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Dollars to Pounds: Stricken City

Photographer Phil Sharp
July 13, 2009

If it was the mid-'80s, Stricken City would be the archetypal British indie band. They studied film and fashion, have an eccentric knockout for a singer, and write songs that are ramshackle, charming and slightly obscure. They’re indie in the best, oldest sense of the word. The kind of band whose logo you’d carefully carve into your desk with a protractor during double science. Here’s an exclusive track from their charming new EP, Songs About People I Know. I met up with the quartet on a hot day in East London to talk about DVDs, Gossip Girl and writing songs about people you know, but don’t necessarily like.

Download: Stricken City, "Killing Time"

So why are we in East London today?
Rebekah Rah: We're at the House of Strange to record the live DVD for our EP which is out in September.

Iain Pettifer: We wanted to put out a 12-inch but were told that was a silly idea. So we had to make a CD. We don't like CDs so we thought we'd make it a DVD as well.

RR: Make it a bit special at least.

IP: It's our first proper release with no label backing or money behind so we thought, yeah, let's make it a DVD and put a live show on it.

How long have you guys been together?
IP: Our MySpace was created in 2005 so this is the fourth year of Stricken City. I met Rebekah at school.

RR: Yeah, we were school friends. Kit responded to an advert.

IP: He's our third drummer.

Kit Godfrey: The third and the best.

IP: Mike's the forth bassist and tenth person to have been in the band.

Mike Hyland: My time must be up soon.

IP: Yeah, you haven't got long left.

I was trying to explain your sound to my hairdresser this morning. I said you sound like The Sugarbabes, but what I meant was you sound like The Sugarcubes.
IP: Yeah, we’re a bit like the Sugarbabes.

RR: Haha! I sing exactly like the blond Sugarbabe. Exactly like her. We sound more like Girls Aloud, actually.

IP: We're an indie band but everyone gets really angry if you describe yourself like that. They expect you to be the Kaiser Chiefs.

So what do you think being indie means?
RR: We're indie because we do everything ourselves.

IP: We're a guitar pop band. We're not like a major label rock thing.
RR: We all have jobs. And I design our t-shirts.

The EP is called Songs About People I Know. Who are these people, and do they know you’re writing songs about them?
RR: No, they'd probably be cross if I told them.

IP: We were going to make all the song titles the names of the people...

RR: ...but I thought that’s too much. I wouldn't have any friends left. I don't have very many as it is! It just fascinates me. People's characters. Sometimes you'll remember someone you used to know and think, I'll write a little song about them. It's no necessarily people I still know.

IP: The idea came from our song "PS"...

RR: It's about this girl that I HATE.

IP: It's the bitchiest song ever. We wanted to write something that used that kind of Gossip Girl language.

I heard you like Gossip Girl. Do you think Chuck and Blair's love will last?
RR: I hope not. I hate Blair.

Leighton Meester [who plays Blair] is leaving to become a pop star.
RR: What? Nooo. I hope that means Blair will die spectacularly.

IP: Our song "5 Metres Apart" was originally called "The OC Song" because it sounds like something that would play over the credits. I wish we could've played it in The Bait Shop.

You’re a pretty well documented band, I like your tour videos.
IP: I studied film. So I take my Super8 camera on tour and shoot a reel every now and again. It's silent which is good because it means we don't have to talk on camera.

I just watched Obsessed. It's amazing. Beyonce headbutts that bitch from Heroes. What films do you recommend?
IP: My favourites are Pierrot Le Fou—a Jean Luc Godard film which is really funny—and Breaking Away, an American film about high school kids. It ends with an epic bike race. I dare you to watch it. By the end you will be cheering and crying. It’s amazing. And Dennis Quaid’s in it.

Pre-order Songs About People I Know here. Stricken City will be touring the US later this year.

Scott Wright

From The Collection:

Dollars To Pounds
Dollars to Pounds: Stricken City