Bones UK, a British industrial rock duo, aims to smash the patriarchy with sludgy guitar riffs steeped in gutter blues and defiant lyricism that tempers raw fury with wickedly cheeky wit.
Simmering with residual rage in the post #MeToo era, their songs offer a cathartic release.
"What a waste of a pretty face/What a waste/That face/That face/What a waste," singer Rosie Bones snarls in "Pretty Waste" a clapback track for every woman who’s been told to smile more.
And the duo skewers superficial feminine ideals on "Beautiful Is Boring," the lead track to their self-titled 2019 debut.
"Obviously beautiful things aren’t boring," Bones told the American-Statesman when we caught up with the duo backstage at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Instead, it’s traditional beauty standards, the polished perfection we see in magazines and on TV, that the group rejects.
"People are really bored of really perfect-looking people being the people who represent fashion or beauty," she said.
As more people refuse conformity, she believes the definition of "beautiful" will shift.
"There are so many more interesting people out there now," she said. "There’s beautiful, like, transgender people and people with, you know, amazing birthmarks and stuff like that. So it’s definitely getting better. Because people are talking about it more."
The duo met at the Blues Kitchen in Camden, a London neighborhood where "vampires go to drink whiskey," Bones told the ACL Fest crowd. Bones, who had just "broken up with some stupid boy," was drowning her sorrows while guitarist Carmen Vandenberg churned out gnarly licks. She approached Vandenberg after the show and the two linked up for a late-night jam.
"That night we just drank loads of whiskey and started playing," Bones said with a laugh.
Their sound emerged organically as Vandenberg’s heavy guitar collided with Bones’ shout along hooks.
Shortly after they started playing gigs, Vandenberg ran into guitarist Jeff Beck at a party. She persuaded him to come to a show and he was so taken with the young group’s sound that he asked Bones and Vandenberg to work on his 2016 album "Loud Hailer."
Their own debut was put on hold as they worked on the album and played with Beck on the supporting tour.
Another famous fan they picked up early on was Howard Stern, who invited the group to perform as part of a birthday tribute he organized for David Bowie.
They were assigned the song "I’m Afraid of Americans." They included the cover on their debut album and incorporate it into their live sets. With the state of the world right now, they say, it feels appropriate.
"It’s not just America; in England there’s so many terrifying things going on," Bones said.
"There’s obviously one very terrifying thing/person happening in America."
Fearlessly shouting down the powers that be comes naturally to the group.
"We only ever sing about things that affect us, and the fact that the world’s a bit wonky at the moment will come out in our music," Bones said.