Comprised of Lush‘s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose‘s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), who are married, along with Modern English‘s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums), the indie rock all-star act Piroshka derives their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood — and while each member may be known for their highly acclaimed individual creative pursuits, they’ve long been connected within a complex and oft-knotted web: Berenyi and McKillop have long been considered shoegaze pioneers with their own bands before they got married and raised a family; Elastica were considered rising Brit Pop stars, and as a result Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch. After Modern English broke up for second time, Conroy joined McKillop’s band Moose. Welch joined the reformed Lush in 2015. Interestingly, when Lush needed a bassist for what turned out to be their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.
It was those Manchester show rehearsals that laid the foundations for their current project. But as I write this, I realize that I need to backtrack a bit because backstories are often extremely confusing — and there details I hadn’t figured out a good way to fit in. So here we go: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Berenyi in particular felt that she had to completely get away from music; in fact, Berenyi spent the next close to 20 years as a parent with a full time job — and as a result, she didn’t agree to reunite Lush until 2015. Adding to the six degrees of musical and creative separation, Welch was a close friend of Acland’s, making it easy to recruit him to fill in. As the story goes, Welch was the one, who asked Berenyi if she’d be up to doing something else, after the Manchester show. As she mentions in press notes, she had never made music outside of Lush and never wanted to do anything solo. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin,” Berenyi recalled. “He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”
“We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”
Adding another layer to the entangled web of personal, professional and creative connections, Bella Union‘s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the band’s demos for their forthcoming full-length debut Brickbat and after listening to them, he quickly signed the band — and as it turns out, his former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. Alan with that Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose. Raymonde then introduced the members of Piroshka to Lanterns on the Lake‘s Paul Gregory to mix the album — with the exception of “What’s Next,” which was mixed by Alan Moulder. Fiona Brice, who was once a Bella Union recording artist, wrote string arrangements while The Higsons and Blockhead‘s Terry Edwards, who also played on Lush’s final album played brass.
Slated for a February 15, 2015 release through the Bella Union, Piroshka’s debut album Brickbat is derived for a slang term for a missile and reportedly, the title hits on how the album is a marked departure from each individual members’ known work; in fact, the material is centered by blunt, forceful lyrics that tap into the fear, loathing, envy and spite at the heart of our sociopolitical moment. Much of the material was written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone mad. Similarly to JOVM mainstays Atmosphere‘s Mi Vida Local, Brickbat‘s first single “Everlastingly Yours” is rooted in a very real fear — that you can’t protect your loved ones from the constantly evolving dangers of our world. While the song is centered around a shimmering and anthemic shoegazer-like arrangement featuring soaring synths, a propulsive, angular bass line, four-on-the-floor-like drumming and Berenyi’s aching and ethereal vocals, the song thematically as McKillop explains is “about school shootings and our reaction to almost being almost unable to take our eyes off twenty-four hour news and internet feeds.” And as a result, the song points at the vacillating cycle of disgust, depression and powerlessness that we all feel on a daily basis.
Featuring four-on-the-floor drumming, jangling guitar chords, shimmering synths and Berenyi’s ethereal vocals, Brickbat‘s latest single “What’s Next” continues in its predecessor’s footsteps as it’s centered around the urgency of our sociopolitical moment — with the song’s narrator essentially saying “Wait, hold up. What the fuck, man? Shouldn’t we want better?” And throughout there are references to people hitting the streets to protest, out of fear, concern and outrage. Interestingly, as the band’s Berenyi explains in press notes “‘What’s Next’ started life as a guitar-and-drums demo from Justin that he’d called ‘Protest’ – the drums being inspired by the idea of a protest march. It’s one of the very first songs Piroshka worked on together. The lyrics are inspired by the shock and fallout regarding current political upheavals – how this finger-pointing and rage and blame are so damaging, how we need to get back some kind of solidarity if we possibly can because the divisions between us are playing into certain people’s hands. Funnily enough, the song was called Time’s Up when it was first recorded, but that title then got taken so we thought we’d better change it!”