INTERVIEW: Kim Mcauliffe (Girlschool)
Levi: I had a listen to your album Guilty as Sin today and it's bloody awesome. You've been around for decades now and you still got it, you haven't lost it at all. What keeps you going?
Kim: Thank you. I don't know, we must be nuts basically. I really don't know. A lot of people ask that. I just think um, I don't know, its become a way of life really. So, what else could we do I suppose, I don't know we just sort of. Plus we're all friends. When me and Denise, the drummer, we've actually been together since we were, oh well, since day one basically. And she's actually, we lived together in London, only a couple miles apart in London. And I moved out of London, up here, I live more in the countryside now. You know the old days you move to the countryside. She's just actually moved up here as well, a couple miles away from me up here.
So, yeah we're still that close. Yeah. I don't know I suppose it's just, we'll keep going as well because people keep asking us. I suppose if they would stop asking us that might be the time to think about it you know.
Levi: Yeah for sure. Do you remember your first ever show? It must've been back in, I don't know in '74 or '75. Did you get a good reaction when you very first started?
Kim: Yeah we used to, we were a covers band called Painted Lady. It was about '71 till about '77. But we actually used to all play together in clubs and that. But anyway our first proper sort of gig was in a pub, we were too young to even be in a pub. We couldn't drink or whatever because we were 16 or whatever, and yeah people didn't really know what to make of us, they've never really seen an all-girl band before. And we were bloody awful, I mean we were actually terrible we couldn't hardly even play. We just got together and we thought the best way for us to learn how to play was to us to all learn together. Sort of help each other along with it and that was the way we did it really. We just threw ourselves in the deep end.
Levi: Was it actually Motorhead that brought you out on your first tour?
Kim: Yeah that's right, I mean basically we'd been touring ourselves anyway for a years before we met Motorhead. So yeah about '77 or whatever, well what are we now 2016, I think we've been going 37 years as Girlschool. A good couple years before that we were touring all over Europe ourselves, mainly just banding into the back of the van, with our gear that we stole from my mum and dad. Poor old mum and dad, stole theirs and off we go, gigs everywhere.
And then of course it was around that time, the late 70's, the punk era where everybody is doing it. Starting up their own labels, record labels. A friend of ours, he started up his own label and he'd already put a single out with friends of ours, called U. K. Subs. You must have heard of the U. K. Subs? Big over, well big all over here. So he asked us if we wanted to do a single. Of course we jumped at it, I mean you know we thought wow, that's the aim of every band to go in a recording studio and put a record out. But of course it wasn't quite a glamorous as we were expecting. We were in some dingy basement.
So one afternoon in Soho we just whacked out this single called Take it All Away. It actually sold something like 14,000 copies, or something ridiculous, it did really well. Of course it came to attention to a certain called Mr. Lemmy Kilmister, who was then looking for a support band for their first major British tour, which was the Overkill tour. Of course he heard this single and he heard about us, and of course Lemmy being Lemmy, he thought “oh an all girl” band. Anyway, he came down to rehearsal to meet us and we all met up and literally that was it. We got along like a house on fire and there we go, yeah, all these years of course we were on their 40th anniversary tour just before Christmas, before Lemmy died.
So we were there in the beginning, at the middle and at the end.
Levi: Yeah, certainly tragic when that happened. Normally I don't get too upset when a rock star dies because I don't know them personally, but Lemmy was just one of those guys you kind of felt like you knew him. He definitely had a good opinion on everything and I loved all of his music. It was a big shock. Were you shocked when it happened?
Kim: Yes. Well I mean the thing is, you know obviously we were supposed to be starting the second leg of the 40th anniversary tour this weekend actually. Obviously everything's been cancelled now. The last thing we said to them all when we left the leg of it before Christmas, "I'll see you in January." But I mean to tell you the truth I think a lot of people know this as well, he was quite ill. How on earth he got up on stage and did that, what he did was amazing. How he got up there and did it so brilliantly. We were proud and lucky that we were able to be on that tour and have that last great blast with him.
Levi: Do you think you'd go on as long as Lemmy if you were in that kind of condition, would you still tour as well?
Kim: Oh I think so, yeah, yeah. I think that's what Lemmy, that was his role as well you know. I must admit we were playing to a big arena, 8,000 sold out a night. Two sold outs in Munich, 8,000 a night they were sold out. He couldn't help but be boiled up by the audience, his fans and stuff, so of course he did it for them, for everybody else.
Levi: While we are on the subject of people that have passed, we also lost David Bowie. Just wondering was he an influence on Girlschool at all?
Kim: Absolutely. I was ugh, I couldn't believe it on Monday, I was absolutely destroyed all day, especially after Lemmy. We had his memorial service on the weekend. I mean he was such an influence on us right from the beginning and Kelly especially as well. Our Kelly who sadly died of course too young.
The first time I saw him on Top of the Pops doing Starman, I mean that was it, I was absolutely hooked. We also grew up on the glam-rock thing before we got into heavy metal. He was just absolutely my hero, like everybody else that has seen him. He was just so special. Up till now as fact, I loved him all the way through everything.
And in fact here's one story… Most of my heroes I've actually got to meet over the years but I never actually got to meet David Bowie because of course we didn't really, we weren't likely to go on tour with him or whatever. But I was lucky enough to be backstage at the first Live Aid concert at Wembley, you know 1984 or whatever. This was the day before mobiles, this is how long ago it was, I was actually on side of the stage, not right near the side of the stage because it was a packed out.
I thought oh I will phone me Mum, so I phone me mum and tell her how brilliant it is or whatever, and of course I'm on the phone with my mum, next thing I know David Bowie walks out and he's standing just right, I don't know probably 12 feet away from me. Just getting ready to go on with his green suit and everything. And he's just standing there and my knees went all funny, I thought I was going to faint, I really did. My knees started shaking, and I say to my Mum, "Mum, Mum I can't speak, it's David Bowie. He's standing right over by me." She goes, "go and say hello to him." I said, "I gotta go, I gotta go. I can't talk." So I put the phone down and I'm just standing there looking at him, shaking you know.
Levi: Did you say anything to him?
Kim: No. I couldn't stand up, let alone speak. No I wouldn't even dreamed of it because he was just about to go on stage anyway and there's no way he'd want some gibbering wreak going up to him. No, I just stood there in awe. And that is so special to me, just to actually be in his presence.
Levi: Phil Taylor passed as well. Did you keep in touch?
Kim: Yeah of course I knew Phil, yeah I use to go out with Phil as well. Back in the old days. We always kept in touch. Last time when I was in LA, when he was still over in LA, me and my boyfriend we went to go see him. We went around place, had a jam with him. He had these drum kits up in his flat. He was lovely, Phil. And in fact when we, the first gig, well the second gig of the tour, the 40th anniversary tour that we just did with Motorhead, we were chatting with Lemmy about Phil. He was all dreadful about Phil and he was very upset about it as you can imagine.
So yeah it wasn't a good start of the tour at all and it wasn't a good end to the tour either really. So there you go. At least Lemmy did it you know.
Levi: You've actually peformed a few songs together with Motorhead and there's still a few of them left, Mikkey Dee and "Fast" Eddie Clarke and Phil Campbell. Do you think you'd ever like to collaborate with them again?
Kim: I know that Mikkey and Phil have said that's it, no more sort of thing. Actually Eddie texts me all the time and in fact we spoke this last Saturday at Lemmy's memorial day. He wanted to go there but he couldn't because of visa problems. So we're in touch all the time. And in fact he was gonna get up because we were going to be doing two nights at Hammersmith Odeon. That was on the tour. You know the tour Motorhead, Saxon and us so it was a pretty good lineup as well you know. Eddie was going to get on stage with Motorhead and there was talk of us and Lemmy doing “Please Don't Touch”. We've only ever done it twice with him, both times in London I'm afraid.
We're all in touch and it's possible we might be doing some things with Saxon or something probably this year. In fact they might come up, they might come on stage. Who knows, I don't know what we'd like to do something as a sort of a tribute or a memorial or something for Lemmy.
Check out the full interview here!
Girlschool performing with Motorhead on Top of the Pops 1980