INTERVIEW: LAUREN TATE - Her New Solo Album, Bullies, Feminism, and Navigating This Crazy World.

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Recently when I was going through some emotional things in my life, I found myself doing what I did when I was growing up. I buried myself in music. Back then, I would put on The Lunachicks or Bikini Kill and feel like they were talking about exactly what I was going through. This time however, I was playing a band that wasn’t around back when I was a lonely high school kid. I played Hands off Gretel, the UK punk band fronted by the incredibly talented and beautiful Lauren Tate. Imagine Pink and Ani Difranco having a baby and then Courtney Love and Joan Jett adopting it and raising it. You would get Lauren. Her honesty lyrics paired with the hard rock and pop punk sound make for a needed feminist role model for women. Even more exciting is that she just released her first official solo album "Songs for Sad Girls." She wrote, played and distributed the entire thing all by herself even creating her own record label called Trash Queen Records.

Tate recently got “criticism” because she posted on her Instagram a long plea to men to stop sexualizing her and her female bass player, Becky. As much as women thanked her and loved every word of it, there were internet trolls making memes and being their usual asshole selves. I was elated when she agreed to do an interview about bullying in music scenes, being a feminist role model, and her new solo album. If you do anything today, go listen to Songs For Sad Girls.

I’m such a fan of your lyrics and I found myself enraptured in your music when I was going through a pretty intense bullying situation. People look at you and must see a woman so talented and beautiful and here you are writing about situations teenage girls go through all the way to experiences that women in their 50’s still face. You seem so confident so where does these lyrics come from?

LT: Aw man I’m so sorry to hear that you went through that. It’s awful, coming from someone who’s never had a friend group and basically spent every weekend in my bedroom with my cat and furry toys I really feel you there. I get questions a lot about my confidence and I think it’s funny because I’ve never been a confident person. If someone got me up on stage to talk or give a speech I think I’d just freeze. But when it comes to my music I can just let go and become a character, not saying I’m faking it though, the character is me but I’m not always this crazy confident singer, a lot of the time I’m just a loner who likes to sit and daydream. 

I wrote ‘Miss American Perfect Body’ about this exact subject. I was receiving messages daily from girls asking me for advise, calling me perfect and I thought it was kinda crazy cause I was just spending most days that summer in my room feeling really depressed, tearing myself down. In many ways the girls who message me think that I’m helping them but they’re helping me too, there’s not many things as magical as women helping other women.

You are bringing back that riot grrl/punk mentality that isn’t seen enough with the music industry these days. How have you found it being a woman in the spotlight? What have been pros and cons for you?

LT: My teen years were one of the most angry times for me, I still feel like i owe that girl a shit load of songs. I freaking loved the books and documentaries on riot grrrl, especially ‘The Punk Singer’ dvd about Kathleen Hannah. I got that for my birthday when I was 17 and the first thing I did was pick up my guitar and look myself in the mirror. ‘YOU HAVE TO DO IT’ I kept telling myself. I was getting pissed that not enough women in music we’re talking thrashing guitars and screaming like back in the 90s, it became apparent quickly then that I had to be that woman I was searching for. 

Let’s talk about you Instagram post that women loved, and internet trolls hated. How did that make you feel when you saw the negative comments? 

LT: To be honest when I get negative comments from guys it doesn’t hurt my feelings the same. Some people will never see eye to eye and as shocking as some comments were I just had to laugh. It’s the same kind of men every time that gravitate towards Facebook to voice their old fashioned opinions while slating us ‘millennials’ and calling us snowflakes or whatever for getting offended all the mean while they’re the ones getting offended. I got a lot of ‘if you dress revealing, you’re asking to be perved on’ which is just disgusting. Made me uneasy to know there were so many men out there that actually believed this and thought us women dressed nice for their gaze. *gipping sounds* Kerrang! gave me a full page though to voice my opinions on men at gigs being inappropriate with myself and my bass player Becky Baldwin. I think a lot of girls in bands agreed with my statement but felt they couldn’t come out there and say it. Some people value amount of fans over the right kind of fans, I’m glad I got rid of a load of them, it made room for way more that actually support my message. I hope more women can speak up about this, creepy dudes at shows, groping girls and creating uncomfortable environments is just ruining it for everybody. 

How do you handle bullies who hide behind keyboards?

LT: The bullies are the worst because I often worry about my safety especially at shows where these people that stalk me and create fake accounts to abuse me and slander me online know exactly where I am. I had fake accounts messaging all my fans individually, sending fake screen shots and telling them I was this awful person. It’s true when they say High school never ends! 

Sometimes I think women can be the most vicious toward other women. I find a lot of women are afraid to speak up for others and the ones that do can be outcasted. First, I thank you for speaking up for other women. Second, have you had a women-bully situation and if so, how do you think these kinds of people effect our music scenes?