Seeing Savages play at 8am at the 100 Club is now the most valid and original excuse for being late for work. As part of their release for record number two, ‘Adore Life’, the band decided on a very unique morning show. At the underground venue, the lights glared unforgivingly at a sober, bleary-eyed crowd who clutched double espressos with anticipation. As the band walked on, Jehnny Beth greeted the early-risers and joked with a wide smile, “It’s just the same as other gigs but you’re high on coffee!”
Jehnny later explains to Clash she has been two years sober - not due to a dependency issue, but for the way it affected her ability to feel real emotions on stage; the complete opposite of what she wanted from a career of performing. “I’ve never regretted that decision,” she admits. “I didn’t need alcohol to lose myself or to feel something… I learned that alcohol is a good tool but it numbs happiness as much as it numbs sadness.”
By holding such an early gig, fans had the opportunity to experience their music uninterrupted without a mediator stronger than caffeine. They had an opportunity to connect with the band in a way they may not have done before - it was an intimate experience (and not in a sexy way). “It was a rare moment, it [was] memorable, you want it to change you and have an impact - otherwise why bother?”
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I vowed to myself I wouldn’t miss out on my life...
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Since the band’s first release ‘Silence Yourself’, the sound of Savages has somewhat warmed. Jehnny agrees it was filled with “rage that needed to be expressed”. Their calmer follow-up, the Matador-released ‘Adore Life’, wasn’t due to some sort of life-altering experience or letting go of personal demons. The energy of ‘Adore Life’ settled due to, well, life. The band took great enjoyment from expressing that anger in their debut and it was necessary at the time for personal liberation.
They had formed as a reaction to the London scene where they saw other bands conducting themselves in a way to just gain attraction from the music industry in the hope of getting a record deal. Opposed to this fakery, their aim was to connect with the crowd. They did it for the art form and as a means of positive emancipation, allowing themselves to begin from a very pure albeit rage-fuelled beginning. Now, they are comfortable and confident: “The anger is now moving sideways and revealing a little bit more of the soul of the band and the people who are involved with making this music,” Jehnny says.
‘Adore Life’ allowed the band to look inwards and connect with themselves - the album a soundtrack to the journey of finding one’s true self. In particular, the ballad ‘Adore’, which was originally written by Jehnny on the piano but adapted by the band to make it a true Savages song. She wanted to write a universal track about inspiration and becoming the person you want to be.
From a very early age she bore witness to adults who were unfulfilled in their lives. “You can see that everyone has a destiny and everyone has a light and a lot of the time it’s compromised for other things,” Jehnny explains. “I vowed to myself I wouldn’t miss out on my life so that’s a personal quest that I’m trying not to fail every day.”
Is she the person she wants to be now? “It’s an everyday thing, you never get there. That’s the beauty of it all.”
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The original version of this feature appeared in Clash 100 - grab your copy at our online store.
Words: Isis O’Regan
Photography: Lorenzo Dalbosco