Surf-rock from Belfast born out of Wavves. Listen to 'Don't Let Me In', from their new EP below:
Not many bands get booked for their first gig before playing together, but that’s exactly what Cathal Cully and Neil Brogan did when San Diego noise-pop kid Wavves needed a support act for his Belfast show last January.
‘It was totally spontaneous,’ says Cully. ‘That’s just how it started, there was no real thought into it. Our friend Mark was putting on the gig and was looking a support act to fit the bill. We said we were thinking about forming this band and he just said, “well, go do it”, so we did!’
Considering Brogan had literally picked up drumsticks for the first time just a fortnight previous, the duo’s brave (or extremely ambitious) first outing was a real trial by fire on the stage of Lavery’s Bunker.
‘It was fun to do and people were nice about it, but I’m sure if someone had filmed it we would probably be mortified watching back’, says Brogan, the encouraging response giving them the confidence to develop the band's sound.
Living around the corner from the Menagerie, the young lads claim the Ormeau Road venue to be a happy hunting ground for the band, choosing it as the venue to kick off their current UK tour with label buddies, Brighton's La La Vasquez.
'It's a whole different atmosphere in places like that which are a bit dingier,' says Brogan, sipping at his tea. 'The people are a bit more relaxed and into the music.'
The discussion moves on to make it clear the two have a shared loathing for venues with less attentive and relaxed audiences, but it's their mutual love of bands like The Fall, Beat Happening, Black Tambourine and Felt, which have lead the duo to produce such ‘reverb-y, disposable, pop music’, as Cully puts it, to challenge audiences.
‘It’s indie music but in the original 80s sense’, Cully says, tugging at his ill-fitting baggy jumper.
With his turn-up jeans and laid-back sleepy atitude, Cully conveys a look of someone born in the wrong place and the wrong decade, so it's no surprise that the singer's influences hark back to the eighties shadow world of Beat Happening, Black Tambourine, The Pastels and Felt.
All of which results in Girls Names sounding like a missing contribution from NME’s legendary C86 cassette compilation, complete with subdued bittersweet vocals, melodic hooks with reverb-drenched guitars and Mary Chain primal drums.
Although set for their first release proper with a 12" EP on Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks label in April, Girls Names have embraced the old format to put out a series of EPs on cassette tape, with their debut 4-track home taped demos having been released on drummer Brogan's own Cass/Flick label last summer and quickly selling out.
‘The tapes we put out were just demos we did ourselves’ says Brogan. ‘It was just convenient, we just fired some stuff out and they went very fast. We only did a few tapes but they went quickly. It worked to put out those demos on tape and as far as it went we were happy with the recordings.’
‘We didn’t want to put out CDs either because they’re just pointless’ says Cully. Brogan nods in agreement, ‘CDs are kind of naff. Tapes right now are having a mini [revival] for the moment, people are getting into them again, and they’re so cheap to put out compared to records, which I’ve done and cost a fortune. So you can do a really short run very quickly and fire it out and it’s a fun way to do things.’
Recently the duo have become a trio, bringing in Claire Miskimmin on bass to build on the live show, and guess what? Miskimmin just picked up the instrument a few weeks ago. Seemingly this is a band that takes spontaneity very seriously.
‘There’s only so much you can do with two people,’ says Brogan. ‘Especially live, I think that was the main issue. Plus it’s good to have a girl in the band, otherwise there’s too much testosterone flying around.’
Girls Names will release a split cassette tape single with Heavy Hawaii on Cass/Flick in April and a 4 track vinyl EP is out now on Captured Tracks. Buy You Should Know By Now on Tough Love Records here.
Image artwork by David Gomez Maestre