Fluffy :: The all-girl punk band from London. Sadly, they split up towards the end of the 90s. But the good news is ALL of the girls are now working on other projects...
Don't look back in angora. Posh girls in negligible negligees or authentic fem-punks with grit and guts to spare? Fluffy take the stand.
"Lets do porn shots." Amanda Rootes moves away from the Fluffy-in-a-line-up-against-the-wall pose and nuzzles Bridgette Jones to demonstrate the outcome of a recent photo session. "He was a real f***ing sexist pig this block," spits Amanda, Fluffy's 23 year-old singer and guitarist "but he was so matter of fact about it - 'I want four girls gagging for a shag' - it wasn't too offensive. He wanted to pin back Bridgette's T-shirt tighter so you could see her tits better. I was grabbing her vagina from behind, like this, and f***ing her, like this." Where does his work appear, this photographer? The Sun, The Star, Fiesta? "Melody Maker" says Amanda. "Now look pretty, girls. Look shiny. Look Jim Morrison." Fluffy fall about in a heap and then collapse on a sofa amidst the clutter of their rehearsal rooms in Holloway, North London. "It's trouser day today," remarks 22 year-old Bridgette Jones, the bands other guitarist. No baby doll lingerie. Bah! Angie Adams (20, drums) and Helen Storer (20, bass) gather their po
ssessions together and effect make-up adjustments. "I need some new Britpop trainers for this tour," Angie announces. "Ooh! I had a really sick dream last night. I dreamt I fell down the stairs and broke my leg so I couldn't go on tour. It was great." Fluffy's road manager Seb arrives. The girls gather up their clutch bags, we leave the building and dance around their new tour bus. It's got two beds but there's no linen. Luckily Fluffy have each brought a duvet from home.
Itineraries are banded out. 'Do you want spares for, er, boyfriend like?' Seb asks. Amanda takes one for her steady, Tommy freak, lead singer in freaks Of Desire, whose bassist and guitarist have produced The Fluff's singles 'Hypersonic' and 'Husband'. Nobody else takes an extra schedule except Brigitte, who wavers over a booklet then bands it back. 'What's the point? He won't phone me anyway.' We adjourn to the Continental Snack Bar on nearby Holloway Road. en route we are passed by a succession of football coaches ferrying black and white striped Geordies to Highbury for that night's Arsenal vs. Newcastle match. The boys inside ratio the windows like chimpanzees as flub walk past oblivious. It's not just men, though. Two singles in and everybody has their Fluffy opinion. How about the bitchy girly angle, 'they're so obvious, flaunting themselves like brazen hussies and they can't even play.' 'Who said that?' says Amanda, smiling. 'We've had that since the beginning, You're crap'. 'You're miming to a playbac
k'. It's not an issue for us and we're certainly not dressing down.' Angie, who has just resumed from a holiday in her native Philippines, admits to certain doubts. 'I've started worrying about what I wear on stage in case it's wrong." "You shouldn't,' Amanda retorts. -You got to the point with criticism that you can't do anything. We're not tour glamour models anyway. I've noticed a few articles recently have got a bit edgier. They're portraying us as harder, drinkers wild girls. It's not just face value.' 'We do get psyched up,' says Helen, the newest member of the band (she replaced Pandora Ormsby-Gore on bass last summer). 'We're very nervous before a gig so we drink half a bottle of vodka each and go, 'Oh, my God!', then we get on stage and we pretend to be confident and by the third song we might start believing it.
Fluffy formed "a whole two years ago" after Amanda and Angie were inspired by a jazz-blues Singer in one of Old Compton Street's gay cafes. They were attending college in London at the time , studying Art & Design. "We lasted six weeks. Just sat at the back laughing, getting in trouble and leaving at lunch break. Angie learnt the drums. Our songs were complete rubbish. Bridgette did her A levels then she joined and we rehearsed in my living room with shit amps and no microphone." Pandora Ormsby-Gore, a member of one of London's most celebrated demimonde families (auntie Alice used to go out with Eric Clapton and died last year of heroin abuse), completed the Initial picture. But she left. "Pandora wanted to act and that's it" says Rootes of her subsequent appearances on Television in Casualty and The Bill. Ormsby-Gore's connections ensured the band were objects of plenty of social gossip, in Tatler and Evening Standard's London Diary, for example "I wouldn't exactly call it great publicity, "the singer wasn't
exactly hard and punk. It was all about toffs and public schools." Storer, who comes from Manchester and used to work in a fruit and veg shop, takes umbrage at the fact "we al get called posh when that represented her".
Austrian-born Bridgette points out that "only in England do they care. It's so over the top. People think we've got big country houses." The daughter of a London publican, rootes was raised above a bar in covent garden ."My earliest memories is of dad taking me into the gents toilet when he was cleaning it and mum tut-tutting because it was no place for a young girl.
Fluffy's debut single "Hypersonic" was released on Parkway Records September '95, the same day the group made the British debut, performing at Tower Records in Piccadilliy, John Major was in the building at the time buying a Mantovani Album, prompting Amanda to wonder aloud "Maybe he's come in for a seven Inch" Fnar.
Gentlemen, that reminds me, The cover of 'Hypersonic' does indeed feature seven inches of pink, tumid, throbbing plastic Exhibit A one personal massage unit Amanda Rootes, for the use of "Bridgitte gave me that vibrator the Christmas before last because4 I'd just split up from a boyfriend. We put it on the cover 'cos it was a joke and we didn't have a better idea and the song - 'gotta reach my superclimax' - is about masturbating things. So why the f*** shouldn't we?". If the vibrator stands for - gasp - sexual empowerment, then Fluffy's last single 'Husband' continued the emasculation theme. 'I was sitting in a car with the band and they were going on about their boyfriends - 'Oh, he doesn't like my hair this colour; he doesn't like this lipstick; he says this skirt makes me look fat' it really annoyed me. Amanda has tried writing sunny days songs "Wake up it's a beautiful country house, I can't do it, I'm quite happy but I'd rather write 'Your f***ing pig, I'm so depressed' it's more inspiring - people don'
t listen to our lyrics anyway". But if they listen to the music Fluffy hope they detect influences that are mostly American punk and hard-core: Iggy and The Stooges, MC5, Ramones, Rancid. Nothing currently English is given much house room by Rootes, who lives with her punk singles, her cats and her yellow 1977 Les Paul Jnr. "We're happy to avoid the Britpop bandwagon, . In America they go 'Britpop - ha ha.' It's too lame, too poppy, too many people singing in cockney accents wearing T-shirts with funny logos instead of pushing over a mosh pit and jumping up and down." The girls made their live debut at CBGB's on the Bowery at Bleecker, the cradle of New York punk rock in the mid '70s. Adding an air of verisimilitude Blondie's drummer Clem Burke came with his girlfriend. Early success was followed by what Amanda refers to "as our Beatles in Germany period when we played nine nights in Amsterdam and we were shit".
Brigitte Jones wrinkles her nose. "It was hell. I hated it. The people eat too much Edam. We trailed through awful venues like The last Watering Hole and Hotel Kabul in the red light district. The audiences were two pig farmers and a pig." So for light relief Fluffy had no option but to avail themselves. Amsterdam's traditional temptations? "Yeah We bought this really strong hash. No, it was grass Superskynk, It was so strong we shared a joint in the hotel and watched the Dutch version of Big Bird on television. We laughed ourselves sick the fell asleep before the gig".
In New York they smoked what Rootes calls "The Weed That Killed Elvis. It was lethal. We were scared even to go for a pee, We were tripping for hours, watching Sesame street Although Flufy are sorted for England and will record their first album for Parkway, the label co-owned by their publicists, for the rest of the world the have signed a two-album, $500,00 deal with The Enclave, a new label set up by renowned American A&R man Tom Zutaut. "Tom was the only person we met we trusted', Rootes
recalls. "The sexism in the industry is amazing. We went to A&R meetings where the men treated us like a date. They, were taking their wedding rings off and throwing them on the table. One chairman of a massive company didn't even shake hands. The first thing he said was, 'Come hare and a me a kiss'. No f***ing way! - Tom's not like that. He's really notorious 'cos one of the Nymphs (singer Inger Lorre) pissed on his desk. He's a bit businessman but he's very nice and he's signed The Stone Roses and Guns N Roses when he worked for geffen." Fluffy's desire is to "punk out the Americans". They think they can. Why? "because Americans are not so narrow-minded towards women and because punk never happened there properly first time around." Manhatten-based Zutaut concurs. He signed Fluffy after seeing them play a Radio One simulcast show at the Camden Underworld to "this jaded audience full of Brit boys with their arms folded going 'you're crap, so entertain me'."
As with Dave grohl - who invited the band to support Foo Fighters in Dublin and may produce their next single - fluffy floated Zutaut's boat immediately. "I was launching my new label and wanted something fresh , exciting and different for my first signing. If you look at the genre of alternative female groups then Veruca Salt are the grunge, Elastica are the new wave and fluffy are punk. They're also highly intelligent, articulate, dedicated and sincere. People look at the lingerie and think 'oh blonde singer in a mini-skirt, as he must be stupid'. That isn't the case, Fluffy are passionate about their music. History and experience tells me the passionate ones are usually successful." Over here in cynical old Britain much focus so far has centered on Amanda's knickers or, rather, her lack of them. Indeed, the Sharon Stone of punk told one society columnist that she wasn't slipping into Sloggis for anyone. "I'm not about to start wearing knickers because people think it's un-lady like." Sightings of Amanda's
bottom include an episode when the nature-loving singer took part in a music paper's festive drinking contest. According to Parkway's Phil Savidge, the boozing slog was enlivened by several games of pool. "Oddly enough , Amanda was wearing a short dress and for some reason all the boys were standing behind her when she took to the table. It was like a Carry On movie with the journalist as Kenneth Connor mouthing 'Phwoooooaaarh!' every time she took a shot." Now even Fluffy's fan-mail has posterior motivies: "We get knickers sent to use through the post for her," says Savidge. "Boys send them with notes saying "Please, wear these' They're all clean!" The men don't now, but Helen hopes that the little girls understand Fluffy, "We want to inspire women to pick up guitars ,We don't want them to have a problem with us.
We don't have any problem with anyone except some of the spotty boys with bad haircuts we've played with so far who clap sarcastically at soundchecks and then have this attitude: "We're supporting Fluffy Wahay!' Like what? Like they're gonna pull us?" Touring holds no real fears either, despite the inevitable barrage of 'get your tits out' from the groundlings. According to Brigitte, "the heckling doesn't vary very much. 'Do you only play barre chords?' is quite good. But what is a barre chord? My favourite was in Manchester when some of my equipment blew up and someone shouted: 'Get your dad to buy you a new amp', I liked that one." It's getting late, Fluffy have to return to Notting Hill, pack their suitcases and go to the launderette to wash their smalls. Today Holloway, tomorrow Glasgow. Bridgette has abet on with Helen to wear the same pair of knickers every day of the tour. "Wear dark ones so they show through your dress." Amanda pleads, but Bridgette disagrees. "No, light ones show up the stains better