Helen Love - Interview

Realistic love songs and pure pop genius with an alternative attitude. In the words of John Peel "that's HELEN LOVE ... the sarcastic bastards".

After twenty one singles, three EPs and seven albums, legendary Welsh indie bubble-gum-punks HELEN LOVE reveal details of their long-awaited eighth studio album… so we had a chat to find out more: 

Hey Helen thank you for taking the time to chat to us! So ‘Smash Hits’, will be released via exquisite Summer Sunburst Super Kay 12” and CD on 20th May on Alcopop! Records in all sorts of spectacular bundle formats – including glitter tee shirts and tattoos. Has this been in the making for a while … how has the journey been and how will this record speak of life in 2016?

We started writing this record a year or so ago now, after the last album DayGlo Dreams, we wanted to return to a more punkypoppy sound. The last album was very much a nod to the mid 80s and although we are all very happy with it, it's nice to get back to the stupid mash up bubblegum punk pop disco stuff we love.

We are most impressed with the glitter T's and tattoo bundles, it really speaks to the whole punk DIY ethic you guys exude! You are prolific releasers of music, less on the live performance side. How do you like touring, do you feel sometimes it is good to get out on the road – do you prefer recorded as an optimal medium to experience your work?

Well we used to hate playing live, in fact I think we have played less than 20 shows in 20-odd years. The last few years we have been invited to play some festivals, the very lovely Indietracks and the super posh Primavera, sharing a hotel with Nine Inch Nails and there seemed to be a genuine bit of love out there for us, which has encouraged us to play a bit more, ..... it's definitely more fun now than it was.

We first heard you through John Peel and Steve Lamaq back in the mid-90's and were wowed by your humour-filled indie-pop. Proper pop songs as they should be made, odes to Joey Ramoney ... who was that guy in Rough Trade every Saturday!?

Hahaha, I don't know, I'm sure I'd seen him in the pages of The Face at the time though.

You were invited to play and hang out with Joey Ramone, that must have been a great experience … was there anything you weren't quite expecting from that experience – it can be pretty daunting meeting an idol where you would understandably have very high expectations!?

I didn't expect him to be so shy, or so lovely, really lovely. He was scared of meeting us, can you imagine that! .... We stayed for a week with him, it was super brilliant. We'd never had sushi before we met him either. Walking around St Marks Place in NYC with him, and everyone shouting "hey Joey" was amazing, and we met his mum, and his brother also.

Did you ever imagine you would get such a following of both fans and other artists? Your songs seem written exclusively for yourselves, saying exactly what you want, in the way you want to say it, your punk ethos really shines through … has that ever been an issue where others have tried to influence you?

Well there was a time in the mid 90s where stupid A+R men would come calling telling us if we changed this and that and played the game we would have lots of hit records and be in Select. Thankfully we told them to fuck off, that time was full of so called indie bands dancing to the tune of the NME, Select MM and all the other so called influential music magazines of the day. Plus of course you had to hang out in Camden Town, a particularly smelly place if I remember rightly ... yuk.

Are you happy when other artists cover your work, obvious example being Punk Boy … we first heard Ash's version which was a great rendition giving a different energy to what is literally one of the best “Pop” songs ever penned?

I love it yeah, in fact we've become buddies, Tim Ash sang on our Christmas record last year that we made for the wonderful Trussell Trust. I love The Queers version of Girl About Town too. When I first heard Joey Ramone singing Punk Boy was probably the highlight of all time !!!!

How do you feel about music in general at the moment? We see “Pop” as a dirty word now, unfortunately it has come to mean processed manufactured drivel rather than popular. We love anything where you can feel something from the music, is there anyone you really admire at the moment musically?

 I love The Lovely Eggs, they are fantastic, and funny and clever and brilliant, I also really like a band called No Ditching who are a brilliant young girl band who play supersonic punk rock.

So what are your plans for the rest of 2016?

Play the odd show, fire a few glitter cannons, write some more songs x

Helen Love play Friday June 3rd - Le Pub, Newpor

‘Smash Hits’ is out May 20th, here's the tracklsting:

1.) The First Welsh Girl In New York City
2.) We’ve Got A Formula One Team
3.) Thank You Polystyrene
4.) You Can’t Beat A Boy Who Loves The Ramones
5.) Mario Kart Grand Prix… Let’s Go
6.) Spaceboy!
7.) Yes We’re In A Band That We Love
8.) Long Live The Modern Lovers
9.) Sheila B Devotion
10.) This is No Hit Radio
11.) The Belle Of St. Mark
12.) Stardust and Glitter