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Jennifer and Jessica Clavin of Bleached // Photo: Nicky Giraffe

Bleached Talk Touring, Sobriety and Being Kind to Your Inner Teenager

Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin have a longstanding history with music. Growing up around the entertainment world in Los Angeles with a parent in the industry, they took to the craft at a young age and eventually went on to form punk band Mika Miko. After the dissolution of that group, the Clavin sisters came together once again to form Bleached, an honest but relatable, realistic but still sunny, band that’s been around since 2011.

While anyone in the music industry for as long as these sisters is bound to look for inspiration in different places, it truly came from the unexpected on their most recent album cycle – getting sober. As the sisters exited a hiatus and worked to improve themselves and their music, they found going through this change (and doing it together) was an empowering and vulnerable way to make music. On Tap chatted with Jennifer (vocals, guitar and synths) about this life changing process, life on the road and learning to have self-compassion ahead of their upcoming stop in DC.

On Tap: Your new album Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough has been out in the world since July. Now that you’re a few months into the album cycle, what’s it been like being on tour and hearing fan responses?
Jennifer Clavin: I think we’ve got three or four shows on the tour so far. The fan reactions are just so positive and uplifting. Sometimes there are these weird downtimes where you make the record and then you put it down, and you’re just kinda sitting with it before it comes out. And then [the record] came out and then…it’s not really until the live shows I think [we] can really tell [what the response is]. So far it’s been awesome.

OT: Has anything surprised you about the way that fans have responded to the album in general, or to certain songs?
JC: It’s funny because when we were first putting together the album, we didn’t know what songs to make the singles. Like there was a debate between us and our manager and the label. And so now I have proof that “Daydream” and “Somebody Dial Nine One One” are a lot of people’s favorites. And then likewise, I can tell everyone gets super excited for “Hard to Kill.”

OT: You’ve talked a lot about how your sobriety kind of affected your songwriting process and musicianship. Walk me through how that affected this album and why you guys decided to make this change in your life.
JC: Well, it wasn’t a planned decision. I woke up one morning and I was like, ‘I can’t live my life like this anymore.’ I just decided I needed to get sober and then when we started getting the record [together], it was just a very different type of experience than I’d had writing previous records. I feel like the biggest thing was just being present with everything: with every thought, with every feeling, with every reaction. When in the past I could literally check out if I wanted to with drugs or alcohol, which I would do. It was really cool to be more a part of the whole experience.

I guess sometimes it can be scary, right? Just having to be present for all of that and not having the option to check out. But I had to find other ways and use other tools, whether it be meditation, going outside, walking down the street and getting an iced tea or talking to friends. When we were doing the lyrics, I was just thinking about so much stuff from my past that I was trying to let go of. And so singing it over and over and over again, I was just like, ‘I feel insane.’

OT: Yeah. I think a lot about how I have songs that mean so much to me that I can’t listen to anymore because they just affect me emotionally. So I can’t imagine, as a musician – especially for you all, who have been making music for such a long time – having these almost constant reminders of certain parts of your life.
JC: Yeah, totally. It’s similar to that. I remember one time not-so-long-ago we were in Amsterdam playing a show and there was a song about my boyfriend at the time and then we ended up breaking up and I remember playing that [song that] night, crying and trying not to let anybody see that I was crying on stage. Even the process of having to say the lyrics over and over, it was like a form of letting go in a way. But this is one of my most favorite records we’ve ever written. So it’s showed me that doing this whole thing sober and being present actually produced the best record, in my opinion. 

OT: I’ve noticed an uptick in people, especially in creative circles, embracing sobriety. I recently read a book called Sober Curious about someone who was a journalist and then went on a similar journey. It’s just very interesting to see almost a prioritization of overall health, and actually being with your feelings. As somebody who’s gone through getting sober and making this change, why do you think people are starting to be more cognizant of their drinking habits?
JC: [People] have talked about how to do it [on] social media. There are people being super honest about their struggles and their journey – people that we and other people look up to. I feel like that probably is such a big part of it. I think before, you never really knew what other people were going through. You felt very alone in that journey if you were trying to get sober. Now, there’s just so much more support. I feel like that’s almost like the most important ingredient in sobriety is having that support and not just like isolating yourself.

OT: You and your sister have been in the music world for quite a while now, as Bleached and past projects. You also grew up in the music world. How has your relationship with music, personally and professionally, changed over time.
JC: That’s a really good question, because we’re actually on tour with these younger girls right now called The Paranoyds. They were all big fans of our first band, Mika Miko. Watching them is really taking me back to when I first started playing music, first started going on tour, [and was] trying to figure stuff out. It’s funny cause I didn’t have any confidence back then but they all seem, at least to me, very confident and sure of themselves. It’s just really cool to watch and be like, ‘Oh, I probably was, I was cool like them, too.’ But I just didn’t know it because I was so insecure. Now over time, I’ve been being more loving toward myself and having more compassion and just working on myself to where I can now play a song and just feel super proud. 

OT: I always think it’s interesting how, having been a former teenage girl, I have so much compassion for them. I didn’t have that same compassion for myself at the time I was that age, though. I recently started to reflect on how teenage me is still there, too, and I still need to be nice to her and to my current self.
JC: Exactly. That’s another thing, as we are playing these shows and seeing [teenage girls] there it has been bringing back that exciting feeling I feel you kind of lose along the way. Where everything’s so new and maybe it’s a little scary. It’s also just really exciting, you know? And it’s like, just where my brain is right now, too. 

Bleached plays U Street Music Hall on Tuesday, September 17. For more on their new record, visit hellobleached.com.

U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; 202-588-1889; www.ustreetmusichall.com

Carlotta Cosials, Ana Perrote, Ade Martin and Amber Grimbergen // Photo: Alberto von Stokkum

The Secret World of Hinds, Spain’s Indie Stars

On the morning I was scheduled to interview Ana Perrote – singer, guitarist and one-fourth of ramshackle Spanish indie rock group Hinds – she messaged me “Hola” before I had even headed into work. I was a few minutes late to hop on the call due to technical difficulties, and when we finally connected (after my profuse apologies) a relaxed Perrote popped up on my screen, perched at a desk on a computer and surrounded by clothes on hangers and drying racks in her room. I commented on her framed Picasso painting, and she proceeded to pan around the room to show all the laundry she was prepared to take on tour, talking to me as if I was an old friend from school and not a total stranger.

This openness and energy Perrote possesses is also so evident in her music as one of Hinds’ primary songwriters, setting them apart in a sea of beach rock revivalists that have popped in and out of the worldwide scene in the past decade. A way with words in conversation and in song, Perrote chatted up Hinds’ new album and tour, working with band idol Gordon Raphael and why no one can truly understand what life is like as a member of Hinds – and that’s a good thing.  

On Tap: You’re influenced by Mac DeMarco, Ty Segall and The Strokes – all bands that are contemporaries of yours and still currently put out music. But your overall sound is very cool and retro, so do you consider any older bands to be influences or are you just inspired by these bands who are also reimagining older sounds?
Ana Perrote: We have two faces, almost two different moments in the writing process. When we first started playing together, even when we played covers, we used to play things like Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival – older stuff by bands who don’t release music anymore. Then suddenly we discovered Mac DeMarco and The Growlers, and we totally freaked out. It was like, “Oh my God, you can actually write good stuff and be alive!” That’s why we say our influences are those kinds of bands, because it’s actually what you can now be influenced by more, but there’s always the older stuff.

OT: Is there a garage rock scene in Spain, or are you on your own in pioneering your sound there?
AP: It’s not a big scene, but there’s definitely a scene. It’s a really tiny scene, actually. Mainly around six bands, but we’re all friends with each other. Like, “The guy who takes the pictures is dating the bass player of this band.” You know what I mean? So the first time we went to rehearse songs, it was with Diego from The Parrots, who also produced our first record and is from a band from Madrid. It’s not big, but it’s really, really strong.

OT: You and Carlotta Coisals (vocals and guitar) got your start as a band playing covers, and quit playing after a particularly bad show in your hometown. What made you want to not only try again but start playing your own songs?
AP: First of all, we gave two gigs playing covers. One was good and the second was a horrible – really horrible – one. And then there was maybe a year-and-a-half between that and going back to rehearsing. We didn’t play at all after that show, not even a rehearsal. We totally stopped playing because of how bad it felt to give a bad show. During that summer before we started writing, we went to this festival in Spain called Benicassim, which is our favorite festival ever – it’s really really good. Our friends from the scene, Los Nastys, were playing that festival. It was crazy because we were music lovers for so many years and suddenly we have friends in the lineup of a festival that we love. It was the biggest deal, the biggest thing ever in our community. When we came back from that, we were totally drunk off music and emotions. Carlotta used to have a blog, and she was rereading some of the posts she made when we were in the cover band. Then she just texted me, “Hey, are you free tonight? Do you want to play again?” So I drove to her house and we covered a song by Los Nastys, and two weeks later wrote our first song.

OT: What is your songwriting process like? You and Carlotta are the principal songwriters, but how involved is the other half of the band – Ade Martin (bass and backing vocals) and Amber Grimbergen (drums) – in writing? 
AP: There’s always two sides to a song. One is the four of us in the rehearsal room, and the other is Carlotta and I trying to find melodies, chords and the rest of the structure. We really prioritize the melodies in our songs, because we’ve had situations where we had great chords and a great drum solo and everything sounded really good but suddenly we can’t find a good melody. Without a melody, you don’t have a song. We would fight because we would bring it home and be like, “Guys, we changed it because we really couldn’t find a good one” and then someone says, “But I love this bass line!” It can get tricky with four people writing, but at the same time it’s more fun and more interesting. I think you can tell with this album that most of the songs started in the rehearsal room, but at the same time, we always say that the good songs are the songs you can actually play with just one guitar while you sing along, so we really want to keep that in mind even when all four of us are writing.

OT: Tell me about working with Gordon Raphael. That must have been surreal since he’s worked with The Strokes in the past and you have cited them as a huge inspiration. How did Hinds’ collaboration with him come about? Did he have any influence on the more polished direction you moved in on this new album?
AP: We chose him because he was a fan of ours back when we had just released two songs. It was only Carlotta and I, and he sent us a Facebook message – this is back when we only had around 100 followers and said, “Hey guys, I really really like your songs, and I’m going to Primavera Sound. If you guys are going, I would love to meet you there.” We were going just to see bands so we met up with him really quickly. He was really nice and sweet. When we were thinking about this record, we knew that we wanted to make a step by not working with a friend, but with someone who has a [production] background. We thought of him because he would tweet at us and had been keeping track of where Hinds was. We brought him to Madrid and he totally just let us do whatever we wanted. With the way Hinds started, everything is really private and in a close circle. It felt frightening to have someone with a name that we respected getting inside our process. But we write all the songs before we get in the studio, and he was totally cool with us coproducing the album, which was really fun for us.

OT: As a group, you’ve commented that you feel like people don’t give you a lot of credit since you’re an all-girl band. You had such a successful run on your first album and tour, and now have done the same with your second album. Do people continue to treat you that way while recording and touring with the new album, or has it gotten any better?
AP:
I think it’s gotten a little bit better, which kind of sucks because it means you have room for so many years [like this]. If you didn’t like Hinds last year, you don’t get Hinds this year. It’s not fair, but I do feel like it’s getting better, because before there was this whole belief that it was bad because we were a new [band]. Maybe now on the second one, it’s just because my hair isn’t longer   there’s always some stupid excuse. We have to fight a 100 percent more that anyone else, and all the time be proving certain things: the way we dress, talk, pose, play, sing and dance. Everything is under watch. It’s way easier to judge us than any other band.

OT: Does that get exhausting after awhile? Do you ever get to a point where you decide to just not think of people judging you, or is it always in the back of your mind? How do you get to a point where you’re all thinking, “Screw them, we’re going to do whatever we want?”
AP: We don’t usually read reviews and things every day. Those specific people’s opinions are not in our day-to-day because we’re just touring and being with our fans, who totally respect us and are the best fans in the world. The worst thing that can happen is that it can actually convince you. It gets to the point where constantly people are telling you things, and you think, “Well, maybe I’m just here because I have boobs!” In the weakest moments, the worst thing that can happen is when those things can actually convince you because of the constant pressure of it, but we’re getting better at [not listening]. It’s really lucky, being a group of four and all experiencing the same problems. It’s really easy for us to talk about it. When I’m feeling down, I have Carlotta telling me the things that I would tell her when she’s down.

OT: Tell me more about this bond that you have with your bandmates. I know you and Carlotta are old friends and you found Ade and Amber through Facebook. What’s it like making music and touring the world as a group of four women?
AP: It has gone from being friends to being sisters, which has its good things because now there’s nothing that can break that, but at the same time, you lose a lot of things because all the time we’re sharing everything. Even when we get to Madrid, the first thing we do is have a beer with each other and our other friends. We love the same things, same people and same places so it gets really exhausting. At the same time, we have something indescribable. The life we have, our whole experience, it’s such a crazy thing for four girls from Madrid. Everything we do is so specific that I think no one in the world would really understand it. You can try to explain it, but not my mom, my best friend, my manager these people who are still close to it – no one f—ing knows what it is to be in Hinds, the good things and the bad things. And suddenly you share this experience with three different people – it’s just really a sisterhood.

Hinds play U Street Music Hall on Friday, May 11 with Made Violent. Doors and show at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. All ages.

U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW DC; 202-588-1889; www.ustreetmusichall.com

The Sherlocks Set to Shake the US

The Sherlocks may hail from the outskirts of Sheffield, England much like Arctic Monkeys and Pulp before them, but their sound is all their own. Last year, the four piece indie rock band released their first album Live For The Moment to great acclaim in their home country. The band is now ready to take their infectious sound and energy stateside. Fresh off supporting the legendary Liam Gallagher on his European tour, we caught up with frontman Kiaran Crook before the group embarks on an expansive US tour, including a stop at DC9 on May 7.

On Tap: What was it like touring with Liam Gallagher? Your band consists of two sets of brothers and Liam is at the center of one of the most notorious sibling rivalries in music history, so that must have been a really interesting dynamic for the band.
Kiaran Crook: That’s exactly what it was, yeah. I was going to say it was surprising, but there’s no need to say surprising because of what I’ve seen from [Liam] in interviews before doing that tour. I think Liam’s a bit- you kind of love him or hate him- but we just get where he’s coming from with his humor and stuff like that. I find him pretty funny to be honest with you. So after doing that tour and spending a bit of time with him, he lived up to it. He’s good company. Most of all, we really appreciate him having us along on tour. There are a lot of bands he could bring, so the fact that he chose us as support certainly means a lot to us. Good guy.

OT: On a similar note, what’s it like touring with your brother and another set of brothers?
KC: It’s good! I mean, you have your fall-outs and stuff, but 95 percent of the time, or maybe and even higher percentage, we’re sweet, we get on well. I think the main thing is not doing each other’s head in or taking things too seriously, or getting in people’s way too much. I think everybody’s worked out how to handle each other a bit more since the start of the band, so that’s definitely gotten better, and we don’t really fall out too much. As far as touring’s concerned, it’s good. It always makes for a funny tour experience though, rather than being four separate lads who are not brothers, and we know each other better. There’s plenty of fun.

OT: Are there any cities you’re excited to hit on this particular tour that you may have missed the last time around?
KC: I’m personally really excited to go to [Los Angeles]. I couldn’t even tell you why. It’s just a name, and it sounds pretty funny. Where I come from, if you told somebody you were going Los Angeles as part of a job, I suppose, it would just seem like a joke to some people. Because the place where we live is really quiet and people don’t usually step out of where they are. People are born here, spend their whole lives here and die here. Not to get morbid, but in this little village where life is just- nothing really happens. You know what I mean? So to get the chance to travel to LA and all these great places, it blows some people’s minds.

OT: So more about the music, you all made quite a splash on the UK charts. What has the response been like to your music from audiences in the US?
KC: The main thing is, it’s not exactly a shock, but there’s obviously a lot more people in the UK that know us than in the US, so things are relatively small when we’re playing gigs in America. But it’s all part of this journey, really. We didn’t expect to play what we are playing at the minute in the UK, and it all started exactly the same here. In the UK, the first few gigs, I can remember playing for literally nobody, or like five people. So we’re used to [going] from empty rooms, to filling the rooms, and building on top of that. But the reception to the album has been really good. That’s the good thing about building and starting up small which we’ve been doing in the US. We get to talk to every single member of the crowd, all three of them! [laughs] I’m kidding. But you do get to speak to everybody, and people seem excited by it. And even though it’s on a small scale, I still feel the passion. They actually do care about this band and it means a lot to them that we’ve troubled to play to them, and vice versa. It means a lot to us that they’re coming out to watch us.

OT: What would be your dream venue to play? Or a favorite venue you’ve already played you’d want to go back to?
KC: I don’t know, to be fair. We’d normally say a stupid answer, something like ‘we’d like to headline the world someday’ but in terms of real venues, it would be good to [headline] a stadium. I could imagine that would be pretty mental. Like any stadium, none in particular, just playing our first stadium gig would be a crazy moment.

OT: That sounds awesome. I look forward to the day I see you’re playing a stadium and I can say I’ve interviewed you. Do you have a dream tour mate? I’m sure Liam set the bar really high, but if you could bring anyone on tour with you or be asked to support another band, what would be your top choice?
KC: These questions are hard! They’re good! I’d like to play with Kings of Leon. [Those] guys seem pretty cool. We opened for them at Sheffield Arena, and that’s like our hometown. Sheffield is the closest city to us, so to support a band like Kings of Leon in our own town, in the biggest venue in Sheffield, that was like a dream come true. So I’d like to play with them again. Or even if we did a song with them one day, that would be strange!

OT: What music are you currently inspired by?
KC: Well I’m listening to Kings of Leon at the minute, and an Australian band call DMAS.

OT: Can fans expect you to debut any new songs on this tour?
KC: We’re going through a bit of heavy writing, but not really [as a] band because I write the tunes. We’re spending a lot of time in the practice room at the minute, just blasting out new tunes until they sound good, the same as we did on the first album. We’ve got some really good ideas floating about and I think we’re gonna try to make the second album sound like – you’ll be able to tell, if you listened to the first album – you’ll know it’s us. So we’re not going to drift too far away, just try to progress slightly and do some things we didn’t really get to do on the first. So just plenty of writing at the minute, that’s what’s going on at The Sherlocks HQ. We might even try a couple of new tunes out in America, because obviously we’re playing to smaller crowds, so it’ll be less people booing us if we mess up [laughs].

The Sherlocks play DC9 on Monday, May 7. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

DC9 Nightclub: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; 202-483-5000; www.dc9.club