The Shacklewell Arms is in the arse-end of Dalston, which is the arse-end of London, and I’ve never been here before. We’ve all been to venues like this though, in fact, its where some of the best acts play. The Shacklewell Arms is part of that trio that makes up the greatest London pub/venues: The Old Blue Last, Sebright Arms, and The Shacklewell Arms. Artists like The Horrors and even Skrillex have played some insanely sweaty but incredible shows here.
This particular night I find myself inside the pub sat chatting to the insanely talented and fun group Hey Charlie. They are Lizz (Guitar & Vocals), Sophie (Bass & Vocals), Lauren (Drums & Vocals). The whole night is running slightly behind so the girls and I wolf down some hot dogs from the bar and I sip a pint that cost me five quid, (fuck off London).
The girls have just come off a huge tour with an unlikely headline act, All Time Low. They toured Europe with the pop-punk group over the last few months and are now set to play their first London headline show. “We didn’t really know what to expect at first, but their fans were so amazing. The band and all of their team were incredible and made us feel so welcome, we really felt like part of the whole thing.” Said Sophie.
“The first show we came out on stage and saw all those people and it was terrifying, but you get so used to it because everyone was so kind to us,” continued Lauren.
At this point we can hear the boys from Yves, the support act, doing their vocal warm ups in the hallway next to us which came slightly unexpectedly but gave a small laugh. The girls’ support slot on this tour gave them so much entirely deserved attention. “We’ve even got fan accounts, I think there’s like 10 of them now?” Continued Lizz. “Some of the fans outside one of the shows offered to show us around Oslo, they were so welcoming even though they were there for All Time Low.”
“So many young girls came up to us after the show like ‘you guys were so cool I play bass as well, I play drums as well, I play guitar, I want to start a band’ and we were like yeah send us a cover or something!!” Sophie says excitedly.
When it comes to a band that’s all girls, regardless of whether you look for it or not you’re going to become a role model to young girls to some extent. What’s wonderful with Hey Charlie is they haven’t necessarily shied away from this at all, in fact, it’s easy to read into their music with quite feminist notes which is always good to see in my opinion.
“Obviously we are girls trying to make it in a rock industry, where its very male dominated, and its frustrating at times and that comes out in our writing.” Explains Lizz. “We just want to encourage other girls to get into rock music and pick up their instruments and they can do anything a boy can do. That’s what we try and preach. I don’t think it’s ever saying its all about the girls but its important to encourage them”
Sophie adds: “Some songs are more tilted to that, but at the end of the day writing is so much of a personal thing that I think it can be about all kinds of shit.”
Lauren managed to interject on the topic: “I think its an automatic thing at times, we came from a generation where there weren’t loads of role models, you know women in the rock world playing instruments.”
A lot of these tones the girls have been talking about come from their debut EP ‘Young and Lonesome’ which has had an incredible response and is one of my all-time favourite EPs. We get on the subject of the EP after we all crack open some beers and have a look at the names scribbled on the green room wall.
“I don’t think we ever expected the response it’s insane,” says Lizz seemingly confused “we did it for fun.”
“You get a bit lost because you know most of those songs were written a year ago so you sometimes forget what they mean but it’s really nice because people take interest and you end up taking a step back and look at what you’ve done and go ‘Oh sweet’,” Sophie says. There’s such a modest feeling I get from this band, they’re doing what they absolutely love and it shines through in their music and the way they play. The whole time talking to them felt like I was in their shoes looking at what they were doing in awe.
Lauren has finally managed to tuck into some food after hers being delayed and so was quiet briefly. However she manages to chime in to talk about what’s new for the group: “We’re hoping to release more music as soon as we can, give the new fans more to listen to, and we’d all love to do a home tour, you know a UK/Ireland tour, going to Europe was amazing but there’s a lot of boxes we haven’t ticked yet.”
The band are playing Live at Leeds Ones to Watch this year, and they certainly are ones to watch. If their tour with All Time Low, this show, and their EP have proved anything its that they’re destined for huge things. One of the most iconic things about them is the nature of their matching style. They developed this after working with French photographer Ophelie Rondeau whose work with symmetry and repetition inspired them to keep it going.
“We’re sort of fighting stereotypes with that, girl acts get picked on for little things so I think if we’re all matching they can only focus on the music and performance,” explains Sophie. “Sometimes you think of girl bands and think of some old dude like Simon Cowell putting together a group but that’s not happened with us and we do want people to know that.”
“And we’re always switching positions in photos and stuff, we’re a three-piece and none of us are the front person, we’re all equal” interjects Lizz.
On the same subject we got onto talking about the ultimate stage outfit, similarly to with Blushes and they all seemed to have the same opinion which is good for the matching aesthetic: “We were speaking about this the other day, like metallic suits that are on fire, so when its a guitar solo it lights on fire,” says Lizz getting slightly too into the fire idea. All three of them get so excited about this infact.
As we approach closer to their slot we’re winding down our chat but I manage to ask them the always asked question “What’s the best first song from a first album.”
“This caused arguments,” says Sophie looking jokingly unimpressed with me. “It’s hard!” Lizz exclaims. “This is why I gave you pre-warning!”
“We had a bit of divided opinion, well not really we agreed but sort of just individually liked one each over the other.”
Lauren manages to chime in with a big smile on her face: “So we love the Arctic Monkeys, and I googled this because I wasn’t sure if it was actually the first, but ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ is such an influential track growing up for us as soon as you hear that first drum thing you get so psyched up.”
“It’s so true though,” says Lizz. “When we started writing songs three years ago we’d be like ‘we have to write songs like this’, but even so, I have to say ‘Cherry Bomb’ by The Runaways, Joan Jett was the person I looked up to the most growing up. The Runaways were one of if not the first girl rock band to do this and play all their own instruments.”
Sophie couldn’t decide: “both for me, I don’t think I could decide between those two.”
“Lauren I’m so sorry, I don’t want to be that guy…but that isn’t the first track because that’s my choice too and it’s ‘The View from the Afternoon’.”
“NO, google lied to me!” Shouts Lauren.
We chatted for ages about this question, and about musical influences overall, it was so much fun to just talk very casually with them about the thing we all love the most as well as the disappointment in finding out ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ was the second track and not first. So close Lauren.
Their set was insanely fun. For a three-piece on a tiny stage in the back of a pub in Dalston, these girls created an atmosphere of immense energy, the crowd absolutely mesmerised with them. As well as playing all of their previously released tracks, they debuted some new tracks and Lauren broke her drumsticks throwing them into the crowd at the end. Their encore ‘walk off’ consisted of them hiding behind a piece of a stage backdrop due to lack of anywhere to walk off that wasn’t into the crowd, which I helped come up with, before coming back and Lizz saying “we know you could see us but just pretend that was cooler”.
These three are incredible, one of my favourite acts to come out of the year and an amazing group to see live.
Words and photos by Toby Henley for IndieCentralMusic ©