My Life In 15 Songs: T-Bitch share the music that has soundtracked their lives

Southend glam-punks T-Bitch released their new album March of the Othering this week, preceded by celebratory chant-along LGBTQ+ anthem “Coming Out!”. “T-Bitch are a band made up of women and men, queers, people with disabilities, young and old,” explain the band, “We are standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, shouting for equality and safety within our communities.

The album is packed with seven tracks of glammed up DIY punk, from the stomping call for solidarity in the title track which opens the LP, through the swinging bass venom of “Fashion Police” and playful humbug of “Happy Fucking Xmas Bitch”, the album wraps up serious topics such as homophobia, transphobia, and mental health in humour and massive riffs. “It’s about celebrating our differences and looking after marginalised groups, who seem to be under constant attack in the media and in everyday life,” they tell us. “The world may seem like it is becoming a safer and fairer place, but we still have a long way to go.”

We caught up with the band to find out more about the music that has influenced them throughout their lives and asked them to choose 15 songs that got them to where they are today.

What is your earliest music-related memory?

Fanny Von T: My mum had great taste, we ĺistned to Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell. My nan too, she liked Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald and a lot of Jazz, as well as Elvis who really influenced my interest in music origins and dancing. I remember falling to sleep listening to the album Blue by Joni, I still listen to it regularly, it’s timeless.

Cheeky Kev: Hearing “Everlasting Love” by Love Affair on the tranny.

T-Red: I grew up in a house that played Elvis, Queen and Meat Loaf over and over again!

What was the first single/album that you ever bought?

Fanny: Embarrassing, it ain’t cool!! I bought a record called ‘It’s ‘Orrible Being in Love (When You’re 8½)‘ by Claire and Friends. It was terrible and wonderful at the same time, I was like 5 so I think I can be forgiven! My first album was Manic Street PreachersGeneration Terrorist and so began a life long obsession! I was 11, it was a total game changer.

Kev: “Cum On Feel the Noize” by Slade at Downtown Records in Romford Market.

When did you really start to develop a passion for listening to music?

Fanny: I can’t remember a time without music being a defining presence. We often didn’t have a TV in the house, we always had the radio on and tapes were always appearing, copies from other people’s records. We started recording off the radio too, naughty I know but we were poor and me and my sister would get proper obsessed. She was into boy bands and pop and I hated it. When we had a TV we would stay up late watching The Word and that totally shaped my taste. I liked guitar music, heavy, angry and dirty, garage rock, indie, metal I couldn’t get enough.  

Kev: Radio always on in our house until the telly started.

What was the first gig that you went to?

Fanny: I saw Skunk Anansie at The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea. I’d never had the money to go gigs before, I was chomping at the bit. It was fucking glorious, sweaty, loud and chaotic. I threw myself into the pit and rode a high for weeks. The electrics shorted during the first song, “Selling Jesus” I think, Skin made a joke and the collective laughter made me feel a sense of belonging. Gigs became a priority after that. Not seeing live music has been one of the weirdest most alien things through lockdown. I don’t meditate to binaural sounds but instead go back to the memory of seeing Brothers of the Sonic Cloth (Tad Doyle) at the Black Heart and feeling the bass in my belly and my hair blow off my face as the sound cut the air. 

Kev: Thin Lizzy at Hammersmith Odeon – massive!

What are your memories of starting out making music?

Fanny: I used to learn the words to everything I liked and would sing it as much as possible. Well I say sing, I got chucked out the choir for shouting. I was bang into Riot Grrrl and wanted to be Kathleen Hanna but I chose to imitate my other obsession; Babes in Toyland. I thought Kat Bjelland was the coolest person in the planet, she had swagger, volume and the most cathartic scream. I started a band called Bruised Violets, it lasted about 5 minutes and we were fucking awful.  

Kev: Had a band in the Scouts – first song we learned was “Hound Dog”.

T-Red: One memory I have is that even though I learnt all the chords, it took me years learning how to find my own strumming rhythm!  Then one day, it just clicked!

What was your first band/musical project? What are your memories of playing your first gig and are there any recordings out there?

Kev: First and only gig at St Augustine’s Church Hall in Rush Green.

What are your memories of forming T-Bitch?

Fanny: Stevie and I often talked about doing a band, and fun and dressing up were the things we talked about the most. One drunken night they sang the chorus of “Pretty” to me and I was like fuck yeah! I was nervous but determined to learn bass so we could. The first bass line I wrote was the Christmas song and its literally two notes. I took the spirit of Bratmobile with me, determination over skill!

Kev: This will last 18 months if we are lucky. Our first EP not punk or glam enough.

T-Red: I remember performing solo at my birthday and then Stevie asking me if I wanted to join a punk band. I was really pissed and just said ‘yeh why not’, it just happened.

Which band/artist do you think has had the biggest influence on your music over the years?

Fanny: For me it’s gotta be Bikini Kill. They weren’t afraid to stand up for things that really matter. Their shows were loud and chaotic, they made space for women and queer people but they also weren’t afraid to be wrong and admit mistakes and I think thats such an important quality in a political band. 

Kev: Probably Bowie, always evolving

T-Red: The biggest influence on my guitar playing is Minor Threat!

Who are some of your favourite current artists?

Fanny: I’ve gone dark, I mean I’ve always loved metal, especially Doom and Stoner like Sleep, The Melvins and Kyuss, but I’ve become obsessed with Chelsea Wolfe‘s Birth of Violence and Emma Ruth Rundell & Thou‘s – May Our Chambers Be Full, these got me through lockdown. They are beautiful and raw albums, vocally so powerful and lyrically complex. I also love Fontaines DC, Idles, Pigs x7 of course the new MSP album! Big Amanda Palmer fan too.  

Kev: Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons

You have a new album out this month, how has your approach to making music changed since you started out, and how has your sound developed over that time? Is there a particular song on the record that epitomises what you’re aiming to achieve or that is particularly special to you for any reason?

Kev: We have got better at mixing our own sounds to form a T-Bitch brand.

Stevie B: When I listen back to our original EP, it really sounds NOTHING like we do now!  Its difficult to put into words, however between us and the wider T-Bitch family, we have found a blend of punk/glam/hooks that seems to really work well, and we are not ashamed to throw in a little bit of Rocky Horror influence to give it that cheeky edge.  I think “Get Tucked” really shows all of our influences but with a cheeky bit of boogie woogie for added flavour!

Listen to T-Bitch’s ‘Life In 15 Songs’ playlist below:

March of The Othering is out now – get it on Bandcamp

Find out more on T-Bitch’s official website

Interview by Paul Maps

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