26th Jan2011

Your New Favorite Band: Betty and the Werewolves

by Todd

A London, UK based female fronted indie-pop band, with Laura McMahon (voice & guitar), Helen Short (bass, voice & keyboards), Emily Bennet (guitar & voice) & Doug McFarlane (drums). Formed in 2007, they are three girls & one boy (from London & Cambridge). They take their inspiration from classic romantic literature & old “Look-In” annuals. Whooping & howling through the night as their sweetly sung melodies collide with glitter-struck punk guitars. From Virginia Woolf & Grandma Wolf – they sing ditties about falling in love with David Cassidy & strange encounters on night buses, shouting all the while and scuffing up their party shoes. TDOA writer Amy talked to them about their C86 sound and the charm of…. wolves.

TDOA: I don’t think I could have been any more excited about the juxtaposition of Indie-Rock-Showtunes. The dork in me was thrilled. How did you guys come to this intersection of badassery?

LM: We’ve always been rather indie, but then one of us is into AC/DC too, and there’s always been a kind of vaudeville aspect to Betty as well. Many of our songs sound like musical numbers gone wrong. Betty is a mad aunt who likes to perform cabaret numbers in a lavendar cardigan, accessorised with a teacup of gin and a flying V.

TDOA: C86. Influential or incidental? Because when I hear you, I think of Shop Assistants and some of those great bands from that period. We’re kind of isolated, here in the U.S.. Does C86 still have an influence on music in England or is it barely remembered ancient history?

LM: Ah, we do like those Shop Assistants. C86 stuff has had a big influence on us, as well as 60s girl groups, and there are lots of bands in the UK at the moment who sound as if they’re influenced by these things…it’s quite lovely, with lots of us playing together regularly at popfests and the like.

TDOA: I don’t get to interview a ton of band frontwomen – what’s that like, being one of the few in your industry? We did an interview with the singer from Blood Red Shoes and talked about the sexist, exploitive nature of the media. Do you consider that an ongoing concern or could you care less?

LM: So much music of all kinds still seems dominated by male artists, but there are also all sorts of ways in which gender power hierarchies are not as fixed as they used to be. But of course it’s important to carry on challenging these kinds of hierarchies whenever we can, which is one of the things that Betty likes to do with her flying V. We really like playing for festivals like Ladyfest which celebrate women in music and in the arts more broadly.

TDOA: So, the guy in the band (Doug) plays the “disco drums.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term used – what does that mean?

LM: It’s either:
a) A beat that you can disco dance to. We stipulate this because we like people to dance to our songs.
b) The only beat that Doug can play. What do you think?

TDOA: Clearly, you guys are into wolves. Steppenwolf, Virginia Woolf, Wolfgang Amadeus, and Grandma Wolf are listed in your influences. Who else do you consider to be musical influences, other than these? And does this mean you’re Team Jacob? (that’s the werewolf one, right?…… hmm…)

LM: We also like Delta 5, Dolly Mixture, Chopin, death metal and Elvis Costello.

TDOA: What advice do you have for young girls that want to be rock stars?

LM: Always have a well-informed answer for the sound man.

TDOA: What influences your visual aesthetic? I imagine a crazy-as-hell 1950s housewife.

LM: It depends what we have clean really. Mainly picnic dresses and stuff that can be bought for 50p from car boots and charity shop. It often involves glitter and sequins. Emily likes to wear striped tights with holes in them. Laura likes to wear 60s dresses in pretty colours. Doug likes to wear BLACK.

TDOA: What are you guys listening to these days? I saw Tender Trap in a blog post, but do you have any recommendations for us to add to our playlists?

LM: We heart Tender Trap. We now share Emilywolf with them. Helen’s favourite bands at the moment are Veronica Falls, Cold Pumas, Sauna Youth, Trash Kit, Spin Spin the Dogs and Django Django. We think Doug’s favourite new band is The Who.

TDOA: A little sad to be missing the All-Day IndiePop Fest that you guys are playing at on the 25th of September – what are your thoughts on playing such a cool gig?

LM: Ah, that was a while ago now – sorry, our fault! But the gig was really fun! We got to see Sunnystreet and Allo Darlin’ and Milky Wimpshake and 2 sets of parents made it to see us too! Helen’s Mum said the parking in Nottingham was really cheap, so that’s good. And Nottingham is Doug’s home town. Doug’s parents have a good selection of cheese.

For more information, follow the band on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/bettyandthewerewolves

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