Lucy's Diary Interview by Bee Lavender

One summer night in 2010 a friend invited me to check out the London Antifolk Festival. Standing around a dark, damp Soho bar I had a notion of what we would be seeing. But late in the evening a band called Lucy's Diary took the stage, and the crowd erupted. The evening went from sedate to boisterous with just one stroke of the guitar strings, as the entire room turned into a mass of people surging, slamming, and singing along to every single word. Puzzled, I turned to my friend and asked what was happening. He shrugged and said "They're Lucy's." This did not clarify the matter. "Lucy's what?" "Lucy's kids." His assessment was not quite accurate, though she is the mother of two of the mad dancing youth. The rest are friends and fans. And the songs are from Lucy's actual secret diary. Clearly, I had to know more. Lucy and her bandmate JJ Crash answered some questions on the eve of their record launch.
 
Bee: Lucy, tell me about your childhood. When did you start keeping a diary? I understand you grew up partly in a commune near Canterbury, then later in squats near Kings Cross. What role did writing and music play in your life growing up?
 
Lucy: It wasn’t so much a commune more a place where there was a constant flow of people coming and going including my Mum & Dad who led separate lives. It was a bit of an extended family for my sister and me. A fun place but often confusing looking back when either of them went away. There was always music being played and as a toddler I remember dancing... dancing a lot which everyone seemed to enjoy – the crazier the better (not much changed there!). My dad used to play old Elvis and Gene Vincent records which were great to dance to but there was plenty of other musical tastes and not just British & American pop. By the time I’d started school I’d picked up some French & Spanish, learnt how to cook, find mushrooms (even the magic ones), sing, dance and even play chess with the grown ups! Around the age of 8 I saw a picture of Debbie Harry fell in love and got myself a copy of Parallel Lines after which I had my own identity and proclaimed myself a punk – amongst the hippies! The Canterbury place was next to the zoo so with a little imagination it felt like living in the jungle. So moving to London and then Kings Cross (after my mum died) in the mid 80s was quite a contrast to say the least. It all happened quickly and when my mum became ill with breast cancer which ultimately led to her death. I was about 10 years old at the time and it was hard to adjust and fit in especially at school without a cockney accent. I started writing the diary around then. Writing was something I seemed to be good at (and reading) – I passed my English Literature and Language early but frequently bunked off school. David Copperknob by Charles Dickhead – I must have been quite an unruly pupil. I was usually in trouble anyway for either dying my hair or wearing the wrong clothes.
 
Bee: Lucy, when did you become a mother? How has raising children influenced your creative work? When people ask me about my family, they often think that being a parent is the "hard" part. From my perspective, it has been the best and easiest... and quite likely what has kept me alive this long. What has it been like for you?
 
Lucy: in my late teens. Looking back now it feels like I was barely out of school when I became a mother. But, I’d partied pretty hard beforehand. The main impact was less time to myself – obviously. I’m not going to kid anyone and say it wasn’t hard work. But, I still found time to play guitar and write songs. My children heard he songs – the ones they liked I kept, the ones they didn’t I dropped. Who needs the X factor panel!
 
Bee: Lucy + JJ - tell me about your backgrounds in general. Also, how did you meet, and what led to the formation of the band?
 
Lucy: That’s enough of my past!
 
JJ: A child of the North London suburbs! I grew up with both my mum & dad around (they both had full time jobs) plus my grandma who looked after my younger brother and me and was part of the family. Youth/pop culture was pretty engrained in the early 80s it didn’t escape me – I think I was a self proclaimed punk first, then a rude boy, then a mod and then a punk again. Thinking about it now it seems quite logical to like the Clash, the Specials and the Jam all at once but back then as a 16 year old it seemed like you had to support one team and have the right outfit and haircut to prove your allegiance! It wasn’t too long though before I worked out it was the music that mattered and not the haircut. The Specials wrote a song about that called Ghost Town – brilliant.
 
Bee: Lucy + JJ, how did you get into music? Separately, and together.
 
Lucy: We met through Antifolk and going to open mic nights in London. JJ: We met at Whitechapel’s Rhythm Factory at the Spoonful of Poison Open-mic. I watched Lucy play a couple of songs and really enjoyed the way she performed as well as the songs – I think her guitar strap broke during the second song and she started having a go at the crowd which was brilliant. We discovered we had similar musical tastes – late 70’s pop-punk like Blondie, the Buzzcocks, Undertones as well as hippy-ish stuff like Love, the Kinks so decided to form a band. There was lots of cool stuff going on in Antifolk in the UK although it originally kicked off with Lach the Moldy Peaches and Jeffrey Lewis in the US. Over here now there’s some excellent bands like David Cronenberg’s Wife, Milk Kan, Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences and Filthy Pedro who have all released albums and had some radio airplay. Most of those bands were inspired from hearing Who’s Got The Crack by The Moldy Peaches – including us!
 
Bee: Lucy + JJ: One of the most interesting parts of your shows is the diversity of the audience. Super enthusiastic teens come to your show and party hard, while at the same time I see 35 year old + people chatting in the corners between sets. How have you managed to collect such an interesting and lively fanbase?
 
Lucy: that’s easy! The super enthusiastic teens are Liam and Kathleen’s friends (my lovely teenage babies!). There’s also the Antifolk crowd which spans quite an age range, which is why the festivals at the 12 Bar Club (once every 3 months) are such fun and then there’s our friends and their friends.
 
Bee: Lucy, a question I frequently get from other mothers is "how do you find the time to do what you do". I never know how to answer this, as my work life and family life are completely integrated. How would you answer this question?
 
Lucy: Finding the time is difficult but I’m an insomniac – it has to have some upsides.
 
Bee: Lucy, I hear a rumour that the Libertines song 'Can't Stand Me Now' is about you. Do you ever hear it when you go out? Do you feel pleased, or hugely annoyed, to have past relationship drama become a hit song?
 
Lucy: I haven’t heard it for while in public. It’s a great song. Once released it’s art and takes on its own existence for everyone to enjoy. I’d like to think I’ve moved on since then.
 
Bee: Lucy + JJ: What's next?
 
Lucy: There’s plenty more songs to come from the diary.
 
JJ: We start recording some new songs for album 2 next week. We don’t know how long it will take to finish but we’ll always be playing gigs – we’re a proper band now with drums and bass.
 
The new Lucy's Diary album Rock Kicks is out September 6. For more information about the band and where you might see them, check out the Myspace page.
 
Bee Lavender is the publisher of Hipmama.com. More information about her work can be found at Foment.net Want to talk about it? Check out the hipmama.com forums.