Lime Garden does not believe there should be a hierarchy between performers and audiences. They are so convinced of it that the whole group regularly finds themselves stuck dancing with the crowd at the end of their concerts. They’re also easily turned on: “I don’t understand why people aren’t,” says the band’s lively drummer Annabel Whittle, citing her love of festival buggies and chilled chocolate left for them in their dressing rooms. We’re talking at the Standon Calling festival, where the band defied the July heatwave and played a peppy set on The IndependentThe Laundry Meadows scene. “We’re hysterical like puppies, it all feels like a giant boys vacation,” singer Chloe Howard laughs. Indeed, the four-piece group from Brighton have so much energy that it is sometimes difficult to keep up. But if you can, it pays off.
Lime Garden (formerly LIME), started when Whittle, Howard, Leila Deeley (guitar) and Tippi Morgan (bass) moved in together in Brighton, after meeting through a Facebook group in 2018. It took them a some time to find the “indie-slinky-wonk-pop sound they became known for. To begin with, Morgan didn’t really know how to play bass. After being “backed into a corner of the kitchen”, she was performing on stage with the rest of the band a week later. At first, they incorporated a “mishmash of different influences” – from 80s ballads to country music – into their songs. Interested in bands emerging from London’s DIY scene, they began to refine that sound – although they still explain it in different ways to different people.”If it’s a geezer in the pub, we just say indie” explains Howard. “And if it’s my grandmother, it’s rock’n’roll”, adds Whi little.
“The coolest thing is just to see [other] bands make the music they want to make,” says Deeley. “We are four best friends and this is what we want to do. I don’t think that will ever change. Relatability is key, and so they set out to capture their generation’s despair and frustration. “The desire to fit in / But not knowing which box to sit in / The desire to be heard / With nothing to say in the first place,” Howard sings amid the bubbling synths and deep bass of “Marbles.” . Its seductive whisper has a sinister edge that matches the song’s lyrical anxieties. Their “happy-sad” sound takes on its full force on the Gorillaz-influenced “Clockwork,” where the ticking of bass drums and the crash of hi-hats lead the coming-of-age lyrics.
“We admire bands that change their sound from album to album. It’s something we want to do,” says Howard. They joke that the addition of the “electronic stuff” that compensates for the “heavier angst” is simply due to them “understanding how to use [the equipment]”. The majority of Lime Garden’s six songs address the monotony of everyday life, but they don’t want to bore their listeners too much. Existential lyrics are countered by bubbly melodies; loops that make you feel like you’re stuck in a house of mirrors. It’s not so much depressing as disorienting – and you can dance to it.
“I’m sick and I’m tired / I need to find a way to pick myself up and plug in,” Howard sings on “Sick & Tired.” The song was conceived when Deeley, who was battling a sense of isolation during lockdown, wanted to build a loop that “goes on forever”. Whittle added warbling bossa nova beats on the synths, and the song transformed: “It sounded like we were accepting [being sad], thriving in and out of mood swings,” Deeley tells me. Just then, a pack of pugs (Standon is a very dog-friendly festival) leap into the backstage area of the performer where we’re seated, all crying out for hugs. Everyone’s mood is considerably improved.
After the group fixes their dog (a golden retriever decides to stay and hang out with us), they settle back into their bean bag chairs. Talk are looking to their next tour in November. Despite a series of early successes – festival bookings and support slots for indie rockers IDLES – the band is feeling the dread on Monday. “You have to play enough to be close to full-time, but you still have to pay your rent one way or another,” says bassist Tippi Morgan. “I think a lot of musicians would unanimously agree that dealing with the extreme highs of life and then going back to jobs that we don’t really care about can make you feel pretty shitty,” says Howard, explaining how The “consistent” extremes from the highs of a live performance to the lows of life amplify this sense of dread: “I think we all have a hard time dealing with it.
“We use the group as a form of escape.” suggests Howard. “There are so many things that make us angry, but at this point I think it’s good to make space for people to walk away from that – just to have fun and have fun. ” The band are keen to continue building their fan community, inspired by the inclusivity they see from acts such as Florence + The Machine, which has a book club, and the Sports Team fan Whatsapp group. “I love it when I hear a band and there’s all this people around them,” Deeley says. “There are groups that are huge but you feel very close to them.”
This is particularly important for Lime Garden as a group of young women. They’re excited about the wave of female, non-binary artists hitting the scene: “Go for it,” says Howard, recalling a Wolf Alice gig that inspired her to form her own band. “It was totally mind-blowing,” she says of singer Ellie Rowsell. “I had never seen a woman do that. [before]. It was so powerful and inspiring. It’s cool to think that we can even give a little bit to someone else.
Lime Garden’s new single “Marbles” is out now. They are touring the UK from November 7.