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In conversation with Grandmas House

Following their triumphant sold-out show at Rough Trade, Mia Smith revisits when she met the Bristol-based trio back in September.

By Mia Smith, Co-Deputy Music Editor

Following their triumphant sold-out show at Rough Trade, Mia Smith revisits when she met the Bristol-based trio back in September.

When I catch up with Grandmas House after their set at IDLES on the Downs, the sun is blaring and we’re all very sweaty. ‘Wearing a velvet vest was a mistake’, Zoe laughs. She offers me her sunglasses and I feel like a part of the band. That’s the best thing about Grandmas house - everyone’s invited.

The trio - Yasmin, Poppy and Zoe - are a refreshing take on post-punk, standing apart from the usual crowd as queer women - and with a song about pasties. They groan as I recount a punk night I went to at The Lanes that was just a bunch of sweaty white guys yelling. ‘I honestly can’t even sit through it anymore’, Zoe says, ‘I’ve seen it all before. If there’s not any women on the line up, it’s not a good show’. We chat about the punk scene in Bristol, and whether they feel they’ve had to shout even louder to fit in. Zoe looks to her bandmates: ‘I think we’ve been really lucky, haven’t we? We’ve been given so many good opportunities’. Yasmin agrees, aligning much of their success to the city: ‘I think Bristol’s good for that, for opportunities’. ‘They’re very supportive of women in music, as they should be!’ Zoe adds. But the band owes their success to far more than the luck Zoe describes - their music is good, and they’re just lovely people.

Credit: Rosie Carne

Their faithful fanbase prove just that, as we’re interrupted mid-interview by a festival-goer who’s somehow managed to worm his way into the press area just to tell the band how great they are. He tells Yasmin that she’s got the perfect voice for punk, and she croaks her thanks. ‘It’s been gone for like three weeks!’ she says of her voice. I recall seeing him in the crowd showing off some impressive dance moves. ‘I saw him too!’ Yasmin laughs, ‘I remember seeing him’

I commend the impressive mosh pits induced by their set - ‘yeah, that was insane!’ Yasmin says, ‘from the beginning onwards as well - it usually takes a while to heat up’. The demographic of the Grandmas House crowd couldn’t be wider - from middle aged bearded rockers to a literal child holding onto the barrier. ‘We’ve got the whole range’, Yasmin laughs. Zoe is in similar disbelief: ‘I didn’t look up for the first three songs because I was trying to get in the zone, and then I looked up and was like oh my God’. It’s inspiring to see the crowd the band attracts, and Yasmin notices too: ‘there was a really good mix of genders in the mosh pit, and that’s what we like to see’. I ask if they plan on moshing to IDLES later. ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna get in the pit yet’, Zoe says. Yasmin agrees: ‘yeah, people have definitely broken bones in there. We don’t have any time to be breaking bones’.

The band really don’t have time for injuries, always busy after moving in together in Bristol. We joke that Grandmas House is more than a band name - it’s their actual home. Poppy explains that they met at university in London, but only started making music a year later. They find that living together helps their creative process, and have been especially grateful to share a space throughout the pandemic. ‘A lot of bands were struggling, but we were just constantly together, and that was good’, Yasmin says, ‘If we have an idea we can just shout down the hall’. Zoe laughs, ‘yeah, or just message the Whatsapp group like ‘come to my room!’’. During lockdown the band tried their hand at making music videos, resulting in the delightfully homemade accompaniment to track ‘Always Happy’. ‘We had a vision and it actually worked out really well’, Yasmin explains, ‘I didn’t think it was gonna look that good but it did’. In one part of the video the trio smother their faces in clown-like paint as Yasmin sarcastically screams ‘I am always happy’. ‘We got this really cheap face paint, and it was a one take situation’, she explains proudly.

Credit: Rosie Carne

Band names are a hard shtick to get right, but Grandmas House get it spot on. It reminds me of my nan’s house: being fed too much food and playing scrabble. ‘Exactly!’ Yasmin beams, ‘it’s a safe space’. But as an English student, I can’t ignore the missing apostrophe in Grandmas. ‘Oh, does that annoy you?’ Yasmin laughs, ‘Someone else got so upset the other day and I had to apologise’. The band turn to each other, concluding that they aren’t really sure as to why there’s no apostrophe. ‘Just something about it, the aesthetic’, Yasmin offers. I’m willing to let the poor grammar slide - ‘yeah! It’s not like apostrophes are important’, she laughs. Zoe elaborates on the name: ‘we were trying to think of a band name for so long. It got to the point where we were just naming stuff like ‘chair’. Then we had our first gig booked and we had to come up with a name. Our bassist at the time had a tattoo of her grandma’s house on her arm, and one night we were all just really drunk and someone was like ‘grandma’s house!’ and we all gasped - it just clicked’.

Before they head off to do other important musician things, I’m desperate to talk about their track ‘pasty’, a rallying cry from a street seller with the loud refrain ‘Pasty, buy one get one free’. Zoe shares the story: ‘when we lived near Castle Park there was a bakery opposite us - I can’t remember what it was called now, but it was near St Nick’s market - it’s not there anymore, it’s a hairdressers now - but anyway, there was a woman who used to stand outside’. Yasmin chimes in, ‘we’d always seem to walk home at the same time, and she’d be there with a tray of pasties just yelling PASTIES, BUY ONE GET ONE FREE, and it would bounce round the whole of St Nick’s.’ It only seemed natural for the band to write a song about her - ‘it just came out of us’, Zoe laughs. But the pasty lady sadly doesn’t know about the song - ‘by the time we started playing it properly the bakery had closed’. ‘We’ll find her’, Yasmin says, half joking, half not. Zoe says that when they do, they’ll bring her on stage as a guest. I suggest they should let her in the actual band, and we decide she’d play synths.

Review: IDLES and special guests on the Downs ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In conversation with Holiday Ghosts

Since catching up with the band at IDLES on the Downs, they’ve released their debut EP and embarked on a headline UK tour. As they continue to grow, we’re all invited round to Grandmas House.

Featured image: Rosie Carne

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