Saturday, 31 March 2018

Guitar for PO!

When I started PO! I had some thoughts that could have been principles but I never stuck to them.

1. It's important that females play instruments in bands and girls shouldn't just be the singer.

2. Girl guitarists are particularly cool when they can play interestingly well.

3. Don't form a band with someone you're in a relationship with.

4. Don't have a relationship with anyone in the band.

5. Don't get in a more competent male player to cover up any female lack of ability.

These ideas came from punk, from bands like The Raincoats and The Au Pairs which I liked when I was younger. It has proven hard to stick with them and I'm not even sure that they're right.

The original version of PO! (Ruth, Julian Marc) and the second version of PO! (Ruth, Jan, Mary) hit my targets, only to be disrupted by the much more tuneful, jangly and downright competent sound when Terri Lowe joined the band, countering principles 4 and 5.

From Ducks and Drakes onward, Terri provided lovely guitar over my functional playing. He was an insightful player and some of his best guitar figures make the songs what they are. However, we were that band couple. People might have thought that it was Terri Lowe's band and he'd just got his girlfriend in to sing his songs.

From 1999, I decided I didn't want to do it any more and did other things. In 2007, Terri left me, and in 2015 I successfully endured treatment for cancer which changed my view on life.

After that, I was desperate to write songs, play and record again, regardless of what anyone thought. So, with Paul and Gary, the new PO! was formed. I liked that again, my ex-punk principles were on show - along with my rather weedy-sounding guitar playing. And it was great fun.

Still in a long sleeved stripy T Shirt 30 years later

But the sound wasn't good enough; I thought we weren't doing the songs justice. I needed more guitar so I could focus on singing better.. I could probably have mangled up some computery pedal, or there might have been a female guitar hero not in a band, who likes old music and lives near me, but I couldn't find her. Instead I decided to forgo principle 5 and get a man in.

Introducing Mark Nenadic (also known as Mr Plow), PO!'s silver bullet with a green guitar. I can't wait to play live and show a different angle to PO! Mr Plow has a background in Leeds-style strident punk and Johnny Cash twaaanging. He can sing too! We have new songs, and rearrangements of old songs and it's been even more fun.

So we are very much looking forward to our gigs later this year, including our first gig with extra guitar power playing with Say Sue Me on April 23rd at The Soundhouse, Leicester.


  1. What time is the gig on the 23rd? something like 28 years since i've seen the Mighty PO!

    1. We are first on around 8pm I guess. We're supporting Say Sue Me. If you go to the gig, do come and introduce yourself!

    2. And note, it's at The Soundhouse, not The Musician as I previously wrote!

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  3. Just want to say cheers (x a million) for successfully getting out on the other side of cancer. Also, I'm desperate to hear these new songs- those early records were so important to me but I want to gain distance from the shadow of the past. As for female guitarists, growing up in NYC there were so many GUY GUY GUY guitarists (I worked with an entire record store staff of them) overdoing the stereotypical crunchy male style. Phallus mode: activated. That was the scene there, though- there was a tired Johnny Thunders (and maybe aftermath of heavy metal) worship I'd always roll my eyes at. So many of my friends were these obsessive guitar heads too, that culture felt pretty male dominated. Riot Grrrl helped do away with that (or at least encourage a new path). Hopefully, the culture is changing. Can't wait to hear the new band!

    1. Thanks for your comment and hope to puzzle out best way of releasing new songs soon!

  4. I'm far too old now to say this, and probably the wrong gender, but Maya Angelou says it and so why shouldn't I: you go, girl.