London DIY punks Fresh released their ace new five track EP The Summer I Got Good at Guitar on Friday via Specialist Subject Records. Made up as they are of members of Joyzine faves Cheerbleederz and Me Rex, we had high expectations on clicking play which were immediately surpassed with a selection of fuzzy indie tracks that get the balance of light and dark spot on – it’s angry and quirky and melancholic; it’s visceral and reflective and not without a few sing-along technicolour pop moments; it’s well worth 14 minutes of your time (and another 14 to immediately listen to it again).
We asked the band to take us through the EP track by track.
The Summer I Got Good At Guitar
This song is inspired by the couple of times I’d have guys who fancied me wait outside my house to hang out. The whole thing would be novel and exciting because it’s thrilling to be desired, but also nerve-wracking and awkward because I knew that I didn’t like them back and I didn’t know how to address that. There’s an element of hopelessness and frustration at play too, especially in the lyric “I know love is a concept designed to manipulate women/ but I want it anyway.” I think what I was trying to say with that line is that when I first realised that I was gay I resisted it and tried to force myself into these hetero-romantic clichés, and then got angry when I wasn’t getting anything out of them. You can want something whilst knowing that it’s not real, and you can want something whilst knowing it’s not right for you. However, you can’t force real love. I like that the verses build in intensity as I come to realise this. There’s also the sense of always looking forward and planning for your future but never stopping to embrace the present. This is something that I’ve learnt to do a lot more, post-COVID.
I wrote this song when I moved to another country and was feeling very nostalgic and homesick. There’s parallels with ‘Summer’ in that it talks about meeting somebody outside of my house, and the anticipation of waiting for them to arrive. I wrote this very soon after recording ‘Withdraw’, and so the album/song is also inadvertently referenced. It’s a very mournful, melancholic song and I feel like it was very cathartic to write and subsequently bring into fruition. If you like wallowing, intensity and harmonies then it’s for you
‘Girl Clout’ embodies frustration and pure visceral anger. It’s a Fresh song in the more classical sense (short, angry and guitar-driven). I wrote it in two minutes and the minute we jammed it out together we knew that it felt right. Themes include power, having male musicians and bands not take you seriously and being tokenised. It’s also about seeing through performative male allyship, owning your space in punk music as a woman and venting your frustrations through good old fashioned rock and roll.
My Redemption Arc
I wrote ‘MRA’ after a particularly traumatic and exhausting tour. We played a really cool anarchy-punk squat in Brescia, Italy on international women’s day. We slept in a big room with all the other touring bands in this gorgeous 18th century mansion that overlooked the village square. I’d never experienced so much culture in such a short amount of time. The morning after, we were heading off to Switzerland. The song is a reflection on how your problems are still your problems, no matter where you are in the world and how far away from home you may be. I also reference an old friendship that ended suddenly, and how funny it is that you can still have deep attachments to somebody that you haven’t had contact with in years (“sometimes I still read things in your voice”). I feel so grateful to Phoebe and Sophie from my other band, cheerbleederz, for joining in on the gang vocals in this one. It felt. Very special to record and the vibes were great.
Cry For Help
This song is about isolation, depression and friendship. It talks about how you can still feel hopeless even with great people around. There’s also a lot of cultural alienation going on in this song. This was another one that I wrote while living abroad, and I experienced coming back to the UK after being somewhere else. I wrote the line “the relief of hearing your own language again” about when I got off the plane at Heathrow and went straight onto the London Underground; I heard the automated voice say please mind the gap between the train and the platform (a phrase I’d been hearing basically all my life) and I realised how much I’d missed hearing my own language. ‘Cry For Help’ also references the same tour that I wrote about in ‘Redemption’, I wrote them both back to back. I improvised the lyrics to the last verse while I was recording the demo to send to the rest of the band and I really liked how it came out, so it stuck.
Introduction by Paul Maps