360°Sound had the pleasure to chat with singer/bassist Natalie Wardle and drummer Louise Rivett of the Manchester, UK punk band Loose Articles. The four-piece will open for fellow Mancunians and post-punk legends New Order during SXSW on March 13 at the Moody Theater, home of the long-running PBS program Austin City Limits Live.
Formed in 2019 and signed to indie label Alcopop! Records, Loose Articles have released 10 songs with some more tunes set for release in the coming months. In this exclusive interview, Wardle and Rivett discuss their politically-charged punk rock, opening for idols New Order, catching the attention of Dave Grohl, and more.
360°Sound: Will this be your first time in the States?
Natalie Wardle: First time as a band, yeah. I’ve been to America before and Louise has, but not as a band. Exciting!
Have you been having many gigs in the UK?
Wardle: We’ve had loads. We came back after the pandemic, and our first gig was massive. It was the Manchester International Festival. We went from playing really small gigs, and we came back and it was quite big.
Then we got announced to play with the Foo Fighters, which unfortunately didn’t happen. [Editor’s Note: Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins died in March 2022. Loose Articles were scheduled to open for them in Manchester in June]. We didn’t have anything. We didn’t have a booking agent or anything. It was just really a random email from a promoter, saying you’ve been picked by Dave Grohl.
Louise Rivett: It’s nice to think that [Grohl] takes time to listen to people. It was so crazy. It was the biggest shock ever, apart from New Order.
Is New Order a band you’ve been fans of for a long time?
Rivett: I think we all grew up with our parents playing them. Just last week I went home, and my dad got all of his New Order CDs out. That’s what I grew up listening to, and it’s just another reason why it’s really special, all of our families are so invested in it. We love Foo Fighters, but New Order is pretty intense because they’ve been in my life since I was in the womb.
Wardle: Also, we’re not just playing a gig with New Order in Manchester. We’re doing it in Texas. Also, just absolutely mental. They’re such big influences on the whole of the Manchester scene. It’s really, really exciting. We’ll be sharing the stage with The Orielles as well. We’re all mates with them. They’re just such lovely people. I couldn’t think of a better band to be sharing this experience with.
In the song “Orchid Lounge” you sing about liking karaoke. I read the NME interview where you said Louise’s karaoke song would be New Order’s “World in Motion.” Have you sung that at karaoke before?
Rivett: Do you know what? I haven’t. I think I did Gina G.
Wardle: Maybe you can do karaoke as a reality on the stage with New Order.
Rivett: I wonder if they’ll let us do that.
What would you like to say about the punk rock you play?
Wardle: We are an all-female punk band from Manchester. Our music is very tongue-in-cheek lyrics, but we still talk about political things as well. We go from talking about karaoke to talking about climate change.
You rail against the Manchester public transit in “Buses.” What’s so bad about the bus system in Manchester?
Rivett: It’s so expensive.
Wardle: Basically, the bus system is just not that good, and it really annoys ya. We decided to write a song about it.
Rivett: You go to other places in Europe and their public transport is cheaper and on time. You don’t have to wait two hours for the bus.
Wardle: The only good thing is [Manchester mayor] Andy Burnham has [capped the fares] at £2 per seat.
Rivett: It has gotten a bit better since you wrote that song. Maybe he listened to it.
Look at you having a social and political impact. Loose Articles employ a lot of repetition. I think it helps to make the songs so catchy.
Wardle: We like making some of the songs quite hypnotic. I play bass and Louise does the drums. It’s like a chuggy beat that’s always with it.
Rivett: Keeping it minimal, it’s got more impact. We kind of go with the flow, don’t we? When we’re practicing, we just always have a good laugh. That’s the most important thing. And we play it like 20 times faster on stage, which is even better [laughs].
I take it you all are big fans of the beer Stella Artois. You’ve used the logo for your band name, and you’re drinking it in the music videos. Do you have a sponsorship deal with them?
Wardle: I don’t know why we started doing it. It started off as a joke and went a bit too far. Now it’s sort of become who we are, which is really strange. We do like Stella. We do like drinking Stella. We haven’t had a sponsorship just yet. We haven’t been sued by them yet. It will go one way or the other.
Either way, you’ll get publicity. You’ve said you specialize in radical politics. What are some of the views espoused in your music?
Wardle: We have a song “Lethal Weapon.” It’s basically all based around being a working woman and being belittled in the workplace even though you might be doing the same job as someone else.
“Kick Like a Girl” is all about women in sports and how there are slurs against women like “you kick like a girl” and things like that. It’s seen as a negative. In England, the Lionesses won [the 2022 UEFA Women’s Championship] and the men [England men’s national football team] didn’t. We’re here to empower women and say we can do it, too.
What are your gigs like?
Rivett: Fun. Fast. A little bit mental. You’re gonna come away with a smile on your face and a real kick up your ass.
Wardle: We always say they booked us for the festival because we’re the party starters. We literally get the party started. We want you all dancing. It’s mosh pits, dancing, arms around each other. It’s always a safe space for everyone as well.
Many great punk and post-punk bands have come from Manchester – The Fall, Buzzcocks, Joy Division and New Order, to name a few. Do you take inspiration from those bands? There’s also been quite a boom of post-punk bands from the UK in recent years.
Rivett: Yeah, I think there’s definitely something special happening in Manchester at the moment. People looking to the past but still making it all new with the future. We’ve been compared to The Fall quite a lot, which is brilliant because we all love them.
Wardle: It’s a real nice community as well. Everyone looks out for each other. All the punk and post-punk bands are so good. Our first EP was recorded with [Simon “Ding” Archer], who was in The Fall and has produced The Fall. He’s absolutely amazing and was very supportive of us.
Last year during SXSW, I had a chance to interview Manchester band W.H. Lung.
Wardle: Oh, I love W.H. Lung! We played a festival with them in the summer. They came to watch us. They’re just such lovely people, and their music is so much fun live.
What are your hopes and dreams for the band?
Wardle: World domination, obviously. A sponsorship from Stella. And a massive record deal so we can all quit our jobs and have nice houses with big pools.