A Conversation with Charismatic Megafauna

Charismatic Megafauna are an intriguing bunch – all three are drummers, and they performed their first gig hours after forming. After teasing a first taste of debut album Semi-Regular, due 13th April, and playing a handful of scorching gigs in the country’s capital and further afield, the LP promises tales of Theresa May, female ejaculation and guys in spandex. TMB caught up with the distinctive trio to talk live performances, top tips and recording stories…

Hey, how are you? Been up to much lately?

We’re alright, thanks, yeah, just about holding it together! Aside from making our forthcoming debut album Semi-Regular and a snazzy video for our new song ‘Sorry’, we recently played at the excellent Cobalt Studios in Newcastle as part of their Violets programme. It’s a great venue run by awesome people.

What are your musical histories?

Music has played a significant role in all of our lives in pretty different ways, but the important thing is that when we started the band, we all learnt to play the drums together for the first time. This sounds cheesy but we inspire each other, and we’re inspired by all the other bands who keep going, DIY/DIT, with energy and humour, with something to say.

So you’re all drummers? How does that work? Is there difference playing live?

In this band, we’re all drummers. Or at least we all play the drums – ha! No, we’re drummers. Yes. We’ve recorded one live EP (Maxi Brief, recorded in 2016) and one studio album. There’s a difference – they’re intense and nerve-wracking in different ways! Unless you’re super rich, paying for studio time is a big deal so there’s a pressure to get it right. But we had so much fun recording with the awesome Mark Jasper at Sound Savers, who understood our sound and made it even more mega.

Sum Charismatic Megafauna up in 5 words (if you can).

Party music for political people. (Do we get extra points for alliteration?)

How and who did you record it with? How long has it been in the making?

‘Ejaculate’ was recorded by the excellent Sofia Lopes, who kindly recorded our gig at Tate Modern in 2016, and Eugene Capper recorded the fiesta in Cardiff with skill and patience! We recorded the rest with the one-and-only Mark Jasper at Sounds Savers in Homerton, and obvs fell in love with him and his beautiful Vintage Roland Juno keyboard along the way. How long has it been in the making? Oh years! It’s been sort of cumulative and has evolved along the way.

What can we expect from the new album?

Some beautiful artwork courtesy of the extraordinary artist Alexis Dirks, who made incredible costumes for us that appear on the album and in the video for ‘Sorry’. The whole album came about through a year-long collaboration with Alexis, who is based in Canada. She has an exhibition called Womxn Stage opening soon at Ace Art Inc. in Winnipeg, which will include our music, some video footage we worked on together as well as Alexis’s own sculptures. So the album has many and varied tentacles.

Oh, and ten banging tunes, including ‘Ejaculate’ recorded live at Tate Modern, specially remastered for this album, and ‘Fffffeminism, recorded with four amazing women (some musicians, some not) at the Future is Female festival at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff last year. We taught them the song, they let us dress them up in gold, we recorded it and then we all performed together as the opener for our set the next night. It was brilliant.

Charismatic Megafauna - Semi-Regular artwork
Artwork for Semi-Regular

What are your favourite songs? Could you tell us a bit about them and why they’re your favourites?

‘Context’ is a longstanding favourite because Georgia kind of ad-libs the words each time so it’s like hearing variations on your favourite joke over and over! ‘Guys in Spandex’ being our ‘big hit’ (ha ha) – it’s catchy, and pretty chaotic, but quite cathartic. ‘Sorry’ is really good fun to play live and it’s got Mark Jasper’s keyboard on the recording. Did we mention we really like Mark’s keyboard? It also has all of our vocals on, so that’s nice.

Are there any particular themes running through the album?

Sexual assault, street harassment, bro-cycle culture, learning to not say sorry, yelling at the prime minister, access to education, censorship of female bodies, cheerleading, diet culture, men learning to talk about feminism – all that good stuff.

Can you recommend any upcoming bands?

Molejoy! We love Molejoy. They got together by running a project as part of the Anti-University festival called Fuck It Let’s Start A Band. They did, and it’s brilliant. They describe their approach as ‘joyous anger’ and they’re a total joy to watch live. Can’t wait for their first album.

If everyone knew just one thing about the band, what would you want it to be?

Our favourite feedback after a gig is when we hear people saying ‘we should start a band!’, especially anyone who might not be the kind of person you see when you google image search ‘punk band’ (i.e. young, skinny, white, male). That’s the one thing to know: that you can do it too. (And probably better.)