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Culture, Literature, Music

"Words Help People to Connect"

She Drew The Gun

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Sam Bennett
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Fresh from a series of triumphant festival appearances this summer, She Drew The Gun have released the brand new single ‘Trouble Every Day’ on Skeleton Key Records. A reinterpretation of Frank Zappa’s original, frontwoman Louisa Roach has updated the lyrics to reflect our troubled times. The new single accompanies the Trouble Everyday tour which is the Wirral band’s biggest UK tour yet and includes Oxford’s Ritual Union Festival on 19 October and Reading’s Sub89 on the 27th. To mark National Poetry Day (3 October), we caught up with Louisa to talk poems and song lyrics.

National Poetry Day is coming up – are there any particular poets or poems close to you heart?

I’ve been reading a lot of Marge Piercy and June Jordan. Closer to home, Toria Garbutt and Nick Power are floating my poet-shaped boat.

What about lyrics and lyricists?

Lennon, Dylan, and Cohen are a good starting point. Conor Oberst gets me every time, and Crass for mind blowing political brilliance.

Did you have a love of words from an early age?

For as long as I remember I was writing stuff down in notebooks, I don’t think it was any good but there was a drive to do it. I think maybe I thought it has to come from somewhere inside you but really it’s a reflection of everything outside of you.

How much has where you grew up impacted on your own lyrics?

I guess there’s always been a very strong musical heritage on my doorstep, there is a lineage of alternative pop songwriting that is part of the Liverpool soundscape that I’ve definitely drawn from. Also a lot of what I write has to do with class consciousness and maybe that wouldn’t be so essential to me if I hadn’t come from a working class northern town, but who knows.

You’ve covered Frank Zappa’s ‘Trouble Every Day’ with updated lyrics to reflect modern times; English riots, the rise of the far right and the threat of climate change. Was penning such words emotionally difficult?

I was just happy to have found a 50-year-old song that we could use to extend to what is happening today, and to say that the media still isn’t serving us. It wasn’t so much difficult to write, it actually feels good to get things down on paper that hold someone to account and say, ‘I see what you’re doing and I’m not having it.’

The Extinction Rebellion protests have partly inspired the new lyrics – have you witnessed one of those protests in the flesh?

Yes, I was at the recent climate strike in Liverpool, it was empowering to see so many people getting out on the streets, I fully recommend people going to the next one.

Can poetry and lyrics in any way stop the rise of the far right?

Yes, I believe so. Both to fight the rise of the far right and to survive the violence of the times we live in, words help people to connect, and to understand that people care about the same things they do.

You have a song called ‘Poem’ – did you always plan on that being a song?

That wasn’t the plan, I wrote it as a poem and performed it as a spoken word piece at a few gigs. Then I thought, ‘I’m a songwriter, why don’t I turn this into a song?’ I thought it would increase its power, which I suppose it did because it gave it a bigger platform.

What advice can you offer someone who would like to write poems or song lyrics, but just doesn’t know where to start?

Read poems, listen to good lyrics. There’s no one right way. All you need is one good line or about 30 seconds of a musical idea and you can build a song or a poem from that. Start with something true, weird or interesting. Also, you don’t have to do it all in one sitting, just be on the lookout for inspiration.

shedrewthegun.com | ritual-union.co.uk | sub89.com

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