Nov 25, 2023

In Conversation with Irish Punk Band girlfriend.

Following the release of their debut album, Sadie Loughman sat down with Hana Lamari of girlfriend. to discuss the band’s musical inspiration, the production of their album and their experience gigging in Dublin

Sadie LoughmanMusic Editor

The Dublin-based band girlfriend. dropped their debut album, To Be Quiet, on October 31st, 2023. With themes based around repressed memories, the album is a cathartic explosion of sound – an exciting and refreshing addition to the Dublin music scene. The band was preemptively formed in the primary school yard, where Hana Lamari and her friend-turned-bandmate Lahela Jones would make up songs.

Fast forward to today and the two still make music together, albeit perhaps at a different level. The pair’s love for music continued and strengthened throughout their teenage and young adult years, forming the band in secondary school, when their third member, Sophie Dunne, joined on guitar and bass. Lamari jokingly coins the three the “founding fathers” of the band. Eilis Mahon, an ambient artist under the name ‘icebear,’ and Robyn Avery joined in the later years, bringing with them a range of instrumental talent.

Their debut album To Be Quiet is a striking concept album. Lamari credits their major inspiration to the early 2000’s band My Chemical Romance (MCR), in that “basically all of their albums are concept albums”. The musician goes on to explain that a concept album can be interesting to play with in the way it holds up a structure and narrative. The influence of MCR can be heard in this debut album – with purgative screaming and tight, edgy instrumentals. There is a sense of angst in the songs which nods to the pre-teen emo phase (a right of passage for many), but with a definitive maturity and originality.


When asked about the creation of their first album, Lamari explains that it was a combination of things – the piecing together of vague childhood memories, along with the surrealist nature of the TV show Twin Peaks, which she was watching at the time. “I was interested in the idea of the subconscious mind as a place”, says Lamari. Indeed, this concept can be felt while listening to the album, particularly in their song ‘In Silence. In the climax of the track, the lyric: “To be quiet in a house on fire” is screamed, encompassing the struggle of the repressed subconscious, of being trapped in the mind as though it is a burning building. 

The meaning of the name girlfriend. is straightforward, representing the band as a group of friends. Although originally intended to be ‘girlband’, it was unfortunately discovered that the name had already been coined, by an all-male band no less. In terms of musical inspiration, girlfriend. draw on anything and everything. Aside from MCR, inspiration for their album is listed in the members’ individual playlists on the band’s Spotify page, ranging from Olivia Rodrigo to Yung Lean to Prince. Lamari makes the point that music should be fun –  pretentiousness is out! Drawing on how versatile the band’s music taste is, Hana reminisces on the time the group attended a Nicki Minaj concert and “just cried”, a spiritual experience, one might say. The band have been given labels from emo to grunge to shoegaze, but the lead singer notes that the genre of “post-hardcore” really stuck out to her. In three words, Lamari describes the new album as “emotional and raw”. ‘Girlhood’ is a particular favourite of mine that exemplifies this, with dreamy guitars and a nauseating nostalgia in its lyrics.

Discussing the band’s success, Lamari recalls when the band was formed in 2015, gigging in small venues while still being college students. The musician describes the experience as somewhat overwhelming – juggling college, work and music – as well as being an independent band without management or crew. “The work never really stops as an independent band”, she says. Over time, the combination of commitments meant the band could not write new music, and playing the same set over and over again became tiresome. 

After releasing two singles, the band took a hiatus in 2019, stepping back from playing live to write new material. This was the genesis of their new album. When asked if much has changed since the band returned to gigging at the beginning of 2023, Lamari says: “We definitely have more self-respect”. Starting out as a band in the saturated Dublin music scene is difficult, as Lamari explains that you have to “lay your soul bare” for an audience who might not care, putting so much effort in with little return and repeating it all over again. Today, the band can be more selective of where and when they choose to play, and with a confidence that makes playing live a more enjoyable experience. The band remains independent to this day, transporting equipment to their shows, managing their own emails and press, while also being in full-time employment – a major display of hard work.

The band’s talent is undeniable, and there is undoubtedly more success to come in the future. Their most popular song from the new album, entitled ‘Repent’, has amassed over 48,000 streams, and Lamari speaks of the time Ethel Cain reposted one of their songs – a sure-fire indication of the band’s artistry. girlfriend. also recently appeared in a live video performance for Chromatic Sets with their song ‘In Silence’. The performance is relentless and energetic, set in the abandoned ruins of a pub – an aesthetic worthy of Ethel Cain’s praise. girlfriend. continues to display a spirited uniqueness. Their vocals are strong, their lyrics raw and their sound hardcore, yet ceaselessly vulnerable so that when listening to their songs you don’t know whether to headbang or cry. As Lamari explains, the true spirit of the band lies in the bond of its members, for each time before stepping on stage, they tell each other “this is for us”.

So what lies in store for the future of girlfriend.? Lamari admits that they have many demos made, ready for a potential second album. However, the future is wide open. The band have an upcoming gig on December 9th in the Button Factory, supporting their “best buds”, the Irish punk band Chewie, who have acted as their mentors in a sense. Irish, independent and intense, girlfriend. are certainly ones to watch. 

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