Lime Garden on friendship and their debut album

Wonky pop party band Lime Garden unleash their debut album this month, proving that there is nothing better than getting up on stage and having fun with your mates

Feature by Cheri Amour | 12 Feb 2024
  • Lime Garden

The band looks nervously through the throngs of people lining the graffitied walls of Edinburgh venue Sneaky Pete’s. Guitarist Chloe Howard is set as a stand-in but secretly hoping for a small miracle. After making it through a disjointed soundcheck, all there is to do is wait. Five minutes before stage time, they see her. “[Our bassist] Tippi [Morgan] ran through the door!” exclaims Howard. “Thank God, the train wasn’t delayed,” adds drummer Annabel Whittle with a wry smile. Because, friends, like Lime Garden, are there when you need them most.

These wonky pop pals, completed by guitarist Lelia Deeley, have known one another for nearly a decade. Whittle and Howard met through a now-fabled Facebook group looking for college housemates but with a secret motive in mind: to form a girl band. “None of us had a lot of all-female band influences growing up. We want to be that influence on someone else,” explains Whittle, who has reluctantly left the comfort of her electric blanket to take our call. 

But for Howard, Lime Garden represented something that she hadn’t seen before in the magazine racks of her teens. “Every girl band that I've known growing up has been very marketed as these portrayals of perfect women,” she says, leaning closer into her phone camera that’s propped up against a menu card as she finishes a shift at her day job. “We're just four mates. Sometimes we look like shit. We rock up to show young girls that you don't need to put on crazy dresses and wear loads of makeup. You can get on stage and have fun with your mates. It's a valid form of expression.”

Despite only playing together for a few months, Howard’s tenacity wrangled the group onto a sold-out show in Guildford performing alongside their college friend's band. Quite the feat given they only had a handful of songs to their name and a clutch of those were covers. Like any ramshackle rock and roller though, you figure it out on the job, as Howard admits. “At soundcheck, we were looking at each other like, 'What do we do?' I was 16 when we did that show!” For this bunch of ragtag friends, this was their moment. “It felt like Wembley Stadium, didn't it?” Howard beams back to Whittle on the call. “We were like the Foo Fighters up there.”

While confidence was high, collaboration was – as Whittle’s expressed before – “musically confused.” Honouring the early influences they’d snatched from their childhood homes, the hard rock riffs of Led Zeppelin and Queen sidled up alongside the melodramatic disco melodies of the Bee Gees. But then isn’t that what your teenage years are all about, exploring your identities together in a nonjudgemental space? “None of us had been in a serious band before!” reasons Howard. “[It’s] made us the songwriters and musicians we are today because we had those years figuring out what we wanted to say and be.”

Like those mainstream girl groups that Howard alluded to earlier, so many chart acts are thrown together and often by the general public – one hand in a sharing bag of Doritos, the other voting on their mobile phones. Lime Garden, instead, have sown the seeds for a lifelong affinity. And that’s essential, not least when you’re on the road for months at a time, as Whittle can attest. “We spend so much time together. I don't know how bands do it with people they don't like!”

Last year saw the foursome sharing the stage with everyone from BBC 6Music mainstays IDLES to fellow four-piece The Big Moon. Nothing could’ve prepared them for that first show back after lockdown though, staring out to a sea of people in a balmy tent at Latitude Festival acknowledging just how far they’ve come. “We were like, 'Oh my god, what's going on?'” jokes Whittle. “'How do you know about us?'”

What we do know is that these four friends have tweaked that hard rock, disco mix into a slinky synth-led sound. Their debut One More Thing reflects on every young woman’s most intimate thoughts, from the inherent pressures of procreation (Mother) to the openness of an anxious mind (Fears). Through late nights in quad rooms to the pre-tour Poundland toiletries dash, the roots of these four musicians have entwined into something symbiotic, maybe even cosmic. When asked what’s one more thing we should know ahead of the album’s release, Howard sits quietly trying to catch Whittle’s eye. “I'm trying to read Annabel's mind!” 

After a few moments, she picks up. “I would say they need to know this album is just one side of what we can offer musically to the world.” Without hesitation, Whittle adds, “One More Thing is a beginner's guide to Lime Garden. Stay tuned and you'll get the next episode. But it might be very different.”

One More Thing is released on 16 Feb via So Young Records.
Lime Garden play Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 28 Feb; The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, 29 Feb