Boys will be boys, right? Wrong. It’s conceivable to think that human kind seems to have progressed little – if at all – since the days of living in caves and hitting each other with clubs, but it’s true. We may have come a long way scientifically, but it all seems worthless when you look at any random, dogshit indie band that perpetrate sexism and misogyny to a point that is not just unacceptable, but criminal.

Let me grab my ‘Indie Band Randomiser’ *spins aforementioned device* ah, Jake Bugg, so lovely to see you again. You may remember me from that time I virtually assassinated your entire character and claimed that you have “a singing voice befitting a duck with a grapefruit stuck down its throat”. See, Jake, being the wonderful beacon of 21st century laddism that he is, had himself a photoshoot with Hunger Magazine, where he stood and posed with a bunch of naked women in order to sell a few more records. What’s more, instead of downplaying it or acting like the shoot was someone else’s idea, HE ACTUALLY SEEMED HAPPY ENOUGH TO REVEAL THAT IT WAS HIS IDEA ALL ALONG.

“Yeah, I’ve been listening to quite a bit of Hendrix, and it’s a reference to the Electric Ladyland cover.”

Get out of here, you fucking cretin. At no point did anyone ever look at said pictures and remark, “Hmm, that sure does look like the front cover of one of Jimi Hendrix’s albums…”, though they probably did remark, “Hmm, such sexism belongs way back in the 1960s, which is coincidentally was when Jimi Hendrix was last making records.” That album’s cover doesn’t even have the fully-clothed, dominating male in the picture, yet Bugg stands proudly between his naked ladyfriends, asserting male privilege for no reason other than to look like a ‘proper lad.’ Kasabian did it too, for their Q magazine cover in 2011, and even as a fan of theirs, I thought it was shit. It might have been allowed a few decades ago on a ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ aesthetic level, but in this day and age, it’s a very tired, unnecessary, and degrading concept. Even if they did look remarkably uncomfortable with the photoshoot, they could’ve turned it down.

Of course, if a picture says a thousand words, then think how many times a video will say the words “I’m a sexist douche with no grip on reality“; Bugg also put a video out for his song, ‘Messed Up Kids‘, featuring lots of naked women as well. The only messed up kid here is you, Jake, so please stop.

Well, perhaps he’s not the only messed up kid here. Enter Catfish & The Bottlemen. Never has a band felt so stuck in the past, and yet here I am, giving multiple column inches to a band that don’t even deserve the attention anyone wastes on them. Quite simply, this sleazy bunch seem to have less morals than a Seth Rogen film, as Exhibit A proves:

What we have here, courtesy of Los Campesinos’ Gareth David, is a quite frankly mind-bending merchandise list from C&TB. If this hasn’t inspired you to to hate them beyond all measure and see what petulant children they are, then it’s okay, I have more. Amazingly, someone actually wrote into NME about the list – ironic given that Catfish are the archetypal NME fodder band that can’t seem to get a break in that magazine’s very pages, what a shame – and the reply was pretty fantastic.

I’m writing about Catfish & The Bottlemen’s behaviour, as evidenced in a review of the band last October on a website called ImpactNottingham. In the review, they have a merch board displaying things like “Signed titties £1 per melon”, among other disgusting things. When I enquired about this, they promptly blocked me, as I’m sure they have done with others. A spotlight has been shone on it by other people, yet they still get played on the radio numerous times, still get booked for these tours, and most importantly this behaviour still goesunnoticed. This isn’t OK. It’s 2014, so why are attitudes like this still being rewarded?
Sean Atkinson, via email
MB: Sadly, since time immemorial, young men have laboured long and hard over the mastery of the stringed instrument in the hope of using it to woo willing consorts. Some take the subtle approach. Others are more direct – and grossly inappropriate – such as C&TB, the Tinder creeps of indie-rock, asking female fans to take their tops off and offering “4 play, £4”, “6 tugs of the porridge gun, £5” and “cock snot” by the litre at their merch stand. Bands must learn to appreciate the need for an inherent respect for their audience, otherwise they’ll  just stop coming to your gigs. It’s bad enough that some crowd members find it appropriate to behave like sexual predators at gigs – turn to page 13 for NME’s Jenny Stevens on the problem with groping at gigs – without the band getting in on the act too.

I’m not making it up, you can see a picture of part of it here, and read the full thing here (Page 4). Then we have Exhibit B.


Ah, the ‘telling girls that our roadie fancies them when secretly it’s us that wants to fuck them’ trick, that old chestnut, eh lads?! Classic stuff.

Who else? Let’s see *spins Indie Band Randomiser, nearly sends device flying into orbit out of anger*, The Orwells! Nice of you to join us. You’ve done very well, especially you, Mario (the singer, remains anything but ‘super’ unlike his more-famous namesake). Masterfully, he must have a brilliant PR team, because unfortunately for me, most traces of his sexist bilge has been eradicated from the interwebs. From claiming that he has “fucked enough fat girls to get into heaven“, to saying the following to an Instagram commenter that dared to reference their good buddy Mac DeMarco’s knack for rape jokes;


What a charmer! While we’re on the subject of Mac DeMarco, his ‘sense’ of ‘humour’ seemingly knows no bounds, as proven when he once stood onstage and uttered the words, “Any girls wanna come up here and get raped?” Now, I pause for recollection here: Someone apparently (for reasons that remain dubious, unexplained, and completely fucking random) shouted the name ‘GG ALLIN’.  Allin was a punk rock singer in the ’80s who was notorious for lyrics that referenced misogyny, pedophelia, and even alleged rape. However, that’s an entirely random heckle if ever I heard one, and even if that was shouted out, the fact that Mac would know about that (I had to Google it, and I’ve heard of at least 3 punk bands you know) and then decide that it would be appropriate to still make a sarcastic rape remark in front of thousands of people (of which, sadly and statistically, there will be dozens of rape or assault victims) really does show a level of idiocy that’s hard to even comprehend. Oh, and his bassist, Pierce, thinks it’s funny to joke about beating up women. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Perhaps, as many would inform you, ‘political correctness has gone mad’. Or perhaps people are just waking up to the abhorrent sexism, objectification, and discrimination that’s occurring in every day music. This isn’t about 50 cent having scantily clad ladies in his videos (everyone knows he and the like are absolute tools), and if you’re going to suggest ‘women pop stars are just the same!!!’ and use Gaga, Minaj, Kesha etc as examples, then you have entirely missed the point of those three women’s entire fucking existences. Watch Nicki Minaj’s video for ‘Anaconda‘. The internet has blown up over it, and so many people are missing the point. It’s about Minaj’s choices, as a black woman in a world where it’s damn near unforgivable for someone like her to dance provocatively or wear revealing clothes…or even just be comfortable with her body, sexuality, and overall image. Oh it makes you uncomfortable? Maybe re-evaluate your values; is she not allowed to do what she wants?

On that note, watch the video for ‘Wraith‘ by Peace. Of course, I know it’s an absolute parody of the whole hip hop/rap/pop/r’n’b/whatever video strategy of ‘let’s get some good looking women involved and make them dance with barely any clothes on’. I know it’s speaking out against that culture. But who looks worse in this video: the straight, white men who are sitting, watching a lap-dance for their own sexual pleasure, or the black women who are up on the stage, perceived as trying to get these guys’ approval? I have a soft spot for Peace, so it’s hard for me to write negatively about them, but in this one instance, they meant well but failed to achieve it.

For more subliminal sexism, we must head towards one of the most subliminal, least-memorable bands there are; The 1975. The sort of bozos that would exclaim, “But I’m not sexist, I love women!!!” whilst employing a bunch of half-naked women as mere props for their video for ‘Girls‘. Look at how the band are dressed in that video; sure, they look like pricks. But what are they wearing? Clothes. What are their women counterparts wearing? Not a great deal. They’re supposed to be lookalikes, for crying out loud.

If you want that whole girl/boy band lookalike scenario, watch something like The Vaccines’ video for ‘Teenage Icon‘. Their counterparts look the same, act the same, and even represent them on the ‘Come of Age‘ album artwork, and there’s no discernible difference between the boys and girls, other than the fact that the boys are The Vaccines, and the girls are not. They’re presented as equals, as opposites that are still the same, as no better than each other, and no worse than each other. The Vaccines stand alongside their equivalent number, and merge seamlessly together because it’s LITERALLY NOT A FUCKING BIG DEAL.

The 1975, however, present these show-off, ‘aesthetically pleasing’ women to sell a few fucking records, score a few fucking video hits, and get a reputation for being ‘fucking OUT THERE, man’, when really, it’s just sad. Aside from the blatant objectification of their opposite sex, there’s shots of women eating massive hot dogs (because penises), a woman crashing a car (because women obviously can’t drive), and lots of sunbathing and lingerie (because sex). They’re that band who endlessly moan, “She’s got a boyfriend anyway“, because obviously the fact that she has a boyfriend is more of a stimulus to leave her alone than to respect the fact that she’s just not that into you, you shit-haired fiends.

Tragically, it’s not just women that get objectified by male rock stars. Female singers get objectified by male ‘fans’ as well, as CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry poignantly pointed out in mid 2013.

‘Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”.’

Part of me wants to believe that in 50 years or so, we’ll look back on 2014 and say “People treated women HOW?!” just in the same way that in 2014, we can’t fathom a world where women aren’t allowed to vote, even though that was once the very case. But with the internet seemingly teeming with violent sexism and abhorrent objectification, we need to do a lot more than just hope for the best and pray that people get clued up to this sort of thing. Unfortunately, with the level of rife disrespect for women in even the ‘coolest’ or most ‘legendary’ of indie bands (remember Noel Gallagher naming his top 10 acts of all time, adding the disclaimer that there were ‘no female artists allowed’?), that dream seems a long way off yet.

Got a story of a band exhibiting some pretty sexist behaviour? Leave a comment below detailing what happened.

About The Author

Mark Riley

Always pick the Fire starter-Pokemon.