Savages, a post-punk quartet from London, is known for its live shows and has been making waves and racking up award nominations for its mesmerizing debut Silence Yourself. The Daily Texan talked with singer Jehnny Beth and guitarist Gemma Thompson about their influences, their no cell phone policy at shows and why they hate South By Southwest.
The Daily Texan: With Silence Yourself coming out this year and a huge world tour, what has been your favorite part of the year so far?
Gemma Thompson: It’s quite nice meeting different people along the way, especially after the shows.
Jehnny Beth: I think it’s been good too, to as you say, “tour the world” and then meet a lot of musicians that have got into our record. To suddenly meet people you really respect and then they give you some love back and inspiration and encouragement, and that’s really great.
DT: You have a strict no-phone policy you started at shows. What was the inspiration behind putting those signs up?
JB: It’s more just some kind of guidance. It’s almost like when you go to an old school theater and things like that. It’s all about trying to set the right mood or right atmosphere so that the music can be presented in its right environment. As an audience, we felt that we don’t really enjoy seeing a show and having people around us with screens everywhere.
GT: Yeah, it should be about direct contact between the audience and the performers.
DT: Last time you were in Austin you were at South By Southwest, and you played a lot of shows. I was at the Spin one. At that show, right before you started “Husbands,” you said, “This is our last song and our last show at this fucking horrible festival.”
JB: Did I say that?
DT: Well, honestly, did you like SXSW or was it just too many shows?
GT: We didn’t enjoy it at all.
JB: It’s hard. We did our best, though. I think the audience was great, and we did a good show, to make the best out of it each time and give a good performance. It was so short anyway. It was like 20 minutes. It’s under the sun, and you’re playing next to a beer ad. It’s not very glamorous.
DT: In an interview with Pitchfork, you mentioned how you were having issues with sound guys, having to fight to be taken seriously more. Is that an issue you still face?
JB: Originally, we didn’t think that we would have to prove ourselves even more. Being four women in a band, for example, wasn’t an agenda for us. It just happened. I think we started slowly to realize that it makes some differences for some people, and some preconceptions. It wasn’t necessarily bad because you can play with these things. Even on stage, you can play with people’s prejudices, which is quite interesting.