Responsible for tempting punk kids onto disco dancefloors, the Gossip’s breakthrough hit in the UK, ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’, remains a mainstay on DJ playlists to this day, irresistible in its catchiness and rampant, raucous call-to-arms chorus.
But the trio – Beth Ditto, Hannah Blilie and Brace Paine (also known as Nathan Howdeshell) – have more to offer besides their ‘calling card’ crossover hit. With a fourth studio album due at the end of the month, titled ‘Music For Men’, they’ve amassed a catalogue brimming with genre classics: punchy dance-punk with plenty of pop sass.
Clash caught up with the band for our next cover feature – read the full interview in issue 39 of Clash Magazine, on the racks from June 4, and find preview video content HERE. As a preview, here’s just a snippet of what we discussed.
Some of the songs on the new album sound quite angry, or accusatory. Are you an angry person?
Beth: I’m not angry. No, I always think that people think that women in music are always angry. I’m not angry. Rock ‘n’ roll music made by men is so much more over-the-top aggressive than when a women says ‘you’ and they’re screaming it, it’s like, ‘Oh my God!’ I’m like, ‘Have you heard rock music made by men?’ I always think that’s really interesting. I think if you ever met me you’d be like, ‘That person is not angry’. When we made this record I was talking to Rick Rubin and I was like: ‘Do you think it’s wrong to talk to a person in a song? There’s always a ‘you’ or an ‘I’ in every song’, and he was like: ‘Bob Dylan is an ‘I’ person and Neil Young is a ‘you’ person. They’re always talking to someone or about themselves, and it may or not be them, it may be someone else.’ And I don’t even like Bob Dylan or Neil Young, but I was like, ‘Oh, totally’. Like, it was really validating because I was like: ‘It’s okay’. But in retrospect, it’s like what you were saying, when you talk about it, you start to think about it; ‘What is it about?’ I don’t feel angry at a person. There’s a lot of warnings – I think it’s like I’m warning myself a lot. I think I’m talking to myself a lot. I talk to myself a lot! (Laughs)
Why did you call the album ‘Music For Men’?
Beth: Well, for one it’s really funny – we think it’s funny…
Hannah: …To make a feminist record called ‘Music For Men’.
Beth: I think people who are really down are really gonna think it’s funny, or they’re really gonna get it. It’s really ironic, but it’s really true; I think the idea of making a feminist record for men is really cool. Because we already know that we’re oppressed – men need to know that we’re oppressed.
Hannah: And it’s our first major label record working for men. (Laughs) I mean, we work with a lot of women too, but it’s sort of like working for The Man.
Beth: Also, I wanted it to be a hit in Ibiza. I wanted it to be gay like that. It means a lot of things, but it’s also just kind of funny. Originally the cover of the record was going to be Nathan with a top hat on and a monocle, but he wouldn’t do it. I really wanted him to do it. I was like: ‘It would be so great’.
Beth, you said that you went through what you called ‘post-natal depression’ after delivering this album. Was it like a massive release of energy?
Beth: Yeah. It was crazy to hold on to something that long and let it go.
You have a history of depression. Is that something that’s always with you?
Beth: I think when you think about what the odds are for human beings, I think it honestly gets a bit depressing. I was just in another interview and he was telling me about this American radio guy called Michael [Savage] who’s like super right-wing and people are obsessed with him. I was like, you know, I don’t get as sad that that guy has a radio show as I do that there are people listening to it that are totally into it. I think that those things really make me sad – they honestly affect my daily life.
Hannah: And the end of the world is always weighing down!
Beth: (Laughs) Yeah, the end of the world! I don’t try to think of the end of the world the way other people do because I spent so much of my childhood thinking about the end of the world and I don’t want to do that anymore. But a lot of people do and that gets me down. I also think that just existing is really sad; I don’t know if that’s chemical or what but yeah, I’ve had a couple of nervous breakdowns in my life. Totally fine. Not a biggie. But it’s all changed. I’m always like: ‘When’s the next one gonna be?’ (Laughs) But it’s been really strange because making music has really helped it.
Read our exclusive Gossip interview in issue 39 of Clash Magazine; ‘Music For Men’ is released through Columbia on June 22. Find Gossip on MySpace HERE.
BONUS CONTENT: Check out videos from our photo shoot with the band, and live clips from the trio’s recent set at London’s Scala, HERE.