Employed To Serve x Pupil Slicer: How new British metal is in the best of hands

What were the first gigs that you went to as kids?
Justine: “Billy Talent and Reuben at the Astoria, I think. And then I saw Enter Shikari at Hammersmith Palais. That was when I was 14, and then a couple of years later when I was 16 I started going to all the death metal shows at the Purple Turtle in Camden. We just existed at the Purple Turtle or 12 Bar to see London hardcore bands like Six Foot Ditch. But yeah, literally from 16 to 18 it was that and death metal. The only drink I could stomach was Bee Sting cider from the Purple Turtle – seven per cent! Oh god, I wouldn’t do that anymore…”
Kate: “My first gig was Tenacious D at [O2 Academy Bournemouth], and it was well good. Tenacious D are where I got all my riffs. I met Jack Black afterwards, as well. My mum took a picture of me and him and it’s like… colours. It’s such a blur. She basically ran past and got the picture. It was a sort of forced thing – my mum more or less pushed me onto Jack Black going, ‘I’ll take a picture!’ and he’s in the shot reeling away, like he’s trying to get into his taxi or something.
“I didn’t see any other gigs until I moved to London for uni. My third gig was a post-punk band called Dope Body, from somewhere in America, and they were well good. They played in this tiny dive bar. I was about 18, on my own at uni, and I just went to this random post-punk gig and stood next to the speakers. I remember I hadn’t really drunk yet. I was like, ‘What beer do people drink? What do you drink at a gig?’ So I ordered an India pale ale [IPA] because it sounded cool. It was horrible. I stood there nursing this one pint over the whole evening, just trying to get through it. Then I got home and I couldn’t hear through one ear for about four days, but I thought, ‘That was sick. I want to do that again.’”

Touring together, do you watch each other’s bands going, ‘Shit, I’ve got to up my game…’?
Justine: “I never really think of it in those terms because I just get really hyped. I like watching other bands and getting hyped before I play. I have my hype playlist as well.”
Kate: “There’s some bangers on there. I was walking down the hallway to get to our dressing room and all you could hear was Justine blasting Missy Elliott down the corridor.”
Justine: “Missy’s how I get hyped. But for bands to tour with, I like choosing bands that I’m excited to hear daily. And then it makes me gassed to play on the night. Especially if you’ve been sitting in a van all day, and it’s been like today where it’s been raining, and it’s dark and grey. You need to get yourself in the mood to perform, so it really helps when you’ve got great bands like Going Off and Pupil Slicer to get you going.”
Kate: “Yeah, totally. Yesterday was such a long day, with getting everything in and getting to the venue and stuff. We’d had a pretty bad night before that – we stayed in this caravan site at Billing Aquadrome. It was freezing cold, and the pull-out bed from the sofa was broken. It had these metal bars sticking out. There was one less bed than we thought, as well. So I stayed on this sofa that was, like, a foot across that I had to balance on in case I fell off. So when I got to the gig last night, I was not that into it. But then I saw Going Off, and the room was packed and people were flying through the air, and I was like, ‘Cool, everything’s gonna be alright!’ And then we played and that was good, and then I remembered that I get to watch ETS, too. So it definitely gets you in the mood, being on tour with sick bands.”
Justine: “I’m glad we helped solve your accommodation woes!”
Kate: “Mate, last night… the shower. We were in a family room in this hotel. We got in and there were six beds in a room that looked like a DFS showroom with an office-tiled ceiling. We opened the door to the bathroom and it was flooded. We didn’t get any money off or anything, they just put loads of towels on the floor. And then the shower was some kind of gravity-powered shower where the water just trickled out, and if you turned it on its side or upside-down it stopped working altogether. You just had to dangle it over your head and hope the water hit you. It was incredibly tepid. It makes you question your life. But, again, you get to the show and it puts you right.
I’ve gone off on a tangent, here…”
Justine: “Showers aside, playing with other sick bands does make you want to do your best. When everyone else is great, you can’t just be like, ‘Oh, that’s good enough.’ Everyone encourages each other to step up.”
Kate: “Touring with you guys, we see it as getting our education. It’s like when you’re in your office job and you’ve got your mandatory e-learning. When we played Bloodstock and we went to see Lamb Of God after we played, it was like, ‘Right, here’s our e-learning, make sure you’re taking it in.’ Except it’s incredibly enjoyable e-learning. We’re often like that, we’ll think we’re pretty good as a band, and then we’ll see someone amazing and go, ‘Ohhhh, there’s a long way to go.’ It’s the same with Employed To Serve. They’re an amazing band and they’re so tight and so sick. It keeps you on your toes, going, ‘What do we need to do next to be better?’”