Nothing says ‘happening’ like a four band bill hitting the road and touring these sceptred isles in a van. Or vans.
So it is with the Specialist Subject Records tour that starts on 6th May at Manchester’s Retro Bar, with Caves, Doe, Shit Present and Personal Best. Part of a blossoming DIY indie punk scene, all four bands offer their own melodious twists on the personal-is-political that has increasingly found an audience over the past few years.
Personal Best (recently expanded to a four-piece) released an album, Arnos Vale, last year that carefully balanced the sweet and rockier elements to satisfying ends. We caught up with the band’s vocalist and guitarist Katie Gatt for another round of banalities and local intrigue in the latest instalment of our Welcome Pack strand.
Greetings, Personal Best. Please introduce yourselves, starting with the tallest band member and working down.
Ummm, well it’s hard for everyone to introduce ourselves ‘cos it’s just me (Kate) chatting, but Jay is defs the tallest and he also plays in Haters and has his own band called Crushing, who are brilliant. Then El Morgan is next tallest; El’s just opened a cool studio called Southsea Sound and is a future national treasure. Then Tom Hussey is the penultimate shortest member and he has a van. I’m the shortest but loudest member, although El gives me a run for my money when she’s had beer. We called her ‘Turbo El’ when that happens.
You’re about to head off on tour. Who gets to choose the music in the van? Do you ever fight about who gets to sit where?
We’re doing a cool thing in preparation for the upcoming tour – we have made an open Spotify playlist for people to add music to. I think we have about thirteen hours worth of music so far. The only downside is that it’s a platform for people to showcase their obscure music tastes (as if we care about that), because really we just want to listen to Robyn and Northern Soul.
I almost always go in the passenger seat up front because I’m the boss and then I get music choice privileges as well. We all like the same stuff so it’s fine and if anyone gives me grief I just knock ’em back into line.
What was the most important bit of kit you’ve forgotten to take to a gig?
Personally I’ve never forgotten to bring anything really serious but Lou (Caves, Worriers – our old drummer) once forgot to bring my guitar to a gig we played in Cardiff with One Happy Island. That was pretty important. I had to borrow the other band’s guitar, and it was a really expensive old vintage thing that I was terrified of damaging.
What was the worst place you’ve ever had to stay after a show?
Nowhere sticks out to be honest – I don’t want to be ungrateful. We stayed somewhere in Florida after a house show and they had a massive Alsatian (who was lush) and when I got up in the morning to brush my teeth, I had to step over the sleeping dog, and I dropped my toothbrush, bristle-side down, on his butthole. So maybe that counts as a bad sleep-over experience!
What would your ultimate Personal Best merch be, if budget were no issue?
Some kind of food range like a pasta sauce. No! Our own branded peanut butter: ‘Personal Peanut’.
Tell us the stupidest thing that you ever saw happen at school.
Reinforcement of gender roles and the capitalist mode of production. Also a cow got into our playground once.
Do any of the band have famous ancestors? If not, tell us who your favourite local celebrity is.
I learned the other day during a band dinner that Tom Hussey’s family were all bakers and there were many Hussey bakeries around the country at one point. My grandma is convinced we are related to the Stuart monarch line through some kind of bastard child but that’s obviously ridiculous.
I’ve just had to Google ‘local celebrities Portsmouth’ and apparently PETER SELLERS was born here! Amazing! And Charles Dickens, but that’s an obvious one.
What were the words of the first verse of the first song you ever wrote?
‘I don’t know what side of whose bed I got out of / I feel great, I hope it’s like this tomorrow.’ Awful. Doesn’t even made sense. I was 13.
If you were going to cover a Prince track, what would it be?
Ohhhhhh, tough question. I think we could do a grand job of ‘When You Were Mine’. Great riff in that.
Be honest now – do I look good in my pork pie hat?
The only acceptable wearers of pork pie hats are Fozzie Bear and The Specials. Don’t go there mate.
For more information about hat haters Personal Best, check out their Facebook page.