First, there were the Riot GRRRLs, then there was Girl Power! and now comes firstwave Gurrlcore, courtesy of garage-rock duo Gurr. Made up of Andreya Casablanca and Laura Lee, who met in an American History class and were less than fond of each other at first, Gurr are the embodiment of everything wonderful about Riot Grrrls, and bring together the craziness of West Coast USA and DIY-culture in Berlin to create a genre-bending sound that’s as bold and as witty as they are. Making garage rock tunes with psychedelic and wave elements, their lyrics are full of inside jokes and debauched tales of their adventures, and create worlds of characters, stories and feelings that everyone can relate to.
Gurr’s debut album “In My Head” embodies the spirit of DIY, Berlin-based girl power. A little bit Kathleen Hanna, and inspired by The Gun Club, Echo & The Bunnymen, The B52s, the Ramones and the Beatles, their Gurrlcore sound is definitely more rock than roll. With a wide and vivid array of pop culture references and personal experience used as catalysts for lyrical mastery, Gurr’s themes go from dealing with your own ignorance in “Moby Dick”, to dealing with love lost through someone else’s perspective in “Yosemite.” Recorded in the hallowed studios of Berlin’s Funkhaus, Gurr’s debut offering “In My Head” is a musical definition of the power of Riot Grrrl culture, revamped and louder than ever for 2016.
Describe your sound in five words?
Laura: Young, dumb, living off mum. Just kidding. Maybe: Post Riot Grrrl Pigeon Rock?
Where did you meet and how did you start the band?
Laura: We met in university, Andreya was late for our “Academic Writing” class and was forced to sit next to me. I think initially we didn’t like each other. But then we really bonded over literature, music and movies and started hanging out. The band was just a logical conclusion to our cheesy friendship and our love for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Black Lips.
Where did the name GURR come from? Are you fierce?
Andreya: To the contrary, Laura is afraid of pigeons. And Germans like to imagine a pigeon sound as “gurrrr”, so for us it was a funny wordpun on Laura’s anxiety and the word “Girl”. Now, it is often put in the riot grrrrl tradition, but we really didn’t think of that at that time.
How does the Berlin music scene affect your sound?
Andreya: Just the other day I though of how deeply involved Berlin is in the feeling of our band, but how a lot of Germans see it as “very American”. But there is a weird nostalgic sometimes that I find in our songs which reminds me of Berlin. Thoughts you have while taking long train rides or walks or watching other people – which all made it into our lyrics.
How did your time on the US West coast affect GURR? Where did you go and what did you see?
Andreya: When Laura, who studied in Philadelphia, came to visit we went to San Francisco and had a very movie-like time – meeting a rock’n’roll band that takes us to weed-infused studio sessions and had us record different takes all night long just to find out they were to high to actually track them right. All in all, the West Coast has a crazy creative spirit that made us feel like we should just go for whatever we really want, because anything can happen.
Tell us about your debut record “In My Head”! What themes do you explore?
Andreya: The album is a collection of songs, and some of them are a bit older, and others very new. But all of them carry a story, or just show pictures of an experience that we had or dreamt or talked about. It is classic love nostalgia, but also a reflection on cyber crime, lost bar souls or ignorance towards current issues (that usually comes from self-indulgence).
Do you have any favourite songs on the record?
Laura: This is hard. Right now, I really love Computer Love. I think the song is just so hilarious: Soundwise, it is a pretty straight forward 60s garage rock song – it always reminds me of this song “Friday at the Hideout” by the Underdogs. But then the lyrics are so trashy and have all these references to 90s cyberculture: About a guy falling in love with his computer. And then the highlight is that we put SIRI in there, the Apple Computer Voice. That always cracks me up.
What was it like recording in Berlin’s Funkhaus, a place with so much history?
Laura: It was kind of sad. The whole building was bought by an investor recently and one studio after the other was forced to move out while we were recording. On one of our last days of mixing, our sound engineer also got an eviction letter. So we were probably one of the last DIY punk bands to record there. I think they are building really fancy studios now only for electronic and pop artists…
… But apart from that we had a great recording experience: We recorded and mixed the whole record analogue, with no digital editing or effects. So we had to pick our battles: Usually we went for the takes that ‘felt good’, even though they had some mistakes in them and then resisted from fixing them afterwards. I think that makes the whole record very relatable.
Did you always plan to pursue music careers or is it a recently discovered passion?
Andreya: We both grew up in musical families, where our parents or siblings played instruments, so that was naturally a part of our childhood. And I think we both wanted to do something demanding and creative. Although we’ve always been in bands it was with GURR that we first thought: “Oh ok, let’s take this seriously now.” Before that I think it wasn’t a reality in our heads we could grasp.
Who inspires you – both in music and in other areas?
Andreya: Petra Collins and Tavi Gevinson are a huge inspiration to me – because of their creative visions and also their work ethic. Also, Miriam Marlene Waldner, who is a young Berlin-based photographer, has such a genuine aesthetic and creative mind it will make you cry – you should check out her instagram account.
Laura: I always get really inspired listening to Beatles records, especially the weirder ones like Revolver and Magical Mystery Tour. I also have a guilty pleasure with these male contemporary American writers like Jonathan Franzen and Dave Eggers.
What have you got planned next?
Laura: Our debut album “In My Head“ is out in the UK on 28th and then we will have lots and lots of shows and parties all over the world I hope 🙂 We will play the UK for the first time this year and are sooo excited about that. I hope people are going to show up: So whoever is reading this: We are playing Brighton on Nov. 30th at The Hope and London on December 1st at The Old Blue Last!