Use discretion listening, the new Bleached LP is infectious. The band has been teasing us with 45’s for a while, but they finally brought us a full length album, Ride Your Heart. They’re reminiscent of the teenage 1960’s girl group charm with lyrics that sound like they’ve been plucked out of my diary. The Clavin sisters will always have something that give them edge that no girl group ever did, a punk band. Jessie and Jennifer have come a long way from their days in Mika Miko, but they’re still having just as much fun. I caught up with valley girl Jennifer Clavin from the L.A. band before their show in Hamtramck. The band were touring North America promoting their new album that came out April 2nd on Dead Oceans. We talked about mixtapes, waiting for phone calls from boys, and The Shangri-Las.
Stacey Karl: Do you ever worry your lyrics are too personal or have you ever regretted telling someone a song was about them?
Jennifer Clavin: Okay so, I don’t really worry about my lyrics being too personal because I’m like, ‘Whatever, fuck it.’ I’m cool with being honest because when you’re honest, people relate and respect that. When I wrote one of the songs at the time one of my ex-boyfriends was in New York and I was in L.A. and I sent it to him cause we were kind of in a weird limbo stage, and I wrote the song about him. Now we’re not friends at all, and we dont talk at all, and I’m like, ‘I’m mad that he knows I wrote that about him,’ but there’s this other guy that I was hanging out with and I was like, ‘Oh some of the songs on the record are about you,’ but I didn’t tell him which ones. So I’m kind of into it, and I know he’s listened to the record so now I feel like he’s wondering which songs are about him, but I won’t tell him.
SK: He’s probably obsessing over it!
JC: [Laughs.] I think he is, he will write me being like, ‘I listened to the record today, it’s really good.’ We’re not even dating and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, so funny.’
SK: Have you ever thought of collaborating with any of your friends?
JC: Me and Seth, you know Hunx and His Punx? We always talk about doing a band together. We actually sent each other demos for a second but we never went through with it because we both got so busy.
SK: You talk a lot about how you grew up listening to punk music, but how did you get into listening to the Shangri-Las?
JC: My first experience with music was getting into punk because in High School there was this place that, I mean [it] kind of reminds me of this place in a way. Just like a weird hall, where we would go see local bands play, and from there it kind of escalated into getting into more punk like, The Germs, Black Flag, and stuff, and then like I guess just from collecting records. I’m like ‘I have almost every punk record that I want now, I’m going to start diving into other music.’
My friend had The Shangri-Las on a CD in her car and we were driving to a show. I just got really obsessed with them and every time we would go to Europe, the record stores have such good records there that you can’t find anywhere else, and I remember I found two Shangri-Las records that were so awesome. Then I started getting into Mary Wells, and Martha Reeves, The Marvelettes, and The Shirelles, and just listen to their records on repeat all day obsessing over their lyrics.
SK: How do you feel to be in a band in present day and being connected with your fans through the internet? Do you think you would have rather been in a band in the past?
JC: I always think being a band in the past, I mean this is on a crazy, huge level but like, The Rolling Stones, or Stevie Nicks, or Fleetwood Mac, back then when they had no connection, they just seemed like such Gods, because they’re untouchable. So it’s kind of cool in a way because it created that whole like persona of how this person is almost magical in a way, but then like today I feel like it’s almost impossible to be that because anyone can see what you’re doing every second. There’s no mystery to your life.
Jessie and I were in a band in High School, when the internet was not a thing, like we didn’t have Twitter or Myspace or we had Myspace but we didn’t have Facebook so that was the only thing we had. So thinking about that, and that wasn’t even that long ago. It’s so crazy how much the internet has changed. I feel like after doing that band I took a year off of music, and when I came back into music all of a sudden you have to a Twitter, a Facebook, a Myspace, and if you don’t have that stuff then I feel like people don’t even care. Except I feel like the only person that gets away of it is Ty Segall. He’s the only person I know that doesn’t have a Twitter or I think he does but he’s never tweeted on it. I mean I just can’t really decide, it will be like 20 years later, then you can look back at this decade of music and then realize what it’s like. You know because I’m sure back then when all those people didn’t have the access, I mean, I guess it’s just like you don’t really know until later on and you’re looking back.
SK: I’m glad looking back, technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today. I think it kind of goes into your whole record, when I was in Middle School like boys would have to call my house phone to talk to you and stuff like that and I think that’s so silly, and cute whereas now it’s not really a thing, and I just think there’s a total loss there, but there’s not really anything you can do. I don’t even have a home phone anymore.
JC: My friends and I were talking about this today, saying back then, changing the subject a little bit but, we would make mixtapes for each other.
SK: Oh my god, I started doing that again. [Laughs.]
JC: That’s awesome. Even Jessie just told me she would sit and listen to K-Rock when she was in Junior High and record songs and make mixtapes off of K-Rock to catch like 311 come on or whatever, and it’s so funny. Now like you would never do that, I mean you could do it but, it would be a million times easier to download it online for free and make a mix for your iPhone.
SK: I just started making them I guess because I work at a radio station so I’m always listening to it, and it’s just so much more personal.
JC: Yeah totally, you put so much work into it, and it’s so awesome. We were talking about how you could put little recordings from movies or tv shows really quickly in between songs just to make it like really cool tape, and you have to write out the whole list of songs and everything.
SK: Yeah that’s a really good idea. I guess I’m just kind of nostalgic for it because I remember waiting around for a song to come on when I was younger.
JC: Oh yeah and someone asked me too, like the song, ‘Waiting By the Telephone,’ well they were like, ‘People don’t use telephones anymore’ and it reminded of me in what you were saying about waiting for a guy to call you, because that’s exactly what I said, like yeah but I used to use the telephone when I was in Junior High and stuff and I would have to wait for a guy or a friend to call me and it would be a really awkward conversation.
SK: I know you went to school for fashion briefly, do you have any career plans outside of music in the future?
JC: Yeah, I’m totally into fashion, I went to school for it and that’s what I want to do after music. Even since I was a kid I was sewing stuff and trying to make my own Barbie clothes which is like so cheesy. Now, I feel like it would be so awesome to have a clothing line. Part of me thinks it would be so cool to have a tights line because I’m so obsessed with tights. I keep staring at your tights they look so cool.
SK: Yeah, I mean maybe because of Bleached you would be able to do something. I know Bethany (of Best Coast) did a line with Urban Outfitters.
JC: Yeah totally. You know Opening Ceremony? I feel like that would be my dream company to do something for. I feel like I could totally do like tights or lingerie or even a clothing line. I would want to have a lot of control over it. If i did one, I would really want to work on it and be so apart of it.
SK: Do you know what you want to do with Bleached next? Do you want to maybe do a full-length or put out a 7”?
JC: I really love 7”s because I think that they’re so cool, but I feel like it took us so long to put out a full length that I’m kind of on the roll of now putting out another full length because I just feel like we have so many singles. I don’t know what we’re going to do next, but we have two songs that I’m already really excited to record. I even keep thinking–because we’re really into doing covers, it would be kind of cool to do a covers record, or a covers EP where we do 6 covers or something, but I’m not really sure. Something is going to happen, one of those three things.
SK: The only thing I don’t like about 7”s is that I have to get up and flip it over. I realized a jukebox would be a solution to all my problems, but they’re like $6,000 on eBay.
JC: Yeah exactly. I was so excited when we played Tucson, there was this haunted hotel called Congress Hotel, and when we played there one time, the guy that runs the jukebox, this old man, was there watching us and he was like, ‘I really want to add your 7” to the jukebox.’ So he put it in while we were there, and he put it next to Stevie Nicks and The Rolling Stones. I was SO happy! All of them were awesome old bands, we were the only new band in there, and I was like, ‘This is so cool.’
SK: No way, that’s really awesome. That kind of reminds me of how Cassie Ramone said she’s always wanted to sing her own song in karaoke, and I just think that it would be really cool to show up somewhere and sing your own song.
JC: Wait, I never knew she said that! Next time she comes to L.A. I’m totally going to make that happen.
Written by Stacey Karl