Radar Band Of The Week No:91 – Savages


Savages: Dark, intense post-punk inciting fervour and fear among all who hear it

Sometimes you almost feel embarrassed to tell people you’re in a band,” laughs Savages’ drummer Fay Milton. “It seems like such a cliché.”

“People put you in that embarrassment, though,” argues singer Jehnny Beth, “like ‘band equals entertainment’… but that’s not how I see it. Of course there’s a part that’s entertainment, but it’s good if we can change things just a little in people’s heads…”

Savages, a band spoken of by all who’ve seen them with wide-eyed wonder, are not content to be just another new-band-of-the-day. Their first practice was only in October, and they played their debut gig, supporting British Sea Power, in January. From that point, they (and everyone in attendance) knew something special was happening.

“After that show we sat down, and the first thing we said was, ‘OK, I think we’re a good band,’” laughs Jehnny. “It was designed for the stage. The whole idea was to play to people, to generate a lot of different emotions.”

Savages’ shows are indeed frottage-inducingly intense affairs. Their recent show at the cosily named Führer Bunker in Salford featured the band playing in a wooden cage, surrounded by baying converts in every direction (including up). The darkly vibrant ‘Flying To Berlin’ and the pulsating ‘Shut Up’ captivate, while Ayse Hassan’s agile and ominous bass, Gemma Thompson’s buzzsawing post-punk guitar and Fay’s itchily danceable drumming underpin Jehn’s words of war and fiendish yelps. They laugh when we ask if they mean to be so scary. “It’s a very primeval thing,” muses Gemma. “If you really loved what you were doing and put everything into it, I don’t know how you could not be intimidating in a way.”

A scarily good double A-side single is due out on Jehn’s label Pop Noire (formed in her days in former band John & Jehn) in June. Beyond that, who knows? “We will do what we need to do and what is good for the band,” Jehn assures us. Whatever the year holds for these girls, we’re sure it’ll be nothing to be embarrassed about.
Emily Mackay

Need To Know

Based: London
For fans of: The Pop Group, The Birthday Party
Buy It Now: ‘Flying To Berlin’/ ‘Husbands’ due out in June
See them live: Savages play London’s Shacklewell Arms on May 29 and Manchester’s Islington Mill on May 30
Believe it or not: Guitarist Gemma trained for a year to become an airline pilot, while drummer Fay spent six months working in a Japanese psychiatric institution

This article originally appeared in the May 26th issue of NME

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