Louise Distras is making quite a name for herself. While initially having released her brilliantly raw debut, Dreams From The Factory Floor, in 2013, Distras has spent the time in between building her fanbase, impressing punk legends and scoring wider recognition for her political voice having being vocal in the campaign to release Russian punks Pussy Riot. Earlier this year she was described by Kerrang! magazine as “the one woman sound of revolution!” Now out on tour with The King Blues, Purple Camera stole a moment to talk to Distras about her influences, plans for the future and how it feels to be recognised as a new face in punk rock.
You are now a few dates into the tour, how is it going so far? How are crowds reacting to you and your music?
It’s going great! The King Blues and their fans have made me and my band feel so welcome at all the shows. We are loving the fact that so many girls are coming up to us and telling us that after seeing us onstage, they now wanna start a band! We are very happy to be part of this amazing movement and will be sad when tour is over!
You’ve played with actual punk legends – Television, Glen Matlock, Mick Jones, The Damned and Buzzcocks, as well as championed by Mr Billy Bragg. How did that feel meeting and performing with those people?
It’s great when people who write good songs dig your songs, but it’s even better when they pass the torch down to the new generation.
Listening to your music I can hear the influence of Rancid, Billy Bragg and The Distillers. But who do you feel you’ve taken most of your inspiration from both musically and ideologically?
Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, Joan Armatrading, Michael Stipe, Pat Benatar, Bee Gees, Jeff Lynne and Steve Whale.
Dreams From the Factory Floor was recorded about 4 years ago now and, while there has been ‘Aileen’ and the live album, there’s been very little in terms of new material since then. What are your plans in terms of new music? Is there a new album on the way?
‘Aileen’ was written in late 2014, and I’ve got loads of new songs written for the second album. However, the reaction for Dreams… was massive, and people are still excited about it (especially in the USA), so this has meant I’ve been on the road constantly since it’s release. So the new album hasn’t been recorded yet because I just haven’t had the time to go into the studio. I’m really excited about the new songs, we’ve been playing them on this tour and they’ve been going down really well. So, the plan is to record them as soon as I get a chance to breathe, then hopefully I can release them later on this year.
‘Aileen’ is about famed killer and Nick Broomfield-documentary star, Aileen Wuornos. What inspired you to write a song about her?
Because there are things that happened to her that happened to me, and these things also happen to women all over the world every single day. It’s all about breaking the silence to show other survivors they aren’t alone.
In the music press, especially Kerrang! I am starting to see your face more often. How do you feel being seen as a new face of punk rock?
Well somebody has to do it! You can’t have the same bands headlining the same festivals every year, singing the same old shit and then expect people to feel inspired by it. Punk rock needs fresh blood!
All your music has an embedded message, whether decrying rape, abuse or inaction, or promoting unity; politically and socially you are very aware. Do you feel it’s part of your job as a musician to deliver this commentary? Do feel like you ever write something purely bubblegum and throwaway?
No, I don’t think it’s part of the ‘job’. But I think it makes a nice change when people in bands talk about the things they care about instead of name dropping, slagging people off or talking about what they had for breakfast.
So what are your plans for the rest of the year? Summer festivals? Solo tour?
Once this tour is over, I’ll be working on more demos and pre-production for the second album, making plans to release it, playing lots of shows, festivals, and then lots more shows when the album comes out!
‘Aileen’ is out now via Street Revolution Records.