LOUDER WITH: Not Ur Girlfrenz
As teenagers, every young woman stepping into the world of rock music undoubtedly spent hours in front of the mirror, strumming our imaginary guitars and dreaming of playing stages across the world to a captivated audience. Well, for Texan trio Not Ur Girlfrenz, that dream is their everyday reality. The protegees of Bowling for Soup frontman Jaret Reddick, while most of their peers are battling through high school drama and homework, Not Ur Girlfrenz are storming stages and winning hearts on their second stint across the Atlantic. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Liv, bassist Gigi, and drummer Maren before their sold-out show at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse to discuss everything from their debut EP to keeping their manager in the loop with the slang of today:
First of all, you've recently released your debut EP ‘New Kids in America’. How have you found people's responses to it so far?
Liv: Oh, it's been great. So actually, the last time we came to the UK we had released the EP like a week before, and so people only had a week to learn the lyrics and stuff, but they still did when we arrived, which was amazing! And so, this being our second time coming to the UK, a lot of people know the words better. And we’ve just released a single, called ‘Song About You’, along with the music video and that's been great. And then we're going to release another single after this tour actually, along with music video, so you guys can be on the lookout for that!
Is songwriting kind of a cathartic experience for you? And is it ever difficult to put yourselves out there in that way and expose yourselves out to the world?
Liv: Writing songs, you really have to put yourself out there and you have to be really honest with yourself. So, it definitely can be hard at times. But for me, songwriting is very therapeutic. I'll find myself just in my room, and if I'm sad I'll just write all my thoughts down and helps me feel better. I find myself, whenever I'm mad at somebody else, just writing in my phone, and eventually I get a really good diss-track! I've always been really good at being honest with myself. It took me a while to decide to, you know, I'm going to start writing songs. But once I did, I unlocked this part of myself that I never really knew that I had. I think I was destined to do this. So it’s great to then see people connect with my lyrics when we're on stage.
As well as writing your own stuff, you've recently covered My Chemical Romance’s ‘I'm Not Okay’, which has been posted all over social media. How important has the online world been for you in terms of kind of building your fan base and being able to connect with people?
Liv: I think social media is great. I mean, at times, you know, it can be a little [intense], but it's great because we're able to connect with our fans a lot easier. And people can direct message us and tell us how much the songs mean to them and all that good stuff, and we can just reply back even if they are on the whole other side of the world. I think social media is an amazing thing. It's a big part of growing your fan base and stuff, especially now you have Spotify and iTunes and stuff. Because it used to be the case that more people needed record labels and stuff to get their name out there. But now anybody can just put whatever they want on Spotify or YouTube and it can go viral. And we can connect with people all over the world which helps grow our [musical] family.
Social media is definitely a big part of life in general now, which is something that you guys kind of touch on with ‘New Kids in America’. Obviously, there is a darker side to growing up in this online world. And so do you think punk music, and specifically pop punk music, is having a resurgence in this new online world?
Liv: I think so. I think every era comes back: we've had the 80s come back, the 90s come back. And now, Machine Gun Kelly is coming out with a pop punk album! Obviously, you know something's happening.
Gigi: And then like, I feel like Halsey is bringing that back and to the young ones coming into the mainstream. Yeah. So yeah, I think for sure, definitely. And you know, My Chemical Romance coming back is just like that, everybody's just like coming back and being better.
Maren: I feel like really just over the last couple years, like it's come back a lot more. We’ll often say to our friends, like ‘Oh, you should really listen to these’ or ‘You should stay around and hear the band after us, we love them.’ Then they’re like ‘Oh my gosh, I love this kind of music. I never hear anything like this like on the radio or anything!’ And then They start listening to it and sharing it with their friends, and now they're bringing it back to the radio!
Gigi: When you turn on the radio now and you hear Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco and stuff like that, [you can see that] they're coming back and I think that's awesome!
And the fact that Bowling for Soup are still selling out places like this! And you guys have had lots of mentorship from Jaret. What's that experience been, having him to advise you - and is there anything that you've ever taught him?
Liv: I think us being a young band, we've definitely shown him our youthful side! We teach them all the slang! We also tell him about our favourite bands, and he listens to them and checks them out. We've introduced them to Waterparks - we love them! And then we've introduced them to The 1975, and he's actually going to watch their concert now. So we’ve definitely taught him some things!
Gigi: And he's taught us of course, like he taught you how to use Pro Tools.
Liv: Yes, he actually taught me how to record my own songs and stuff, which is very helpful, so when I’m writing songs, I can just record it and give him some demos, and then he'll send me stuff back and critiques. He's the best manager we could have ever asked for. He’s super funny with a super spirit. He's like our second dad. He has kids that are our age, so he really knows how to communicate with us and understand what's going on in our minds. He's the best!
In terms of kind of other idols as well, you guys are living the life that we all wish we did when we were teenagers! How important was it for you when you were growing up and getting into this world to see other women in the music industry? And how do you feel about being part of that next generation of female rock idols?
Liv: Thank you for saying that! It's super important. You can actually see this turning around a bit more now. Like at Guitar Centre, 50% of the guitar sales are going to girls now, which is very exciting. But there's not that many girl bands right now, which I think we need more of. Girls get underestimated whenever they're playing instruments and that is probably part of the reason why. Especially young girls, which is actually what our song ‘No One Asked You Anyway’ is about, being underestimated. We were playing a show and one of the sound guys asked me ‘Are you going to be lip synching? Do you need help adjusting your mic?’ and I got really mad, started writing on my phone, and it turned into that song.
As much as you are living this amazing life and touring the world, do you ever feel that you've missed out on anything from the stereotypical teenage experience?
Liv: My sister and I are homeschooled, so obviously, no homecoming or prom, which we’re not really that sad about, we’ve heard it’s not really that fun! It just seems to be a lot of standing around and bumping into people you don't want to bump into!
Maren: If I went to homecoming I would probably just be chilling by the snacks!
Liv: I think I would just you know, wear a dress, stand there for like five seconds and then leave! And go to In N Out Burger or something- do you guys have those?
I don't think we do!
Liv: We have that in America, it sucks that you guys don’t have them!
Gigi: Every single time we go to a concert, we go to iHop, even at like 1am: iHop.
Finally, where do you guys want to take Not Ur Girlfrenz next? What's your goal for where you want to go with this band?
Liv: Going along with being the next generation of girl bands, we definitely want to inspire more girls to pick up instruments and do what they want to do. Hopefully we'll have a bigger platform to be doing that, and then on to selling out arenas! Writing more songs, getting those streams-
Maren: Hopefully we can have a headline tour too.
Liv: Yes! That's definitely something we're looking forward to. Signature instruments. I mean, we have really big dreams!
Well, if any young band the potential to achieve all of those dreams, and more, Not Ur Girlfrenz are at the very front of that queue. Their charisma onstage was humble, genuine and unapologetically fun, which, coupled with their earworm-inducing melodies and shiny pop rock sound, won over the characteristically sceptical Manchester crowd with ease. This trio are living all of our dreams out in real life, and it is a story we cannot wait to watch unfold.
'New Kids in America' is out now
Check out the video for 'Song About You' below:
Not Ur Girlfrenz have several shows across Texas in the coming months, their next being in support of The Nixons in Dallas- a full list of their upcoming dates can be found here.