It’s a drizzly Tuesday night at the Shacklewell Arms and Glossii vocalist Sofia Zanghirella is delivering a menacing history lesson from the stage. “Divorced, beheaded, died!” she chants, making wild chopping motions. “Divorced, beheaded, survived!” Anyone getting hazy flashbacks to sitting on a tiny chair in a dingy classroom and learning about the Tudor period of British history? You’re not alone.
“Learned it in Year 2, and still doing it now,” smiles bassist Charlie Lock ahead of Glossii’s set at NME’s gig night Girls To The Front. He’s attempting to explain how on earth a children’s memory rhyme — which charts the gruesome fates of King Henry VIII’s six wives — found its way into a punk-rock band’s repertoire. “Henry VIII was her first crush,” he says of Sofia, who appears delighted. “Big boy, let me love you!” she declares, quoting a lyric from ‘Cut’. “I love Henry VIII. We like to take the piss out of how people love the monarchy so much. It’s a bit silly. It’s like a soap opera nowadays. Look in any magazine: The Queen does this, the queen does that. Ridiculous.”
It’s an apt introduction to Glossii’s kingdom, which started out not-too-seriously around two-and-a-half years ago — they’ve only been gigging for about 12 months. Charlie and guitarist Lewis Smith originally formed the band as an excuse to get glammed up. “I FaceTimed Lewis and asked him if he wanted to start a band where we would go in drag on stage,” Charlie recalls. Accidentally, their playful project turned into the real deal after a succession of increasingly bigger slots evolved into a kind of unofficial residency at The Boileroom in Guildford. Gradually, they found themselves sharing bills with like-minded bands HMLTD and Sorry. “Bands that we never thought we would be able to do things with,” admits Charlie. “I thought someone had made a mistake!”
A scrappy new band springs up out of south London’s incendiary music scene every week, it seems. Though Glossii are focused on “doing our own thing,” they reckon that for bands south of the river “there’s a community feel [as we] play in most of the same venues,” says Charlie. “We’ve made a lot of friends along the way.”
Witness Glossii live and their rapid ascent makes sense. Storming the stage, they’re a ferocious prospect: while most groups might bounce off each other in a metaphorical sense, these four physically lock horns and jostle their way through solos. Sofia kneels on the floor and delicately takes the hand of a punter in the front row during new single ‘Watching Me’ as if they’re betrothed in a medieval text.
‘Watching Me’, Sofia explains ahead of the show, is “the first song we ever wrote.” The band grouped together at Charlie’s house and huddled in his little brother’s bedroom. “It was our first stab at doing a heavier song,” Charlie says. “We used to do a lot more chilled, laid-back stuff,” he adds, throwing back to an older iteration of the band called DR!PP.
Going in with open minds, they ended up landing on this twanging track instead; a fictional effort which tells the tale of a modern day Romeo and Juliet following two separate paths. “I wrote it about a girl and a boy who come from very different backgrounds,” Sofia explains. After cranking the volume up, the dial stayed stuck: it’s a space that suits them.
The end of Glossii’s set sees the room respond with jokey pantomime boos, baying for “one more song”. They respond with a shrug and plunge straight into a newie they’ve barely rehearsed; by the end, they’ve collapsed into a heap on the floor. Reckless and visceral, you sense this lot are making music for the sheer joy of it. “We’re excitable people,” grins Charlie. “If you come to a gig and we’re out in the smoking area, you’ll hear us before you see us.”