An Interview With the Brooklyn-Based Garage Punk Band, EX-GIRLFRIENDS!
Posted On 01 Mar 2017
The brand new Brooklyn-based garage punk band Ex-Girlfriends recently premiered their new track “Slay.” It can be found on their debut EP, “You’re Next” which came out on February 3rd via Little Dickman Records.
All this month and March, Ex-Girlfriends are hitting the road with Fruit & Flowers and Sharkmuffin, venturing to the West coast and down to SXSW.
“They aren’t afraid to get in your face and tell you what they think while forcing you to involuntarily move to their music.” – CoolDad
“The all-girl supergroup (co-fronted by Sharkmuffin’s Tarra Thiessen and Side Bitch’s Heather Cousins) exists like The Craft coven with five Nancys, showcasing boozey, brazen babes who don’t give a fuck.” – Paste Magazine
Ex-Girlfriends may only be a few months old, but don’t let that speak for their sound — precocious as hell and driven by raw desire, nothing (except maybe a hangover) is holding back these 5 badasses. Take the Spice Girls, add a little Brooklyn, some glittery-gutsy vocals plus brazen song lyrics, and you’ll begin to have an idea of what it’s like to see them play.
Learn more about Ex-Girlfriends in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016? What were some of the highlights for the band? What are you all most excited about for 2017?
Tarra: The best thing that happened in 2016 was my blind date with Crystal Nava. I told her what I was wearing so she could find me at the bar before we all jammed together. It was so romantic <3
Heather: Well we just started this project in July and it really took off. One of my favorite moments of 2016 was filming the video for “Bones” and sneaking into a hotel pool late at night with skeletons. I’m excited about this tour… we’ll be in Nashville in an hour and the West coast in a few days.
Christine: 2016 was a beautiful year for the band. We are brand-new and we all looked at each other and said let’s get shit done. The first month we practiced together we probably practiced 3 times a week. Maybe more. We were always running to practice.
Monika: Words to describe 2016: Terrifying, exhilarating, eventful. For me, the most memorable highlight was making the music video for “You’re Next” (AKA the time I let Crystal shave my head on camera).
Most excited about for 2017: Going on tour.
How did Ex-Girlfriends first form? How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
Crystal: Ex-Girlfriends formed in 2016, and it was probably the only good thing that happened all year. Looking forward to touring through 2017!
Tarra: After the fact it feels like we formed by Courtney Love’s advice of “find the 5 craziest bitches in your town and start a band.” Imagine the most intense personality in your friend group and multiply it by 5…that’s Ex-Girlfriends.
Heather: I wanted to start a new project for awhile, and mentioned it to Tarra whom I knew cause we used to live in the same apartment building. I then got hired at Cake Shop and started working with Crystal who also wanted to start a new musical project. Monika came in one day and ordered a beer from me (she also used to work at cake shop), and she was into it too. Then Crystal talked to Christine and we all got together. We said it was kind of like a blind date.
Christine: A huge web of friend circles in the Brooklyn music scene. The band name was was a joke, but it stuck. I don’t think we even considered another name.
Monika: It was a bit like a blind date. I met Heather at Cake Shop one night (she was bartending, I used to work there), and she told me I should play the keys for the band she was forming. I agreed, expecting never to hear from her… and here we are. (RIP Cake Shop) I don’t remember who came up with the name “Ex-Girlfriends.” But I do know we spent a lot of time considering the “The” before it, and ultimately decided we didn’t want it. Too extra.
Crystal: Cake Shop NYC united Monika, Heather and I, all former employees of the venue. Tarra and Heather met at their neighborhood bar and Christine came along by the grace of shared ex-boyfriend drama.
ExGirlfriends as a name was jokingly mentioned at our second band session, we laughed about it loved it and kept it. Getting five strong and highly opinionated women to agree on anything so swiftly isn’t common with most but for us we get each other. There really wasn’t anything else to consider after that.
You just released your debut EP, “You’re Next.” What did that feel like? How long had you been working on this collection? Can you also talk about how your latest single, “Slay” came about? What was the inspiration for it?
Heather: We wrote all of these songs in the last few months. In regards to “Slay” I sat down and listened to a recording Tarra wrote of her just playing guitar. She named it “Slay” so I ran with that. It’s about wanting more in a relationship and feeling like you’re both just not in it anymore but wanting that to change.
Christine: Seeing the final product is insane in the amount of time we had to complete the EP. Our first practice we wrote out a realistic timeline when we wanted to complete everything (ex: music videos, shows, ep release, tour). We were all on the same page since our first practice and I can’t wait to start making new music.
Monika: Releasing this EP was like discovering a new part of me that I never knew existed. As for “Slay”… we kept talking about writing a new song… and then “Slay” was born. Tara had the riff, and then Heather developed it with lyrics. I thought, “Hey, why don’t I play the tambo on this one?” And it just kind of came together.
Crystal: Felt like a wave of fun. We really challenged ourselves as a band of only three months to write songs and get active as much and as soon as a possible. The thirst was real.
Slay is a perfect example. Heather wrote some stuff lyric wise and very few instrumentals were thought-out before recording. At recording -with no real song structure made at all, Heather had the drive and energy that we all absorbed so we just went for it musically. In the beginning of the song you can hear me say “.. this is going to be fun..” proving just that. Without rules or any structure we made it happen and had fun.
You are about to go on the road with the bands Fruit & Flowers and Sharkmuffin. How excited are you to be touring with these groups? What do you think is the best and most challenging part about being on the road?
Tarra: The most challenging thing on the road is not eating Taco Bell every day.
Heather: Fruit & Flowers and Sharkmuffin are both buddies so it’s just stuffing all your friends in a bus, it can get a little cramped.
Little Dickman Records has been so great to us and it’s kind of unbelievable we have this EP out and about to put out our 2nd music video and we’ve only been playing since July!
Christine: Sharkmuffin and F&F are bad ass. I’m stoked. Getting to know the F&F crew has been swell. It already feels like family. Right now I am sitting in Lyzi from F&F grandma’s house in Amarillo, Texas. Drinking coffee and making Facebook events. She is feeding us nonstop and I can feel the love.
The most challenging part on the road is resisting unhealthy snacks and not being able to get some adequate squats in.
Monika: How excited are we to be touring with FxF and Sharkmuffin? VERY. (I mean, duh, who wouldn’t be?) The most challenging part of being on tour is juggling my full-time job (I work remotely) with being in a bus full of band equipment and other human creatures. The best part is knowing that I’ll never regret saying “Yes” to this experience.
Crystal: Fruit & Flowers are one of my favorite bands in NY right now. Their songs are drawing and they’re all amazing focused musicians. Tarra and Natalie of Sharkmuffin are two of the sweetest people I’ve met since moving to the East coast. I’m super stoked to be on the road with them. The most challenging part of being on the road will be holding my bladder that’s the size of a strawberry seed.
Ex-Girlfriends is a relatively new band so I am curious what has been the surprising thing to you all so far about this industry and the process of getting music made and released?
Christine: You just go with the flow. I have been in a band before so you just figure it out. Tara is definitely a guru at all this band stuff. She has toured a ton and is organized to the max. It also helps that there are 5 of us so we all have mad connects.
Monika: The most surprising thing about this whole process has been how low-key everything is. Amy and Chris at Little Dickman Records are freaking awesome.
Crystal: The only surprising thing is how fast everything is happening. I’ve experienced (and isn’t too surprising) being diligent goes a long way in the industry. You have a dream turn it into a goal and work your ass off. Boom, it’s magic.
Who are you all listening to these days? What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Tarra: All of our friends bands in NYC / NJ inspire me every day!! Def.Grls, Darkwing, The Big Drops, The Adventures of the SIlver Spaceman,The Off White, Psychiatric Metaphors, Lost Boy ? & Haybaby, are all the best.
Heather: In regards to newer bands I’ve been into I really like Thelma and The Sleaze, Bleached, and Tacocat.
Christine: A lot of organist like jimmy mcgriff. He’s rad. The bass lines are funky, however, that was this morning. The Misfits are on the radio right now, but I would rather be listening to Steely Dan.
Monika: I tend to listen to the same 3 songs on repeat for about a month at a time. Right now it’s “Ain’t Ur Baby” by Thelma and the Sleaze, “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane, and “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” by Say Anything. Artists that continue to inspire us include Kim Gordon, Sleater-Kinney, The Coathangers, and Spice Girls, obviously.
Crystal: Bleached is on my current playlist. Having spent the early years in LA during Mika Miko days and seeing their progression as musicians is inspiring. As for work with, I would really love to make music with the Nava’s in Latino Jazz Collective. What’s up fam! I also feel a country collaboration coming in the future.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
Tarra: I want our fans to be inspired to do whatever the fuck they want to do whenever they want to do it. We decided to start this band less than a year ago and here we are on tour in support of our first EP !! Every day so far at least one of us has said “I can’t believe we actually are doing this.” It’s crazy how fast you can get things together when you have a supportive team that’s passionate about what they’re doing and I’m so proud of and grateful for everyone in Ex-Girlfriends, Fruit & Flowers, Sharkmuffin and Little Dickman Records for working so hard to make this EP and tour happen.
Christine: It’s just awesome seeing people come out and are interested. Really good vibes all around.
Monika: It’s cliche as fuck, but mostly I hope our music makes you feel powerful. Our message is that we’re surviving in the world today, and we want to survive with you. Let’s survive together.
Crystal: I hope to make people move, dance and have fun. Life’s short.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourselves and your music?
Monika: Planned Parenthood 4 lyfe!
Crystal: I want to share my thanks and love with those who have supported us from day one and those joining the crew.