Lockdown one year on: Porridge Radio on how Covid stole their breakthrough moment | Porridge Radio

Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Lockdown one year on: Porridge Radio on how Covid stole their breakthrough moment | Porridge Radio”

Last February, Porridge Radio were playing some gigs in Oslo and getting ready for their lives to change. They were about to release their second album, Every Bad – their first since signing to indie label Secretly Canadian – and they knew they were on the brink of something big. Originating from the Brighton DIY scene, the band had recorded their first album in a shed and spent five years organising their own tours. Now they were about to fly to the States to play South by Southwest, followed by a US tour with Car Seat Headrest, followed by a headline tour and festival season back in the UK.

“I was ready to be on the road full-time, not having a break, not thinking about myself,” says frontwoman Dana Margolin. News stories about coronavirus, then, were just background noise. “We’d heard rumours, but we were all swept up in our own worlds. You can’t really plan for the worst – you just have to plan for things to happen.”

A few things happened in quick succession. They returned to the UK, played a few more shows, and on 6 March appeared on the cover of NME, with Margolin declaring Porridge Radio “the best band in the world”. The sentiment was echoed by music critic Everett True (the man who brought Kurt Cobain on stage in a wheelchair at Reading in 1992). On 13 March, Every Bad was released to breathless critical acclaim: Pitchfork called it “sometimes twisted, often transcendent, always incendiary”, Paste magazine “an emotional and instrumental triumph”. Comparisons were made to everyone from PJ Harvey to Karen O, Pixies to Sonic Youth.

“This whole thing about buzz bands and hype and momentum – I find it quite funny,” says Margolin with a wry smile when we speak over Zoom, “because we were so outside of that world for so long. And now I look at it and I’m like: ‘Oh, that’s us – that’s hilarious. OK, sure, I’ll go along with that.’” But, a week after their album release, everything came to a grinding halt. Just as these accolades were coming in, the band had to announce that all their gigs were being cancelled. “There was this weird dissonance – it was a bit of a headfuck.”

The band was formed in Brighton in 2015 as “a space to be vulnerable and creative, where you could scream or lie on the floor or make music”. Margolin had been writing songs in her bedroom and attending open-mic nights when she joined forces with keyboardist Georgie Stott, bass guitarist Maddie Ryall and drummer Sam Yardley. Their 2016 debut, Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, sounded cheerfully ramshackle but showcased their manifold strengths: a keen ear for melody, effective loud-quiet-loud contrasts, Margolin’s powerhouse of a voice. The promise of this early release evolved into Every Bad, a fully formed, sweeping roar of an album that dissects the joys and agonies of being young and in love, and then spectacularly not in love. On songs such as Sweet or Born Confused, the deliciously barbed lyrics change meaning with every frenzied repetition, building to a visceral release of pent-up emotion.

Suddenly, with the support of a label behind them and all the infrastructure that came with it, they were reaching more people than ever before. In the early days of lockdown, the band did a series of livestream events – a gig, an agony-aunt session, a painting class – and Margolin connected with fans by sending out zines and merch. The positive press coverage kept rolling in, and in July Every Bad was nominated for the Mercury prize. Things couldn’t have gone much better – except it was all happening through a screen. “The critical response to our album was amazing,” says Margolin. “But as grateful as I am to have a good industry reception, it’s about actually playing the shows and meeting the people who connect with your music.”

That being said, they are not feeling sorry for themselves: in Margolin’s words, “shit happens”. Lockdown provided them with an enforced period of rest, for which she is now grateful. “I don’t think I’d have ever accepted that I needed to stop, but I needed to look after myself, physically, and also my mental health was quite bad. Part of me was secretly relieved.” She spent a lot of time writing, painting, cooking, going for walks, volunteering for a local food redistribution charity; in order to help with anxiety, she learned about breathing techniques. She recently enjoyed organising a Porridge Radio meme contest, in which fans superimposed the band’s lyrics on to images for comic effect. “When you give people a bit of a free pass to take the piss out of you, it’s great to see what they do,” she laughs. “But also, ouch.”

Lockdown gave the band time to work on their next record, as well as collaborating with fellow DIY artists Piglet and Lala Lala; a remix album is in the works. They’re hopeful that everything they had planned for 2020 will materialise either this year or the next. They might be able to play some shows this summer, outside and socially distanced; their UK tour proper is scheduled for November, with more dates and bigger venues than they had planned last year.

How does Margolin think she’ll feel, playing live again after all this time? “I have absolutely no idea. Maybe I’ll be nervous, because I think it will be quite different. I’ll probably just completely disconnect from reality and not know what I feel until a year later – so ask me in two years’ time.” What she does know is that, as soon as it’s safe, they’ll be back on stage. “It’s taken me a long time to feel ready to tour actually. But today I’ve woken up and I’m ready to go.”

Porridge Radio tour the UK later in 2021.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Lockdown one year on: Porridge Radio on how Covid stole their breakthrough moment | Porridge Radio

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *