Piroshka Wields Political Discourse And Dreamy Guitars
A brickbat is something to wield: a rock, or a biting remark. It's also the name of the debut album by the British band Piroshka. Led by Miki Berenyi of British shoegazers Lush, the band comprises musicians from a handful of acts that made their mark in the 1990s British indie-pop scene, including Berenyi's partner K.J. McKillop of Moose, Elastica's Justin Welch and Modern English's Mick Conroy.
On Brickbat,the quartet uses gentle vocals and dreamy guitar pop to take on some very contemporary concerns, among them income inequality, school shootings and Brexit. Berenyi and McKillop joined NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro to discuss the role of politics in their music as well as their home lives; hear the radio version at the audio link, and read on for interview highlights.
On dramatizing Brexit in the song "This Must Be Bedlam"
Berenyi: All the different verses are actually different people's view of it. ... I was just trying to get just the general morass of different people pointing the finger at each other, and just the general confusion. I think the overriding thing about Brexit is that we all voted on something that nobody really understood in the first place.
McKillop: All the members of the band, we're quite politically engaged. In some ways, it's the only game in town: You know, we sit down with friends for a drink or for dinner and it's difficult to get off the subject of how people feel about, not just Brexit, but the state of the economy. But to be honest, I am a socialist and everything for me is political. It's how I engage with the world.
On addressing religion in "Everlastingly Yours"
McKillop: It's quite a personal song, that one. Both my parents passed away in recent years. I grew up in quite a staunch Catholic family, and I always felt with my mom's generation, a generation born between the wars — she was Irish as well, where the Catholic faith is so almighty and so powerful —that your first battle is freedom from the church. For me, somebody that's — as as well as being a good lefty — a good atheist, it's just that notion that sometimes you can grow up in a culture that does trample your dreams into the ground a little bit.
On using music as a method of political speech
McKillop: I think you're kind of relinquishing your responsibilities when you don't make comment. And also, because we've wrapped a lot of these thoughts up in quite pretty pop songs, if I may say so, the message is kind of couched in a lot of melody and harmony. There's nice juxtaposition there.
Berenyi: Also, it's not lyrics that are saying overtly, you know, "The church is bad." I think actually, they're about the confusion and anger and entrapment people are feeling. I don't think you have to be an atheist or you have to be a socialist to be able to relate to the fact that inequality is affecting us all. The idea of feeling trapped in a bad situation with something like "Everlastingly Yours" — where it does actually make you feel like your dreams are being shredded in front of your eyes — I think lots of people can relate to that.
Brickbat is out on Feb. 15 on Bella Union.
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