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14th June 2023

Ironing boards and fridge magnets: In conversation with Lip Filler

Ahead of their raucous Nottingham show at Dot to Dot 2023, The Mancunion sits down with South-West upstarts Lip Filler.
Ironing boards and fridge magnets: In conversation with Lip Filler
Lip Filler (from left to right: Jude Scholefield, Nate Wicks, George Tucker, Verity Hughes, Theo Padsmore

Lip Filler are the sort of band that deserve their own sitcom. The premise is there: five young adults form a band in a Shepherds Bush flat above a chicken shop… antics ensue. Think The Young Ones meets 24 Hour Party People. This comedic potential only becomes cemented throughout our conversation, each member of the group unafraid to have a laugh at each other’s expense. I sat down with the aspiring London-based musicians to discuss everything from their living situation to their DIY advertisement strategies. Read on to hear Lip Filler tell it all – creative processes, wonky ironing boards, and the hypothetical meeting between Johnny Greenwood and Shaun Ryder.

Lip Filler by Holly Whitaker (from left to right: Jude Scholefield, Nate Wicks, George Tucker, Verity Hughes, Theo Pasmore)

We recline on backwards-arcing, blood-red chairs in one of Dot to Dot’s many hand-picked venues, as singer/keyboardist George Tucker reflects on their previous show in Bristol with a zealous glow: “Honestly, last night went f*cking smoothly… We actually came off stage with no complaints or issues, it was great. We even said before coming up here, we may as well get pissed beforehand ‘cos we played so well last night.” The mop-haired singer’s disbelief at the lack of on-stage issues speaks wonders about Lip Filler, a band equally inspired by the D.I.Y mentality of punk rock as by the uncontrollable spiralling of The Libertines.

The frontman’s tongue-in-cheek proposal for a day of drinking before the gig is quickly mediated however by guitarist/singer Verity Hughes, seemingly the level-headed one behind Lip Filler’s organised chaos: “Nah, we’re gonna play well tonight. Give the people of Nottingham their due diligence … We’ve checked out the venues here, and it’s nice … I like the street where Black Cherry Lounge is … there’s some nice little venues tucked neatly around there.” 

Lip Filler seem happy to be out of their native sphere of the London music scene – a scene which I gather through their insights to be equally suffocating as it is stimulating: “Gigs in London are cliquey as f*ck”, the quiet, but barbarously witty, Nate Wicks (drums) asserts. I, somewhat shamelessly, ask if this is another way of saying that all the bands in London sleep with each other: “Well, we are figuratively in bed with each other.”

With their unbridled energy and unpredictable genre-blending, it comes as no surprise that the band have become engrossed with their local scene. Despite getting stuck in traffic en route to tonight’s show, and presumably nursing a hangover from a night out in Bristol, the band radiates excitement towards playing in a new city (or, perhaps, towards simply getting out of London): “Yeah, it’ll be so fun playing to a completely new crowd… seeing strangers’ reactions… if you notice strangers singing along to your chorus, it’s massive”, George says with conviction. Guitarist/singer Jude Scholefield phrases it slightly less eloquently, but his heart appears to be in the same place: “We’re excited to play in a city we never f*cking go to.”

Lip Filler by Holly Whitaker

In a genre full of pretension and attempted crypticness, it’s refreshing to see a group of indie rockers express a childlike enthusiasm for travelling to new cities (even if it be a Midlands one), and a grateful disbelief at strangers singing along to their tunes. Lip Filler are truly a band in their heyday, with no sign of youthfulness fading: “Well, if it was anything like last night… we’re gonna have fun”, Theo Pasmore, Lip Filler’s shaggy-haired bass extraordinaire, states with a humble confidence.

Lip Filler take pride in their D.I.Y approach, not just to their music, but to every aspect of the group’s image and admin: “There was this Instagram ad that we put out when we dropped ‘Haircut’… this video of me and Jude in the kitchen… just, like, pissing about. Really hyperactive, really skitty… I think that got out to a lot of people somehow. […] We just get crazy ideas for ads… I’m confident that we’re more involved with the advertising side of things than most bands are. Every visual aspect of our band… I’m sure most bands are very hands-on with their marketing, but I feel like we must be more involved with it, surely? I’ve edited all the music videos we’ve put out. We’re really full-on about it.” This is echoed succinctly, with a dry self-deprecation, by George’s drummer: “We pride ourselves on our… skits.”

Lip Filler’s EP, creatively titled Lip Filler, came out on Chess Club Records in May. Instead of asking about the beguiling mystery behind the EP’s title, or even the EP’s music, we end up chatting about the record’s fridge magnet artwork – Verity proudly confirms that this is, in fact, the Lip Filler household’s very own fridge, situated in their humble headquarters of a flat in Shepherds Bush. George and Jude begin to passionately ramble about the fridge – although minute, it clearly reflects something important for the group:

GT: “I mean, the first thing we dropped was a demo of ‘Cool’, which was on Soundcloud – and that was this artwork our friend Frank Myer did for us, which was pretty cool-looking… so we thought – what if every release leading up to the EP is kind of like this sticker? And there was this magazine… Jude, did you get it from Paris?”

JS: “So I used to work in this antique shop… and one time we got this magazine and it wasn’t of interest to the owner, so I took it home with me. It was this magazine catalogue… Parisian magazine catalogue from the 1960s, and it just had all these funny little French adverts and shit. I started to scan them in, take them back, photoshop them…”

GT: “A sticker for each release leading up to the EP… and then with the EP, we wanted it to reflect our living situation… almost all of us live together in this house… that’s how the band started.”

JS: “I basically quit my job the evening we put together the EP cover because I felt like I needed to be involved.”

The band’s fridge encapsulates their hands-on, intimate approach to the way their music is packaged. Theo builds on this aspect further: “The theme of the first EP was very much our house. All the music videos were filmed in the kitchen… the fridge was in there… some of our press shots have been in there… We’ve been living together for two years.” He brings up something I was burning to ask about – the chaos of a band living together: “When moving in together, we didn’t know we’d be a band. We knew we were going to make music together, but we didn’t know we’d form Lip Filler. It would’ve been a bit intense to go, like, ‘right, let’s move in and form a group’. It has to happen naturally. It started with us just pissing about, writing bits of music.”

As soon as the topic is raised, the band begin to playfully bicker, debating whether they argue more over their music or their kitchen cleaning duties. Luckily, it seems like George has worked out how to make their home-spun chaos manageable: “A lot of household beef comes from people getting pissed off with each other and holding it all in. Not telling each other. We’re so lucky… we’re so f*cking blunt. We’re straight up with each other. If someone’s doing something that pisses one of us off, we just say it.” Students, take note.

Lip Filler are a band that argues, bickers, and squabbles, but always within a self-described “threshold”: “It gets to the point where we’ve almost had to counsel ourselves… ‘cos we’ll get some ideas and someone’s like, ‘what about this?’ and someone else is saying ‘no, that’s too much like X, or whatever’… You can’t shut each other down, do you know what I mean? You’ve got to let ideas happen.” Their methods of coping with domestic issues seem similarly applied to their creative process.

“Ducking trains in the veins up to Walthamstow…” (Cool): Lip Filler by Jacob Ainsworth

Even though George is undoubtedly the frontman, he’s more than happy to share the stage with his bandmates Jude and Verity. Lip Filler are a band with three singers – think Fleetwood Mac but without the failing marriages. “I respect these guys so much… I used to go to the Straight Faces’ [Jude and Verity’s teenage band] gigs all the time, like, I’d watch their gigs when I was a kid. I love the sounds of these guys’ voices – and with ‘Monster Truck’, I wouldn’t have it any other f*cking way. It’s so great how we bounce off of each other the way we do.”

Jude expands on this democracy: “I think all of our creative decisions are only in the best interest of the track. When you first start playing, I think you’re all in this state where you’re like ‘right, f*ck – this is my part’, like you’ve got to be heard individually. Whereas now we’re all at this stage where we can take a step back.” There’s a competitive element here, but not one between the bandmates themselves: ‘The competition is to find the best idea. In that respect, you’re not competing with anyone” Nate judiciously outlines. There is a genuine affection beneath the bandmates’ interactions, a mutual respect for musical projects both old and new – and, impressively for an indie rock frontman, an eager encouragement towards other bandmates taking the lead on vocals.

“Suzie asks me what’s the cost of living?” (Suzie): Lip Filler by Jacob Ainsworth

But, what to expect from a Lip Filler live show? Well, you can read The Mancunion’s review of their Black Cherry Lounge show here. Anyway, chaotic instability is Lip Filler’s resounding answer, as they take their domestic living arrangements onto the stage itself: “George has got his laptop on stage with Ableton up… since the start of the band, there’s always been this laptop. That’s always been on stage with us. We’ve got our ironing board which it sits on top of. I don’t know how that ironing board is still going… we’ve had it since our first gig. It’s wonky now. It’s on its last legs. Eventually, it’s just gonna fall apart. It’s gonna happen one of these days… with George’s expensive laptop on top of it too.” Like the unstable ironing board, there’s an anarchic sense that Lip Filler could fall apart at any moment – surely, that’s the sign of a genuinely exciting act?

George Tucker and Theo Pasmore of Lip Filler by Jacob Ainsworth

When asked who their dream dinner party would be made up of, Lip Filler, whilst enthused about Radiohead’s music (the resounding choice of the best album being In Rainbows), were less optimistic about the band’s drinking abilities: “Well, I’d want to know a bit more about what Radiohead do, but I wouldn’t want to have a piss-up with them”, Verity chuckles, “they’d be complaining about getting hair in their soup.” The band, laughing infectiously, decide that hedonistic Manchester legend Shaun Ryder and the shy, skeletal guitarist Johnny Greenwood would make an exceptionally interesting pair to invite. Theo picks out Robert Smith, Nate decides on Janelle Monae, and Jude concludes the guest list with Pete Doherty. The dinner party is finalised, and Verity’s concerned for her guests: “Shaun Ryder and Pete Doherty… where’s that night heading? Johnny Greenwood’s gonna be phoning his mum.”

Ironing boards, fridge magnets, and household jamming: welcome to the world of Lip Filler, who may very well just be your new favourite band. You can listen to their latest EP below.

Jacob Ainsworth

Jacob Ainsworth

20, he/him, UoM, Film Studies & English Literature. deputy music editor, writer, musician, illustrator and full-time Jarvis Cocker enthusiast

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