Pink Suits – Queer Feminist Cowboys, Smashing Barriers, & Breaking Down the Gender Wall ✊🤠

We don’t believe in gendered colours, we don’t believe in gendered clothes, we don’t believe in gendered roles.

💖 What’s pink suits about?/ Where did the name come from/How did you set up?

It’s December 2016. The shit show of Brexit is still in its infancy. Trump has recently taken office. More & more, our conversation turns to political despair, concern about the increase of intolerance, of the global rise of bigoted ideologies, of fake news. We can’t sleep. On a Megabus between Manchester & London, Lennie writes a poem on the back of their ticket…“one step forward, decades back, regression is this year’s political black. Fear fuels cruel in this climate of lies, hatred, Trumps, & humanity dies. The old white right puts up the fight, post truth, fuck proof & talking shite. They stoke the fire, we feel the burn. Will we ever learn?”

This was the very beginnings of the constant, frantic, insomnia-driven, almost obsessive scribblings that make up ‘political child’, our debut album.

A Queer Feminist Punk Rock & Rage duo from Margate: Pink Suits (no ‘the…”) is made up of drummer Ray Prendergast from Colorado, USA & Guitarist Lennie from Manchester, UK.

We’re both trained Ballet & Contemporary dancers who at the end of 2016 were living & working in London with no intentions of (nor knowledge of) being musicians. However, 2016 changed a lot of things! Globally, politically, but also personally for us. We were no longer able to afford to live in London & also wanted to move away from dance work that often felt like it was flirting with the political. Conceptual performance, skirting around, but never directly addressing the things that kept us awake all night & drained all day.

We decided to leave London & start a band. 

We moved to Margate in February 2017. Lennie already had an electric guitar & knew how to play a handful of songs… Folsom Prison Blues, MMMBop… (after a very brief 2 gig stint playing in a Hanson tribute band). So, it made sense that Ray should learn drums & that would be enough to make a band! After acquiring an electric drum kit from a friend we wrote 3 power chord punk songs using the pages & pages of political rant poetry that had been building up over the previous months. 

& we became pink suits. 

As in “pink suits everyone”. 

As in colours are not gendered! Gender is not binary! Let people wear whatever they want to wear & let people be whoever they want to be!

Our first gig was Ray’s first time playing an acoustic drum kit & we sang ‘One step forward, decades back’, featuring lyrics from the Megabus ticket! Over the last 3 years, we’ve been writing & developing the ‘political child’ album.

 💖 What inspires you to play music?

I (Lennie) have always thought musicians were the coolest! Rock bands, singers, guitarists, drummers… I always fantasised about that! As a dancer & theatre performer, I always said if I could be anything it would be a rockstar. I just didn’t know how to play an instrument or sing! 

But before there was any music in us there was writing. Insomnia-driven poetry. Frustrated rants & scribblings about politics, society & identity. Important & complex issues that are always on our minds, that were affecting us, but as artists, we felt that we were not addressing them as directly as we wanted to.

So we wrote. Once we had poems & ramblings & phrases to yell, music was really the only way we could think to do it.

Firstly, we wanted to work together… & being a two-piece band makes more sense than a, well, poetry duo? Also, the thought of being poetry or spoken word artists didn’t feel like the right context for this rage. We wanted to really scream it, to get people pumped & filled with energy & we weren’t sure we could do that by just reciting the words. We love John Cooper Clarke but this wasn’t witty, dry, farcical intellect… this was a late-onset teenage scream of angst & rage! 

So we HAD to play music! We HAD to try & learn. That was the only way we could imagine saying these words. I guess that’s why it’s considered punk? It came from the words, from the politics, from the message.

We didn’t know anything about music so it was power chords & whack up the distortion, hit the drums & scream. That’s all we had! & that’s what we like…

We didn’t know anything about music so it was power chords & whack up the distortion, hit the drums & scream.

💖 What’s your writing process?

The songs always start with the lyrics. & this happens anywhere & everywhere, whenever it comes out. Walking home from the shop… On the toilet… In bed at 3 a.m…. We can’t really plan a writing session to start a song. Lennie writes a lot…Usually a phrase rattles around in my head for long enough that I think it must be of some importance, then I write it down & do a sort of stream of consciousness, “write a song” around it.

I used to tour performances a lot so I would write a lot on trains. Usually about a specific topic, based on a line or phrase, & then see what happens, trying to make rhymes along the way. I usually write the majority of the lyrics of a song in one sitting & then return to it over & over again until I can imagine it as a song. Then I sit with the guitar & try to work out what should happen. What the feeling is. How I can sing it. What new thing did I learn on guitar yesterday that I can stick in a song today, to make sure I remember?… Then when I have a bit of an idea of the whole structure we get together on drums & guitar & bash it out. It usually changes a lot at this point. Structure, pace, taking out lines I can’t fit in, who sings what, repeat a thing, etc.  Then we just play it loads & loads. Ask our neighbour! 

💖 Who are your main influences in music/life?

DAMN..! 

BYENARY, ARXX, IDLES, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bikini Kill, The Runaways/Joan Jett, Ramones, AC/DC, KISS, Hole, Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, White Stripes, Iggy Pop, Chuck Berry, Twisted Sister, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, Rage Against the Machine, Patti Smith, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Moldy Peaches, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Orville Peck, Motörhead, Kimya Dawson… 

 💖 Tell us about your aesthetic.

Our aesthetic is END GENDER – WEAR WHAT YOU WANT! 

Pink suits as in… we wear pink suits! 

But also, as in ‘Pink Suits Everyone’… One of our first songs! Pink is very gendered. Suits are also pretty gendered… We don’t believe in gendered colours, we don’t believe in gendered clothes, we don’t believe in gendered roles. The whole pallet of expression is available to everyone & fuck anyone who tells you how to dress! 

Musically, I guess we are punk. It’s power chord riff-driven fast & loud. Big Muff & big screams.  But punk has a specific aesthetic… Which we LOVE! But we like to dress up! CAMP CAMP CAMP! We like country aesthetics… Cowboys, fringe, hats & rhinestones! Dolly Parton & Orville Peck!

We like bondage & leather & biker boots, we like lingerie & silk dresses & lipstick. We like tattoos & body paint & birthday suits! 

The look changes show to show. The aesthetic is fun & freedom!

We like bondage & leather & biker boots, we like lingerie & silk dresses & lipstick. We like tattoos & body paint & birthday suits! 

 💖 When you’re not doing band stuff what do you get up to?

Making dance/theatre performances. Touring. Cabaret. Making art. Making clothes. Baking. Fucking. Hanging out on the beach. Reading. Drinking whiskey…

💖 What 1 thing could everyone be doing to make the scene a better place?

Fight for inclusion!

Work together to create a diverse, tolerant, safe & supportive music scene that is anti-racist, anti-misogynistic, anti-homophobic & understanding & supportive of gender fluidity & access requirements. Shout about it. Call it out if it is not happening. 

💖 Tell us about your latest release. What’s the feeling to it/what’s it about?

We are releasing our debut album ‘Political Child’ in March, but the first single & music video for Fake Great Britain is released this month! – (KNM Edit: this interview took place in December 2020 😊).

Political Child is a scream of punk anger. An Anti-Capitalist protest. A Feminist rebellion. A Queer resistance. It is a late-onset teen angst scream of rage against the current political system. Post-2016. Post-Brexit. Post Trump. POST TRUTH FUCK PROOF. Addressing themes of protest, fighting for fairness, mental health, & survival in a neoliberal society. It aims to fight back against intolerance & the global rise of right-wing politics by using aggressive political rock to bring people together in rage & frustration.

This album aims to make noise as resistance, to come together in solidarity & direct our anger towards creating radical change. A soundtrack for the revolution! Naively longing for a time when music could change the world. Struggling to grow up. Fuelled by anger, regret, & shame. With just drums & a guitar, pink suits response to the current political climate is pure Rock & Rage.

💖 What’s next for you guys? (please include links to where we can listen to you)

We are releasing the album on all digital platforms & making some music videos when we can! So keep an eye out for these throughout the year… Release officially planned for March! & yes, there will be pink vinyl.  We are also starting to create a new punk dance theatre performance & art exhibition called ‘Closet Bodies’ which will be a collaborative arts project with many artists, designers, musicians, etc.… This will be in development throughout 2021.

💖 Dates for any upcoming shows/livestreams/releases etc? 

Fake Great Britain – Music video & single release December 2020.

Political Child album release – Online & Limited pink vinyl – March 2021.

Maybe some live shows in March/April… Don’t hold your breath! Keep an eye out online as things are always shifting!

💖 Links to any social media 

Instagram @pinksuitsband 

Website www.pinksuits.band

Facebook Pink Suits

Jonnie on pink suits: Equal parts performance art & angry thought-provoking musical maelstrom, this duo have stripped things back to the bare essentials of the “3 chords & the truth” approach praised by country music icon, Harlan Howard, almost a hundred years ago. 

Their live energy & challenging on-stage nature bear striking resemblances to the early years of bands like Butthole Surfers & Beat Happening, but pink suits’ message & energy rails against the vapid & somewhat navel-gazing lyrics of bands like that just as much as it conjures reminders of more thought-provoking & confrontational stuff as diverse as Minor Threat, Crass, & Bikini Kill.

Their current single ‘Fake Great Britain’ is a snotty political, cowbell-mad garage rock tirade, laced with catchy vocal hooks & Mudhoney-Esque guitars that would make even the most sceptical purist punk rocker throw up their hands & admit that it doesn’t get much more punk than this!  

 Edits by Jane Staley 💜

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