Lambrini Girls: “It’s extremely important that political bands still exist in the mainstream”

Trying to change the music industry’s infernal capitalist machine from the inside, while working out when to make a stand by stepping out, LAMBRINI GIRLS have managed to match being one of the best new bands of recent years with a vital, charged edge. With their latest single, ‘Body Of Mine’, out now, check out our latest Upset cover story.

Words: Stephen Ackroyd.
Photos: Nicole Osrin.

Lambrini Girls are built on defiance. From their fizzy name, a playful rebellion against the expected, to their music, a blistering cocktail of punk fury and social commentary, they’re a band who refuse to play by the rules.

Their spirit is as effervescent as you’d expect, blending humour with candid insight. “We drinking rum and blasting toilets,” they offer, a perfect introduction to a band that thrives on defying expectations and isn’t afraid to deliver it with some wry, dark humour and an underlying offer to fuck off and take it outside. The year so far has seen them over in Europe “shagging everybody’s dads (platonically),” as they put it. Perhaps that’s the ultimate Brexit benefit, who knows?

“Our songs are usually observant, but this one is a little more personal”

Their latest track, ‘Body of Mine’, represents a deep dive into the personal, exploring the complexities of gender identity. “Our songs are usually observant, but this one is a little more personal,” they share. “‘Body of Mine’ is about trying to connect to your gender identity, feeling like you’re not fully yourself, and struggling to figure out how to truly become it. Gender is an extremely complex journey for a lot of people, and this song represents only one experience out of many.”

The track, recorded in Dublin with Gilla Band’s Daniel Fox (“He is a hero and an absolute unit and would fight your grandma if you asked him to”), reflects their journey into more personal thematic territory, wrapped in their signature punk dynamism. While anger fuels their creative fire, they refuse to write for mere effect. “We’ll never address something for the sake of being political,” they promise. “It has to come from an authentic and genuine place.”

Lambrini Girls’ music is just one facet of their activism. They’ve made headlines for their principled withdrawal from major music festivals like SXSW and Brighton’s The Great Escape. Their decision to pull out of SXSW stemmed from the festival’s association with the US Army and defence contractors linked to the Israel-Gaza conflict. This unwavering commitment to ethical consistency is a defining characteristic of the band.

“Making the actual decision as to whether to play or not was not difficult. What was difficult was figuring out how to go about it,” they explain, highlighting the complexities of balancing ethical integrity with industry expectations.

“It was a delicate situation, given our industry ties, and we had to think hard about how we were going to lay out our next steps,” they explain. “People expect us to make immediate public statements – understandable to a degree, but it doesn’t work like that. People assumed we were staying quiet in order to avoid the conversation because they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. We have to get ducks in a row first, and that takes time.”

Those ducks needed another quack last week when they announced their withdrawal from The Great Escape, a hometown festival where they were guaranteed a strong pull. Their reason? Barclays Bank’s sponsorship and the bank’s financial ties to companies involved in military actions. “We will not be appearing at The Great Escape festival this year. This is a targeted approach of a cultural boycott, considering Barclays sponsorship,” they explained. “Barclays provide financial services of over £1BN pounds to companies supplying military technology and weapons to the IDF, perpetuating the horrors unfolding in Gaza.”

It raises a crucial question: should it be left to bands to vet who sponsors festivals and events? For many, it’s becoming just part of the job – though admittedly a financially difficult one. “The music industry is one of the biggest examples of how capitalism fucks everybody ever within its own weird microclimate,” they offer. “One of the main overarching issues is affiliation with companies on the BDS boycott list.”

However, they acknowledge the limitations of complete withdrawal. “You can’t choose to live outside of capitalism unless you are financially privileged and have already benefited from capitalism,” they continue. “The average consumer or participant has no choice but to be part of it or kind of cease to exist – it’s important political artists do everything they can without drowning themselves out of the industry entirely because the point of those bands is to infiltrate those spaces.

“We aim to effect change from within while strategically disrupting when possible”

“It’s extremely important that political bands still exist in the mainstream,” they emphasise. “If this ceases to exist, then the opportunity to educate and make politics accessible will also. We aim to effect change from within while strategically disrupting when possible.”

Lambrini Girls are swift to endorse others who share their vision. Their list of shout-outs includes a diverse array of inspiring acts. “Loads of queer bands and artists,” they quickly champion. “CLT DRP, Deep Tan, Pink Suits, Piglet. Our good friends Enola Gay have been very vocal about Palestinian rights. We also love HotWax, BIG SPECIAL, Loose Articles, DEADLETTER and SNAYX.”

This summer promises to be a whirlwind for Lambrini Girls. They’ll be making their US debut supporting the mighty Amyl & The Sniffers, alongside headlining their own shows across the pond. Festival appearances are plentiful, with slots at Wide Awake, 2000trees, the iconic Reading & Leeds, Green Man, Manchester Psych Fest, and the crown jewel – Glastonbury. To top it all off, they’ll be supporting IDLES at their sold-out Alexandra Palace shows in London – but they do also maintain an admirable ambition for the rest of the year: “To punch Rishi Sunak in the dick.”

Straight to the point: that’s Lambrini Girls in a nutshell. They describe their ethos succinctly: “Piss off the right people. Affirm the people who need it. Create safe spaces, and get conversations not designed for the mainstream, in the mainstream.” It’s a mission that resonates throughout their music and public actions.

Lambrini Girls back the importance of community within the music scene. They’re outspoken and unafraid to challenge the status quo. Their music- a potent mix of social commentary and glorious raw energy – is delivered with a healthy dose of humour and a complete disregard for censorship. In a world that often tries to silence dissenting voices, Lambrini Girls are a breath of fresh air: a band who aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers. “After enough men tell you that your band’s shit,” they shrug dismissively, “you kind of stop giving a fuck about what everybody thinks about it.” ■

Lambrini Girls’ single ‘Body Of Mine’ is out now. Follow Upset’s Spotify playlist here.