Interview: Penny Dreadfuls

Interview: Penny Dreadfuls

Friday 4th July, 2014 1:45PM

If you've been paying any attention to the live punk scene in Auckland lately you would have definitely come across the name Penny Dreadfuls. The female four-piece, made up of Frankie (Vocals), Harri (Guitar), Anna (Drummer) and Alanna (Bass), have been performing their punchy cuts around town for a couple of years now, and are only gaining steam. This year has already seen them open for Misfits and the double-bill White Lung and Upset show, as well as play pretty much every weekend on local line-ups. On Saturday the high-powered band will be performing with a whole gang of punk and hip hop acts for Walk Together Rock Together at Whammy so we caught up with the ladies to ask about horror movies, feminism and the future with Seven Quick Questions. Take a listen to 'Mr Clemency' from their EP that came out last year while you have a read...

UTR: About a year ago I heard you guys changed line-up. What happened and how has it changed things for Penny Dreadfuls?

Frankie: When we first started I was on guitar and doing vocals too, and to be honest I'm not very good at guitar, so when Harri joined it was a rad, because not only is she a great musician, but I feel like it changed the dynamic of our performance as well. I like to jump around and get in people's faces and I wasn't able to do that before. When Alanna and I first met, we really wanted to be an all-female punk band, but had a hard time finding a drummer. I've known Anna for a while, through other people, and when someone mentioned that she might be interested I thought to myself "why the fuck didn't I think of that," haha. Harri and Anna joining was the best. They're both super motivated and dedicated.

Alanna: We've had a couple of really talented musicians come and go from this band, things haven't always worked out for various reasons. Apart from musical ability, band dynamics really count for a lot and I think we've finally got a solid lineup where we all balance each other out.

What is best gig you have ever played?

Frankie: White Lung and Upset. It was such a fun show, we met so many cool people. It was also cool to play with our buddies in Team Ugly that night, they were totally rad. It was just really good vibes all night and everyone was really cool and supportive.

Harri: White Lung & Upset. Had the BEST night. So much fun. We didn't get home till 8am.

Anna: I’m going to have to say Misfits. It was our first experience playing such a big show. Misfits are one of my favourite bands and it was only in my dreams I thought we’d get to open for them! Had such a mean night and met some wicked people. White Lung and Upset comes in a close second.

Alanna: I really loved Fangfest with a million local bands, and Girls Get Busy with Fantails, Ginas Revenge and Slug Hugger. Just really fun gigs, favourite bands, favourite bar, it's like a sweaty screaming Christmas.

You guys have already opened for some big names. What punk act is on your “support wish list”?

Frankie: So many! I don't even know where to start. L7, Bikini Kill, 7 Year Bitch, Babes In Toyland. I personally really wanna get on a festival like Warped. That would be my main goal.

Harri: L7 or Babes in Toyland. I would die if we got to play with them.

Anna: The Unseen, Casualties, GBH, UK Subs, Danzig....

Alanna: Iggy and the Stooges, Bad Brains, The Distillers ( OG Line up!), veering into grunge, Hole, Babes, L7.

You have been described as a feminist punk group. How do you incorporate feminist values into your music?

Frankie: We basically want to encourage other grrrlz to get involved and not feel intimidated by anyone. I personally know a lot of people who don't like to come to shows because of people making them feel unsafe and it's so shitty to hear that. I feel like a lot of people don't fully understand what feminism is about, so there's a lot of misconceptions about what we do and what we are into. We just want everyone to be able to come out and feel safe and have a good time. It's about equality for everyone, no matter who you are or what you identify as. We care about a lot of social/political issues, just haven't found a way to write about them yet.

Alanna: Our lyrics at this point are half political (me), and half fuck-off-and-die (Frankie). Lyrically I'm really inspired by Bikini Kill, when I first heard them I got this feeling of personal validation, like 'it's not just me, I'm not crazy, this-and-that IS fucked up, other women see it too'. It was really my introduction to feminism. I want other women to hear our lyrics and feel that sense of solidarity. The personal is political and all that. So we use our lyrics to call out misogynistic shit we see and experience, whether that's known rapists getting blind, unconditional support from their communities, or fighting feelings of self hate that are capitalised on by billion dollar industries.

What kind of shape do you think the local punk scene is in these days?

Frankie: I think it's great! There are certain people in particular who are really supportive and encouraging. It makes me feel really good when people who I've looked up to in the scene tell us that we're doing well and that they like to play shows with us. Everyone is always ready to help each other out and support each others bands.

Harri: Needs more grrrls! More grrrlz in bands to play with.

Anna: I think we’re doing good. As Harri said, yeah we need more ladayz around! There are plenty of encouraging people around, some of which have offered us good opportunities such as recording and touring. Some more growth would be great though.

Alanna: Could do with more diversity. Still very much a white and male dominated scene.

What’s on the cards for Penny Dreadfuls in the future??

Frankie: AUSTRALIA! Fuck I've been wanting to play in Australia since the dawn of time. And a CD. We will have a CD out soon.

Harri: I want to go overseas!

Anna: Hoping for Aussie sometime next year followed by the States. I think I’m correct by saying our biggest goal right now is to have some sweet tunes out to you all within the next few months!

What is your favourite horror film?

Frankie: The original Dawn of the Dead. There's this great scene where one of the motorcycle dudes is in the mall and he stops to take his blood pressure, I'm pretty sure he's wearing a sombrero as well, and a zombie takes him out.... Why would you do that? Why. What the fuck hahaha.

Harri: I don't know much about horror movies. Old school Halloween freaked me the fuck out.... In a good way.

Anna: Am I allowed to say The Lion King? I’m still horrified about Mufasa’s death.

Alanna: Misery. Because it's tense as fuck and Kathy Bates is amazing. Also it shows you don't need monsters or demons, people are fucked up enough as it is.

Penny Dreadfuls are playing with PCP Eagles, Shitripper, Markdown, Team Dynamite, Louie Knuxx, DJ D Form, SPYCC & INF for Walk Together Rock Together at Whammy Bar in Auckland. Head over here for details.

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