We have a specific inspiration, you know, late ’50s, early ’60s pop, but our energy and lyrics wouldn’t have existed in that environment. We’re trying to look at popular media differently from what the standard is.
story by Amy Kaufman
As the awfully relevant cliché goes, history always repeats itself. But for the uniform-clad Pipettes, who insist upon existing as more than just a throwback band, this phrase takes on a whole new meaning. While their inspirations are evident — with the septet highly resembling the likes of The Shangri-Las and The Shirelles — the Brighton-originated group makes it a precedent to reinvent history by adding a present-day spin on classic 1950s pop music.
In between shimmying and shaking their way across the U.K., Rose Dougall — a.k.a. Rose Pipette — took time out of her busy schedule to talk to Chicago Innerview while gearing up for the band’s first Midwest tour.
“We have a specific inspiration, you know, late ’50s, early ’60s pop, but our energy and lyrics wouldn’t have existed in that environment. We’re trying to look at popular media differently from what the standard is,” Rose said in an adorably intoxicating British lilt. “We’re inspired by original pop music, but we write all types. Going from punk to hip hop to folk to drum and bass to musicals, we’re inspired by anything and everything we can get our hands on.”
Feeling foolishly in the dark, Rose let me in on the pun behind The Pipettes. “The whole thing was originally an experiment,” she said, “to see if we could revitalize the music in our own way.” For those who, like myself, have completely blocked out all painful memories of high school chemistry class, a pipette is a tool used to extract and transport liquid.
Moving full-speed ahead to pop iconography, the band doesn’t have time to think about the distant future. “We’re just doing what we love right now,” Rose said. “I’m sure we’ll all have to think about getting desk jobs eventually” — which seems doubtful considering their vast popularity in the U.S. has come without even releasing an album here. Their acclaim, which has been catalyzed greatly with the help of illegal music downloading, is not of concern for the group. Making it abundantly clear that she was not speaking on behalf of any record labels, Rose said sheepishly, “I’m sure we’ve lost out on some revenue, but it hasn’t done the group any real harm. It allowed us to travel around the world before we even had an album to sell.”
And for those who have seen press photos or videos on YouTube and wondered the same thing; yes, the three frontwomen always wear matching polka dot dresses to perform. In an admirable fashion statement, Rose said, “It’s like our brand name, a visual marquee. It definitely has a flirty and bold connotation, but really we’re just trying to escape the whole spectrum of fashion. It’s just really practical to throw on our dresses and go jump around on stage. We never have to think ‘oh, what am I going to wear today?’”
Fresh onto the Interscope roster and awaiting the U.S. release of We Are The Pipettes, which is expected to arrive in September, The Pipettes are eager to make the Midwest move in a much-anticipated tour. So get keen to the mashed-potato and the monkey, because these Brits are about to invade.
The Pipettes :: with Smoosh and Monster Bobby :: Empty Bottle :: June 7.