RGM Introducing – Our interview with Girl Gone Bad

Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat. Thanks!

Introduce us all to the members and your musical history. We have Debbie Bilson on lead vocals, Abbey Rogers on bass and vocals, Ainsley Stones on guitar and vocals and Mike Blakeston on drums. Ains and Debs have been working together musically for a few years, everything from playing in an acoustic duo to the full-on rock band situation. Ains has known Abbey for a number of years as a singer, although we didn’t know she played bass until we put out an ad and she said “let me do it!”. Mike joined the band a week before the first lockdown in 2020!

The last time I saw you live you were called dark sky park, what made you change the name?

Firstly, there were other bands with the same, or very similar name. That was a pain as we’d sometimes be confused with one another. On top of that we used to be confused with being an actual Dark Sky Park, as in the areas with very low light pollution where astronomers meet to stargaze! We used to get some very strange enquiries!

How much are you looking forward to playing live?

Sooooo much! None of us are shrinking violets and we’re all rock ‘n’ roll people at heart. We love to get out there and make some ears bleed wherever possible! Rock is meant to be a live, real, exciting thing, not something that happens in the background, so yeah, playing live really suits us.

What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed?

There aren’t any really! Honestly! You’d be surprised by how different the questions are. 

How much support did you get from your record label over the pandemic?

It was very difficult for all of us, but I have to say that they were very good. The lockdowns were, and are still, so damaging to the creative process so it’s been tough writing new stuff, but they’ve been great at keeping promotion going, lyric videos etc etc.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories?

Sure. Ains: It seems that the super-rich are never meaningfully held to account by the media. I know it isn’t surprising though as they own it!

Debs is a bit of UFO conspiracy theorist. She’s certain there’s stuff going on in area 51 and don’t get her started on the damned pyramids.

What support is out there for new artists in Sheffield?

The best support, which is to say support from each other. Since lockdown I think that bands have been a lot more likely to stick around and watch each other’s sets and appreciate the music. It was always something we did anyway, but we’ve been in more than a few situations where bands have played their set and left. I think as the music scene has taken such a hit from the pandemic, then bands supporting each other is the best thing we can do

Who is inspiring you at the minute on the Sheffield unsigned scene?

Ains always enjoys his mate’s band Bear Chest UK. Nice riffy Stoner Rock!

Sheffield has lost a few rock venues recently. How are you finding booking gigs?

Extremely difficult to be honest. It’s hard for any band. On top of that we’ve always found Sheffield to be more of an Indie music city.  We look further afield as well though obviously. 

What useless party trick/talent do you have?

Debs is the absolute queen of regional accents, I mean seriously good! Ains knows, almost to the minute, what time of day it is, even if he hasn’t seen a clock all day. That is quite useless, unless he’s stranded on a desert island or something. 

What was the most fun you have had on stage?

The first time we played  at Plug in Sheffield was a great night! The audience was really up for it and the other bands that played were very cool too!

What was the worst experience on stage?

We played a gig at a pub in town once with an electronic drum kit. Easy to set up we thought, easier to transport, easy to EQ etc etc. Turned out it was also easy to break!!! 

Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?

Debs has Indian, Greek, Italian and French ancestry! Very multicultural! Ains loves to fly aeroplanes and has flown all kinds of crazy old things. Abbey was a burlesque dancer for years and Mike had his pint stolen by Patrick Stewart!

Tell us a funny story from backstage?

Ains was once asked by a lady at a gig if he could sign her friend’s boots. Ever the professional, he tootled over, was given a marker pen and then the lady in question lifted up her T-shirt. At that point he realised that he might have misheard the word “boots”! 

If you had to describe your band to an alien how would you describe them?

Four humans behaving like chimps at a tea party with rudimentary technology.

Which one of the band is the most unpredictable and why?

Abbey! She’s a bit busier than the rest of us and sometimes turns up late to rehearsals with the line “well, Elizabeth Taylor was never on time either!!!” (laughs)

Which one of the band is the biggest nightmare? (Just a bit of fun)

Ains for sure. He’s known as the “band C%$t” as he’s always the one who wants every last note in time and in tune. He’s always the one to bring us back into line when we’re being a bunch of lazy gits. Still, most decent bands need someone like that otherwise they’d never get anything done!

You have one phone call and you have been locked up for a crime you didn’t commit? Which member would you call first?

I think Abbey would be first-choice for everyone except Abbey! She always seems to have a plan in a crisis and always seems to know someone who knows someone who can “sort things out”. That sounds a bit dodgy!

If you could play any music festival, which would it be?

Download we reckon!

Best gig you’ve been to that you weren’t playing?

Soundgarden live in Hyde Park a few years ago, not too long before Chris Cornell passed away. They were magnificent! On top of that, when they played the song “Black Hole Sun”, during the line “wash away the rain”, the heavens opened! 

What advice would you give someone going into the music industry?

Be nice to each other, because being a bell-end won’t help you succeed. This isn’t a competition. People might like what you do, or they might not, but if they prefer someone else’s music you just have to suck it up. Don’t take it out on anyone!

What’s your biggest achievement as a band?

As a band we haven’t been able to do much because we got our line-up sorted just before Covid hit. Ains has been a full-time songwriter and performer for most of his life, so he’s done some cool stuff before this band formed, but being a modest sort you’d have to feed him lots of gin before he’d go on about it. 

What makes you stand out as a band?

That we haven’t made up some kind of “up our own arse” genre to describe what we do (laughs)! We’re a Rock band, pure and simple. I don’t think you’d find many bands who’d say that. We’re unpretentious, humble Northerners, so we’d feel really daft describing ourselves as “Post-Underground Extreme Algebra Skiffle” or something.

Right now, what’s pissing you off the most? (Can’t say the virus )

The lack of live music in Sheffield and surrounding areas. We know the public wants it and we know the bands do, but so many places have closed that the remaining ones are booked solid. We thought this would happen in all honesty.

Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together?

The shrinking violet that is our Abbey, suggested we do a cover of Katy Perry – Kissed a girl. Which we didn’t think was a bad idea, it would sit in Deb’s range nicely. It turns out though she thought we could use it as a USP on stage; she thought if we sang that then she could kiss Debs on stage and well we’d be errrr remembered. We had a chuckle about that, but once we’d started playing it Abbey insisted on trying to bring her plan in fruition and it took us a long time to stop the girls laughing enough to learn the song

What’s your favourite song to play live and why?

We have a song called Lonely Girl and it just really hits its stride live in a way that audiences really enjoy. Of course, that makes us feel good too! 

I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it?

It’s called Stand My Ground and is written about one person’s defiance and courage in the face of domestic violence. Given how much that’s increased during the time of the pandemic, it’s pretty topical. Debs wrote the lyrics and Ains wrote the music. It’s direct, powerful, and to-the-point Rock music, just as we like it. 

What are your plans for the year ahead?

Hopefully to get some good festival gigs. We’re pretty hopeful that the live music scene will go from strength to strength next year and we hope that no-one will ever take a good live artist for granted ever again.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I know for us it’s been a long long 15 months. The music industry is on its knees and we think it’s more important than ever that folks remember there are talented unsigned artists out there. You just have to look and take a chance.

That and, Stand My Ground is available for download on Bandcamp (https://girlgonebad.bandcamp.com) and if you’d like to have more of a look at what we do, check out www.girlgonebad.co.uk 

Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.

Our pleasure Carl. We’ll definitely keep in touch.