Image: Midnight Mango

In conversation with Alien Chicks: “We want to bring energy, fun and also the best quality music we can”  

Starting out as a band in the music industry is not a particularly alien feat. Daunting yes, but uncommon? Certainly not. Like stargazing on a cloudless night, if you keep looking, new bands seem to be appearing everywhere. But to really be impressed by a singular star in such an overcrowded night sky, there must be something particularly vibrant about it. It must either shoot across the sky at staggering speed or dazzle you with some natural brilliance. The same is true of bands starting out – they either aim to impress on the road with tireless touring or they seek to create the ‘perfect’ sound. But for the up-and-coming band Alien Chicks, choosing between energy and brilliance simply isn’t an option.  

Let me take you back to Saturday 22 October, where (for me at least) it all began. At the Rainbow Pub in Digbeth, Birmingham, a somewhat unassuming trio strides out – the opening act for the opening acts – with Joe on vocals and guitar, Stefan on bass and vocals, and Martha on drums. What follows is anything but unassuming. Think Bleach-era Nirvana, but post-punk and perfected for the 21st century. Loud, raw and unlike anything I had heard before; Alien Chicks are electric and energetic with all the hallmarks of a band soon to skyrocket.  

Alien Chicks are electric and energetic with all the hallmarks of a band soon to skyrocket

“It was a lot better than we expected to be honest. We were opening so we thought that there were not going to be many people in there. But it was a pleasant amount of people. I was really happy in the end,” acknowledges Stefan, rather modestly, speaking to me over a chaotic Zoom call with his bandmates as they drive from one gig in Liverpool back to their hometown, London, for another weekend crammed with gigs.   

This high-speed life on the road, crisscrossing around the country, and delivering gig after gig, might be off-putting to some but for Alien Chicks, whose collective energy levels, both on and offstage, never seem to dip below ten, they seem to revel in the chaos and challenge.  

“Tour is f*cking great,” exclaims Joe. “I mean there is a lot of sleeping in the car, your mate is driving you about, you’re cramming sh*t in the back of the car, and stuff like that. But it is really fun, and you get to see a city a day which is awesome. On our tour [the tour of the north of England that they embarked upon in April 2022] we did 11 gigs in 10 days, which is mad. It is fun but definitely not glamorous.”

It is fun but definitely not glamorous

This enthusiasm towards life on the road, combined with the stellar performances they deliver make it easy to forget that they are a relatively new band, with all three of their singles ‘While my Landlord Sleeps’, ‘27 Stitches’, and ‘Woodlouse’, being released this year. But even when discussing how they’re navigating the music scene as a new band, there is a sense of quiet confidence in their abilities. “Word has spread quite quickly,” says Martha. “All the venues are kind of connected and if the bands you’re with are doing well then everyone is doing well which is quite nice.”  

“In South London, I would say we’re established, especially at the Windmill where we play a lot, and we’ve made an effort to become good friends with the bands around us as well which is real nice. There is a really nice community,” says Stefan. “We’re still trying to break into the North of London though,” he later quips.  

While starting out in the music industry is difficult in its own right, the current social and political landscape certainly doesn’t ease the challenges that bands, like Alien Chicks, are facing. From the current cost-of-living crisis to the government’s chronic underfunding of the arts, existence in the creative sphere is fragile. Yet, it is also a source of great power, and with the Alien Chicks being described as a band that delivers a ‘twisted fairy-tale of post-Brexit Britain,’ it would seem that this grim landscape can be spun into a place of creative refuge. A place called the post-Brexit post-punk genre.  

A band that delivers a ‘twisted fairy-tale of post-Brexit Britain’

Speaking about this genre, Joe agrees that the title fits comfortably with the band’s vision: “Loads of great bands came out of the post-Brexit and the post-punk scene has just boomed. After Brexit there has been this new wave of bands involving other influences with post-punk – you’ve got Black Country, New Road which is like Baroque-Pop and post-punk, and you’ve got Black Midi which is like jazz and post-punk. And we’re trying to do a little something like that.”  

“We’ve only been playing together for a year, and I think that now we’ve started to find a sound which is quintessentially us, with all the elements of what we love together. I love Bossa nova, and I love rap. Stefan likes funky melodic basslines and Martha loves post-punk and ska. So we all bring stuff together. But we all share this common ground of post-punk, so we bring our influences into that. The music will keep adapting because we really like to play a wide variety of things. We like drastic dynamic changes and jumps in energy.” Stefan agrees: “I never want to be the band that makes the same song over and over again.” 

“I never want to be the band that makes the same song over and over again”

With lyrics that range from ‘Stinky Winky, you’re rubbing on me’ to ‘I’m highlighted like the statistic I am,’ it is perhaps unlikely that Alien Chicks could ever make the same song over and over again. “Sometimes I like writing stories and anecdotes, sometimes I write sh*t because it’s funny,’ says Joe. ‘Often the songs have a verse that means nothing and then a verse that is thought-provoking. In ‘Mr Muscle’ [an unreleased song] we’re speaking about cleaning products and at the end, we are talking about mental health and the perpetual thought processes of ending up stressed or depressed.” 

In a world dominated by the algorithm’s hand, this originality has steered the band away from the trap of writing hooks for the digital gaze – a somewhat intentional decision to, as Joe says, “write and play what we want to [..] so the people that like us, find us.” 

“I just think that what we are doing is creating something and I don’t feel like a song which is locked into a specific structure gives you the freedom of expression you want when writing it. When you’re writing something, this sounds so pretentious, but I do consider it like a form of creative art. I think if you feel locked into a structure of creating a hook for a thirty-second reel, I don’t agree with that. [..] I want to bring energy, fun and the best quality music we can.”  

It is this forward-looking, unique, and ambitious approach to their music which is propelling Alien Chicks forward so quickly. As regulars at the Windmill in Brixton, they have developed a strong grassroots following and a reputation as the live band to see. “We just want to get better, and we still want to strive to be as good as we can be. We’re never like ‘oh, we’re done now’. We are always trying to look at the next step,” says Stefan.”  

And with a mini tour in February, an official tour in April, reams of support and headline gigs lined up, and song releases ready, Alien Chicks seem to be the rising stars shining the brightest in the up-and-coming music scene


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