“Wherever we travel, people say how important we were in terms of influencing them. When I was growing up, there was only Suzi Quatro to look up to”: Girlschool’s Kim McAuliffe and Jackie Chambers on 45 years of a great British rock institution

Girlschool's Kim McAuliffe and Jackie Chambers
(Image credit: Xavi Torrent/Redferns)

It’s been a long time since U.K. rockers Girlschool broke the mold to become the first British all-female metal band to hit the big time – 45 years, in fact, as reflected in the title of their powerhouse new album, WTFortyfive.

Founding member and singer/guitarist Kim McAuliffe and “the new girl” – lead guitarist Jackie Chambers (who joined the band in 1999) – are stoked to be talking to Guitar World this far down the line.

It’s been eight years since Guilty As Sin, your last album. Why the gap?

Kim McAuliffe: “Time just goes by so quickly that it only feels like about three years since the last record. Covid took a couple of years out in the middle, but I suppose we were just carrying on touring until the record company said it’s about time you made a new album. [Laughs]”

The title, WTFortyfive, says it all, I guess. Do you still feel the same excitement 45 years down the line?

Jackie Chambers: “I’m more excited and enthusiastic about playing than I ever was. The thrill never dies; music keeps you young.”

McAuliffe: “Yeah, age is irrelevant. I feel the same fire and passion as I always did. I refuse to accept that the years have passed, I guess. If you enjoy your ‘job,’ then it isn’t really a job, is it? It’s a way of life.”

WTFortyfive is definitely a strong album. I assume you’re pleased with it?

McAuliffe: “Totally delighted. I don’t like going into the studio because I’m a perfectionist, but I’m relieved it turned out so well. I actually really like it.”

Chambers: “We did it so fast as well. I think it was about two weeks, but the energy was amazing when we were getting it down. It was all about the feel rather than being too precious about things. We wrote the songs so quickly.”

What’s your go-to gear these days?

McAuliffe: “It’s always Marshall for me; I’ve still got our original Marshall stacks from when we started. Guitar-wise, it’s always Gibsons – SGs and particularly the Goddess, which they don’t make anymore. They should bring it back; it’s much lighter and perfectly formed. I’m available if they want to make a signature model!”

Chambers: “My favorite guitar is a custom-made Chandler that I got about 30 years ago, and I’ve just signed a deal with U.K. makers Gordon Smith Guitars.”

When you look at how things have changed since you started, it must be satisfying that it’s no longer a big deal to be a woman in rock – and playing guitar, for that matter.

Chambers: “That’s one of the nicest things. Wherever we travel, we get people saying how important we were in terms of influencing them. It really makes me stop and think; when I was growing up, I think there was only Suzi Quatro to look up to.”

McAuliffe: “We’re often amazed by the people who’ve told us how influential we were on them getting into playing music, and that’s maybe the most satisfying thing about sticking around for 45 years! [Laughs]”

  • WTFortyfive? is out now via Silver Lining Music.

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Mark McStea

Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.