Sauntering on a precipice between bold introspection and sonic emancipation, Porridge Radio are the band reviving post-punk for today’s generation. Their music is the wind on your face as you drive with the window open, as their bitter-sweet melodies and atmospheric hooks chug the time away. The London/Brighton band - led by Dana Margolin - are rightfully gaining recognition across the UK. In anticipation for their set at Belgrave’s Summer weekender This Must Be The Place, we talk to Dana about she met her band members, how it feels to share vulnerability through music and what’s in store for the future of the band.
Originally from the north-west suburbs of London (“it’s pretty depressing”), Dana moved to Brighton to go to Sussex University. Once there, she discovered the “community of people who are passionate about playing and making music”. Dana spent her nights at open mic nights, “experimenting what it was like to play music to strangers”, and her days making zines that spotlighted Brighton’s creative scene. One day while selling zines, Dana met drummer Sam, who also knew keyboardist Georgie: “He opened up a zine and centrefold he saw Georgie had written an article about 5 local bands she loved. He knew Georgie from home because they used to be in a band called The Gentry Underground. They would spend 10 hours a day in their local parish hall writing and recording intense psychedelic music.”
Georgie spent her days and nights putting on shows and parties, encouraging Dana to make more music from the start: “She would always get me to do solo shows and knew all the words to my songs. Eventually, it came to the point where I was like, ‘you’re in the band, you're gonna sing with me’.” Porridge Radio then formed into its final line-up over 6 months, during which bassist Maddie and guitarist Josh joined: “Maddie’s step-dad got her a bass and we vaguely knew each other. This one time she called me up and was like; ‘hey I’ve got a bass, can I come play in your room?'. Josh was going out with my old housemate. One day he asked what I thought about having another guitarist in the band, I was like I don’t really need one, but fuck it.”
‘"You’re in the band, you're gonna sing with me."
Since then, Porridge Radio have evolved into a band that should be on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Bubbling in the undercurrent of the UK’s DIY music scene, Porridge Radio released a plethora of bold demos, singles and EPS before releasing their debut Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers in 2016. This gorgeously gritty lo-fi album encapsulates the raw and upfront nature of Porridge Radio, and garnered the band attention from major music publications. Dana admits that this success took her by surprise: “To be honest, I didn’t think anyone would even care enough to come to a show. I love this band; they are all my family, my best friends. It’s really evolved into something I never anticipated and I’m so glad it’s gone that way.”
Live, Porridge Radio treat the stage like a table at their own house party. They sway and stomp through songs with a magnetism and energy that quickly makes you feel as if you’re watching your mates. You get the mild sense that anything can happen, and no gig is the same: Dana explains: "When there are people on stage with you, every individual shapes the dynamic of what’s going on. The relationship we have with the audience depends on how we act, you pick up on different people’s energy in the band and it changes the way you perceive a song.”
The band’s latest release, ‘Don’t Ask Me Twice’, encapsulates the band's ability to induce chaos at any moment and immediately bring reign it all back into a tight hook. Dana expressed that the track is “about embracing the chaos because you can’t escape it, and accepting how you can have really contradicting feelings and thoughts all at the same time in your own head, and how that’s ok.”
With such vulnerability in her lyrics, we ask Dana how it feels sharing such raw feelings: “It’s terrifying,” Dana admits. “When you do something that exposes you, people can access you and you can’t access them. You’ve connected with them, but you don’t know how you’ve connected to them. [Sharing lyrics] means I can form amazing connections with people by sharing my most vulnerable self with them. [The band] collaborate with that and interpret what I’ve written; they are always so supportive and always add their own amazing things. It’s really special, somebody cries every band practice.”
"We're recording an album... It might be two albums."
Things are only just beginning for Porridge Radio. With a Summer of festival slots ahead of them (Green Man, This Must Be The Place, End Of The Road, Knee Deep Festival, London Calling Festival), the band aren’t thinking of slowing down any time soon. “We are recording an album,” Dana teases. “It might be two albums. We have a load of songs and I think we might divide them into two albums with very different feelings. It is taking ages, it’s happening though.”
Juggling day jobs and “other shit”, the band are eager to get to a point where they can spend “every dying minute” on music. “It is hard to keep going as the end goal is very far away. It’s all about keeping on and working hard and getting better.”
There’s no doubt that there are big things on the horizon for Porridge Radio. Keep them on your radar.
Porridge Radio will play SUPER Friendz's This Must Be The Place Weekender at Headrow House and Belgrave Music Hall on the 24th August 2019.
Interview by Josh Crowe. Words by Meg Firth.