Edited highights from the recent interview with Jon Wilde of Rock Realms:
Who were your early inspirations?
Minki: I think for sheer showmanship and self-belief Adam Ant. Hearing the drums of Kings of the Wild Frontier and seeing this bloke who was dressed as a pirate... Doesn't get much better than that!
How did 50ft Woman get started – how did the various members come onboard etc...?
Minki: It actually started as a solo project, but the logistics of having to beg, steal and borrow people to come and play live gigs just got too much. Plus the fact I got a bit lonely! So I put an ad on forming bands, found Adie and everyone has come on board via adverts and auditions...which are quite possibly the most demoralising thing any band can go through. You have to sift through a lot of chaff to find the wheat. We had a bit of a Spinal Tap thing going on with drummers, but weirdly our old drummer found Cormac, our current sticksman. He is now chained up in the cellar in case he wanders off too!
How would you describe the sound of the band to someone who hadn’t heard you before? What other bands would you compare 50ft Woman to?
Minki: It's always really difficult! We really do straddle 3 genres, so we decided to just create our own, so we say we are 'rockpoppunk'. Rock because of the guitars and general sound, pop because it's not a dirty word and there is nothing wrong with having a catchy chorus or hook that sticks in your head, and punk because people say they can hear that New York 70's punk sound in the songs.
Other people say immediately 'oh you sound like Blondie', but I personally don't think so, plus I wouldn't want to bandy that about like some massive flag. It seems damn cheeky to even say it! We've also had the Garbage/Elastica comparisons, but to be honest I think people always do that with female fronted bands. Most of my influences are male, so other comparisons of bits of Aerosmith and AC/DC are fine by me!
How long did the “Ménage á Trois” EP take to write and record?
Minki: Well the songs were written over the past two years, though You're In Love With Love (But You Ain't In Love With Me) has taken on a totally new sound. We recorded them in 2 days and mixed in 1. It was a really easy process, especially since it was the first time we had all been in a studio together. We had help though, from the wonderful Steve Honest who was very patient and put up with my perfectionist megalomaniac diva-ishness.
Where do you look for your lyrical and musical writing inspirations?
Minki: Oh God, lyrics come from anywhere, literally anywhere. I love words and am always writing down phrases people say that I like, or headlines, or reading a story in a magazine. I think my most random lyrics was inspired by seeing a CATV cable TV manhole cover (once again walking to the tube) which made me think of my cat staring at my goldfish. And so CATTV was born! I also write a lot about issues I am passionate about such as Skinny Minnie, about anorexic models and Ultra Violet, about waggish fitness freaks. I always try to inject some sort of humour though, it's never too serious. Anorak is about train spotters, though one of the first ever 50ft Woman gigs, someone did actually leave in a huff when we played it. At the moment I am listening to a lot of 50s music which I think is resulting in a few more rockabilly influenced numbers. It's a bit early to get Matt a double bass though.
Are there any pieces of kit you and the band couldn’t live without?
Minki: I know Adie and Paul are both really into their Orange Amps. Obviously I couldn't live without my shoe carrier. It always contains my gig shoes and a secret stash of lollipops.
What’s your favourite track on the EP, and is it the sound of the song or the memories behind it that make you love it?
Minki: I think it has to be (Strictly) Only Swinging. I never ever tire of singing or hearing it. I had actually released that on a previous EP but was never happy with it compared to how we play it live now with the full band. The boys all agreed that it was a song that deserved to be re-recorded. The guitar hook all the way through never fails to make get me going. I think I love it so much as it is such a complete story and such a dynamic song. The lyrics really do conjure up the pictures. The old man in tweed really does exist! he lives in Muswell Hill. (but that's another story!)
I understand you are big on fashion, especially shoes at your gigs. What sort of clothes and footwear do you like your fans to wear? Does it only apply to the ladies, or should the gentlemen put some effort in too?
Minki: Well I do like a well turned out shoe, preferably on a well turned out leg! Any of the ladies from Mad Men would be most welcome at our gigs. I do love an excuse to dress up and think it's great when people make an effort. I love the old 50's Hollywood and the Burlesque look and if coming to one of our gigs gives someone the inclination and freedom to do that, all the better. And no, it's not just women, I like it when guys make an effort too. My dream is to have proper themes or fancy dress nights, but you do worry about people NOT coming because they are too chicken!
What is one of your live shows like? What should fans expect from one of your performances?
Minki: Well I can pretty much guarantee there will be one point where Matt will nearly whack me in the face with his bass! We definitely need a bigger stage for us two to be on it! I like to see people's faces, so it's great when you see people getting into it or smiling at a lyric. I would hope that people go away remembering us, making an impression. I hate it when bands just get on stage wearing the same clothes they turned up in, not looking like they are bothered about giving a performance, a whole experience. I LIKE the fact that the band is set apart from the audience. You get up on stage and there is no doubt that you are THE BAND. That's what makes it magical. That's what I want when I go to see a band, so that's what I have to go on too. I can't wait until we get bigger stages and a bigger budget and get the pyros and bubble machines in!
Any question you love being asked that I’ve missed? If so, what’s the answer?
Minki: Well I won't tell you the question, but the answer is Chupa Chups.
What are you up to once you’ve finished answering these questions?
Minki: Preparing the playlist for the radio show I do, ready for tomorrow night.
Anything else you would like to mention?
Minki: The numbers on the back cover of the EP actually mean something.
Thanks again to Minki for her time!