Loitering on the back seat of the coolest school bus in pop, Poppy and the Jezebels are heading up the new crop of young whippersnappers currently making waves in the “underage” scene.
The four Brummie waifs, aged between 14 and 16 found success via MySpace, the online networking site where music is free and over-21s are past it. “Reveal Records boss Tom Rose saw our page and sent us a message,” explains drummer Poppy Twist, “it was just the kind of independent deal we were pursuing, so we just went from there.”
But The Jezebels don’t feel comfortable being pigeonholed with other underage bands like Cajun Dance Party (average age: 17) and Tiny Masters of Today (average age: 12). “We prefer all-ages shows so we can play for everyone,” says Twist, “we don’t really compare ourselves to the other underage bands, age doesn’t really have anything to do with the music.”
Their debut mini-album Follow Me Down, released in July, brought them excellent reviews and comparisons to Blondie, The Raincoats and The Slits. In addition to the canon of female-led indie rock, The Jezebels, all sixties fringes and thrift shop finds, cite their influences in fashion, art and literature: “Andy Warhol, Vogue and Pop magazine, Biba, Mary Quant, Sylvia Plath, art deco, Yevgeny Yevtushenko.”
The Jezebels all go to the same school in Birmingham — Twist is joined by guitarist Amber Bradbury, singer Mollie Kingsley and the multi-talented Dom Vine on keyboards, synth and seemingly any other instrument she can get her hands on. With far more talent than is fair in ones so young, their lyrics also make you long for the days of behind-the-bike-shed snogs and Chinese burns. Debut single Nazi Girls tells the age-old playground story and teen-movie stalwart of the slaggy-chav popular girls taking the piss out of the cool indie kids’ clothes.
The Jezebels can already count Gina Birch of the Raincoats and Mary Weiss of the Shangri-La’s amongst their growing number of fans, if they could choose anyone — dead or alive, who would they most like to work with?
“Cat Power,” says Dom.
“Madonna” says Mollie.
“The Spice Girls,” laughs Amber, “no, seriously.”
“For me it’d have to be someone like Lou Reed,” says Poppy, “or Bowie, ‘cause they’re just amazing.”
When I spoke to the Jezebels, Poppy had just opened her GCSE results, and she did incredibly well, but there’ll be little time for revision next year, as the band are releasing three singles, leading up to a full-length second album in September. “We’d love to do some summer festivals too, and that looks quite likely,” says Twist, “we just want to keep doing what we’re doing and hope people will still be interested!”
The band’s Siouxie-esque new single Electro Bitch was out on the 14 October 2007 on Reveal Records.