Girlschool: Unapologetically rock and roll

By Alex Molten

SKINNY_GIRLSCHOOL_PROMOVANCOUVER — The world may know Enid Williams as bassist and vocalists of the long-running all-female rock band Girlschool, but Mimi doesn’t care about this because Mimi is a cat.

“I’ve got a very vocal cat, her name’s Mimi, and it’s very appropriate. Me-Me and now is her ‘Me’ time where she gets very demanding and absolutely insists that I play with her. So I apologize for the racket in the background,” Williams laughs.

Despite Mimi’s antics, Williams was able to talk about the iconic Girlschool, a group that was part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal right alongside bands like Motörhead. The current incarnation of the band is comprised of founding members Kim McAuliffe on guitar and vocals, Denise Dufort on drums, both Williams and Jackie Chambers on guitar and vocals, with Chambers joining the band in 1999.

While many bands hit it big and then disappear, Girlschool has had longevity. “This year is the 40th year since Kim and I did our first gig together. Kim and I grew up in the same street. We often have a tempestuous relationship and it’s certainly dynamic… We’ve known each other since the day we were born, we went to the same junior school together,” muses Williams, describing how Girlschool came together. “We grew up listening to the same music. We loved Bowie, but then we got into Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, [Led] Zeppelin. Those were the bands that we loved, as well as the glam stuff.”

Despite often being defined as an all-female band, Girlschool may have not been an all-women act had the attitudes around them been different when starting out. “When we wanted to play and we went down to the youth club all the guys laughed at us and so that’s reason we started a female band, Kim and myself, and didn’t get a couple guys to play with. [It was] because all the guys that we knew said, ‘Well girls don’t play music’ and laughed and we said, ‘Right, sod you.”

Sod them they did. The rock and roll lifestyle appealed to the girls who were looking for an adventure beyond the lives they saw around them. “We came from working class backgrounds and the potential for what you were going to do with your life was really limited, even more-so being female in the ‘70s. What got us into rock and roll, what got us into being in a band was that we loved the music and we wanted to do it in the same way that guys love the music. It was also about wanting to get away from the place that we grew up. Wanting to have lives that were different from the lives that our mothers had and different from the lives that were expected for women at that time,” says Williams.

Their dreams of touring became very real and 37 years after forming, the band is embarking on a tour to support their 13th studio album Guilty as Sin.

“We’d been talking about making an album for a while and the producer, Chris [Tsangarides], was very ill at the beginning of last year and really nearly died so it was kinda up in the air for a long time,” says Williams about the birth of the project. She goes on to describe the energy of the project as urgent once it was decided that it would happen. In this process they found themselves using different tactics of songwriting for the upcoming album.

Elaborating on the creative process Williams explains, “Kim and Jackie and myself individually took some ideas we had had from the past and reworked them and then we brought in some new stuff [so] we’ve got a really eclectic mixture, it’s quite a retro album in some respects. It’s almost like an homage to the music we’ve loved over the years but from our own perspective.”

What’s the Girlschool perspective? It’s an unapologetic attack on rock and roll that hasn’t let up since it started. Being an all women group in a male dominated field hasn’t slowed them down; it’s motivated them. “Don’t tell me I can’t do something! That’s like a red rag to a bull,” concludes Williams.

Girlschool perform at Venue on May 29th.

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