When the Women’s Music News team popped into BBC Music Introducing in November, we were lucky enough to have a sit down and a chat with Anastasia Walker of Bang Bang Romeo. After catching part of their powerful performance on The Marshall stage we were bowled over by the range of Anastasia’s voice.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest single Shame On You?
Normally myself and Ross write songs individually in our rooms at home but this one we wrote in LA just off the Hollywood Hills with a team called Heavy, who also produced it. We wrote it in about an hour, really quickly, got it produced in about an hour and did it all in one room.
The song is about – you always have that one person when you’re younger, you’re bad for them, they’re bad for you, but you always end up back at theirs. The way we described it was the devil ying and yang. We’re magnets and we can’t help but be attracted to one another and coming back together. I’d never introduce them to my parents ever – teenage heartbreak realness.
You also signed a record deal this year…
In New York we signed a record deal with Eleven Seven Music who are an amazing team. They’ve got Papa Roach and Mötley Crüe and all that kind of stuff on their roster. One of their A&Rs saw us and we met Alan Kovac, the owner, who manages Blondie and Mötley Crüe. Signing that deal is the best decision we ever made. We had a few labels knocking around but it was a matter of we can’t be that band that goes, ‘let’s sign a deal right now.’ You’ve got to wait for the right ones to come along and that was Eleven Seven.
You’ve got a new album coming out…
The album is out next June to coincide with the Pink! tour.
And the EP is currently available…
Yeah, the EP is giving people a taster of what’s to come from the album – the different ranges of music as we don’t want to pigeon hole ourselves in one particular genre. We range from rock to pop to acoustic to there’s a bit of classical knocking around there, a bit of soul, rnb, blues…
We tried to pigeon hole ourselves once and it didn’t work. We stay true to ourselves on this album and it really is a massive range of music. Some of the songs on there were written out in LA and New York and others were written at home in Doncaster. I wrote Adore Me in my bedroom when I was 16!
You guys have been around for a while…
Ross and I have been writing with each other for years. We’re both from Doncaster, I met him when I was about 15 and we started writing together. We tried to do a few different things and put it under the umbrella of Bang Bang Romeo. Over the last four years we decided to take it more seriously and we got the band together. We found Richard our drummer online, he came on board and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
How’s your career progressed since the start?
People think it’s a fast process but it’s not. It’s a lot of driving – six hours to a venue to play to the sound engineer. People think you get to the point where you’re filling out venues really quickly and that it just comes out of nowhere, but it’s actually been years of hard work, totally believing in yourself.
BBC Music Introducing was a big thing – uploading the track to get it out there and they played it. There’s a promoter called This Feeling and they put us on at our first festival. It’s all about gigging non stop in the right places, spreading yourself out and relentless work. I haven’t had a week off for a long time, but it’s for good reason and I don’t want one off.
Have you faced any challenges as a female musician in the industry?
I did this tour not too long ago where we were playing 20 dates across the country. It was with two other bands and there was a support act on. I calculated it was 64 musicians and I was the only female to take to the stage during the whole tour and you look at it and think what the f**k? Why is that happening? You can’t blame the promoters if the female acts aren’t there making the music…
I feel as though over the last couple of years, a lot of women, not just on stage but behind the scenes, have been picking their guitars up, picking their laptops up and going, ‘I’ll show you’, and I’m so glad that they have. I’ve seen more woman on stage around here [at BBC Music Introducing] than I have men, which is an amazing thing. As well as women working behind the scenes making this whole thing tick over, I just feel so proud.
How did that make you feel? Being just one woman out of 64?
You can’t let it get to you. When you first start out you do get the whole ‘eh up love, what are you doing in here? You carrying the guitars?’ ‘No, I’m playing it you dick-head.’ That kind of thing. There’s challenges for everyone in every sort of industry – that’s the way it is. I think women do get a bit of a harder time no matter what industry you’re in and I do think it’s a matter of not being seen as superior or strong enough, but I say ‘f**k you’ to that. I think we’re going to see a dramatic change very soon and see the scales tipping. Something special is coming.
Has being in a mixed gender band had any influence on how you’ve been treated?
I wear the trousers in this band. The other two are amazing, they’re just like my big brothers. I’m their sister, you get on, you don’t get on, it’s what it’s like being in a family. Luckily they are very respectful men who have never made me feel anything other than brilliant all the time. I wish more lads would take a leaf out of their book when it comes to being in a band.
Are there any key things that need to happen to create a more equal and diverse industry?
I think my message would be to the women in music. Stop blaming everyone else – I never blamed anyone – for not getting where you want to be. If you’re not where you want to be, then you should work harder.
Two fingers up to the industry I suppose. Things need to change – we know that. 100%. I think it’s been male dominated for so long. Say, ‘no, I’m not taking it.’ I think recently that’s been happening.
I think the industry has taken notice which is good. Negativity breeds negativity. Stop blaming other people and smash it and show them. Then when you get there, have your voice heard to go: ‘just so you know, he didn’t help me, he didn’t help me, and he didn’t help me.’ Why don’t people do that? Why doesn’t anyone out anyone?
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done as an artist?
Recording the album was very exciting, but we opened the main stage at the Isle of Wight festival for the 50th year anniversary. It was only after we got off stage that they told us that we played to a record crowd – the biggest in its history. I was like ‘oh my god’ and I actually can’t remember doing it. I remember walking on and off. The whole buzz around that was a stepping stone in our career as a band and we’ll always look back at that and go ‘that was the moment when things changed’. As a performance we’re like, ‘right we raised that bar, always touch that bar or go further.’
What are you listening to at the moment?
I know I’m late to the party but personally I’m loving LP. I think she’s awesome, she has a beautiful voice and she’s an amazing songwriter. I love the fact that it’s kind of gender defying and, as a gay woman myself, I find it very inspiring how she hasn’t succumb to ‘you’re a lesbian woman, this is how you need to act’ or to any gender stereotypes.
We’re massive YONAKA fans. We’ve grown up together in This Feeling promoters circles. They’re currently on tour with Bring Me The Horizon. YONAKA are another female fronted band that are saying ‘I don’t care what the statistics are against me – I’m going to smash it.’ The music is amazing. They’ve just released their new EP, CREATURE.
What have you got coming up?
The Pink! tour which is a really crazy thing that doesn’t happen very often – Wembley Stadium two nights in a row! We’ve got that tour, we’re going to be releasing music like crazy from 2019, more than we’ve ever released, lots of music videos to go with it and there’s more tours to be announced. It’s going to be jam packed. Expect a lot of music coming from us that hopefully you dig.