Q&A: Bleached

Q&A: Bleached
Courtesy Photo Bleached are an L.A.-based pop punk rock band.

Courtesy Photo
Bleached are an L.A.-based pop punk rock band.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Prior to putting the finished paper to print, a PR representative of Bleached notified The Free Weekly their Tuesday, Nov. 1 concert at George’s Majestic Lounge has been cancelled by the show’s promoter. 

After a successful turnout for their Fayetteville debut at the first On The Map festival, L.A.’s Bleached are making their return Tuesday, Nov. 1, at George’s Majestic Lounge.  to Backspace, 541 W Meadow St. Tickets are $5 at the door. Locals Pagiins will open.

Fronted by sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin with Micayla Grace (bass) and Nick Pillot (drums), the group is distinctly pop punk rock, with tons of huge hooks and aggressive beats reminiscent of Bass Drum of Death, FIDLAR and Weezer.

Their most recent record, Welcome The Worms, came out March of this year on Dead Oceans to critical acclaim and a summer of touring and several festival spots. The album features several tracks about Jennifer Clavin’s personal struggles from relationships, eviction and existential strife.

We got the chance to talk with Jessie Clavin about the band’s record, recent successes and their experience at this year’s On the Map Festival.

TFW: Glad to see you guys are coming back to Fayetteville. How was your experience playing here for the first time back in March?

CLAVIN: Yes, I remember flying out. We were doing a bunch at that time. I’ll never forget that show, because after that show, there were so many sincere true fans that we were talking to after. My sister and I, we love to go out and say hi to people that came to the show. I feel like we met the coolest people. It was really rad. I’m really excited to come back.

There was this huge back stage, like at one point I made the joke we were in Spinal Tap. Have you seen that movie? While they’re wandering around and they don’t know where the stage is. There were a couple times like that. I’m remembering someone I met in particular. There was this young girl, and to me, that’s the coolest fan ever when they’re young girls. This girl especially had just started learning guitar. I was once that girl, and sometimes I feel like I am that girl. She was so rad to just pickin’ up the guitar and coming to our show, being inspired… that to me is heartbreaking, but as positive as possible heartbreak.

TFW: So glad to hear about the positive experience. We’re always thirsty here for great up-and-coming alternative acts.

CLAVIN: I was feeling that. It wasn’t a crazy sold out show, but everyone there was thirsty for awesome music and were dying to come see it. At times I almost want to move to a town like that just to experience to have to wait to see a band come through. In L.A., we don’t realize living in L.A. how much of an advantage it is. We get jaded a little bit. Jen and I, we grew up in L.A. and this is kind of what we know. Having a town like Fayetteville, this is so cool. I feel like there’s some passion there.

TFW: Well, if you ever feel like moving we’d be glad to have you.

CLAVIN: (laughs) Now that I’m saying all this, I’m going to have to start looking at some properties. I have a friend who was raised outside of Fayetteville nearby. He’s one of my best friends ever. He has a really amazing accent. Real Southern. I think he extends it a little bit, cause he thinks guys in L.A. think it’s hot to have a Southern accent. He’s all about his Southern twang. But it’s cool, because I was telling him how close I was to his hometown. I think it was Bentonville. He was telling me his grandma makes the best cookies in Bentonville.

TFW: How have things been for the band since releasing Welcome the Worms earlier this year?

CLAVIN: We started doing a lot of fly outs, like Fayetteville. Going to Australia was amazing. We’ve done this before where at least Jen and I, we’re prepared and we know it’s time to tour. It’s been this amazing response to the record and it’s like people talk to us like words can’t even describe. I feel like with this record, it’s something that was always in Jen and I. It was kind of like finding the right team. I don’t mean to make it sound like a sports thing, but it kind of is. You need the right team, finding the players. There’s a role everyone has and it’s really amazing when you start working with each other. What’s really important is people believing in each other. I’ve done records before that I wasn’t believed in before. Like the producer didn’t care. This one felt like a huge collaboration, and we can see the reaction with all the crazy touring, and having a great manager now.

File Photo Jessie Clavin of Bleached rocks out during Fayetteville’s On the Map Fest from March of this year.

File Photo
Jessie Clavin of Bleached rocks out during Fayetteville’s On the Map Fest from March of this year.

TFW: What’s one of the things that surprised you about the recording process this time around?

CLAVIN: I love that question, because I did have a huge shock. We recorded as a live band. I usually play bass and a lot of other instruments one by one. This time, we were going to do drums, bass, two guitars all together. I wasn’t used to that. It’s cool to go through change like that. It’s really healthy, especially recording in a band to try new things. It captured this energy I think we couldn’t have captured if we overdubbed. Of course we did overdubs on guitars for like a month. It’s cool when it takes a long time to really figure out tones and sounds and melodies. We never do it live, but that was really cool.

TFW: So did the whole recording process feel like uncharted territory? Was it uncomfortable pushing into new things?

CLAVIN: Yeah, so Jen’s writing these lyrics that are completely honest about her personal struggle. With this record, there was a lot of honesty going on both in lyrics and in how we did it. It can bring out a dark side, though. I realized there’s a song where Jen sings “dark side” in her lyrics, and I was like whoa (laughs).

TFW: So your sister primarily writes the lyrics?

CLAVIN: My sister comes up with all the lyric writing. I have the big part in sprinkling the cupcake, putting down the guitar melodies and writing the bass lines. We just started letting our live bass player Micayla write some. We sat down with her on some songs and got her input, which gave like a band vibe. We just recorded an EP, and that’s with our drummer now. We literally just all got in a room and started writing. My sister does all the lyrics. I trust her with the lyrics because they effect me, but I don’t think I ever could be a lyricist (laughs), maybe I could. It’s really cool, I feel like we have roles where we’re snapping our fingers and it’s like “I own this role.” It’s cool to come to that point. We just know what we’re doing. We’re all very confident.

TFW: How’s being in a band with your sister?

CLAVIN: You’re on the road with family, which is really cool. They’re there for you. I get really homesick, but when I’m home, I get tour sick. I think you’re on the right path when you’re wanting something that isn’t happening at the time. It makes you eager to go out and do it. Being on the road with my sister is one of the best things ever. I think we’re telepathic. We can communicate without even talking.

Growing up in punk, we initially kind of found punk naturally on our own. It was like hey, you like this too? Of course my sister had CDs lying around I picked up. We had our own entrance to punk and we started having friends and listening to the coolest punk bands you’ve ever heard together. My sister would be like “Whoa Jess, these bass lines are so cool, you gotta play bass like that.” It was the coolest thing ever to have that support.

TFW: What were some of those foundation punk bands for you?

CLAVIN: I always go back and forth. There’s so many bands lately. My number one of course is Velvet Underground. That’s what made me discover music that’s not on the radio. Music from 1967 happening and I’m listening to it in 2000 on my bedroom floor and it feels like this has never been played before. There’s something beyond that, that’s underground. The song “Rock n’ Roll” just changed my life. It opened up the idea of the recording process, thinking there were a bunch of people that got together to record this. This is so rad and it’s not on the mainstream radio. I was never a crazy outsider in school growing up. I was friends with a lot of people, skaters. I always felt like I had maybe too many friends, because I felt like I didn’t belong there, but that’s when I heard “Rock n’ Roll” and it opened something in my brain that was like “You need to pick up an instrument and learn it.”

TFW: What’s a band from this year you’ve really gotten into?

CLAVIN: Oh my God, this year? I’ve been listening to a lot of Kurt Vile. I’ve known of him and heard some of his songs, but the song “Pretty Pimpin’” is the best song I feel like ever written. I’ve been watching things about him, and I love his story of trying to play a banjo, being a skater and trying to start a punk band while playing banjo. I feel like I relate to him in some ways. I love his style. I hear so much Dylan and Tom Petty.

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