Manchester four-piece PINS wasn’t Faith Vern's first attempt at starting a band, but it was the one that stuck. Tiring of feeling like the token girl in all-male ventures with little or no creative authority, she purposely sought out female musicians to start pop-punk band PINS. That was back in 2012. When I call her up on an August evening three years later, the band have recently returned from touring the US with their second record Wild Nights, the tidier follow-up to the unkempt promise of their debut album Girls Like Us. It turns out the band never identified with the post-punk label in the first place and now want to build a more pop-oriented sound.
Catching Faith before an all-night rehearsal with what she casually terms "a new project", we talk about her DIY approach to music and the cathartic nature of singing.
What have you been up to today?
I’m getting ready for band practice. I’m heading out after this and will do that all night. Me and the guitarist from PINS started it and we’ve invited some other musicians down. It’s a new project. We don’t have a name or anything yet, but it's nice to play in a different way and use my voice and guitar in a way that might not be suited to PINS.
What was the reason behind starting something new?
I don’t ever want to be bored with anything. If you feel like doing something you should just do it and whether it works out or not doesn’t really matter.
Wild Nights is more pop-influenced than your debut. Will you continue in that direction?
It’s something we did on purpose. I didn’t feel particularly comfortable with the post-punk label we got stuck with after the last album. We wanted to make something more poppy, but in regards to what’s next I’m still not sure. I would like to do something more experimental, with more sounds, more instruments, more depth. But it still needs to have a good hook and be a pop song at the core of it.
How do you think your songwriting has evolved since you started out with PINS?
I hope it’s better! Particularly with the lyrics, because that’s a tough one. I feel happier with the second album than I did with the first one.
Is songwriting an emotional outlet for you?
Sometimes writing lyrics can be a cathartic thing, but usually it’s difficult and I sit there scribbling and reworking texts a million times. The performance is more emotional for me. If a song is about something or someone and it isn’t pleasant, then it gives me the chance to express myself and shout at the audience as opposed to shouting at the person.
You’ve become a singer with PINS. What has that journey been like?
At first it was embarrassing singing in front of people, especially because I don’t feel like I have a particular talent for it. I didn’t know what I was doing - it was like being new to an instrument. But I kept going and now I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
I don’t think you should have to train to be a singer to sing, though. You should be able to pick up an instrument and just try to play it, like you did. It gives the music a sense of freedom.
I agree. It means there are no rules in place. As a trained singer I think you’re more likely to feel bound by the rules, but if you have no experience, anything goes! I did music for my GCSEs and got a C. I wasn’t even good at it. It was so boring, I couldn't be bothered listening. We were reading books about music instead of actually doing it.
And now you’re off to band practice. Do you usually do all-night rehearsals, like you are tonight?
When we’ve been touring there has been little time for PINS practices and by now we know the songs inside out anyway, so it has been a while. But with this new band we need to get stuck into it. We’ve got a bag of booze and our guitars and we’re rehearsing at The Bunker, which is this cool place in Salford. We’ll see where the night takes us.
It sounds more like fun than work!
It is! It’s the best way.
The interview was originally published on Oh Comely's blog.