“When we come and gather together physically, we relate to each other like human beings.”
“I think community is really at the heart of what we need to do politically, to resist things like this hostile environment and the alarming rise of the far right,” Ren Aldridge, singer of Petrol Girls, expresses ardently. This sense of community is undeniably at the core of the band’s existence.
“The punk community is where I started to learn about community and how important that is,” Ren explains. “I think the fact that we gather physically in these gig spaces is so important. When so much communication nowadays happens over the Internet, we don’t relate to each other empathetically, whereas when we come and gather together physically, we relate to each other like human beings. I think that’s just such an important point of resistance.”
Talking of Petrol Girls’ beginnings Ren explains, “I used to run International Women’s Day house shows where we’d get bands with women in to play. I think it was for the second or third of those, my acoustic band couldn’t play and I really wanted to play it. I also really wanted to start a heavy band.” So she and some friends pulled something together: “It was literally me, Liepa and my friend May. Liepa had never played bass before, [I was] playing an acoustic guitar, it was pretty crap, but I think it’s so important to show that’s how we started,” she emphasises. “We wanted to do it – so we did it. You have to start somewhere and I think women get a lot of shit. If your band’s a bit rubbish it’s because of your gender and guys don’t really get the same shit,” she articulates pertinently. “Every band sucks when it starts and I think it’s really important to point it out, so people aren’t put off starting.”
Having grown up on the outskirts of Bristol, Ren shares how instrumental the music scene was for her and Joe, the guitarist. “I remember first seeing bands like The Skints and Dirty Revolution [at The Croft]. That whole scene was really important for me and Joe,” Ren recalls. Meeting the other two – bassist Liepa and drummer Zock – in London where the band began, they’re now spread between Glasgow and Austria. “I think there’ve only ever been about six months where we’ve all lived in the same country in the whole five years of the band,” Ren laughs. “In terms of writing, it’s quite interesting,” she explains, “we’re gonna record our next record at the end of the year. We’ve got six weeks in the studio, which is ages and really exciting. But the way we’re writing now is a little bit different to before, because I’m writing vocals from a distance and they’re doing the music stuff together.”
“Every band sucks when it starts and I think it’s really important to point it out, so people aren’t put off starting.”
Their new EP, The Future is Dark, draws inspiration from Rebecca Solnit’s essay ‘Woolf’s Darkness’. Explaining how this influenced their songwriting, Ren outlines, “[Solnit talks] about, in a really wide political way, how the future is dark, the future is uncertain and that should give us hope because we don’t know what is gonna happen next. She talks about not being paralysed by the certainty of blind optimism or total bitter cynicism or despair but having hope in the dark.” Describing further Ren explains, “this whole idea about the future being dark makes me think how it’s only at night that you can see the stars in the same way; that it’s only when things are looking really uncertain that you can see so many possibilities. We used that imagery for the EP artwork, too. The future is uncertain, it is dark, but there are so many possibilities of things that can happen.”
Petrol Girls play the Mother’s Ruin on 14th September, with their new EP, The Future is Dark, out the same day.