For example we would be sitting there and be like “How fun would it be if a boob could talk?” And then I’ll draw a boob and Jed will make it talk.
It’s what can only be described as a ‘beautiful thing’ when musicians create a formula that works wholly. There are many aspects that can make a band stand out. Some are better in the studio, others on stage. Let’s be honest some are complete arseholes, but that doesn’t mean we have to love their music any less. After catching Gender Roles live for the first time I can only describe their performance in one word. INSANE. For such a young band they’re tight as hell. It seems they have a natural ability to rock the shit out of the space they’re playing in. Their first EP Planet X-Ray is perfectly imperfect, a record you want to listen too from start to finish, repeatedly. Besides that, they’re probably the nicest bunch of lads you could ever meet. More importantly, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They have the kind of formula that absolutely works.
Why the name Gender Roles?
Do you get that question often?
Jordan: We’ve done a few interviews and that has been the first question every time. I guess it’s quite a statement but we’re not trying to make one.
Tom: It’s not majorly political or anything. Jared was carrying the shopping home and our mate Jed said “gender roles aye”. It sounded like a good band name. So we ran with it.
Tom, initially you started off with just you in the band?
Tom: Sort of, to start with yeah. I had to move back home to Northampton for a couple of months and I got really bored as you can Imagine, so I recorded loads of weird guitar parts and had a few songs that were roughly there. I showed these guys some of the recordings and bits of those songs were used in our demos. I had loads of stuff and we needed something, so when the band started there wasn’t that awkward thing of “what shall we play?”
Let’s talk about your debut EP. Has it had a good response?
Tom: Planet X-Ray is our first EP, it’s a group of songs we did as a band that we wrote together. Initially we did a demo of three tracks, two of them are on the first EP, we’re recording the other Pay Rise in May for the second. They were the first tracks we had when we started gigging, so we thought we could play them for a few months and then record those songs rather than write anything new. The response to Planet X -Ray has actually been great! Really cool. The reviews from people have been surprising and really nice.
Songs from the first EP are particularly tight live and people seem familiar with them already.
Jordan: I’ve noticed when we’re playing, you can tell that those songs are tighter compared to the others. I want them all to be like that! We were at a gig last week and a few people were shouting the lyrics to Skin. It felt really weird, but cool.
Tom: I guess that’s because we’ve been playing those songs the longest, it’s like comfort food on stage. I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything. More recently on certain parts of some of those songs, people will sing along. It’s really humbling.
You’re touring a lot at the moment?
Jordan: We’re doing a tour with Broadbay in April.
Tom: We’ve played solidly pretty much since January and we’re planning tours for the summer as well. April! So fucking stoked for that, it’s going to be great. Broadbay are so fucking good.
Have you got any festivals booked?
Jordan: The only festival that matters!
Tom: Washed Out Festival in Brighton. They’re doing a couple of different venues, a couple of stages, and that’s on the Easter bank holiday weekend. Loads of bands are playing; BIRDSKULLS, Broadbay, Pet Grief, Ghouls, Rough Hands, Wallflower, Gun Shy, Bloody Death...
Do you think being a band from Brighton makes it harder to stand out?
Tom: The scene in Brighton is absolutely amazing. There are so many good bands. It’s hard to watch a band and be disappointed. Everywhere you go they’re fucking on it, they’ve always got gigs set up, an EP out. It’s such a communal space and everyone knows what they’re doing. When you see the quality of bands you have to match it in a way, not that it’s a competition but you feel like you want to be good enough to play alongside everyone.
Jordan: I was talking about this last night actually, it’s quite easy to look average in Brighton because there are so many class bands, especially the ones that have been going for a while. Speaking objectively, if you have a really good band from another place and they come to play in Brighton, it can be hard to stand out. I do agree though, I reckon it is harder.
Are you thinking about doing an album or just focusing on EP releases?
Tom: We’re going to record another EP because in terms of our set, one half is Planet X-ray and the other half is essentially the new EP. Once we’ve done that we’ll just see how it goes. It’s one of those things that we’ve always joked about, that we’ll go somewhere, write an album and like, sit with it. At the moment we don’t have the time, money or anymore holiday allowance to do it.
Jordan: It made sense to record the first songs together, because they were written in the same period of time and should mimic that. I think an album is more of a body of work. It would be well fun to write something with the intention of it being an album rather than some pop songs or whatever.
Jared: We just need to become rich rock stars!
Do you want to be rich rock stars?
Tom: Yeah! Why does anyone do it?
A lot of bands wouldn’t admit to that. I love that you said yes.
Jordan: I don’t think we are trying to get to that point, but if we can make money and get by doing it…
Tom: If you don’t have that aspiration then essentially, what’s the point? It isn’t like we started this to be famous and rich or anything like that, but it would be nice! If someone from China said to me “I heard your song” I’d be like “fucking sick!”
Jared: That would be well cool!
Tom: We are all still ‘working for the man’. Although, it’s not too bad. Jed works in animation, but me and Jordan are ‘sucking the dick’.
Jordan: Yeah! ‘Eating the shit sandwich’.
What’s been your favourite gig?
Tom: I really liked Hydra in Bristol. There were these drunk guys who were really enjoying themselves, we fucking love it when people get into it. They had all these pints and were getting a bit too close to our equipment, so I was like “Please don’t spill your drinks, because we have more dates to do.” It was fun just because I’d never been to Bristol before and it was cool to go to a new town.
Jordan: Southampton’s always good.
Tom: Southampton’s great! Kate from Above The Waves always puts on a good show, and she’s lovely. She makes sure we’re alright.
Didn’t you do a gig with Kate a couple of weeks ago?
Tom: Yeah, So Punk Fest. It was Failure By Design Records and Above The Waves who put on that particular day. It was great because we played with all of our friends from Brighton; The New Tusk, Muskets, Gun Shy, itoldyouiwouldeatyou… Kate’s so good at putting on shows, she always takes care of the bands which is surprising. You meet some promoters and they put on good shows but they don’t necessarily want to talk to you. We’re fine with that, we will still play those gigs 100%, but it’s lovely when you know you’re welcome and looked after.
Jordan: Kate gets the crowds in, people always turn up to her gigs. Some promoters don’t actually promote but she’s brilliant. She matches the right bands and fills rooms.
You seem to be doing really well on the live circuit, packing out gigs?
Jordan: Do we pack gigs out?
Tom: I can never tell. Other people say that, but I’m so scared to look up and check. I grew my hair just so I don’t have to look. I just look down at my pedalboard. I think more recently we’ve been doing well. A friend of ours was saying that someone came down to watch us at a show, which is really lovely because it means that we’re going somewhere. Again it’s very humbling. So cool.
Would you say that your music is ‘garage punk’?
Tom: I don’t know. We always say from English math to American lo-fi garage. We’re somewhere in between there. But we’lI take garage punk.
Jordan: I never know how to answer what genre we are. You can’t be objective when it’s your own band. But we always say if Tubelord and Wavves had a little baby, that’s what Gender Roles would be. I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet though.
When you write, how does that work?
Tom: Our process is, I think of something, I’ll show it to Jed, we show Jordan and then I say “it’s not good enough” and want to change it.
Jared: It’s always for the best though. You think at the time “Why are you fucking changing that?” And then you listen to it a few times and then you’re like “Okay I see why he did that.”
Jordan: It’s so easy for us to write together.
Who would you say your biggest influences are as a band?
Jordan: Holistically it’s more about the mentality of our mates. Everyone plays shows together and that’s what we’re going for, where it’s stacked with all our friends bands.
Tom: Yeah! I just want to play gigs full stop. I think as a band it’s difficult to say who our biggest influences are because we like the same things, but we all bring different aspects into the music when we’re writing. It’s more about vibes because we listen to so much stuff. There’s something from everything that we think about in our music.
You’re working on a new promo. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Jordan: “New single Chemicals in stores now.” [American accent]
Tom: Are you done? [Looking at Jordan laughing]. Yeah, so we’re doing an animated video for Chemicals which we’re putting out before the tour in April. Jed works in animation and is amazing at it. We’re fucking doodling shit and Jed’s bringing it to life.
Jordan: What happens is we sit in a room with some exterior influences [Laughing]
What? Illegal exterior influences? Is that on or off the record?
Jordan: It’s whatever record you want it to be on. Basically we’re just vibing and then Tom will draw something, take a picture on his phone, put it on Instagram and then Jed will animate it.
Tom: For example we would be sitting there and be like “How fun would it be if a boob could talk?” And then I’ll draw a boob and Jed will make it talk.
Jordan: That’s essentially it.
Jared: The video doesn’t make any sense.
Jordan: We put a download code in our EP cassettes for people to send their drawings in.
Tom: We’ve had one so far…
Jared: It was from my niece who is two years old.
You’re releasing the new single on cassette in the U.S?
Tom: Rob from Wiretap Records accidently came across our EP and said he would like to do a release for Planet X-Ray in the USA. We had to take a day or two to talk about it because we thought we’d only release anything through Hanger Records in the UK. We hadn’t thought beyond that really, but then Rob offered. The physical copies are being released on the 14th April.
Jordan: We were like, let’s just fucking do it. Everything’s set up for the cassette. We’ve got the artwork and the audio. It’s all done really. So fuck it, might as well see what happens.
You could end up doing an American tour…
Tom: I’ve got a split American passport so I would be alright, but these guys don’t! So I’m still fucked!
Dream tour rider?
Tom: I’d ask for a big box of PG tips. NO JOKES. I don’t give a fuck! [Laughter] I want a box of PG Tips wherever I go. I love tea. For my birthday Jared made me a PG tips t-shirt, it’s perfect. Spot on. What would you ask for? [To the others]
Jared: Game cube
Jordan: A twenty bag and Dreamcast
Tom: So consoles, weed, tea!
Jordan: Oh and Dragon Soop! Have you tried it? It’s like cola cubes with caffeine! It’s like 8%.
Tom: So to conclude; consoles, weed, tea and some fucked up weird strong booze!
I’m trying to think if I’ve asked you everything…
Jordan: Well you asked us the most important question, about our band name.
It isn’t important if every other fucker has asked you the same question…
Tour Dates w/ Broadbay
13th – House Show – Southampton / 14th – The Black Prince – Northampton / 15th – Washed Out Festival – Brighton / 16th – The Windmill – Brixton / 17th – The Old Hairdressers – Glasgow / 18th – The Basement – Huddersfield / 19th – Harlow – Essex / 20th – Level III – Swindon / 21st – Subside – Birmingham / 22nd – House Show – Bristol
EP ‘Planet X-Ray’ is Available:
UK: Hanger Records – 2nd pressing available
USA: Wiretap Records