Comprised of married couple Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) and Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), along with Modern English’s Mick Conroy 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 Welsh. 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 I need to backtrack a little bit, because even the most boring backstories are often confusing — and there are details you need to know: After Chris Acland’s suicide in 1997, his devastated and grieving bandmates felt unable to continue. Berenyi in particular felt that she had to complete 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. Of course, 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 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. 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. Understandably, 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 Loca, 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.