Band Interview: Playing With Punkarella

Playing with Punkarella promo image

So first of how did you all meet?
Lee: We met through a mutual friend but at the time I didn’t realise Kim could sing. A year or so later I was keen to get the band up and running again after a long break. We demoed a few songs and we seemed to work well together.

Where are you all from?
Lee: Kirkcaldy in Fife.

How long have you been playing your respective instruments?
Lee: I was probably about 6 or 7 when I first started learning guitar. I was able to apply what I learned from that to bass, drums, piano and anything else I wanted to hear in a song.
Kim: I started singing at primary school at Burns nights and then choir at high school.

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?
Lee: I’d probably say alternative rock as I think we cross over a lot of the sub genres depending on what we feel like writing at the time. We’re usually advertised as metal or “female fronted rock” so I guess everyone’s got a different opinion on that.

What are your influences?
Lee: My biggest influence is probably Smashing Pumpkins. I think they really showed me that a band can evolve and try new things year after year. Bands like Tool and Coheed and Cambria also had a massive impact on my approach to writing.
Kim: Delores from The Cranberries. I listened to ‘No Need to Argue’ a lot when I was younger and it wasn’t until starting with PWP that people told me I sounded like her. That’s when I noticed she was a huge influence on my style of singing.

Do you do covers and if so what’s your go to?
Lee: So far we haven’t. When we started playing live we had so many of our own songs there was no space for covers.

What if anything does your name mean/why are you called that?
Lee: Long story short I had a dream in 2004 about a girl called Punkarella who played in a pop punk band. She’d leave right after the set and never speak to anyone. When the rest of the band were asked who she was they’d say “We don’t know, we just play with Punkarella”. It’s probably the question we get asked the most haha.

Do you have a process for writing your songs? /Which of you writes the songs?
Lee: I record  all the music then play it back over and over until I imagine a scene playing out then I just try and describe it with a few rhythms here and there. Me and Kim then sit down together and rewrite parts depending on how she feels the melody is working. It’s probably pretty unconventional but it’s seemed to work for us so far.

What are your rehearsals generally like?
Lee: We’ve always had our own studio to practise and record in so they’ve generally been pretty relaxed without having to worry about going over time. Depending on what we’re working on we have the space and time to put as many hours as we want into the process.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging or touring?
Lee: When we first started a lot of people would leave the venue before we played because they assumed our name meant we were a hardcore punk band. We didn’t even have a chance to explain ourselves.

What song do you remember most from your childhood?
Lee: Pretty much anything by Queen. Until I discovered grunge music I almost exclusively listened to Queen’s Greatest Hits 1 and 2.
Kim: ‘The Flight of Icarus’. My dad always had Iron Maiden’s ‘Piece of Mind’  CD on in the car when I was younger and I always remember playing it on repeat so that I could try and hold my note as long as Bruce at the end! I did get here, after many attempts.

What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Lee: I think the biggest challenge is trying to get people’s attention in the first place. There’s always an assumption that if you’re not on a major label or opening for well known bands you’re not worth listening to. To overcome that we’ve used social media to its full potential, offering people our music to stream for free on SoundCloud/Reverb Nation and generally try and be as easy to get in contact with as possible. We noticed more and more of the same faces at gigs and downloading our music. Everyone wants more fans and I think the best way to do that is to make whatever ones you already have feel like they’re a part of the music too.

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Lee: Google us! Seriously, we have music absolutely everywhere from iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play, Japanese sits we can’t understand and pretty much everywhere with the word mp3 on it. We post a lot of clips from gigs and upcoming songs on Facebook and Instagram too so we make it easy for any potential fans to check us out.

Have you released anything yet/if you have how has it gone down and are you planning anything for the near future?
Lee: We released an EP at the end of December called ‘Vessels’. So far there’s been a really positive reaction and some really nice words said about it. We have a few more things we’re working on right now so there’ll definitely be more new music in the coming months.

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
Lee: We’ve played a lot of great venues with some awesome bands. We were lucky enough to play with American Hitmen on their 2016 U.K tour at Bannerman’s in Edinburgh. We returned to that venue several times for more touring support slots. We played at last year’s Silverburn Festival which was awesome. A highlight for me in recent memory was playing at the O2 ABC in Glasgow. I’ve seen some of my favourite bands there so that was really cool. We don’t have any current plans for shows in the near future. We played so many the last few years we couldn’t find the time to release new music and that’s our main priority right now.
Kim: Best venue are Monty’s for the local crowd and good atmosphere even with the size. Also the Silverburn festival it’s a great crowd and well organised.

What do you think about downloading music online?
Lee: I can understand the argument that if making music is your full time job then having your music downloaded doesn’t bring you as much income as someone buying your CD but there’s so much more access to discovering new music these days that for us it’s a very positive thing.

What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Lee: I think it’s evolved and maybe not as profitable as it once was. Independent artists who control their own music has become more appealing in many cases than looking for a record deal but on the whole bands will always want the benefits of a label behind them, which in turns feeds money to the industry. I still buy physical music but I realise that’s not as big of a money maker  as it used to be. I think the biggest issue I have with the industry as a whole right now is the price of tickets to see your favourite bands. In some lucky cases you can still get change from £20 to see a great band on tour but on the whole it’s become extortionate.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with and why?
Lee: Probably Billy Corgan. As well as being my favourite song writer he’s really into wrestling so I reckon we’d have some awesome conversation.
Kim: Mean Gene!


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