Dublin quartet Pillow Queens haven’t been together long but they’ve been blazing a trail through the capital’s music scene. Their first record, Calm Girls, is out now. Their debut live show, a fundraiser for Cara Rescue in the Bello Bar, sold out. They’ve played Whelan’s Ones To Watch and are soon e3mbarking on a UK tour. “We’re feisty” says singer/guitarist Sarah, “We’ve been grabbing opportunities as they’ve been coming.”
Sarah; We started playing together in November.
Pamela (Vocals, Guitar, Bass); We recorded the EP in November as well and it came out in December, and played our first gig and now here we are. I tried to keep count of the gigs bit I’ve lost count. Even though it’s not that many, I’ve lost count. It’s under 15 probably.
Cathy (Lead Guitar/ Vocals): When I came in to Pillow Queens, Pamela and Rachel had written most of the songs and the structures. So me and Rachel had the privilege of adding and taking away some bits. The music was pretty much there.
Rachel (Drums, Vocals): We work very well together and listen to each other.
Sarah; I wanted to play with Pamela for ages. I met her busking in Templebar one day. I didn’t even go over to her. I just filmed her and put it on YouTube. I became online friends with her through complimenting her over and over. Then in July last year we moved in together and I asked her to jam and she said “No, I don’t play guitar anymore”.
Pamela; I wasn’t confident in my playing.
Sarah; We started playing basketball with Cathy and went to the pub afterwards and we became a band. Then we got Rachel.
Rachel; I know Cathy about ten years.
Sarah; I’ve only known both of you since November.
You’re obviously very charitable, tonight’s show is for Daisy House and your first gig was for charity too.
Sarah; Yeah, how much did we get for that?
Cathy; €1600, all for the doggies.
Sarah: It was at Christmas too, they were delighted. There were even dogs at the gig. It was so great. It was packed out. All the bands played for free.
Pamela; It was our first gig and it sold out. The line-up was great. We had Girlfriend. We had Sissy. We had a surprise act, which was Bitch Falcon, to headline.
Sarah: Everyone who got involved put loads of energy in to it and gumption behind it.
Cathy; Girlfriend gave their merch sales to Cara Rescue as well.
Pamela; We were full. We had to turn people away which was great. A horrible feeling when you’re doing it but in hindsight…
Sarah: We had an online site as well with a donation aspect. We raised a lot from people who couldn’t make it but gave a donation anyway. There was a lot of that.
So how did you get involved with Gardiner Music?
Rachel; Caoimhe from Gardiner Music contacted us. Barry in Youth Mass put our name forward. Caoimhe came to see us in Whelan’s Ones To Watch and she liked us.
Pamela; She asked us to put forward a charity that was close to our hearts and it was decided that we would do it for Daisy House.
Sarah; We just met them today. They’re a really small group who do a lot of great work with homeless women.
Cathy; Predominantly victims of domestic abuse and problems with addiction and depression and all the rest. It sound like a really sweet organisation.
Pamela; They’ve been great to us. They said tonight is one of the coolest things they’ve been involved with and it’s something that means a lot to us.
It’s your second night gigging in a row after last night supporting The Big Moon in the Academy.
Sarah; And Pamela had to go and get a sore throat.
Pamela; I think I’m getting flu.
Sarah; It’s not flu, you went on the sesh for five days and now you’re fucked.
Pamela; It was a civilised sesh, I assure you. Last night was great though.
Sarah; That’s the first time we’ve done back to back gigs. I felt really tight. Like I knew what I was doing and I wasn’t going to make any mistakes. Well, I made less mistakes than last night.
Rachel; Then we have a day off tomorrow and another gig in Saturday.
Pillow Queens are a hard band to pin down. Like The Pixies, they leap from one style to another, from groovy to raucous to singalong with the greatest of ease. Pamela’s songs remind us of PWR BTTM.
Pamela; We love PWR BTTM. When we came here we noticed there was still glitter on the stage from their gig last week.
Sarah: PWR BTTM are a massive inspiration. We didn’t set out to sound like them.
Pamela: I think both our influences are similar.
Cathy; I’d love to do music videos like theirs.
Pamela; I’d love to be as comfortable in my skin as they are.
They’re a band that are reluctant to sit still so what’s next?
Sarah: We’re doing a UK tour in July which, at the moment, is nine dates. Including two festivals.
Pamela; Calm Girls will be coming out in June on vinyl in the UK on a label called Specialist Subject. It will be available online and we’ll have some with us on the road. We only have UK festivals right now, we haven’t been offered any Irish ones yet.
Sarah; We’ve applied for some.
Pamela: We don’t know how to do that yet. We’re a very young band.
Sarah: We may look haggard but that’s only because we’ve done so many gigs in a row.
Pamela: We haven’t been offered any Irish festivals but we would absolutely love to play them.
Sarah; May 28th, we’re back here for a fundraiser gig for ROSA. Beyond that we’re doing a Girls Rock fundraiser.
Rachel; We were meant to play the last one with Extravision and Ae Mak but we couldn’t do it.
Cathy; I’m glad they asked us to do it again.
Rachel; I wish there was something like that when we were kids.
Cathy; When we wanted to make music but didn’t know what to do with it.
Pamela; It’s happening now. It’s so oversaturated with men. There are so many women bands now. We were talking about Girlfriend earlier. They’re so good.
Cathy; They’re kind of grungy.
Pamela; And soulful.
Sarah; They don’t even know how good they are, “We’re just going to play what we like”. When I was starting to play I thought I had to play a certain kind of music because it was the only way people would listen to it. That doesn’t exist anymore for female musicians. Now you can play what you want. You can play the music that you like and you will get a stage for it. It’s a great thing.