooftop, we agreed to move to the other side of the world and make music together. Some promises are never broken.
I left Seoul first and went travelling for a few months whilst Maggie worked super-hard and made the first Party Fears album – with the help of our mates in Korea. Then we arrived a year ago in Berlin.
You have members from Australia, Germany and Northern Ireland. It is advantages having international blood in the ranks? Are your songs fuller and more varied because of it?
Maggie: It’s a blessing and a curse.
It’s hard to get coverage with an international lineup as you’re not really from anywhere. Same goes for funding or bookings…
Eilis: Yeah, Australia doesn’t want to know about me!
But, it’s a blessing because we’re dealing with the same set-up/language/cultural challenges: ‘A load shared is a load halved’ couldn’t be more relevant.
Maggie and I have pretty different musical knowledge/taste – that adds a lot to the Party Fears sound; especially when we’re writing.
Party Fears’ eponymous album was released earlier this year. What was it like putting the record together? Was it quite a smooth process?
Maggie: Cliché answer here…but it was a massive learning experience.
I worked with some of my best friends and favourite musicians, so I was very, very lucky – I kind of still can’t believe they wanted to work with a dummy like me!
It was also lonely and hard. I’m used to being in bands… so doing a ‘solo’ record was really challenging; I lived in my head a lot. Didn’t sleep. Ordered McDonald’s breakfast delivery more times than I’m proud of.
I would call Alberto, the keyboard player, and just burst into tears saying I couldn’t do it. But I did it, with my buddies’ help – just like in the movies!
Spoiled Fruit, to me, is the standout. Can you remember the day that was written? Did you set time to write songs in blocks or did they form themselves over the course of a few weeks/months?
Maggie: Ah– thanks!
Spoiled Fruit started life as a song I wrote about a horrible manager at work (maybe round 2007?). I totally forgot it existed. When I remembered it, I exhumed it and gave it a reworking. It helped that I was crippled by a silly crush. Lots of material!
Songs will usually come to me when I’m falling asleep, waking up; in the shower, waiting for a bus… then I develop them over a longer period of time. That process is more studious and staged than the initial song idea.
Are there any plans to release singles/videos from the album?
There are a couple out there already on our YouTube.
The one for Spoiled Fruit is directed by our buddy and hero, Mark (from Nice Legs/Henry Demos).
I think we’re ready to move on from the album now.
Eilis: We recorded a single in April and are recording another three tunes this summer.
We’ll, no doubt, make some B-grade videos to go with them.
Check out our Facebook for release dates.
What does the rest of the year hold in terms of more music and touring dates?
We’re going on a two-week Ireland/U.K. tour in August with the final date being Loud Women Fest in London. We went to Ireland in May and we had a little too much fun.
Hopefully, more touring is on the Party Fears cards. We’ve also got a bunch of shows in Berlin, which are really fun – Berlin crowds know how to show up!
Maggie: We didn’t plan on adding Ireland to August’s tour but Belfast and Dublin ensnared us with their craic and chips.
I know you are playing Loud WOMEN FEST. Are you excited about playing that date?
Eilis: Stupidly excited.
Maggie: So excited!
We played a women’s festival in Belfast recently and it meant so much!
So many other great bands we’re dying to see!
You play, as you say, Punk and Rock. It has a feminist edge. Do you think, given the sexism that exists in music, it is important bands like Party Fears are heard?
We have an exhausting litany of instances where our lady-bits led to us being treated differently from male counterparts.
It’s really frustrating and distracting.
I love that there are more female-strong, P.o.C. and genderqueer artists garnering attention in media– shout out to The Spook School – who we saw recently in Berlin and blew us away. Pillow Queens from Dublin, too!
I love Band of Horses as much as the next person but the more of us there are taking up space and being seen, the more the tide of dude-bro-neck-beard-Rock will turn!
Eilis: Until people aren’t shocked that I’m the (female) drummer, we’ve got our work cut out for us. There are more and more women making music, and together, we can shake the gender stereotypes in the music industry.
Are there any particular bands/acts that have inspired your sound?
Bombay Bicycle Club are mentioned almost every practice. Hahahaa.
Maggie: Oho… It’s really hard to know what inspires your sound and what you just like to dance around your room to…
Kate Bush, (David) Bowie; Kirsty MacColl, Gang of Four; PJ Harvey, Radiohead; The Associates, Lene Lovich; The B52s, CHIC; Cyndi Lauper, Bombay Bicycle Club (for sure)….
North Atlantic Oscillation, Midlake; Joan Armatrading, West Side Story; Lau, the Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) O.S.T… It’s a bit all over the place…
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Maggie: I’m going to copy Eilis’ format…
If you each had to select one album each that has meant the most to you; which would they be and why?
Eilis: Gloss Drop by Battles.
It’s like nothing else I listen to and every time I listen I’m always surprised by something new. The drummer is so tight and so groovy: life goals. Lately
I’ve also been listening to bands with thick Australian accents (think Courtney Barnett, Camp Cope; The Bamboos, Ball Park Music; Sex on Toast) – maybe it’s because I’m far from home – nothing quite like an Aussie twang.
Maggie: Table People’s Ride with Me!
Radiohead’s The Bends was probably my most formative album but Ride with Me is absolutely everything I love about Indie music.
It proves that with the right people and enough hard work; even a D.I.Y. Indie band of ragtag buddies can make a close to perfect record.
In fact, it is perfect. It’s just perfect. Go and listen to it, please.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Practice every day to avoid future you hating past you for not practicing.
Boring: develop a good technique or you’ll get weird cartilage build-ups in your wrist – which you’ll complain about every day until you DIE.
Eilis: Play with as many people as possible and don’t let your skill level hold you back from joining a band/playing gigs…then practice often.
There are constant ups and downs – especially when starting out. Stick at it: it’s 110% worth it.
Finally, and for being good sports, you can each name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Eilis: Two by Nice Legs
Maggie: This is difficult!
Mondo Fumatore are playing with us in Glasgow and we love them…so let’s go with this!
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