DATE OF INTERVIEW:
8th September 2017
METAL DISCOVERY: The album’s being released by Boudicca Records… I gather this is a newish label with the sole focus on releasing music by female artists?
ERIN: Yeah, it’s a friend of ours who we met four or five years ago, through music… she was working for a different label at the time. We got together, just chatting, and became friends. At the time, the agency that I work with put on a female music festival up in Scotland and it inspired her… she basically decided, right, this is a massive thing that nobody’s touching. You do see stories online, like why aren’t there more women in metal; why aren’t there more women in so and so? There are; we just don’t represent them. Trying to get representation as a female hard rock, prog band in Scotland or in England, it’s like pushing fucking shit uphill. It’s really hard. So, she basically went, “Do you know what, I want to fucking stop that.” She set the label up; she’s working hand-in-hand with Attack Agency… they basically came together, and we’ve got Les, who organises our gigs and she’s also our manager; Sam White is sort of our tour manager… she works with a lot of the other artists on Attack and Boudicca. It’s a small label at the moment, but…
(Erin Bennett on 'Girl Reflowered', the companion book for her debut solo album, 'ReFlowered')
"...the most cathartic thing about the whole process behind ‘ReFlowered’ was writing the book…"
Erin Bennett at The Doghouse, Nottingham, UK, 8th September 2017
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2017 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
MD: Up and coming.
FINN: Julie, the lead singer from Rockbitch, she’s got some very heavy, dark music…
ERIN: Yeah, dark electronica.
MD: Yeah, that came out last year, I noticed… under her Krow moniker. I only found out about it when I was writing these questions and was like, why did I not know about this before?!
MD: I listened to a couple of tracks, and Julie’s voice… she still sings like that… fucking amazing!
FINN: She’s going on the road with that stuff. She’s got a band together.
MD: Oh, excellent! Was there any possibility she might be a support act tonight?
ERIN: Oh, fuck no! I would be very, very humbled to tour with her, but I think the genres are just so different that, maybe, it might confuse people. I used to open for MT-TV when I was just a singer-songwriter, back in the States, and I found it difficult, every time. Because I’m just there, doing my thing, and then she comes on with this fucking voice of a titan!
MD: Shortly after you lost Jo, you released ‘Never Give Up The Fight’ in her memory, for which you won a songwriting award at the 2012 Scottish New Music Awards…
ERIN: Yes… that’s a mouthful, isn’t it!
MD: [Laughs] Yeah, that’s why I’ve written it down! How instrumental was that level of recognition for your talent in deciding to continue pursuing your musical career?
ERIN: Do you know what… I still haven’t actually got my head around it, to be honest. We’ll be talking to people and be in meetings, and they’ll be asking me questions about myself and somebody has to poke me and go, “You won the award, tell them about that”; I’m like, “Oh fuck, yeah!” It was really surreal because it was only a couple of months after Jo died that I decided to release the song. I wrote the song a week before she died and I decided to release it. There was a chap that I had met at a drum show, who ran the Scottish New Music Awards, and convinced me to put it up for a nomination. It got nominated and I was just like, “Well, fuck, I don’t know what the fuck to do… oh, look, there’s some tickets to go to this awards show… because I’m not gonna win.” I phoned Finn up and said, “So, I’ve got nobody to go with me, do you wanna come… hey, a free night out… I’m probably not gonna win it, but a free night out.”
FINN: And I said, “These things are always a stitch-up. Forget it. Go there, free drinks, and fuck off home.”
ERIN: So, we were up in the rafters of this club up in Glasgow… like, the furthest away from the stage that you could possibly get. We’d had a couple of drinks and almost turning our backs, and then they went, “Erin Bennett”. I was like, “Fucking what?!”
MD: You must’ve had the longest applause if you had the furthest to walk to get to the stage!
ERIN: Well, I had these 4-inch heels on, right, so I was like, “Fuck!”
FINN: They were going, “Sharleen Spiteri… this person… this person… Erin Bennett.” It was like, “No, fuck off, fuck off!”
ERIN: I got up on the stage and I didn’t know what the fuck to say. I’m really proud of it… not as a reward or anything for myself… but I’m really proud that the one song that I think I put my heart into more than anything else, actually got some recognition… for Jo.
MD: Did that kind of recognition give you the motivation to carry on?
ERIN: Yeah, well, I think, by this point, we’d already thrown together just a quick, temporary band. It was in June, just after Jo died, Hawkwind were coming up to Edinburgh, and they said, “Do you have any kind of musical outfit; do you want to open for us?” I was like, “Yeah, of course I do.” And then… “Fuck, I need a band… shit!”
MD: You don’t turn down Hawkwind!
ERIN: Yeah, you don’t say no, of course! So, I phoned Finn up and I was like, “Look, you used to be a bass player”… Finn taught Mandy how to play in the early days.
FINN: A long time ago.
ERIN: And I was like, “Just fucking come and play bass with me and we’ll do an acoustic thing.” He was like, “We’ll go the full hog. We’ll get in a drummer and do this, that and the other.”
MD: And that was under the Syren banner when you carried on… until early 2014?
MD: Did you feel you needed a bit of closure on Syren, before saying goodbye to Syren?
ERIN: I don’t know. I guess it was just one of those things. Syren had always been the band name and it didn’t really matter to us. Like, we just wanted to be in a band and just wanted to play. And it was easy because there was already a website set up and all I had to do was change the names.
FINN: We got behind you because you were fucked. When Jo died, she nearly went down with Jo. And it was, for all of us, for all the Rockbitches, it was that… and I could see the change in you. We all did. We said, “This has to be a thing”… to save her ass, really. Because you were cutting us out, and cutting everybody out, and drinking god knows how many bottles a day. It has to be said, kiddo.
ERIN: Yeah, go for it.
FINN: It was great for us, as well… playing with you, and watching you change. And your fucking songs are awesome.
ERIN: Somewhere in there, we became an actual band!
MD: I heard that Mandy turned her back on music, so has she turned her back on the bass?
FINN: Yes, unfortunately so. It breaks my heart.
MD: She was phenomenal. One of the best bass players I’ve seen…
MD: Yeah, ever.
FINN: Yeah, intimidatingly good.
MD: Not just with her technical abilities. To play like that and put all the emotion into it, as well. You get virtuosos and then you get virtuosos who play with emotion as well. There are very few people like that… like Steve Vai… the upper echelon of musicians. Mandy’s bass playing was as technically as good as anything I’ve heard, but with so much emotion, too. It was the best.
ERIN: It was magic.
FINN: It’s hard to get the story, but we were very, very close to Mandy. Remember, Mandy, Jo and you were insanely close. When Jo died… not Jo’s fault, bless her, but it was the end of an awful lot. Mandy walked away from everything.
MD: Really sorry to hear that. ‘ReFlowered’ came out in 2015… was it a cathartic experience in any sense, when working on new music again, in being able to express and expel some of your emotions through your art?
ERIN: Yeah, I suppose so. I mean, I think the most cathartic thing about the whole process behind ‘ReFlowered’ was writing the book… and that sounds hilarious to me, because I’m not an author. Every song on the album, if you swap the order around, it tells the entire story. And, of course, you know what it’s like, you’re trying to put an album together and, sometimes, the way the story goes doesn’t fit from a groove point of view, or from a mood point of view… so we moved the songs around. And, somebody had said to me that, “Oh, you should write this all down as a memoir.” And, “I’m fucking 25, I’m not gonna write a memoir!” But, just for a bit of fun, I typed it out and somebody had read it and said, “Oh, fuck, this is actually pretty good. You should actually explain the story behind it.” So I did, and that was the more cathartic thing behind it. A lot can get lost in translation when it comes down to music. A song can mean something to me, but it’s gonna mean something different to Anna, Finn or you, or anybody else who’s listening to it. You know, because it’s a very personal thing. But, when you’re reading what somebody’s gone through, and it’s there in black and white.
MD: There’s a press quote on your site, where you’ve been called “Music’s Wonder Woman”…
MD: Is this how you regard yourself?
ERIN: With my magic lasso of justice, yes!
MD: That’s an amazing compliment, though, isn’t it, in several different ways.
ERIN: It is, yeah, it’s incredible. To be honest with you, I thought someone was having me on at first. I’ve had a lot of really kind things that were said about me by journalists and writers, which is not very common. You know, a lot of journalists want to pick the worst thing they can say about you…
FINN: I can testify to that.
ERIN: …because we live in an era of slagging people off and trolling and all that. It seems easier to call somebody a shitbag than it is to say, “Well done”. So, yeah, I was very flattered.