Eleanor McGee Interview

Last but not least is the band’s singer/songwriter/uker/costumier Eleanor.

What made you first buy a uke?

I was at a Herman Dune gig at quite a big venue in Brighton and halfway through their set they put down the electric guitars and bass and stepped away from the microphones, I think the drummer probably went and had a cup of tea or something, and the guy with the long beard sang a little song on this tiny little guitar completely acoustically and everyone in the gig was silent, it was pretty full, and we all leant forward to try and hear what he was singing and I thought.. ‘I want people to feel like this when we’re playing!’. So at the end of the gig I went and asked him what his tiny guitar was called..

What are the biggest differences between the songs you write and the songs Jimmy writes? Do you ever write together?

I think it’s quite easy to tell which songs are mine and which songs are Jimmy’s as Jimmy writes all the ones with shouting and swearing and I write the sweet girly ones – I’d love to be radical and say it was the other way round but it’s not! Actually Jimmy writes a lot of sweet songs too and I have one song that’s not on the album about the twins ‘Mary-Kate and Ashley’ which is probably filthier than anything Jimmy’s ever written.. I think some of the best songs we have are where Jimmy’s written his part and I’ve written my part and so there’s a real contrast between the two styles within the same song.

The look is a big part of The Bobby McGee’s. How did that come about?

Me and Jimmy both love dressing up. One of our favourite hobbies is rooting around in charity shops together looking for vintage treasures, and when we were first playing together I used to alter and customise vintage clothes for us to perform in. Then I got carried away and started a little fashion label called ‘Dig For Victory!‘ which is dedicated to making fun clothes from peoples old curtains and duvet covers – you find the most amazing fabrics there. The make-up extends the joy of dressing up, of putting on a different suit and feeling like a different character, and it means that the audience can see from the minute we step on stage what we are about. I also think that if you’re performing on stage you have to make some kind of decision about what to wear and why not give the audience a visual treat to go with the music? Also it distracts from my poor ukulele playing!

Do you come from a musical family?

Kind of. My dad has a very good ear for music and when I was little I used to think that my grandad could play any piece of music on any musical instrument in the world! Then I remember as a teenager playing Tori Amos songs to him on the piano and he couldn’t get the rhythm- it was very disillusioning. He has a real passion for classical music though and music has always been around in my family, as I hope it is in most families, and some of the music my parents listen to which I teased them about as a teenager I’ve grown up to love.

Which three songs does everyone need to hear?

‘1,2,3 steps to happiness’ by Myrtle because it’s about how to be happy and everyone should have a go at that, ‘Cowboys’ by Charles Latham because he is a wonderful songwriter and anything by MJ Hibbet because he plays uke and all his songs make me smile.

How do you put up with Jimmy? And why?

I don’t know!! But I think it’s worth it.. :-)

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