We hung out backstage at House of Vans Brooklyn with Bleached last night to get the inside scoop on everything from their hidden talents to go-to karaoke songs. We can’t get over Micayla’s epic drawing of Jennifer, and the fact that Nick had to get in on the Vans Girls fun with an outfit to match Jessie!
I love me some punk & roll. I like it even better when it’s played by (mostly) ladies, and I can’t think of a band doing a cooler, poutier job of catchy, sunkissed melody-led guitar music right now than LA’s Bleached. They write music to soundtrack driving down Sunset in your vintage convertible eating fruit flavoured ice pops and dribbling the juice down your chin whilst singing along to The Ramones on the cassette player. Ergo, they rule.
I have been super lucky to catch them live twice (both shows were EXTREME FUN), and I was even luckier to talk to Jessie from the band about Suzi Quatro, why female music fans rule and a ton of other cool stuff thrown in for good measure.
1) Firstly, could you sum up Bleached and the kind of music you guys play? Well….. Bleached started with Jen and I after our first band broke up. We’re still all buddies! That band was Mika Miko that we started in highschool so we were really young having fun, but after a while everyone was getting older going different directions, but Jen and I knew we were still wanting to play music together so we started Bleached! We started with more of a garage sound and slowly after three 7 inches and now a full length we have more of a rock'n'roll pop sound with influences of punk and garage.
2) Tell me about your forthcoming LP - should we expect a continuation of your output so far or is it going to blow everyone away and be like an entire album of Destiny’s Child covers? (NB: I would totally buy the DC record) I think its definitely in between a continuation and Destiny’s Child covers!
3) Something that I think is really cool about Bleached is that you’re obviously influenced by male ~PUNK LEGENDS~ like the Ramones and Misfits but you also manage to merge those influences with a sound that has a kind of feminine edge. Do you make a conscious effort to do so? How important are musical influences to Bleached? Having a musical influence is really important to us while writing a song. It helps you have a direction and also Jen and I can communicate….. When one of us has a certain band or song we’re thinking of, its helps to then both be on the same page with the song. I don’t really consciously think about the combination with a feminine edge, I think the feminine edge just comes from our other influences of female punk bands or female singers like The Slits, Blondie, Siouxsie etc.
4) Did you guys grow up going to shows in your local area? What were your initial experiences of your local music scene(s) like? I think that a really big problem with these small scenes where shows are attended by a lot of the same people is that it can become super clique-y, and often, because most of the time these things are so male dominated, women can feel alienated. Is that something you have experienced, either when attending shows or playing them? Our first shows were places like Cobalt Cafe or American Legion Hall in the San Fernando Valley that were smaller venues, but our venues started expanding through seeing flyers for shows in orange county so we would go out there….. We were kind of addicted to shows. I was still in high school and that’s why I feel like I went to so many shows, because it didn’t feel clique-y like high school did. When I was younger playing our first shows, I totally remember feeling slightly intimidated by some “dudes” but I feel like some of it was how you present your self…. Now that I am older and feel way more confident I really don’t feel alienated or any kind of wall between sexes. Not to say that it never happens, I just don’t let it happen.
5) Do you have any girl heroes or women you look up to (in music, or like in life generally)? I don’t usually say this a lot because I didn’t really grow up listening to her music… but Suzi Quatro is someone that grows on me more and more everytime I look up youtube videos of her playing. She was totally her own unique lady having all male backing band and was before Joan Jett who I’m pretty sure was majorly influenced by her, but Suzi just looks so cool and rock'n'roll!
6) Do you think that people (journalists/fans/whoever) would respond differently to Bleached if you weren’t a predominantly female group/do you feel you get treated the same as or differently than bands at the same kind of level as you professionally but that are all dudes (like do you ever find that people make more comments about how you look and what you’re wearing than about your sound and if your set was good?)? How do you deal with this and is it annoying or tough? I never really find myself getting annoyed at certain comments, there’s always going to be that one person that will have some kind of annoying comment, but you have to let that go in one ear and out the other because it can really tear you down if you don’t. If I let someone who I have never met upset me with a comment I feel like I would subconsciously start to change who I am and the music I write and then I would just be so lost and insecure.
7) Is it flattering to have so many female fans? Do you feel like you’re role-models for your younger fans? I read that you’ve played at Rookie events and stuff like that - it must feel great to be doing something which (other) young women dig so much, right? The other night we were playing the Burgerrama fest and this girl came on stage and kissed us on the cheeks…. I was so stoked! Then I saw her run into the crowd and crowdsurf and then I was even more stoked! I love female fans because I am one too and they’re part of the reason why I started playing music so if any girl were to pick up an instrument because of seeing us play that would make me so happy!
8) Is there any Yoda-like advice you’d give to girls and women who wanna make music? I would have to say just to be confident about yourself and know that it takes hard, dedicated work to learn an instrument. My dad use to always tell me to play till your fingers bleed!
9) Which bands should my readers and I be listening to right now? Veronica Falls, Meat Market, Pangea…..
10) One of the next zines I’m gonna do will be about women in TV shows, so my final question IS: who is Bleached’s favourite female TV character? Alex Mack
Bleached’s debut full length Ride Your Heart is out now and it rocks so hard. Please go listen to it.