She may be a young, fledgling artist, but Hollie Cook’s sweet, steady voice might still be familiar. She had the honour of singing the only non-Ari Up-fronted track in The Slits’ back catalogue: ‘Cry’, which featured on their final album, Trapped Animal. After singing backing vocals on The Slits’ 2006 comeback EP – a hook up that presumably came about via her father, Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook – Hollie ditched school to join the band as a permanent member until cancer made an untimely claim on Ari Up’s life in October 2010.
As the daughter of a punk legend growing up in West London, Hollie was raised around some of the era’s best-loved rockers, so it’s no surprise she has both a streak of rebelliousness and a deep-rooted love of music. She’s no stranger to touring after her time with The Slits, and is currently lending her skills to The Rotten Hill Gang, a collective set up by Gary Stonadge from Big Audio Dynamite II. Away from the road, Cook has found the time to record her self-titled debut, a sunshine-infused reggae affair produced by friend and collaborator Mike Pelanconi, aka producer Prince Fatty. The tropical pop album is set for release on June 6 through Mr Bongo Records, so we thought we’d catch up with Hollie for some quality chit chat.
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What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?
I don’t see obstacles. I eat them like Pac-Man.
What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?
I have a Vivian Westwood tshirt of my dad’s and a pair of denim shorts of my mum’s. They’re as old, or older, than I am. Both are falling to pieces but so comfortable, and teamed together are my favourite outfit.
What’s your earliest memory?
Probably going to feed the ducks in the park and being bitten by a goose that towered above me. Scary stuff.
Name the last good book you read and tell us how it affected you.
I loved Wonderland Avenue by Danny Sugarman. It made me want to try acid and heroin.
What’s your funniest gig or studio memory?
I suppose throwing a pint glass of my own piss on the audience was funny? Maybe not for the audience. It made Tessa [Pollitt, of The Slits] laugh.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Me and Phil Spector locked in a studio in Hawaii.
What’s your favourite poem and how much of it can you recite from memory?
Probably ‘The Owl & The Pussycat’ by Edward Lear. I think I can recite most of it. I relearned it for fun about a year ago.
Do you have an instrument you’d still like to learn?
The harp would be cool. Although I should probably just concentrate on improving with the instruments I can already play first.
What would you tell your teenage self if you could go back in time?
Don’t take any shit from twatty boys.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
I couldn’t say. I’ve had countless brilliant moments so far. Recently I got to play at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London with the Rotten Hill Gang. We were supporting Big Audio Dynamite. It’s a great venue and in the area I grew up in, so that felt special for me.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen on YouTube?
What are your views on feminism?
Big up your pum pum.
Which women have most inspired you?
Ari Up, Tessa Pollitt, Poly Styrene, Madonna.
What was the best thing before sliced bread?
Tobacco and the circus.
Are you vegetarian/vegan? If yes, what are your reasons?
I was a vegetarian for fourteen years growing up. My mum was, so that’s just how I was brought up. I eat meat now but mostly cook more vegetarian meals for myself.
What’s in your pockets right now?
I’m only wearing knickers.
What did you listen to when you were growing up? Who did you first see live?
I listened to Neneh Cherry and the Spice Girls. And lots of other stuff. I first remember seeing Edwyn Collins and Suede at the Phoenix Festival when I was nine. And Pulp at Wembley Arena.
What’s the biggest problem facing the world today? Do you have any thoughts on how to fix it?
It’s the government but I’m not really willing to get into it. It makes my head spin. There’s probably no fixing it. We’re all fucked.
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
If I could choose the ghost I’d like to see my nan. She died when I was two weeks old and she sounds magical. We could even have a piece toast together and watch the evening news and share a cigarette. And I’d have Marmite on mine.
What gives music its worth?
The thought and time that goes into it. Kind of like home-cooked food.
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