Monday, 25 July 2016

So who are PO! and will I like them?


This post is written for anyone attending Indietracks festival this weekend 29-31st July 2016. It always seems a shame when there's so much choice of what to go and see and you might miss something good if you haven't got your schedule totally organised. But then again, there's the serendipity of discovering something worthwhile - and hopefully that will happen for me. 

Back in 1986, the must-read music paper of the day, the NME, printed a number of editions with free cassette compilations. The start of the indie-pop movement is often attributed to C86, which was one of these cassettes.  The following year, I formed the band PO! My motivations were largely feminist anger at a harsh world, but there was no Riot Grrrl then and I was probably too nice. I also did like singable tunes and wordsmithery so indie-pop was the genre that fitted best of all. If you didn't listen to the lyrics, you might be cheered by the soaring and jangly tunes, but the words are often more reflective, miserable or aggressive. The name PO! means lots of different things but originally meant Piss Off!
Over the next 15 years, PO! had various line-ups. For a while we were an all-female band. Later versions of the band got very grown up and serious until I decided to stop doing it around the millennium. Since then, the Internet has generated interest in PO! and I kept reading things online about how I had disappeared. A divorce, and a year of treatment for breast cancer have re-motivated me to communicate with the world through song. This year, I'm singing my old songs. After that I might have something different to say. 

Albert stole my heart
The PO! songs which seem best-loved live or on You Tube include Fay, which is a quiet song about how a sparky, daring and mouthy young girl full of potential becomes damaged and suicidal in adulthood.  Appleseed Alley is a wide-themed song about the spread of ideas, sex and control; it's based on the legend of Johnny Appleseed. Sunday Never Comes Around is a pure pop song; I always say it's the only love song I've ever written, but I realise that's not true because I also wrote a love song for Albert, a horse at the Redwings Horse Sanctuary.  

I'm sometimes called a veteran of the scene. These are the things I've done that I'm proud of:

  • My 100+ songs have substance; mostly they are about girl experience in a tricky world;
  • I was good in the 1980s/90s at promoting my band; locally, nationally and internationally;
  • I set up and ran Rutland Records for over 10 years;
  • John Peel rang up and offered us a Radio 1 session, which was repeated.
  • Our last 7" was Single of the Week in the NME.
  • Online people who are half my age seem to like what PO! did;
  • Despite not playing or releasing anything for 15 years, I still get offered gigs;
  • I am still alive, fairly healthy, not 'disappeared' and can make music again when I want to.

I'm playing with a scaled-down PO! band on Saturday 30th July at 5pm on the indoor stage, and as a solo performer on Sunday 31st at 8.20pm. I'll be pleased to see anyone there and hope to meet PO! fans old and new.