We have already described the amazing place that the Raincoats’ first album has in female-led punk and post-punk, but each member of the band contributes their own creative element that makes it legendary. Ana Da Silva formed The Raincoats in 1977 with Gina Birch. At the time she was an art student, and she subsequently also worked in Rough Trade record shop. As a young girl growing up in Madeira, Ana had strummed her guitar along to Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, but decided to form The Raincoats after seeing The Slits in 1977.
“You just had to have something to say and have the energy to do it.” Ana Da Silva
In this podcast interview for ‘I’m in the Band’, Ana explains how she and Gina were delighted when Palmolive was ‘thrown out of The Slits’ for not being able to drum to the reggae styles, because Palmolive’s way of drumming fitted The Raincoats so much better.
The ramshackle genius of The Raincoats has many causes; the punk ethos and have-a-go confidence, diversity of musical backgrounds, experimental tastes and clear-visioned feminism. In retrospect, it seems like a wonderful mesh of unbalanced forces, but I get the impression that the music and the personal stuff were tricky from the outset.
Ana Da Silva comments on the first tour in this interview:
“Some people just adored us, and some people just thought it was rubbish. And that’s the thing about punk. It was the fact that girls really weren’t suppose to be doing that.”
Da Silva comments:
“Instead of different things coming together, everyone was going in different directions… The songs were very much a product of the songwriter, and what their ambitions were. For me, it was a very hard time. I didn’t want anything more to do with it.”
After leaving The Raincoats, Ana Da Silva did less music and more painting, although she has been involved with collaborations and soundtracks. The revival of interest in The Raincoats has led to Ana being involved in writing and talking about the group and playing the odd concert.
In 1994, Ana Da Silva told Spin magazine that she was disappointed that there weren’t many female experimental bands. Twenty four years later, there probably still aren’t many female experimental bands, but at least they’ve got a website where you can find them. https://manymanywomen.com/