How you function informs much of what you aspire to do, to be, to strive for. BERRIES have sieved the last four years of their lives through tight, crunchy guitar lines and puncturing rhythmic patterns. Bold, brave and brandishing their triumph over darker times, this trio had to put together their first cohesive full-length record - ‘How We Function’ - and tell their history shortly after signing to Xtra Mile Recordings in 2020. “We do grow as musicians as the years go by and so for this album we really wanted to show that side of it,” says Holly - guitarist, songwriter, vocalist. “A lot of people describe us as off-kilter, riffy, jagged rock, which we love but there’s always been an underlying poppy side to us too. So we brought back some of the older tracks we recorded in demo form to see how they fared against the new tracks. Tracks like ‘Siren’, ‘Discreetly’, they’re different to where we’re heading but they still represent us as a band.” These anthemic songs from 2018, the true inception of the band, weave so deftly around indelible calligraphic single ‘The Expert’ and nestle well with album tracks like the pulsing, wiry ‘Strength in Numbers’ interpreting their incremental, intricate development as a band. There’s been no switch to pop polish on ‘How We Function’ despite others telling them that’s what they should do. Instead, the fierce grip of rapid tectonic layers locking together with crystal clarity imparts all you need to understand BERRIES and for them to know themselves. After connecting as friends and musicians, and hastily putting together some full-band songs, BERRIES really found themselves in 2018 after releasing ‘Discreetly’. In 2019, they released four-track EP ‘Lies’ which felt like the ignition of something significant for them, and then we were all suddenly stuck inside for all of 2020 and some of 2021. In this state of despair for the future, BERRIES were contacted by Xtra Mile, who signed them shortly after. As if making up for lost time, in 2021 they released two new singles - ‘Copy’ and ‘The Expert’, the latter on a Flexidisc featuring their cover of Sleater-Kinney’s classic ‘Dance Song ‘97’ recorded for the killrockstars 30th anniversary covers compilation - and the ‘Live Sessions from Big Smith Studios’ EP. The singles garnered plays on 6Music, BBC London and Amazing Radio as well as a session with supporter John Kennedy on Radio X. After the dead touring year of 2020, they joined Frank Turner’s The Gathering summer shows and Lost Evenings at the Roundhouse and headlined London’s The Grace as we all tentatively returned to life. With their first UK headline tour, a German tour with The Subways and later in the year Carter USM’s Jim Bob, and a debut album release all in 2022, that lost time is being torched in their afterburners. The articulate and meticulous songs on that album are whittled with precision, revealing a dedication and passion that is bolstered by the words with which they’ve chosen to lace their sounds. An album ostensibly about mental health struggles and the resounding empowerment of overcoming and learning to live thoroughly with them, ‘How We Function’ is highly relatable to most of us. “The album is about strength and growth and recognising the dark times and how you get over that. We’ve got over a lot of mental health struggles, but we wanted (the album) to have an empowering vibe to it as well. This is our journey to growth. (Mental health) is not a shadow over what you’re doing - this is really healthy and we can talk about this stuff.” Single ‘Wall of Noise’ especially seems to Holly to have resonated with their audience, though no doubt the same will be said soon of songs like ‘Spiral’, ‘We Are Machines’ and ‘Haze’ all dealing with elements of imposter syndrome, struggle and difficulty that a lot of us can nod along sagely with. It’s not natural to break things into constituent elements, though it is human nature to want to rifle through the building blocks of something that exists to understand it. ‘How We Function’ explores the band’s musical and emotional DNA, revealing what it takes to not only overcome personal problems but set yourselves down a path to being truly independent in sound, ambition, heart and mind. “We really couldn’t have put more into it’” says Holly, “we are so proud of the end result”. Asked what four key elements help BERRIES function, Holly is straightforward: “Playing live is huge for us, laughing, being true to ourselves; and friendship.” Through these essential ways of functioning BERRIES have produced an album mapping who they are, what they are capable of and where they are going: wherever they want.
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