Lambrini Girls talk punk, politics, and their new single 'God's Country'

Interview Lambrini Girls: “It’s about making people question themselves - I wanna piss some people off”

The modern successors to X-Ray Spex, Lambrini Girls are on a mission to exorcise society’s demons, one mosh pit at a time.

Lambrini Girls, their vocalist and guitarist Phoebe Lunny explains, has always been “a passion project”. Born from the bones of a different band and a frustration with the Brighton music scene (and beyond), the project started in earnest when Phoebe met bassist Lilly Macieira-Bosgelmez - who’d been given 24 hours to learn the band’s set from scratch - and “something just clicked”.

Both were ambitious, determined to try and make music their career. More importantly, both were angry: about the ubiquity of misogynistic and homophobic ‘lad culture’; about the widespread occurrences of sexual assault at gigs; about the musicians and fans who perpetuate these behaviours. And so they set about addressing all these issues and more via the medium of fiery, three-minute punk scorchers - music that is virtually unignorable, intensely powerful, and utterly memorable.

“Hey mum / Why haven’t I had a boyfriend? / Um, maybe it’s because I’m potentially a lesbian?” Phoebe intones on debut single ‘Help Me I’m Gay’. Live, its performance involves asking the crowd to “put your hand up if you’re gay!” - something which can variously be “a celebration of people’s queerness” if there are lots of hands, or simply a way to show people that they’re not alone. And in encouraging this sort of community in others, the pair have gained confidence in their own identities, too. “I was a little bit more of a late bloomer with my sexuality,” says Lilly. “I started off saying ‘I’m half gay’, because I’m bisexual, and then with time I learned that actually, that’s not being half gay - [bisexuality] counts just as much. There are some parts of the queer community where you can be made to feel a bit invalidated as a bisexual person, so the band really helped me in that sense.”

Elsewhere on Lambrini Girls’ 2023 EP ‘You’re Welcome’, tracks like ‘White Van’, ‘Lads Lads Lads’ and ‘Boys In The Band’ take aim at society’s deeply embedded problems with sexual harassment, with the latter placing the alternative music scene under particular scrutiny. Do they think that any significant progress has been made with tackling abuse culture within the industry? “In Brighton, it seems like people are being a lot more vigilant of it and opening dialogues,” muses Phoebe. “But I think there’s a lot of work to be done in London. It’s not a safe space; there are bands that are actively known to have done very dodgy stuff who still get to play the venues everyone else does.”

Lambrini Girls talk punk, politics, and their new single 'God's Country' Lambrini Girls talk punk, politics, and their new single 'God's Country'

The first step towards stamping out these sorts of behaviours, the band believe, is “calling out your mates and believing victims.” Lilly explains that “we’re not trying to peddle a sort of inconsequential cancel culture where you hear something bad about someone then immediately cut them out. If someone is willing to take responsibility or explore the ways in which they might have hurt someone, that’s something really positive to go off.” The same can be said for their attitude towards the social discourse surrounding trans rights; in an era where social media has us primed to think in absolutes, it’s important to give people the grace to get it wrong (misgendering someone, for example) - providing they’re willing to learn.

“There’s ignorance on one hand,” says Phoebe, who is currently sporting a Lambrini Girls cap emblazoned with the words ‘FUCK TERFS’. “Then there’s wilful ignorance. There are people who are being actively hateful and are trying to stop other people just having human rights.” But, as Lilly acknowledges, “fifty years ago we’d be having this conversation about homophobia rather than transphobia. So I’d like to hope that [trans rights] will change with time.”

Phoebe also points out that these conversations shouldn’t centre around the band. Rather, their goal is “to show allyship and use [their] platform to bring these conversations into a slight mainstream” - something they believe is intrinsic to being a punk artist. “If you’re building your platform off politics, you have to put your money where your mouth is. If you’re a political punk band, then you do have a degree of responsibility to use your platform for good.”

Lambrini Girls talk punk, politics, and their new single 'God's Country' Lambrini Girls talk punk, politics, and their new single 'God's Country'

“If you’re building your platform off politics, you have to put your money where your mouth is.” - Phoebe Lunny

So, having taken on the Twitter TERFS and a whole host of fragile male egos, next on the agenda is dismantling toxic patriotism and romanticised notions of national identity. Their upcoming new single, ‘God’s Country’, paints traditional ideas of ‘Englishness’ as stories we tell ourselves to distract from the grim reality. “It’s delirium,” shrugs Phoebe. “I think it’s embarrassing to be from England. We’re extremely racist; we’re extremely xenophobic; our government are fascists. I don’t understand why anyone would be proud to be part of that.” Lilly herself is Portuguese and Turkish, but notes that “these dynamics exist in every country, and it doesn’t really look that different. Patriotism is really dangerous because it’s a huge generalisation of a really complex thing, and because [it means] you’re not actually looking at what’s really going on.”

No topic, it seems, is off limits for Lambrini Girls - and with more new music in the pipeline, they’re only going to get louder. “I think how you incite positive change is by making sure you’re not just preaching to the choir,” nods Phoebe. “As much as it is about enforcing safe spaces and making people feel validated, it’s also about making people question themselves. I wanna piss some people off; I want Rishi Sunak to be in the back of his fucking limo and hear Lammy [Steve Lamacq] play ‘God’s Country’ on the radio and shit his fucking pants.” She pauses. “Actually, I reckon he listens to Radio Four or Radio Two.” What about getting Lambrini Girls on Woman’s Hour? “That’s the plan,” Lilly smiles. “Unironically, it kind of is - to get to a position where we’re reaching the people who need to hear it.”

Tags: Lambrini Girls, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the February 2024 issue of DIY, out now.

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