GIG REVIEW + INTERVIEW: Queen Cult at Suburbia
For those who are out of the loop, Queen Cult are a four-piece rock band based in Macclesfield, fronted by Maisie Johnson (vocals/guitar) and Leila Jacklin (bass), with Brodie Carson on drums and Piers Jarvis playing rhythm guitar. They've started 2022 on tour with our Brighton babes LibraLibra for ReviveLive, and we were lucky enough to catch them hit the stage at Suburbia, Southampton on Monday (24th January).
Support came from local livewires S0DDS and pop-punk heroes Buds., who we previously saw tearing up the stage with snake eyes and Gender Roles. Despite being down a bassist, Buds. are as energetic as ever.
It was our first time seeing Queen Cult live, and they definitely didn't disappoint. Their set consisted of all the songs from Woman That I Know, plus earlier single Shindigger and a very unexpected mash-up of Anastacia's Left Outside Alone with Killing In The Name - you need to get yourself down to a Queen Cult show to hear it for yourself. Queen Cult delivered with delicious harmonies, crunchy basslines, thumping guitar licks, and even some synchronized foot-stomping. They hyped up the crowd with their infectious alt songs and left the room hungry for more.
Luckily, our headliners LibraLibra topped the night off with their irresistible pop-rock cocktail of songs. Latest single Candy Mountain sounded huge on stage, as did some other new tracks that we might see on the band's upcoming Modern Millennial EP which is fast approaching. LibraLibra are always theatrical, intense, and in-your-fucking-face, in the best way possible. Truly one of the best live rock acts around at the moment.
As if getting to witness these fabulous bands live wasn't enough, we had the privilege of chatting with Queen Cult's Maisie and Leila about their origins, their new EP, and what more their bringing to the table in 2022:
Hey Maisie and Leila! You’re on tour with LibraLibra, how’s it going?
Maisie: Shattered. Fucking stressed, I never wanna drive ever again.
Leila: Do you know what’s funny though? I just sleep.
Maisie: It’s actually soul destroying. Every time I’m in the car, I’m like “oh this is so nice, we’re best friends, we’re literally like sisters, we’re on the road together” - 10 minutes in, she’s fucking flat out and I’m just like “that’s a two and a half hour journey on my own then.”
Leila: I’m sorry, I try my best to stay up but I get so warm and cosy…
Maisie: Truth be told, this is our first tour, and it’s fucking epic. LibraLibra are so lovely. They’re proper wholesome people.
Take us back to the beginning. How did you meet and form the band?
Maisie: I was doing some solo stuff for a while and I didn’t like it, I found it quite lonely and I wanted to bounce off other musicians. I missed the chemistry of being in a band and actually having that relationship.
Leila: How we first met, Maisie was doing a live set in a bar called Mash in Macclesfield and I just happened to go and see her. And I just thought “Fucking hell, this girl’s absolutely mint.” She was doing original songs that I just thought were great. Even the covers she was doing were well developed and original within themselves. She said “I’m looking for people to join a band with me.” So I wandered over to the bar, bit pissed, and I just tapped her on the shoulder, and I was proper quiet at the time, like “can I audition to be in your band?” I didn’t actually play bass at the time. My main instrument was guitar. I was in a band at the time playing guitar, and then Maisie stole me.
Maisie: We clicked at the first rehearsal.
How did you come up with the name Queen Cult?
Maisie: We were sat outside Nero and we were literally putting shit in a band generator. We were thinking of queens and royalty. We were coming up for buzzword for elegance and empowerment, and I think it just happened.
Leila: It’s technically not alliteration, but because it’s Queen Cult we liked the sound of it together.
You describe yourselves as a “femme queer” rock band, what does that mean to you? Maisie: We’re making a little stance for what we do stand for, because we are femme and we are queer. We didn’t want to generalise it too much, like when people say “female-fronted”. But “femme queer” falls into a queer category, which falls into Double Dare Ya in Sheffield and Queer Off in London.
Leila: It’s a representation of who we are.
You went on a little hiatus during the pandemic. What were doing during that time and how has it affected the band?
Maisie: It was quite a transitional period, I think it was for a lot of people. I think, for us, it was a lot of growth. You have to face everything because you can’t exactly run away from it.
Leila: There’s no distractions.
Maisie: I feel like we evolved and grew a lot and went through a lot of mental health shit, as everyone did. Equally for Queen Cult and the music, it was a massive rebirth for us. Our line-up changed in that time because our drummer moved on, and then we found Brodie. Piers is recent, just for the live side of things. He was already a mate of ours anyway, so he just sort of slotted in.
Leila: It was very transitional, and you learn a lot about yourself when you can only spend time with yourself.
Maisie: It’s like with our EP, it’s called Woman That I Know and there’s a lot of self-reflection. I mean, the front cover is me staring at you through a mirror. It showcases that transitional period for us.
Speaking of the EP, your songs seem to carry a lot of political and feminist themes. How do you embed those into your lyrics?
Leila: Personal experience. Show & Tell is about the pandemic and the government’s ineptitude towards it really. Fuck the Tories. Anyway, so living through that and writing it as you’re going through it is very easy to embed in a way.
Maisie: If you’re really feeling it, it’s just gonna come out some way. For us, everything we’ve written - consent, politics, mental health - it just comes out. And then you think “shit, what’s EP 2 gonna be?” and it’ll just be something else.
What can we expect from the EP?
Leila: Songs. Lyrics, bass, drums, harmonies.
Maisie: It’s the round-up of what we’ve been doing so far, with an extra one in there. And then there may be some visuals to follow…
We named you one of our Sounds of 2022. Who’s on your watchlist for this year?
Maisie: Amazing, thank you very much. Where do we begin…
Leila: LibraLibra. Other bands from Macc. The Perps.
Maisie: Sinclair’s doing good, they’re proper thrashy. Arxx are definitely ones to watch, always. And Gen and The Degenerates. Sophie and the Giants, another one to watch. They’re already smashing it, they’re on to big things.
You’ve got some plans to support Arxx on tour. What other shows are lined up?
Maisie: We are due to play with them. Brighton is definitely confirmed. We’ve also got a Double Dare Ya, formerly Pssy Culture. The queer prom, which is back at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield, which is a sick venue.
And finally, what can we expect from you next?
Maisie: More live shows. Merchandise. Which you can now access on our website queencult.com. The new merch we’ve got is very sustainable, eco-friendly, vegan. The t-shirts are so nice and soft.
Those sound very good, I’ll have to grab one. Thank you for chatting to us!
Maisie: Thank you, you’ve been amazing!
Leila: Thank you!
Catch Queen Cult live:
Feb 12th - Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield
Feb 25th - Green Door Store, Brighton w/ Arxx
May 6th - Shacklewell Arms, London
Bag yourself some of that eco-friendly Queen Cult merch here.
Review and interview by Chloe Robbins
Photography by Debbie Ellis