In conversation with the Roxy Girls.
From the rip-roaring punk sounds of Leatherface to the chart-topping successes of multi platinum- selling pop queen, Emeli Sandé, Sunderland has a habit of producing outstanding musicians.
Roxy Girls are no exception.
They may be new to the music world, but their intense debut album has seen the four-piece rocket to the forefront of post-punk music scene in a matter of months. We caught up with frontman, Tom Hawick, to discuss all things Sunderland, gigging in the ‘Big Apple’ and the fine folk at Pop Recs…
Despite being ‘canny’ bairns, Roxy Girls mean business when it comes to music. A product of the invaluable work going on at Sunderland’s very own Pop Recs, Roxy Girls are a born-and-raised punk whirlwind from the banks of the River Wear.
Surrounded by music >>
Since the release of their debut EP in February 2018, this blistering band has gigged up and down the country (playing the likes of Brudenell Social Club and YES Manchester), featured heavily on Mark Riley’s coveted BBC Radio 6 show and are now gearing up to release another quality dose of punk goodness sometime this year.
Music has always been at the forefront of Tom Hawick’s life. From a young age, Tom has been surrounded by music – something that dates all the way back to primary school: “I remember my dad playing Lindisfarne in the car to school when I was about 6” he recalls.
“That was the first time music made my ears stand to attention really.”
This introduction to music has left a lasting impression on Tom. He’s a die-hard music fan and this is clearly evident as he begins rattling through a list of influential artists that changed his outlook: “I loved (and still love) The Who. (Bob) Dylan also played a huge part in the formation of my relationship with music.
“I guess the latter set me on the trajectory to discover John Martyn and Nick Drake when I was maybe 14 or 15. That was a major turning point. I was about 17 when I started getting into the punk music that helped inspire Roxy Girls.”
Growing culture scene >>
A Sunderland lad through-and-through, Tom has seen the city come through the ages and feels optimistic about the future for younger generations: “I feel like we’re on the cusp of a big cultural advance within the city. Positive changes are on- going, which are undoubtedly sending Sunderland in the right direction. There is some reassurance in the existence of Pop Recs, Keel Square, and all the other cultural happenings that are occurring.”
Tom diverts the topic of conversation on to Pop Recs – a major driving force behind Sunderland’s growing culture scene.
“They’ve (Pop Recs) persisted through the financial and motivational hardships created by increasingly dwindling gig attendances, beginning at the dawn of the Internet age, suffering further defeats by the hand of Instagram stories and rising pint prices.
“There’s a lot to be said for that. They’re ran by lovers of music, for lovers of music. There’s even more to be said for that. Pop Recs really is a passion project, only taking enough to keep open its doors and the coffee machine full. It still manages to put on shows and keep music alive in the city.”
Mackems are famous for their undying love of the city. “Our music is often compared to The Futureheads and whether it’s down to the fact I sing in my accent or not, it’s a comparison that I’m very proud of”.
The start of something special >>
Since the release of their critically- acclaimed EP in September last year, the lads have been overwhelmed with support. So much so, they’ve hunkered down in the studio and are preparing to release another EP.
“We’ve got another seven-track EP coming out in March, our second on Moshi Moshi Records, which was home to some of our favourites – Bloc Party, The Drums, Florence and The Machine. We should have an album out next summer too. Hopefully, 20 songs and 45 minutes(ish) long!”
2020 is shaping up nicely for the boys from Wearside. As well as playing an exclusive support slot at The Futureheads’ massive Toon gig, the boys are jetting off to New York for an exclusive show too!
“We’ll be doing a little bit of practicing and quite a lot of gigging. We’re playing a show in the Big Apple next March and we can’t quite believe it. SXSW might be on the cards too… wish us luck!”
You can follow their journey here: facebook.com/roxygirlssunderland