Hearing something truly original is a dying art â€â€œ fact. Back in 1999 a band was formed that tore up the template for how music should sound. Well, they did around Rotherham anyway. thisGIRL (originally called ‘Girlâ€™ but suffering from American Nightmare syndrome, they were forced to change it â€â€œ good one, Phil Collen) were an fascinating band.
I discovered them during my first year at university through a guy I worked with on the uni newspaper known as ‘Bob.’ He was from Greece, and his real name was a combination of ‘Iâ€™sâ€™ ‘Oâ€™sâ€™ and ‘Nâ€™sâ€™ and was pretty unpronounceable, so ‘Bobâ€™ was quite fitting; plus he was a massive NOFX fan. Anyway, Bob told me about this band thisGIRL that were playing at the The Boat Race (local music dive in Cambridge, now sadly a wine bar for smug-fucks to enjoy Ã‚Â£18 glasses of vinegar-tasting bile) and said I should come along. Unfortunately by the time the Rotherham 4-piece came on the stage, I was significantly intoxicated. But, I do remember seeing the chaotic form of vocalist Liam Creamer throwing himself around the small stage like a dented ping pong ball, whilst guitarist Chris Shepherd, drummer Ryan Jenkinson and wheel-chair bound bassist Matt Westley (broken foot!) kept everything in check â€â€œ sort of.
After a few months of searching, I managed to find ‘Short Strut To The Brassy Frontâ€™, their debut album released by Lockjaw records. Despite being a little rough around the edges, it was a sincere and passionate piece of work, emphasising the bandâ€™s unique heavy structure, coupled with their punk tendencies and graceful instrumental breaks. Creamerâ€™s vocal range swung from a hoarse scream, to club-singer style croons, backed up by his trademark yelp and sometimes garbled pronunciation. Tracks like ‘Lifts, Curves and Separatesâ€™ and ‘Using Radars To Communicateâ€™ show how thisGIRL switched from the heavy/quiet dynamic is such a graceful and delicate way, that you hardly noticed; whilst ‘Stop Making Senseâ€™ and ‘Three Minute Spanish Filmâ€™ proved just how volatile and explosive they could be.
I didnâ€™t see the band again, until early 2006, but they went on a number of quite high profile tours, with various bands from alternate ends of the music spectrum, including: Scottish-odd balls Biffy Clyro, industrial-we-will-never-split-up-metallers Pitchshifter and Hell Is For Heroes as well as gigs with the excellent Glassjaw and the not so excellent, The Used. Quite bizarrely they supported Deftones at Brixton Academy in 2002, and played with Limp Bizkit at that free gig in 2003 at Finsbury Park. Due to the meathead nature of the red-baseball cap wearing cretins that attended, Creamer and Co were bottled. Several fans even took the time to fill bottles full of piss, which made their way to the stage, only for Creamer to take one and empty the contents over himself.
Between 2002-2003, they released ‘…has fangs too’, a 3 song EP that juxtaposed their ability to build up a thunderous wall of sound and moments of spaced-out, euphoric rock.Ã‚Â In the coming months they released the ‘Demos for the Familyâ€™ EP, a rare 4-tracker, comprised of demo sessions, 1 of which made its way on to their sophomore album. The ‘Demosâ€Â¦â€™ compilation saw thisGIRLâ€™s style change yet again, opting for a more light-hearted, almost pop-rock approach to their every altering sound.
In 2004, they signed to Drowned In Sound records and recorded and released their second album, the confusingly titled ‘Uno.â€™ With ‘Unoâ€™ thisGIRL departed from their trademark scrappy alt-punk, quiet-loud dynamic and shifted into a more upbeat rock outfit, emphasising the use of groove-filled bass work and faster passages of distorted indie. ‘Master Blasterâ€™ best exemplifies their unstable nature; sounding like a stonerâ€™s paradise, whilst ‘Hallelujahâ€™ followed a more conventional path of polished-punk rock. Songs like ‘Inshallahâ€™ utilised dream-like string passages and ‘Drake’ sowed seeds of dark, almost film-noir-style slow jazz,Ã‚Â which again proved how impossible it was to pigeonhole thisGIRL.
After a tour through January and February in 2006, the band remained quiet, concentrating on recording several demos, before announcing they were to split in November 2006. There were no details as to the reason behind the split, just that the band known as thisGIRL would be laid to rest. They promised to return in another shape/form in the future. Their last gig was at The Point in Cardiff on December 14th.
ThisGIRL were one of those bands that real came into their own as a live act. They made their albums sound flat when they took to the stage. Creamer would spend most of the time running through the crowd, tangling his mic-lead around fans, singing in peopleâ€™s faces, climbing over everything, whilst Westley and Shepherd would be jumping about so much, they seem to get stuck in mid-air. This left Jenkinson; the only one who ever sits still, to bludgeon his kit senseless. Iâ€™ll miss thisGIRL, they really made music feel exciting and invigorating and were a band that I can honestly say, were totally unique but incredibly awkward.
Where are they now?
After disbanding, Creamer, Westley, Shepherd and Jenkinson concentrated on other projects, before re-convening with a keyboardist in tow and formed Skeletons, who have been getting the kind of press coverage and feedback that thisGIRL always missed out on.
Here’s a live video ‘Sahara‘ one of the more heavier moments in their career. This shows just how frantic their lives performances were. (Might take a while to load as I think it’s high quality, oooh!)
Official site (no longer updated)
By Ross Macdonald, with help from Wikipedia.