This Interview was conducted over brunch at the Seward Cafe in Minneapolis on December 29, 2014. It originally ran in Maximum RocknRoll #371 and then again in Soda Killers #7.
-Nathan G. O’Brien
Let’s get the requisites out of the way first. Who are you and what instruments do you play?
Ashley: I’m Ashley and I play guitar.
Angie: I drum.
Stacey: I’m Stacey and I do vocals.
Emily: I play bass.
Are there any roles you play in the band outside of your musical contribution?
Ashley: Emily also makes art for all of us and is the master printer.
Angie: Ashley made the logo and did our banner. And Stacey makes all of our Google Docs and spreadsheets.
How did the band come together, and how did you arrive at your current lineup?
Angie: We started in, what, 2010? I had sort of learned two drum beats, and Emily already played bass quite well. Emily, Ashley, and I were all drinking at Emily’s old house, the Rathole, one night, and started talking about starting a band. So we went down into Emily’s basement, and she wrote a song on the spot, and then it was decided that Ashley was going to have to learn how to play guitar. Oddly, rather than just turning into a drunk night that we all forgot about, we all stuck with it and practiced a lot for about six months until Ashley and I could both play our instruments decently. And then Stacey came.
Ashley: We originally had Jim Ass come and sing with us. Jim Ass is from bands like ASS, Ganglion, Totally Harsh, and Children of Euler. But he was really busy because he’s getting a PhD in math or something crazy. Then we had this opportunity to play a show, so we were kind of desperate, we tried our friend JP and then that wasn’t really realistic either, so then we said let’s just be honest and had Stacey come sing with us because it just made more sense.
Angie: Stacey was the best choice. It was the best fit. We initially didn’t want to be an all-girl band, but then Stacey was the best vocalist for us so that’s just how it was.
Did any of you play in other bands before Varix?
Angie: Before Varix, I had played bass in a few bands, but I had gotten to this point where those bands weren’t really that active. I love playing bass, and I worked really hard to be able to play well, but there are a lot of bassists out there. I felt like I needed to start something new, and I couldn’t find enough to do as a bassist, so that’s basically why I decided to start playing drums and how we started this band.
Ashley: But your history in those bands sort of made you comfortable to be like, “No, we can do this” and fluent in putting out music and stuff.
Angie: That’s true, and that experience was important to know what it was like to be in a band, and how to get a tape out, or set up a tour, and what to expect with everything. Emily played with Anneliese before we started this, and we’d all been going to shows and hanging out for quite a while, so it wasn’t like having a punk band was totally alien to any of us. But yeah, having some idea of the mechanics of how to get a band off the ground was useful.
Emily: Yeah starting Varix was really exciting. It was the most fun I had had playing music with people. We weren’t worried about where it was going. We were just happy to play music and drink beer and coffee and let shit develop.
|Photo Credit: http://soundedlikethis.blogspot.com/
Angie: We’ve gotten a lot faster, so that’s cool. I’d say our songs have gotten a little bit more complicated. When we started we were trying to write songs that were as simple and stripped down as they could be, like two-note and three-note songs.
Emily: But yeah we have some songs we don’t even speak of anymore.
Angie: With influences, we were actually talking about this the other night, and it’s hard to even think about what that is because when we started I was listening almost exclusively to Finnish and Swedish punk and Emily was listening to...
Emily: ...like hardcore and 90’s power violence which is cool and weird when fused with Scandipunk influences. But I think that made it fun to not have a specific aesthetic, for me, I just wanted to play aggressively. But I feel like now that we’ve been playing for so long we have a sound that’s happened.
Ashley: We kind of stick to the original, simple sound in a certain sense, like if Emily comes with something that’s way too complicated we’ll be like, oh, can you just cut out a couple notes, and it’s not because we can’t play it, it’s just because it’s not that fitting.
Angie: That’s true, and that’s changed, because at first when we were all learning how to play we couldn’t have a complicated riff because we couldn’t play it. But now it’s because we make a choice to do that, and it’s nice to have that power, to be able to do that as a choice instead of having it as a restriction.
Angie lives in New York, while the rest of you are in Minneapolis. How does that affect your creative process?
Stacey: In general, we share in the songwriting process… It helps that some of us have experience in other instruments, so when someone has an idea we can just bounce it around from different angles. This is typically happening with four or five songs at a time, so by the time we’ve gotten things finalized on song structure, etc. I have a nice batch of song to figure out lyrics for. Angie and I both take on lyrics, and a lot of times as we’re working through initial stages of the song, one of us will get an idea for lyrics or just have shit we want to get off of our chest and take on a song.
Emily: Well it’s different now that Angie doesn’t live here…
Angie: ...Yeah, after I moved we wrote one song over the phone. I remember walking down the street in New York and calling Emily and leaving her a voicemail and singing this riff into her answering machine. Generally, for riff writing now, it’s mostly Emily. On the new record, I think I wrote one song, and Emily wrote the rest of them. The same thing with vocals, at first I was writing some more of them, but Stacey writes basically all of them now. Usually when we write songs, we start with a riff, add drums, and then screw Stacey over by not really giving her very much time to figure out vocals.
Stacey: Yeah, I think on our last record I practiced with the full band once before recording. (laughs)
Emily: Yeah that whole record was really weird. I wrote the riffs, flew out to New York to play with Angie at the Sweatshop or whatever, and then came back here and then we practiced without a drummer or a PA. So that was fun. Totally not normal.Weird.
Angie: One good thing that’s come from me being out of state is that at first, I hated it when we would do these shows, and only be able to practice once, or not at all, beforehand, but now I feel pretty used to that and pretty confident that we can pull it off, and just do this crazy shit and be fine. So I like that. Also, since I’m out in New York, it’s been easier for us to develop ties out there, and we’ve gotten a lot of support from the east coast, and been able to do things out there, which has been cool.
Are there any influences on your work that are not from music?
Angie: That scene in that movie where Geena Davis breaks that deer’s neck. (Long Kiss Goodnight, 1996.) For me, part of the value of the band is that it’s a place where we can all go to get it out, in that we all have a lot of energy and do a lot of things, and get frustrated and stressed the fuck out sometimes. So having a place where we can hang out and play fast aggressive music and deal with that, that’s really important to me. And I think that all of that energy that we put into the band comes through in how we play.
Stacey: Yeah, I think Angie said it well, I guess that underlying theme tends to be trying to stay positive as fuck while navigating the shit flying at you. Whether that shit’s internal or external.
You have songs about things like losing friends to addiction, insomnia, body image dissatisfaction, and frustration with perceived gender roles. Is most of your songwriting realism-based?
Stacey: A lot of what I write about is more personal, but typically in the context of our community. It’s the things that I struggle with personally, but could bet there are a bunch of others dealing with the same thing quietly, or worse - others out there that don’t understand how fucked it can be to deal. For example, “Body in Mind,” a song body dysmorphia, stems from an incident where I confided in a guy about recovery from bulimia, and he laughed at me; he laughed in my face and said, “You’re one of those girls?” As if it was just a superficial issue that, maybe ironically, we punks should be above. Over the years since, I’ve found myself in so many great discussions with others in the punk community about body image issues, disordered eating, and beyond that - depression, addiction, paranoia, feeling vulnerable because of one thing or another. Part of it is just confronting the taboo and saying you know fuck it, I’m fucked up, this is fucked up, and we pick it up and keep things moving the best we can.
Ashley: I can’t speak for you because you wrote the song, but the song about addiction; I think some of those lyrics were things said in exchanges after having friends die; so yeah, that’s very real.
Angie: Yeah I mean the ones that I’ve written have mostly just been, you know using lyric-writing as an outlet as well, especially with things where maybe you’re sick of talking about it, or don’t know how to talk about it, or things where it’s not as easy to get it out through a conversation, but you still need to process or express it somehow.
Ashley: And maybe some of its more abstract, I mean “Decay,” maybe we don’t have extremely direct ties to that…
Angie: That’s funny, I maybe never have told you guys what that song was actually about. I wrote that song when I was dealing with my dad being sick, and seeing how providing palliative care but just accepting that someone is dying isn’t valued as much, or at least it wasn’t in my experience, and everyone’s sort of like, well, we’re going to keep trying these crazy chemotherapies and these horrible things that have these terrible side effects because there’s like a 2% chance that it could extend your life for six weeks or some shit. Where people should maybe have the choice to not do that, or go through that, or be in pain like that, I think that choice should be more available and respected than it is currently. But maybe the lyrics did get a little out of hand, I got a little worried that it would come across as that we were like pro-euthanasia for the elderly or some shit, but that’s really not what it’s about.
Being a band with all female members, do you feel pressure to, for lack of a better term, represent women in punk? I’m certain you’ve had to deal with a fair amount of bullshit.
Angie: Well, I don’t think it’s our intention to represent women in punk.
Ashley: That would be sad.
Angie: That would be strange. There are a lot of punk women, and we think a lot of different things, so I wouldn’t feel qualified to even try to represent all of us. But I definitely feel that pressure to not fuck up. If I fuck up during a show, I take it really hard, because I have it in my head that I not only let down my bandmates but women.
Emily: I feel the same way.
Stacey: Yeah, the qualifying compliments always surprise me. Every one of us has gotten, “You’re good, for a girl.” I don’t necessarily feel pressure in that, because those rare occasions seem to have less to do with us and more to do with the need to qualify the simplicity of it all… Like, “I liked your band, but I want to make sure you know I can do better…because you have a vagina…”
Angie: Honestly I feel like it has gotten better since we’ve started playing. Like at the beginning, people were saying more crazy and inappropriate things to us, and it’s not as frequent now. Do you guys feel that way?
Emily: It’s hard to know because we play so seldom. But I guess I can’t think of a circumstance in the last two or so years that has pissed me off and that’s cool. There have been a few instances when people assume that because of my gender I don’t know what’s up with gear. That really makes me mad.
Angie: That’s true. Yeah but I feel like when we started it was like all the time, like every show someone would say something to one of us, and now it seems at least a bit better. Emily, I’m eating your toast. Ashley do you want toast?
|Photo Credit: http://soundedlikethis.blogspot.com/
Emily: Do we have positive things from being all-female? I really think that it’s not necessarily...
Angie: ...I mean, I love you guys. I love you so much and I have so much fun being around you.
Ashley: Hold on...
Angie: See, Ashley pulls hair out of my food right when I’m about to put it in my mouth. Well I do think that the ideal is that an “all-girl band” would no longer be a thing, and that it would just be totally normal. There are a lot of bands right now that are all female and just punk and doing their shit, so hopefully it will get to a point where there’s enough of us that it’s not even a thing that you notice anymore, you know? So I’m happy to be one band of many that’s adding to that and pushing on that. The only other thing I was going to say is that this band has been such a positive experience for me, as emotional support and as a creative outlet and everything, but I would hope that we would have the same bond if any of us were men. So I don’t know if that is necessarily because we’re all female or just because we’re all really good friends.
Your latest 7” Can’t Get Out has an air of rawness to it that I think sort of captures the intensity of what it’s like to see you play live. Talk about the recording process.
Emily: Our homie and my former roommate, Grant (who releases harsh noise as Gnawed) is a generous and productive genius. He has recorded all of our tracks, minus one on a compilation, in the basement of the Rathole. Grant is sick to work with. He knows what it means when we tell him we want it to sound nasty. The pay that he makes from recording bands goes into purchasing new equipment for his setup.
Explain what the Rathole is for people that might not know about it.
Emily: The Rathole is a punk house in South Minneapolis. They seldom have shows anymore… but I was a part of its beginning. A group of punks spent the entire summer of 2008 getting this condemned and totally fucked up house up to code. Everyone contributed what they could. It was wonderful to experience the motivation and wisdom of punks to achieve a radical living space.
Stacey: We also practiced at the Rathole when we first started, so it was always one of my favorite basements to play. It still is one of my favorite basements to see a show. So that familiarity, along with Grant being awesome to work with, made the recording process a lot of fun. The vocals are always fun to record in the super tiny airtight room, upstairs in the middle of the summer. You’re not only dripping in sweat, but there’s usually a bunch of friends hanging out, drinking beers in the living room, that can hear you screaming to no sound. So beer is usually (always) part of my recording process.
Let’s talk about the artwork on I Can’t Get Out...
Angie: Tell us Emily.
Emily: Yeah I had to print all of our covers in an insanely short period of time in between when we verified that this was coming out with our friend Andy at Fashionable Idiots and when we were all flying out to the east coast to do a little tour and wanted to get them out in time. And we were cutting it super close so I essentially stayed up printing for three days.
Ashley: I helped! Well I guess that was shirts.
Stacey: Our records came in just a few days before we had to leave, and because so much of it was done by hand, we not only needed to get enough done for the tour, but then also try finish up the screen printing, cut and fold the covers, stamp the records and assemble all of them so Andy could get them out. We had a lot of people help out down to late the night before we left for tour. Andy put in a quite a bit of time too. I had to hand off our awesomely shitty hand carved center stamp, over to him to finish up a big chunk of the records. I’m not sure if he’s had ever to work with another band that had such a tedious record release, but he rolled with it and we definitely appreciated that.
Emily: Yes thank you! Ashley and Stacey both put a ton of work in! The printing was insane. I worked on the shit for two days and on the third day I went out to hear a voicemail that my cat had been hit by a car...all I could do was cry and print. My friends Joe and Sarah stopped by and helped me move paper and shit.
Ashley: But at the time you talked about how you were super upset but how printing was something that you knew you needed to do and because it was a positive thing in your life and therapeutic...
Emily: Yeah definitely. My cat had essentially died because I wasn’t home at that time so it was sort of a mindfuck. I’ve had tragic news delivered to me while I was printing before, and it just makes me want to print more. The labor and the repetition is really mending and always fixes my brain when it’s upside down.
Ashley: I don’t think that’s fair to say he died because you weren’t home. But, like, what were you thinking about when you drew the cover?
Emily: My intention is to draw sort of the chaos of garbage and vermin and how ominous they are. Waste is a terrifying thing from the human presence on the planet. So yeah I just like to draw marching creepy things thriving in sickly environments.
Angie: And then Sarah Sequoia did the insert…
Emily: ...Yeah, Sarah is fucking awesome and she designed and printed our inserts. She’s a really great artist and we print together a lot. She makes amazing posters for shows. She’s my partner in crime.
Ashley: Emily got all drunk and cut herself a bunch of times. I came home and she was all bloody but all happy like "Ya ya ya I’m bleeding on the stamp! Look at the stamp!"
Emily: I think there’s a lot of DNA all over our shit. Too much of it…biohazard.
Ashley: But I was going to say, I think Emily your creative process is mind-blowing to me, and I asked if you think while you draw, because it seems you just start squiggling and then eventually something takes form and then you just kind of run with it like, “Oh! Fish! Old lady! A dachshund on somebody’s face!” But it’s evolved a lot since our first record.
Emily: Yeah it’s changed. I’ve found that spazzy sketching and avoiding over-planning can lead to better ideas and success in strange deformed contortions on a piece of paper. I remember when we were coming out with our demo and we were like, “Let’s just draw some shit.” We sat in Stacey’s living room during a blizzard, and Angie was really pushing everyone to just draw little pieces of garbage. I think the grossest pieces of garbage contain human waste. Like synthetic material with discharge. A condom might be the grossest thing that you can find. I was thinking about a dirty syringe which is also disgusting, but I also don’t like to correlate that sort of problem into my artwork. I mean for my work to be more of a comment on how fucked up the world is and how people are so out of tune from garbage and the future. My work outside of band shit focuses on the hazard of human existence. Garbage is fucked up.
Ashley: Do you feel like the baby rats have anything to do with it?
Emily: They’re a universally repulsive creature. Rats are a timeless symbol of disease and danger. They reference the past and the future. I draw a lot of cockroaches too, which could be generic, but I also think that they are these creatures that are little apocalyptic kind of things. They’re considered vermin and disgusting, but really they’re making a life for themselves and can adapt to an environment that our species will not be able to.
Ashley: At least rats still breastfeed.
One of you is a graffiti writer. As someone who is engulfed in both worlds myself, I’ve always drawn a parallel between punk and graffiti. Are the two synonymous for you or do you treat them as separate entities?
The connection between punk and graffiti goes back to the ‘80s and is just kind of inarguable. But on a personal level...well obviously I just like general rebellion, the joy of destruction or, I don’t know, random of acts of vandalism; shit any punk can enjoy. Shoplifting…no, maybe that’s just graffiti; there’s a lot of rebellion with graffiti and the punk style just sort of portrays rebellion. It’s like, OK, you’d hope a punk-looking individual would harbor some sort of regular defiance, but from my experience, graffiti artists, these normal looking folks, promote so much more...just...general law breaking. I love it. Ha! They don’t even know or care why!
What motivates you to do it?
I guess I like to go outside? And what the fuck else would I do? It’s just kind of like what I’m good at, and even though I can’t flaunt it to my boss, or general society, or put it on my resume, it’s just something I have been working towards for too long to not do. Much like playing music, but more extreme. I also find great pleasure in defacing an ADM or Cargill freight car because, fuck them. Or some CP wheat hopper. Not that it does much, but I’m pretty anti-commodity crops.
|Photo Credit: Adam Bubolz, www.reviler.org
Angie: Yes. When I was 13 or 14 I was really pissed off, and I decided I wanted some mean-sounding music to listen to. So I made $15 cleaning or something, and I went to CD Warehouse and grabbed a bunch of Metallica CDs. One of them was Kill ‘Em All, and I listened to that in my room every day for about a year probably. Cliff Burton became my hero, and he also had that Misfits tattoo so I got into the Misfits. Then I got into mall punk, which my brother was into as well, so he showed me NOFX and Rancid and all of that shit, and I had my little plaid pants and chain wallet and that all sort of came together nicely for me. Although I was absolutely overwhelmed and kind of horrified the first time I went into Extreme Noise and saw a bunch of punks and records that had nothing to do with that. That was kind of a steep learning curve. Eventually a friend showed me Discharge and then things started to make sense.
Stacey: Yeah, I grew up in a really small town neighboring Appleton, WI, and attended a Catholic school up until 8th grade, so I didn’t necessarily have a lot of exposure to punk early on, but I always had this nagging unease in the back of my mind; a more radical perspective than I was getting fed from my town, my peers, my teachers… I was really into live music, I just fucking loved going to shows, before I knew what I liked beyond my older brother’s Punk-o-Rama CD or whatever. I slowly navigated that path where you see one or two punk bands at a coffee shop on some weird mixed bill, someone hands you a flyer for a basement show, and you discover this other world you didn’t realize existed... Appleton has such a great group of punks, so many incredible people that have been working for decades to support each other, and young ones actively building on that. Houses there will not only make sure that every band that comes through not only has a raging show, but also food before the show, a party after to throw said food or break stuff at, and a comfortable place to sleep… and you’ll wake up with a pot of coffee brewed and waiting. For people that think that the Midwest is flyover territory, I could defend Minneapolis all day, but Appleton alone is well worth the stop. That’s something that stuck with me and drove Toeknee and I to start up the Cube when we moved to Minneapolis. We didn’t know a lot of people in Minneapolis so we just dove in at a time a lot of other show spaces were closing. We were having shows almost nightly for a while it seemed, getting that crash course in running a show space, hosting bands, and seeing so many fucking amazing bands at their best in this tiny, smelly basements. For someone that didn’t really play music, working that other side of things to contribute what I could that was really motivating.
Emily: I grew up in rural Minnesota, Stearns county, which I think has the highest rate of inbreeding in the country due to large Catholic families marrying each other. It’s a very conservative and alienating place for a weirdo teenager, so I had a lot of angst. I lived in the country on the Mississippi River, so I spent a lot of time exploring out of doors. I remember buying an old record player and setting it up with my dad. I had no idea that they still made records. I was inspired to get one because I went to thrift stores and saw that all of these records were just being thrown away. My aunt listened to sick music in the ‘80s, and she hooked me up with the Ramones and Brian Eno. I got a Plastic Bertrand record randomly at this nun thrift store and then I got a Cramps record and it sort of just went from there. I found it a really crazy thing to discover all of this old shit. Some punks in St. Cloud started a DIY venue called Cheap Thrills that had shows. I moved to Minneapolis in high school and realized that punk exists and breathes all over.
Stacey: It’s really interesting; I mean I guess maybe just because none of us have older sisters, but that it’s all older brothers that got us into shit.
Angie: Well, except for ASSSHHHLLLEEEEYYYY...
Ashley: My brother listened to A Tribe Called Quest and I thank him for it. Uhm, well…I failed school my entire life so it was pretty easy for me to be defiant because everyone was calling me a fucking failure. So I think I got turned onto general rebellion and anarchism before actual punk. But, no actually it’s crazy, I knew that Angie liked Metallica and I love Metallica, but I remember my dad talking so much shit on Metallica that I decided I would love Metallica and I got the Kill ‘Em All CD and went from there. Anyway, yeah when I was younger I guess I was just an anarchist that listened to Metallica and like, Sepultura and Slayer and eventually got a 7 Seconds CD or something.
Can you talk about the internal struggle of being punk and then having to work, or, do normal people stuff, or like, just live or whatever. How do you maintain a balance?
Angie: I’m going to go off on some lawyer shit right now. So I went to law school because I saw a bunch of friends that couldn’t afford lawyers but really could have used legal help, and I’m six months out, so hopefully I’ll be an actual lawyer a year from now. I’m excited about that, but it’s coming at a cost. I used to be really good about either sewing my clothes from scratch or buying them at thrift stores, but for law school, I needed to go out and buy suits. I’m not nearly good enough at sewing to make those from scratch, and everything I found second-hand looked ridiculous. The cheapest place for suits is probably Express, and the first time I went in there I felt kind of sick. Even though the suits were comparatively cheap, it was way more money than I was used to spending on clothes, and I felt like it was so wasteful, and this consumerist shit that I really didn’t like. But I needed to do all that shit, and you gotta have the heels, and a bag, and then you know, if you’re in court five days a week, you need more than one suit, and I got kind of desensitized to it from shopping so much. And the fucked up thing is, I actually started liking it. I would be like finding tights that were on sale, and buying them for me, and suddenly I’m doing this, I’m just actually shopping at Express, right? And the same thing with Starbucks, I used to refuse to drink that shit at all, and then at law school that’s just what people do there. I’ve kind of jumped into this world where the norms and values are totally different, and I’ve ceded a lot of the things that I had and valued before going to law school to be able to succeed there, and I’m not totally comfortable with it. With working as a public defender specifically, I’ll basically be starting by working as a piece of the criminal justice system, a system that I think is totally fucked. And it is possible that 10 to 20 years down the line I could push on that system and maybe somehow affect a change, because that does happen occasionally, but at first I am at least in some respects going to be a cog in a thing that I hate. So I will hopefully be able to do some good for some individual people, but it remains to be seen if that is actually worth it, or if I wind up accidentally supporting the criminal justice system just by being a part of it.
Stacey: Yeah, for a long time there was this ongoing struggle to keep those two separate.When I lived at the Cube, I was working in non-profits and schools, managing these youth programs, then going home to this craziness… but it was difficult for me to reconcile the two. I lost that job around the same time everyone else I knew in Minneapolis did. I told myself I was just going to say fuck trying to climb that ladder or whatever, and do something less emotionally draining and demanding just to get a paycheck. I worked some food service jobs but was miserable, and fell into the industry I am in now, and somehow managed to do really well. It’s funny because I work from home and spend a lot of time talking with people by phone or email, so they just hear a lady that knows her shit. And it’s me on the other line with dreads that smell like last night’s show, hanging out at home with the dogs. When I travel for work the suits come out, and then it kind of feels like my alter ego…but the voice and the knowledge behind it is the same. It took me a while to realize that I was basically sabotaging myself and maybe even devaluing my intelligence because I’m refusing to let go of these things that ultimately come down to aesthetics, and the desire to say fuck the system and these expectations. At the end of the day, I would hate to spend so much of my time doing something that didn’t challenge me, but I also don’t want my ability to be shadowed by the fact that I smell, or my hair looks ridiculous. The ultimate goal is to be in a position to have both that fulfillment and that freedom, but in the meantime, why not kill it at what you’re doing instead of holding yourself stagnant? But am I going to be sitting in a shitty job forever because…
Angie: ...You’re not gonna buy a nice shirt? Yeah, with the lawyer shit as much as I didn’t initially want to go to Express and buy a suit, it’s like, what am I gonna do, fuck over a client and have a client get a longer sentence because I didn’t wanna wear the right outfit today?
Ashley: I honestly feel like, OK, I’ve successfully covered up all of my tattoos which is quite the feat, and done my hair in this way that perfectly covers up all the tattoos...on my ears, but still feel like I stand out in some way, like there’s something written on my face that’s like, “DOESN’T FIT IN” or something and I come home to Emily and I’m like what is it? There’s no piercings or anything, I look like a normal girl, what is it? I think there’s something just innately there.
Stacey: That’s something I’ve learned from trying to keep those things separate, I never used to mention the band thing because people don’t understand why a 28 year-old is playing in a basement, but I’ve just realized that just being open about that side of things with my coworkers, it’s OK, when you’re just a punk that does her job well.
Emily: I guess for me I feel very fortunate to have entered an area of study that harmonizes my values of DIY life with a potential source of income and it is important in my motivation to study printmaking. Initially I was interested in other areas and I always thought that creating art for a living is in a way selfish, or like, that in order to study art you are privileged…and it bothered and confused me. In printmaking I’ve discovered value in its accessibility. By creating multiples, printers can take control over bougie art marketing and be independent in how they value their work. I can integrate this work into my life and share with the community, which I find very encouraging. I intern at a community print shop and am working to organize a workshop to print with kids. I do feel fortunate though that I don’t feel quite the same pressures as you guys do with your jobs.
Outside of punk and hardcore, what are some other interests, involvements, hobbies, etc. that you’re heavily involved in?
Ashley: Well, I studied nutrition and now I work a lot, convincing low-income moms to breastfeed. That’s a huge of interest of mine, the promotion of health among all individuals so that people can feed themselves and be radical. And I also do art and yoga and other stuff.
Stacey: I guess I try to keep that balance of weekend warrior and taking care of myself - I really like to challenge myself physically with fitness. I’ve got a ton of animals that keep me pretty busy - three rescue dogs, a cat, and chickens… I spend my summer outside, gardening and building shit… trying to turn our yard into a sustainable source of food as we can with the relatively little space, and my winters cooking vegan food and creating aromatherapy balms and soaps and hippy stuff like that.
Angie: My life is basically bands, law school, and a small amount of exercise.
Emily: I am graduating in the Spring, so I am really invested in school. Printmaking, I’m talking about it so much, but I guess that’s like all I do right now…printing shit all the time.
Ashley: Emily also beads.
Emily: Oh yeah! I bead. I like to make things with my hands.
Ashley: Oh yeah! I’m really good with bikes.
Emily: Ashley’s really good with bikes. We do trades sometimes. I traded you something for a bike-thing once…
Ashley: …You sewed a pillowcase for me while I pieced together and fixed your chain. It sorta became a race.
When you play out, do you have a preferred type of venue?
Emily: Well I think we all have decided that basements are ideal. They’re more intimate. And I think every punk probably knows that playing some basement is ideal over a club or bar, but obviously we’re from the Midwest, so we’re spoiled with basements.
When you tour, how do you determine where you go?
Stacey: A lot of that comes down to logistics with our band being in multiple locations, so lately we’ve been doing a lot of East Coast.
Emily: Yeah we fly to Angie or she comes to us for the holidays.
Stacey: So whatever we can do, with the time we have, if it’s just a few shows, between Wisconsin and Minnesota, or the East Coast. We also did a tour straight down to Texas and then back up.
Ashley: Yeah we did a tour straight down in an attempt to escape the cold.
Angie: That tour was a lot of fun. It was just a week, but I had never played Texas before, and everyone was really cool and supportive. The shows were great, and it was warm, and we got fed a lot of fucking awesome food. New Orleans was great too. And we got to see the Adolescents on our day off! And Stacey adopted an abandoned wiener dog, so there was that.
When you’re on tour, do you make a point of seeing stuff and enjoying yourselves, or is it mostly about doing the gigs?
Stacey: We tend to get our fair share of partying in where ever we go, but also will get a workout or two in. (laughs) I really like to go on runs in new places, even if I’m hungover and slow.
Emily: I usually sleep through the workout. I feel like touring from the Midwest to anywhere, is like booking it…
Ashley: Oh we went to the fucking museum of medical oddities, the Mutter Museum.
Emily: Yeah we paid full admission price for like 45 minutes.
Stacey: I think it’s safe to say that we had way too little time.
Emily: Yeah we’re always booking it. I think we would like to do more enjoyable strange things.
Stacey: Like jumping jacks at gas stations.
Emily: Or playing a game of badminton, if we weren’t running late and needing food, and we all have to pee all the time.
Aside from hardcore and punk, are there other genres of music you’re passionate about?
Stacey: I listen to a lot of hip-hop, and am pretty passionate about soul and blues, both listening and singing. I also have pretty terrible taste in pop music while working out.
Emily: Yeah I think all of us listen to quite an array of music.
Ashley: I definitely like a bunch of different kinds of music.
Emily: I can’t just listen to punk and hardcore. There’s so much old music that is extremely punk in nature. Angry music. I find blues to be incredibly inspiring and pissed. Electronic music…’60s pop…
Ashley: And there’s stuff that I listen to because my musical taste is diverse, but maybe on the same level, like psychedelic shit, or just...’70s rock…
Emily: …’70s guitars
Ashley: Yeah, I mean shit that I might lump into the same sub-genre, but then there’s also like you know Patsy Cline and hip-hop, you know, NOLA bounce.
Emily: I find it really enjoyable to go to thrift stores and just buy 45s because you know there’s so much music that didn’t make it onto an LP or the web realm. The shit that you can’t even find on the Internet. You know, these little relics that could just be destroyed and forgotten about. Sometimes they don’t have labels and it’s like when DJs used to scratch them off intentionally to destroy the distraction of knowing the artist so people would just zone into the music…
Ashley: …Like NOLA bounce!
Are any of you currently playing in other bands?
Angie: I play drums in two other bands, and bass in a third one. All DIY punk.
Are there other bands, especially locally, that you enjoy playing with or are especially fond of?
Ashley: The show we played last night was cool. It was new punk bands that I hadn’t really had a chance to get into yet, but I really enjoyed Wild Forest and Sistema Inmundo. I really fucking like those bands; they’re like dance-y, but then there’s other shit that’s going on in different genres that I like, like, Scaphe.
Stacey: And Condominium.
Emily: Scaphe and Condominium. (Read our Condo interview here.)
Ashley: Scaphe is my favorite local band.
Emily: They’re loud as shit.
Ashley: And kind of psychedelic. And heavy. And really inspiring.
Emily: Yeah. They’re like a violent progressive travellin’ band. And Wild Child.
|Photo Credit: Adam Bubolz, www.reviler.org
Stacey: Yeah in the Twin Cities scene, I think we’re lucky that we do have this scene here. There’s a lot of amazing musicians, and you see it in the intermixed bands that we have. It a really collaborative and supportive environment, with a lot of passionate people that aren’t necessarily playing in bands that are really holding up the scene, booking and running venues. You look at the Medusa and these other incredible places to play, those shows rage so hard and the venues last so long because there’s a lot of collaboration behind the scenes. Even things like when shows are starting or how much are we charging, those are things that the bookers are talking about behind the scenes just to make sure that its fair across the community. That’s what makes that “fly-over” reference in a recent MRR review of a Twin Cities band so ridiculous, because there is so many active DIY projects and talented bands making sick music and incredible shows.
Emily: Yeah there’s so much shit going on here that the show last night was actually unusual because the five bands that were playing were all punk bands, and this actually never really happens. I can’t remember the last time that there was just a straight-up punk show; you know some of my favorite shows have a noise project. Gnawed and Prostate are fucking so sick. People enjoy and channel the really raw aggression that comes through.
Angie: I mean, I’m a little less qualified to speak to that now that I’ve lived in New York for a few years, but I would definitely agree that there’s a really strong DIY tradition in Minneapolis. It’s pretty incredible to me that at regular intervals people are willing to put the energy in to start a DIY warehouse space just to do it - like before Medusa, there was the Mala. Both of those places were fucking amazing. And people are pretty open-minded, all sorts of weirdos will come out to check out whatever kind of DIY shit is going on. One of the best shows I’ve ever played was this breakfast show that my old roommates at the Snob House put on. Graham and Rosina, who own the Snob House, are also really involved with one of the collective cafes here, Hard Times. They wanted to do a show so that everyone who worked night shift could party when they got done, so they got a shit ton of breakfast food and mimosas and we had a show in the basement from like 9:00am to noon, and it ruled. I love that kind of thing and I think Minneapolis is uniquely well equipped for it, because everyone is so supportive and excited about making a bunch of different shit happen. As to punk specifically, there’s so many active bands that it would be silly to list them all, but I’ve been excited to see Wild Child, Condominium, Brain Tumors, Kontrasekt, and Frozen Teens play wild shows and get out there and be successful. The show we played last night, in the Shegypt basement, was also really cool because there were several bands that were specifically punk that I hadn’t seen before. Wild Forest was incredible and so fun! And I think that was Zero’s second show, but those guys are taking shit seriously and really crafting their songs. There’s also Extreme Noise, which is an incredible volunteer run record store, and, in my opinion, one of the best record stores in the country. I guess Extreme Noise is actually celebrating its 30 year anniversary this year, which is fucking awesome.
I want to thank you for doing this interview. Wrapping up, do you have anything else in the works you’d like to mention?
Angie: We’ll be playing New York’s Alright in the spring, which should be fun. Beyond that, we don’t have anything specific planned, but I think we all like playing together so much that I would imagine that we will stay active as a band for a while.
Demo Tape, Self-Released, 2010
Self-Titled 7”, Discos Basura, 2011
V/A – Punks Win LP, Double Dutch, 2011
V/A – Welcome to Minneapolis 7”, Profane Existence, 2012
I Can’t Get Out 7”, Fashionable Idiots, 2013