‘I don’t mind the fans that cry!’ An Interview with Bad Pollyanna

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Bad Pollyanna are a Gothic rock act who, with their unique image and fragile, haunting and deeply emotional songs, are making quite an impact on the alternative music scene in the UK. The band are currently on tour with Ashestoangels supporting William Control. The Edge recently caught up with front woman and vocalist Olivia Hyde at the London date of their tour to discuss, among other things, the origins of the band’s unusual name, the concept behind their next album and their ongoing work with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation – a charity formed in the wake of the death of Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered for dressing in an alternative way. The charity aims to educate people and promote tolerance of those who are different.

How long have you been playing together as Bad Pollyanna?

The line-up as it stands has been playing together for two years, but Nikki [Bad Pollyanna bassist] and I write the songs and we have been together a lot longer than that. We went through a couple of line-ups, though, before we found the right one. 

How did you come up with the name Bad Pollyanna?

It actually came about when I was in America with Nikki, before we had a band. We met this guy who said that I was always so happy and nice to everyone and he used to call me Pollyanna. I’d never heard that term before and he was saying it as if it wasn’t a good thing. I found out a bit later that it’s from a book and a film, and it’s about a girl who sees the positive side of everything, but it has evolved to mean someone who’s just a bit naïve. I thought that was really interesting, that somehow being optimistic had grown into a bit of an insult. So for us, calling the band Bad Pollyanna was a way of saying that you can actually be both and that it’s possible to be good-hearted, kind and compassionate without just being a silly naïve little girl.

Your debut album Monstrous Child was based  around the concept of a story, will you be continuing that on your next album?

Not really, the next album is going to be another different story. I don’t want to give too much away yet, but it’s going to be about identity and the duality of the human condition. That’s all I’m going to say at the moment! [laughs]We wrote a new song called ‘Define Me’ and that was what really got us thinking about identity and the issues surrounding that. ‘Define Me’ is my favourite song to play live at the moment. I just love how it unifies everyone in the room.

Bad Pollyanna are sponsored by [cult make-up brand]Illamasqua, how did that come about?

It happened after the founder of Illamasqua, Julian Kynaston, saw us performing at the corporation in Sheffield. Julian works very closely with the Sophie Lancaster foundation as well, and for a while he’d been looking for a band that could represent the charity, and when he saw us he felt we’d be a good fit and approached us about it. As part of our work with the charity, and with Illamasqua, we do get some free make-up, which is brilliant!

Julian first started thinking we’d be suitable for the Sophie Lancaster charity when he heard our song ‘Invincible Girl’. He felt the song was a perfect match to the situation, almost as if it could have been written about her. He found listening to the song very emotional and felt that other people would also relate deeply to it. That’s when he suggested to us that we should put it out as a single for the Sophie Lancaster charity.

Have you ever had a creepy or otherwise overly intense fan experience?

Oh yeah, we get them all the time! To be honest, I don’t mind the fans that cry. I find it really sweet actually. They always apologise as well and I just think it’s lovely that my music has touched them so deeply.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

I try not to, really, because there were just so many misconceptions. At first we tried describing how we sounded, but people get very protective over their music, so it was quite hard to do. Whoever we get compared to, there’s always someone going: ‘They don’t sound anything like that!’. We’ve been compared to Evanescence, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, even Kate Bush, and there’s always someone who disagrees! [laughs]

What do you have planned next for Bad Pollyanna?

Well, we have the Invincible Girl single out at the moment on ITunes to raise money for the Sophie Lancaster charity, and all the merchandise for that is also available on our website. We also have a deluxe album coming out soon, with all the tracks re-mastered, re-recorded and sometimes re-imagined. We’re incredibly happy with it, we couldn’t be more pleased with how it sounds.

Bad Pollyanna’s debut album ‘Monstrous Child’ is out now and can be purchased here.

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