Friday 27 April 2018

Pin your hopes

They all have jobs outside of music, but the PINS are sticking in there, writes Eamon Sweeney

Manchester band The Pins
Manchester band The Pins
Manchester band The Pins
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Manchester has a world-renowned reputation for the laddish rock of Oasis, but girl group PINS are giving the city a raucous injection of wholesome female attitude with their calling card single and album, Girls Like Us.

"Manchester has moved on," says frontwoman Faith Holgate. "The Hacienda closed years ago. The Factory is a student club, it's awful. All those things have gone, and I don't see any evidence of the old scene anymore.

"Now, all the bands are doing their own thing. They all seem to be inspired by other bands and other cities in the world. Promoters are putting on shows and DIY nights in strange places. That's much more of a scene at the moment. I don't feel any shadow from Manchester's past."

Neither are PINS a flash-in-the pan flavour of the month, week, moment or however long it takes to post a tweet. The plaudits also have a bit more depth, such as one commentator who opined: "Girls Like Us is a unifying record which will hopefully push female musicians to get out there and get heard."

"There was a lot of talk about us being a hype- or buzz-band last year," says Holgate. "I think that anyone who gets any attention nowadays gets called that, simply because it's become such an internet-driven thing that operates at such high-speed.

"As we've put more music out, it has faded away a little bit because people see that you're sticking around. The attention we've been getting from outside Manchester has been amazing. When we first started, it was a complete novelty to play in London. Next thing you know, someone in Australia would be tweeting us. You forget for a minute that someone on the other side of the world can hear your music."

PINS' sassy punk spirit took some time to nurture, as Holgate tried to find the right personnel for the band.

"There are a lot of great female musicians out there, but they just need a bit of encouragement," she says.

"I started meeting up with people, jamming and playing guitar, but nothing clicked. After a while, I thought I'd put my own band together, so I started jamming with Anna [Donigan], who I met through mutual friends.

"We started putting up notices and flyers all around the city, saying, 'We like Joy Division and The Jesus and Mary Chain, want to be in a band?' A few people rang up and we'd get together and play. The whole process took about a year to find the right people.

"We wanted to at least practise three times a week, so it can be hard to get people to do that, but we got there in the end. I was the only songwriter at the start, but as everyone got more confident we all started to contribute. We're all bloody singing now."

PINS certainly aren't one woman's vision, as the Mancunians have extremely democratic and co-operative working methods.

"We're all on the same wavelength," says Holgate. "We develop the design and artwork together. It's something we all agree on. If something is a stupid idea, it's good that's there are three other people to point it out and say that it's a stupid idea. There's a lot of constant talking back and forth, but I think it's helped us create a consistent look with the videos and everything else. We don't give control away."

The band's forthcoming Irish tour is only the second major jaunt PINS have embarked on in their short career.

"This is the first time we've been to Ireland as a band and my first time ever," says Holgate. "We're very excited about it. We have an Irish band on our label called September Girls, who we're huge fans of. They'll be playing one of the shows with us."

PINS run their own label called Haus of Pins, but also signed a contract with former Cocteau Twins member and Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde, who facilitated a release on 10-inch glitter vinyl, as you do.

"We played a show at the Bunker in Salford with Savages," recalls Holgate. "Simon Raymonde came to watch us. He immediately said he'd sign us and he sent over the papers the very next day, which was obviously very exciting.

"You haven't a clue about lawyers and contracts when you start a band, but we wanted to go with them and he was happy to have us."

Despite this vote of confidence, PINS aren't yet fully immersing themselves in the band as their sole endeavour.

"I'd love to be doing this full-time, but sadly our bank balances won't allow for that just yet," says Holgate. "We all work when we can. I do photography, which is what I did in uni, so I'm just following on from that."

"Anna does waitressing in a couple of places and Sophie is a session musician. Lois works on art projects. She's always bringing us along to exhibition launches for free drinks."

"It's very helpful that I do photography and Lois has access to lots of equipment. There are still a lot of perks to the working world."

As well as sounding distinctive, PINS have a very singular look. "I always loved the way '60s bands would look so cool and put a lot of effort into their appearance and outfits," Faith says.

"It adds another dimension. We also like to use our own visuals we've made ourselves when we play live. We love to create an atmosphere and be fully involved a powerful experience."

PINS play The Pavilion, Cork on Wednesday, December 4; Bourke's, Limerick on Thursday, December 5; The Workman's, Dublin on Friday December 6 and Roisin Dubh, Galway on Saturday, December 7. Girls Like Us is out now on Bella Union.

Irish Independent

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