"Music and politics are inextricable": a chat with Glitoris

“Music and politics are inextricable”: Glitoris chat their debut album The Policy

Since forming at a protest festival back in 2014, Canberra four-piece Glitoris have maintained an uncompromising approach to their music. As they tackle various social justice issues, the band present an unapologetic brand rock music that feels simultaneously hard-hitting and approachable.

So we caught up with guitarist Andrew Glitoris to chat about their upcoming debut album, the Pussy Riot comparison, and the inextricable bond between music and politics.

We’re not answerable to a major label, a management company, or anybody who’s going try and censor us“: Glitoris chat their upcoming debut album The Policy.

HAPPY: You’ve finished recording your new album The Policy, and it’s almost ready to go. How does it feel having it all done?

ANDREW: Yeah it’s awesome. It’s been a huge undertaking. We began writing at the beginning of 2017, we went on a weekend away to the coast around May last year, and that’s where we wrote a big chunk of the material… stuff like The Policy, Warriors, we wrote Cock Rock there, a couple of others.

We spent some time at the end of 2017 performing, we did some shows for Shonen Knife, which were awesome. We did some shows with Frenzal Rhomb, and that’s where we met Jay… and he was really keen on the band and wanted to record us. So we spent the rest of the year rehearsing and getting the songs in shape to record.

HAPPY: It’ll be the follow-up to your 2016 EP The Disgrace… do you feel you approached the process of piecing together a full-length album differently to an EP?

ANDREW: To be honest, no. Look, we were in a completely different mindset to when we were doing The Disgrace EP, and you’ll probably hear that it’s a move up from The Disgrace EP. When we were doing Disgrace, we were a very trashy punk band. We weren’t really taking ourselves too seriously. We had a handful of songs that were okay, and we recorded it all very locally. We didn’t really put much thought into it.

Our work back then was very spontaneous, whereas with The Policy we approached it differently because we realised we actually had something that was gaining momentum, that people were really interested in. Our fans were getting more demanding, our shows were getting more hype, and we realised that as musicians, we were capable of doing so much more. So we spent a far greater amount of time on the songwriting for the album.

And also, when we went into record with Jay, we recorded twenty one songs. It was mammoth. We spent weeks with him. And then from that, we picked the thirteen songs that are on the album. So yeah, we approached this record very differently to The Disgrace EP.

HAPPY: You mentioned that as the band gets bigger, fans get more demanding. Did that ever get daunting for you? Releasing a full-length album…

ANDREW: Nope. Because we’ve all done it before. The thing is, what’s going on in music at the moment, is there’s a lot of artists who are young and inexperienced who are putting out music for the very first time… and we’re not. We’ve all been in previous bands, we’ve all been present in one way or another in the music industry.

I think we’ve learned so much from past projects that we’re now in a position where we’re experienced enough to go about things in a way that we know might resonate. And at the same time, we’re not answerable to a major label, a management company, or anybody who’s going try and censor us, or steer our work into any mainstream direction, because that’s just not what we’re about.

HAPPY: Every article or interview I read on you, there seems to be this comparison to Pussy Riot… though, as you’ve expressed in the past, you don’t really sound anything like Pussy Riot…

ANDREW: No, and I think it’s a really lazy comparison… I really do. And I think the band is getting a bit tired of that comparison. Not that what they do isn’t valuable or important, because it absolutely is. However, they are a performance art collective… we are a band with four accomplished musicians.

We’ve all had musical training. We’ve all been in previous outfits. We are a band, and we write and perform music, and we sound nothing like Pussy Riot, and we look nothing like Pussy Riot. It’s so lazy, because it’s like “oh, there’s a bunch of girls yelling.” We’ve got more in common with Rage Against The Machine than we have with Pussy Riot.

HAPPY: The reason I ask is… do you think that for politically driven bands, the content of their music prevents some people from accessing it at a musical level?

ANDREW: We don’t really think about that, because the two go hand in hand. We’re a band that has strong political views, and that is inextricable from our music. I keep coming back to Rage Against The Machine, but you can’t access their music without accessing their politics. It was the same with Public Enemy, it was the same with N.W.A. There’s a history of artists, even Midnight Oil if you want to use an Australian example, or even Regurgitator, who we’ve been fortunate enough to tour with – you can not possibly access that band’s music without accessing their politics. The music and politics are inextricable.

HAPPY: Going back a few years now… you formed your band as part of a protest festival in Canberra, right? Could you walk us through how that came about?

ANDREW: Yeah, that’s right. So Tony and Kevin 007 formed the band at a political protest. The whole idea was to rock up at the festival naked, covered in glitter and perform. It was supposed to be a one-off… but the show sold out and there were people desperate to get in, and there was a lot of hype around it. And then later in 2014, I joined the band as a lead guitar player, and we then played a few more shows.

It was very clear that there was a demand for the band, and we made the decision in early 2015 that we wouldn’t be naked anymore… that it’d be a gimmick, and that would retract from the music… more so than the politics. We had some guys turn up to our shows who had completely missed the point. We just wanted to focus on the music and on the message. So we dropped that part of the show, and decided to move on.

HAPPY: Your live show is an experience… and your fan base are a big part of that. Could you tell us a bit about the Gliterati?

ANDREW: Yeah, The Gliterati. I think I can pinpoint when that started. It was at the Transit Bar in Canberra. It was sold-out, and this is going back four years ago… and people turned up like an army. We’d never seen anything like it. Somebody turned up with Glitoris shaved into the back of their head. We didn’t have t-shirts at that point, we had nothing, we didn’t have anything for our fans. So a whole bunch of fans turned up in custom made t-shirts.

I can’t remember who it was, but one of the band shouted out “You’re the Gliterati, you’re our new army of fans.” They were going nuts, they were going crazy. That’s when we realised just how important our fan base was. Then we got quite personal with our fans… we started hanging out with them after shows, and we realised some of their stories are just extraordinary.

We’ve got a lot of fans from the LGBTQI community, we’ve got a lot of trans fans, but we’ve also got a huge number of heterosexual white males. In fact, I’d say they’re the people we’ve resonated with the most. We feel they want to engage with feminist discourses, but they don’t know a way into that. So getting back to your question on politics, that’s why Glitoris is so important. Because of course, our LGBT fanbase, and our feminist fanbase, and our trans fanbase, they’re all going to love us… and they form a hugely important part of our audience.

I think Glitoris is, by design, working on different levels. It’s a way of accessing a certain politics that’s actually really needed and really important right now to people who might feel disclosed from those discourses.

Glitoris’ debut album The Policy is out Friday November 2nd.

Friday 16th November 2018 – Vinnies Dive Bar, Gold Coast QLD
Sunday 18th November 2018 – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane QLD
Friday 23rd November 2018 – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney NSW
Saturday 24th November 2018 – Lass O’Gowrie, Newcastle NSW
Thursday 29th November 2018 – Servo, Wollongong NSW
Friday 30th November 2018 – The Bendigo Hotel, Melbourne VIC
Friday 7th December 2018 – The Basement, Canberra ACT

More info here.