INTERVIEW

Their debut album is 17 tracks long, but Trash Kit are as immediate as anyone you’ve heard

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To get an idea of Trash Kit you have to look beyond the ruthless 17 tracks of their self-titled debut album; past their baggy cardigans and painted faces and into the world that they thrive in – something akin to that episode of Winnie the Pooh when Christopher Robin shoves his rubbish under the bed only to find it sucked into a strange land ruled by a glob of stuff called Crud. Well, that’s where the South London trio live, minus the Crud.

In their rehearsal space alone there are six unplugged TV’s, as well as an empty fish tank filled with Orangina products. Cats roam around, distracting the girls’ attentions several times, assorted bikes lay collapsed in the hall and above our heads hangs Rachel H’s (drums/vocals) underwear from numerous lines strung across her bedroom ceiling.

Knowing this gives you an understanding of Trash Kit’s MO, of their DIY ethic, even of their name – an oversight on the part of Rachel A, the big-haired guitarist/violinist/singer/chatterbox of the band who took it under her wing anyhow.

“I misread a zine by Osa from New Bloods,” she explains. “She made this zine called Shotgun Seamstress, which is a zine for punks of colour that I find really inspiring. There was an article about street drummers from Washington D.C. who would play trash cans and bits of junk. I remember reading it and being like, ‘Rachel! We have to start a band and you have to play drums.’ I thought it’d be really great to start a band that’s formed around drums as a lead instrument rather than just keeping the beat and I wanted the name to be about that. But when I went back to [the zine] and tried to find Trash Kit it wasn’t there. I thought it was a common phrase for someone playing a drum kit made of trash.”

Although Rachel H doesn’t use a drum kit compiled of odds and ends, she does use a Djembe, which is a kind of bongo, to help incorporate beats from around the world into their music. “There’s a song with a Filipino drum pattern,” points out Ros Murray, the bass-wielding, PhD student of the band. That would be ‘Filipino Song’ – a two minute, Gang of Four-guitar-laden track with schizophrenic chanting spread thinly on top. Album opener ‘Knock Yr Socks Off’ builds slowly into a beat that would nestle nicely into Notting Hill Carnival, while ‘Chinese Boy’ is barely a minute long but carries a fast African rhythm that’s two notes shy of a cowbell.

There’s a wide array of influences to be picked up on here, but when asked, the girls all firmly agree on homegrown, no wave outfit, The Raincoats. “That’s our favourite band,” Ros informs us before Rachel A cuts in. “We disagree on lots of things but we agree on The Raincoats,” she adds with a smile, unaware that she’s perhaps the only one to feel this way. “What else do we disagree on?” Demands Rachel H, who up until this point has only emitted slight whispers. “Yeah,” intones Ros “we don’t disagree on anything.” Looks like the cats aren’t the only ones causing a fracas in this house.

“No, I think Dirty Projectors is a big one that we disagree on,” states Rachel A in an attempt to quell this. “I love Dirty Projectors. She [Rachel H] thinks they’ve got ADHD, but that’s why I like them.”

Also on the record you’ll find a smattering of bands like DNA, Y Pants, perhaps even, unexpectedly, The Jam (the “what-a, what-a disgrace” chants in ‘New Face’ in particular – think ‘Eton Rifles’) and Foals (in the guitars – but not so tight and mathletic).

Seventeen tracks may seem an ambitious target for a first album, but it’s a necessary concoction to parade around all sides of the band, and each track is such a short, abrasive burst that you won’t find time dragging its heels.

If you can make them out, the lyrics are worth noting. Coated with identity issues, Rachel A writes about sex, gender, ethnicity… She puts it plainly as “the idea of otherness and difference,” and about celebrating that but thinking about the stress and baggage that comes with it. “The band as a project is a big celebration of otherness,” she clarifies. “And however you might feel that – whoever you are in society. I wanted [the lyrics] to be something really personal, maybe kind of cringe-y, to make me feel a bit uncomfortable singing, because I think if you’re not uncomfortable it doesn’t have any energy – if you’re not taking a risk. There’s much less energy when you’re comfortable on stage because you don’t care. But if you’re singing about something really personal and embarrassing you’re investing more in it because someone could totally rip the piss out of you and hurt you. So, if you care about that you’re really gonna make it good so they don’t. If you’re not risking anything, you’re not gaining anything.”

But the girls hide behind a mask of face paint at every show, surely making a mockery of their idea of taking a risk on stage. “It’s not a mask but an exaggeration of yourself,” Ros offers.

“I don’t think it’s hiding anything, I think it’s more aggressive than that,” says Rachel A. “It’s like war paint. And I like the action of getting ready – it gets you excited.”

Formed from the ashes of The Madrigals and No Rumours, these 20-something ladies have been playing in Trash Kit for just over a year. Ros and Rachel H were already in London for uni – animation and French literature degrees, respectively – whereas Rachel A moved down from Oxford after studying art. “I think it’s great that the first time we met we were playing music together [Madrigals],” Rachel A drops in. “I think that’s quite cool. I’ve never known Rachel and not been in a band with her. Same with Ros actually, we’ve never not been in a band together.” And it wasn’t long before they were playing Yes Way festival signed by Upset the Rhythm. “It’s quite embarrassing,” Ros tells us “because I emailed Chris [Tipton – head of UTR] after I saw them. I was emailing him about something else and just said, ‘Have you heard Trash Kit? I think you’d really like them,’ and then I joined the band a day later.”

With so many great DIY, lo-fi bands out there already – Wetdog, Pheromoans, Pens, to name but a few – why do Trash Kit deserve to be heard? “I don’t know,” murmurs Rachel H, shrinking back into herself. “That’s a really difficult question,” Rachel A answers. “It’s asking us to be really big headed.” But a band that believes in themselves should be able to sell themselves. “I think it’s something different because we don’t want to be derivative of any style. It’s quite hard to say why people should listen to us,” she declares before we get up to leave. “The only reason I feel like I can say is that I’d like to be inspiring to other people, especially girls in bands and anyone who feels disempowered because that’s something I feel strongly about.”

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