Savages: Full of Life

Savages 10-9-15 1025 Credit Colin LaneBritish band Savages are about to drop their amazing second album ‘Adore Life’. The loud, vocal and powerful album is full of emotion and energy.

The all-girl band, who’ve been called the best live band on the planet, have travelled around the globe over the last two years since their debut record came out and wowed critics.  OUTinPerth spoke to guitarist Gemma Thompson ahead of the new album’s release.

Your fans are desperately waiting to hear the new album, how does it feel for you as an artist when your work is about to be released?

It’s that feeling of ‘about time’, you spend so long thinking about it, and there’s that weird gap of after you’ve done all the work of recording it, and producing the whole thing, and then there’s that build up to it being released.

Making this record has been quite an open process with the audience, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a big secret, it feels like it’s been very open to people. Last January we spent three weeks in New York and we basically took the sketches of a lot of the new songs on the record and played them to an audience in club shows for three weeks.

Then we’ve been out playing the new songs in festival shows over the summer, so it’s been interesting listening to the audience’s reactions as we play them live.

Most bands disappear when they’re off recording but you’ve been playing live the whole time.

That’s what we are really, that’s what everything is honed towards- the live performance. When we did the first record ‘Silence Yourself’ that was very much a document of the live show, when we wrote those songs we had no thoughts of recording, we were just focused on being a live band and the performance side of things. Recording was just trying to capture that.

When we came to the second record, I guess people normally write and then go straight into the studio but we couldn’t. That doesn’t make sense to us, we need to put those songs to an audience and have the adrenalin and have them finished that way. That’s what we did in New York for three weeks.

What made you choose New York over all the cities you could choose to do that sort of workshopping?

I remember the exact point we made this decision. We were sitting outside where we rehearse in London, and we were thinking of recording somewhere different, like another country. But we couldn’t really work it out, and we were in the process of writing and we really just needed to get out of London.

New York is one of those capital cities that is unique, cities that have their own energy running through them. New York is similar to London in many ways, if you can function in London you’ll be able to function in New York inevitably the same way.

We know a lot of people over there, but it just felt like New Yorkers would be open to this idea of what we were doing. They were so great. We did nine shows over three weeks and there were people who came to every show. Some people came to just a few but they really understood what we were doing.

‘Adore Life’ continues on from the first record, but it also goes somewhere different. By the time you reach the final track it’s built to such an amazing crescendo. It has such a release at the end.  

I’m glad you say that, this record was very much a continuation of the first record in that we’ve just progressed, we became much better musicians after two years of touring and we can trust each other a lot more.

We know how each other are going to react, but we also surprise each other. We said for this record, ‘any idea that you have, that you want to push a bit more, you have the freedom to do that.’ Something maybe more melodic, or harder, or in terms of mechanics.

For ‘Mechanics’ the last track on the album, it pushed an abstract idea that we wanted to follow. That’s what this album’s been, it’s been really enjoyable to record it.

The track ‘Adore’ must be the quietest track Savages have ever recorded.

I think so. When we started writing we actually had quite a few quiet, slow songs. We put them by the wayside, a lot of stuff gets put aside, but ‘Adore’ is a track we could never have put on the first record.

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What do you do when you have songs that just aren’t working out?

Sometimes I just feel ‘it’s not their time’ or maybe in a year or so they’ll come back. There were quite a few that just didn’t work out and a few that we played live in New York that just wouldn’t go any further. There’s always a process where you have to see a song through to the end, and if anyone of us has a feeling that there’s something worthwhile in a song that’s worth keeping we’ll always try and find that is and work out a way to use it, maybe in another song. Sometimes though it just doesn’t become anything.

When you played the Laneway festival in Perth you closed your set with the amazing song ‘Fuckers’, which isn’t on your first album and it’s hasn’t made it on to ‘Adore Life’. Why’s that song ended up as an orphan?

We recorded it live and put it out with our cover of ‘Dream Baby Dream’ as a vinyl release.  There was some discussion about recording it in the studio for this record, but it’s such a live song, we decided it would almost be impossible to it better than that live performance. We thought it would be strange to play it in a studio.

Jehnny wrote those lyrics. A friend, Meilyr Jones, who is the singer of the band Race Horses, he stayed at her house and after a late night conversation about how what we were doing, in the morning  he wrote her a note. It said ‘Don’t let the fuckers get you down!’ and he left it on the fridge. Then she wrote that song. It’s a piece of advice that a friend gave her, that she felt she could give back to the audience.

It’s such a live song, its advice that you have to give to people live.

Savages are a very stylish band, watching you perform live I walked away thinking how very well dressed you all were, but there’s also very specific imagery in your covers and videos. Is style something you discuss as a band or just it just happen naturally?


I guess there is quite a lot of work put into it. I guess from when we came together we always knew how important everything surrounding the music is. It’s not just the music itself, there is an aesthetic around it. In writing the music there’s a process of making sure everything’s there for a reason.

That process we use for writing the music, you can put it to the artwork and the way you dress, the people you’re with. Everything is very distinct and there for a reason.

‘Silence Yourself’ had an instruction inside saying ‘This album needs to be played loud in the foreground’, how should we listen to the new record.

I guess this record ‘Adore Life’ is much more of an open record. It’s more of a… (pauses) it can still be loud!

‘Silence Yourself’ was a question, while this record isn’t an answer it’s about changing and it gives you the freedom to change if you need to, if you want to change there are places to go. You need to listen to it openly. This record speaks about love in all its forms, and love as a way to change, love can be a catalyst to change towards other things.

Graeme Watson


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