Interview: Throwing Up

throwing upThrowing Up are a three piece act from somewhere in trendy London. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Camille Bennett and bassist Clare James Clare before they graced the dump that is the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen as part of their post-debut album launch tour.

The pleasingly cheeky pair have known each other for 10 years: “The first time we met I made Camille cry,” Clare adds by way of creation myth. “I’ve been making you cry ever since.”

They’ve been involved in bands before, most significantly Headless. But this, they say, is the first time they’ve been in charge of the song writing duties: “In a way, this is our first band,” Camille reflects.

Contributing to the myth, things took a slightly unfortunate twist about five minutes after they’d formed when they were interviewed by Vice (their former/sometimes drummer/guitarist Ben used to work as a photographer for the publication and was tight with Andy Capper). Inevitable the denizens of the Vice Comment Sewer took issue with them, and this being a mostly female band and an anonymous internet below the line cesspit, inevitably the focus was on the way they looked.

“The comments on there were really… intense. Never do anything that’s going on Vice,” Camille (half) jokes. Eventually, they say, they found it more entertaining than offensive. “We got involved with it, and starting leaving really mean comments, cussing ourselves out, which was pretty fun.”

Comically, another consequence of the Vice article was that an indie label in Brighton who had been interested in Throwing Up then felt that their association with the forbidden rag had tainted them forever. This was made even more comic because one of the guys who ran the label used to work for Vice. So, yeah, the lesson here is: Vice, don’t do it…

But anyway, they’re at the wheel now, and have accordingly come up with a satisfyingly taut punky-grunge thing; their debut album, Over You. We quite like it and you’ll probably like too. But as you might able to glean from that description, it’s kind of genre straddling. So, what was the idea, and what were they listening to at the time?

“There’s definitely some punk influences in the song structure and delivery; definitely The Wipers,” Camille replies. “But we don’t only like punk, or even like punk the most. I don’t think we fit particularly well into punk line-ups.”

A negative experience of playing with Keith Morris of Black Flag fame, of whom Camille professes to be a big fan, to ‘Camden crust punks’ is presented as evidence of this. The look of horror on Clare’s face unfortunately cannot be transcribed, but suffice to say it doesn’t seem like she had a very good time.

Crust punks would definitely not leap to mind as a target demographic, on listening to the record. Who has Throwing Up’s fan base proved to be?

“Most are creepy old men,” Clare deadpans, but Camille is not having it: “We have this amazing following of 16 year old girls, who started off as One Direction fans, who through a convoluted process found out about us. We said our music doesn’t sound like One Direction, but they said that’s fine, that they like Hole and Soundgarden too – which is pretty cool.”

Obviously engaging these young women is something which means something to Camille and Clare, who, while acknowledging that gendering music isn’t necessarily a satisfactory system of categorization, themselves took a lot of inspiration from female artists. Clare name checks PJ Harvey and Hole, and seems to have pretty deep and unyielding passion for the music of Fiona Apple, while Camille goes so far to cite Alisha’s Attack (that is some serious shit) and Spice Girls.

“I identify with girls, and I enjoy music I identify with – a lot of women do. When I was growing up, I identified more with Hole than Nirvana.”

Clare, it should be noted, says the opposite was the case for her.

One thing we can all sort of identify with is central lyrical themes of relationships – are they taken from real life? “Everything’s based on real stuff,” says Camille, who handles around 80% of the song writing. “Clare would be able to see exactly what the songs are about – she knows everything that’s happening in my life. It works the same way.” But the meanings, she adds, don’t necessarily stay fixed: “There are songs I wrote about people that become about someone else later on, or perhaps it’s the same situation but with someone else. Sometimes I might change the words. I let the song find its own meaning really.”

Romantic relationships, she qualifies, are not the only ones on which Throwing Up’s music is based. A current theme, she says, is the recent death of her brother; something which she feels the song writing process has helped her get through.

“Owning your feelings is big part of writing music. You can express yourself and take control of the way you feel, rather than crying and shouting at the people around you – which is the natural way to behave when you’re emotional. I like playing songs about him.” She still writes about ‘boys’, she says, but thinks it is with a greater level of maturity.

One consequence of this personal tragedy was the delaying of the release of Over You, which they recorded a fair while ago. In a way, Camille thinks, this delay has helped her to appreciate the album: “I was desperate to get it out – I was bored and wanted to write new songs, but taking six or eight months and coming back to it, everything seems good again. Life has strange rhythms, things seem bad at certain times but they come round again. The way we’ve released this, and the timing couldn’t be better. If it came out when we originally intended, we wouldn’t have been as happy with it.”

Something happened in-between though – big fringed Charlatans-man Tim Burgess got his ear trumpet round the record and he liked what managed to penetrate his follicular helmet. They were accordingly signed up to his O Genesis label, and the mixing was redone by the man himself in his Mancunian shack (i.e. lots of reverb).

Clare – who describes Throwing Up as “extremely hi-fi” – vastly prefers the new polished recording (“You can polish a turd”), while Camille would stand behind the raw original and the slick poppy record with which the world now finds itself. However, one thing they’re both in agreement over is their sense of belonging in the big fuzzy O Genesis family, which they never want to leave. Awwwww.

So, one last question before they go play some music to some people: the name – how’s that working for you? “Try getting an alcohol sponsor! Our tour manager says we’d get a lot more shows if we had a different name.”

“It’s such bollocks, fuck off,” Clare chimes in, citing AIDS Wolf as precedent. Camille is unconvinced: “For me, it’s cathartic. I associate it with idealistic beauty and exorcism.”

You can’t be sure at this point, whether Camille is serious or not, and you suspect the answer is kind of, but kind of not. And that probably sums up Throwing Up to an extent; it’s evident in their music, and it’s certainly the case during their live show – which is as rollickingly fun as you’d hope it would be. Sure, life is nothing if not immoderately festooned with the baggage and drama of being a human person, but fuck it; you may as well have a good time while you’re at it.

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