Interview: The Rebellion Tapes – Rabies Babies

Taking on the Patriarchy with their instruments as weapons are straight talking Rabies Babies. This is not a teen band getting hot under the collar though, these are women who are writing from years of personal experience. They’re fearless in standing up for what is right and they do that unswervingly but at the same time they manage to engage too rather than simply confront. Aggy Gillon chatted to the band with topics of conversation including misogyny in music and making a stand against sexual violence.

Thanks for joining us. Can you to introduce yourselves for our readers?

Laura “Guitar and Vocals”

Lorna “Bass and Vocals”

So we’re just missing Tabi today?

Lorna “Tabi is in Amsterdam at the Pride. They are doing important work speaking up for Trans and Non-Binary people. So they couldn’t make it so we have our stand-in drummer Mike who used to be our drummer a few years ago”.

So you describe yourselves as crashing the party and smashing the patriarchy. For those who may not know much about Rabies Babies can you tell us about that?

Lorna “We formed about twenty years ago and when we first got together, both of us had played in bands for a long time. Laura moved to the UK and because she has always played in bands in America she wanted to form a band here. I have always played in bands in London and we both met through mutual friends and ended up playing really not with a purpose just let’s make music and play at some squat gigs”.

You are very passionate about certain issues. Did that just naturally come about later?

Laura “I think it was a natural growth of the band. Me and Lorna have always been playing in bands and from years ago or whatever we were always the token Women. The only ones. As the years went by we were kind of getting sick of that and also the sexism within the scene, the homophobia within the scene. We just started to get more serious about some of our songs and calling that out”.

Lorna “I think to start with we felt like just being there was enough. Just to be there was a statement enough because there were hardly any women playing. So just being there was a feminist statement in itself. We didn’t really think about making lyrics to do with that or anything”.

Laura “We were just more talking about going to the party and getting drunk *all laugh*

So are you from New York?

Laura “I’m from New York originally”

Love your accent, it’s amazing! Are the rest of you from London?

Lorna “Tabi is from Scotland”

Laura “Yeah and they live in Amsterdam now”

You have a self-titled release out at the moment can you tell us about that?

Lorna “It’s released on Damaged Goods. Previously before a few record labels said oh we’ll put out a record for you. But…”

Laura “It wasn’t our thing. We did try to record years ago and found it kind of boring. We are more into the performance, the gig, and the show. Then yeah, when Damage Goods offered us we were like maybe its time”.

Lorna “Because there are so many of our heroes on Damaged Goods. So many bands that are our heroes, when Ian asked us we felt this was too much of an opportunity to turn down”

Laura “It also was funny as Lorna invited Ian because we thought Slags, these two women who are really a good act together, she was like yeah invite Damaged Goods because they are gonna offer them something. Then made an offer to us that same night!”

Side one of your release is the ‘angry side’ as you have described. You feature a song called ‘Rape is Rape Even if the Rapist is in a Band That You Like’. Can you tell us more about that?

Lorna “The pre-story of that song must have been about eight years ago?”

Laura “Must have been about nine or ten years ago as I wasn’t pregnant at the time” *all laugh*

Lorna “A friend of ours got sexually assaulted. The guy didn’t deny it but also he didn’t apologise for it. She wanted to get a public apology from him for what happened”.

Laura “He played in a punk band”

Lorna “He wouldn’t apologise and she made a bit of a fuss about it. People were saying to her why are you making a fuss? That happened to me and I didn’t make a fuss! Guys were saying well you were wearing a low-cut top and short skirt, why are you complaining? Saying all these things to her. She was ostracised from the scene and he just carried on and no one did anything. So then a few of us formed a group called Love Sex Hate Hate Sexism and we started making flyers. We had a stall at gigs where we just handed out flyers about consent”

Laura “We also started doing the consent speech. Me and Lorna were like, well we have the microphone let’s say something. It wasn’t just us playing, being here women, we’re gonna make a speech about it! Oh, a lot of people didn’t like that. Punks didn’t like that. It was like a tumbleweed going by”

Lorna “The local promoter phoned me up and warned us off and said we were causing trouble in the scene”

Laura “Said shut your mouth”

Lorna “And never gave us a gig again. ‘Rape is Rape’ was written about five or six years ago. It took us a while to actually start playing it”

Laura “A lot of different stories came out over the years. People from all over the world were emailing us saying this happened to me. What happened all those years ago was a catalyst for other things. When we did that Love Sex Hate Sexism people from all over the world and people kept coming up to us telling us their stories. Lorna wrote the lyrics to the song and all the lyrics are things that people said to us. People saying why don’t you speak to the police, punks telling us to speak to the police. Allegations are so hard to prove”

Lorna “That song came out so fast. All of it was either stuff people had said to our faces or stuff on social media. All those excuses for when a woman comes out and tells her story. Men and Women saying they were asking for it or they were flirting”

Laura “I seen these people kissing or they used to have sex”

Lorna “They went out last year…”

Laura “It’s not a season pass!”

Do you think that over time Punks and the Punk scene have gotten better…

Both “Yes!”

Lorna “The first time we played that song three people unfriended us on Facebook because they thought it was so awful that we were pointing it out. When we put the video on Youtube I made it so you couldn’t put any comments because we knew that we would get hate. I think things have really changed in the last few years where now if Women do come out people are listening more”

Laura “Even with what’s going on with Rebellion Festival now they have a no tolerance policy to sexual assaults. They say if something happens, tell management and they will be kicked out. We felt much better about playing this festival when we saw that was happening”

Lorna “Were not saying it’s perfect now but it’s going in the right direction”

Laura “I have to say since the moment we started playing that song I was smiling because I remembered…I remembered how to play it *all laugh* A man came up to me after saying you shouldn’t smile while you’re playing that song. Now men come up to us and say that’s really important what you’re saying, I respect that. It’s changed in just a couple of years. I don’t know if it’s a younger generation thing but even older people are coming up to us”.

Lorna “Because of the Pandemic we didn’t play for a couple of years and it felt like there was a shift. When we played before we weren’t getting those good responses afterward. When we would play ‘Rape is Rape’ we would go straight into another song because we were scared people were gonna boo us. So we were like right we’re going straight into another song. Then we played our first gig after the pandemic and that was amazing. After we played we had so many men coming up saying thanks for saying all of this stuff, we need to hear this. It really felt there was a change. There were a lot of cases of men in bands getting called out and actually people taking notice. I feel like people now are being listened to”

Not only are you guys enjoying yourselves you are doing something that is really meaningful.

Laura “Yeah it feels good”

Of course, you have the fun side of the album as you mentioned. That’s more about partying and things like that?

Both “Yeah”

Laura “We did that for many many years. We were the last ones dancing on the table.”*all laugh*

Sounds like a lot of fun

Lorna “A lot of the party side are true stories”

Laura “True stories before the Mom days.” *laughs*

Are you planning on playing all of the record tonight?

Laura “Yeah we will play the whole set, everything that’s on the record”

Lorna “We have a new song that’s not on the record that may be the next thing we record called ‘Girl Band’. That’s all the experiences we have had of being a woman in a band. There’s been a few cases, especially the last few years where people have wanted to be inclusive so they have been like we need a woman band, we need a girl band to make it inclusive. Come play at our thing”

Laura “We have played before it even been opened *laughs* You’ll be on at seven o’clock but the doors open at eight” *all laugh*

Lorna “Yeah, literally like you’re on first and then all the people show up and all the guy bands play. Also, you’ll get people coming up saying oh yeah you should smile more, wear this, wear that, and then you get the men…”

Laura “Changing the levels on the amp! When does that happen for men bands? It never happens! “

Lorna “Were literally getting on stage and were playing and their fiddling around *all laugh* One time a guy actually broke the amp while we were playing because he was fiddling around and changing the levels”

Laura “I’m helping you!” *all laugh*

Terrible! So is this your first Rebellion?

Lorna “As Rabies Babies, yeah”

How are you feeling about your set tonight?

Laura “I feel pretty good, I think its gonna go well.”

We’ll definitely be there as close to the front as we can!

Both “Yay!”

Laura “We also wanted to say of course we are all for women’s rights but were totally inclusive for all genders, non-binary. We’re just a very inclusive band and we just want everybody to enjoy themselves and feel included and have fun”

Its a really important message you have and we have so much respect for that.

Both “Thank you”

Lorna “Our main passions are standing up against sexual assault and sexual violence and sexism. Also, we feel really passionate about standing up for trans people’s rights and non-binary people. We totally believe that trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary people should have the pronouns that they want”

Rabies Babies – Facebook

Interview and photos by Aggy Gillon