Q&A with Tunabunny

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Hi Brigette, Mary Jane, Scott, and Jesse!  Congrats on your 3rd and latest album, Genius Fatigue, which is out on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records.  I heard you’ve got a U.K tour coming up ASAP.  How is that looking and what are the essentials that you’ll be packing for this trip?

Toothbrushes n undies. Also, a camping towel, umbrella and the biography of Vic Reeves. 

You mentioned on your Facebook profile that you’ll be playing a lot of new, post-album songs on tour.  Does that mean your next album is already in the works?  Are the new tracks head-on like “Duchess For Nothing”, “”Pachyderm, Fallen”, and “Government Of Throats” or more experimental like “You Do What You Want”, “Airplanes In Echelon”, and “Wrong Kind Of Attention”?

Our fourth album is pretty much recorded, it just needs to be mastered when we get home. This new album has the same ferocious energy of our first album (self-titled) but goes even further (experimentally speaking) than we did with Genius Fatigue. If Genius Fatigue was the sound of the band after our first run at touring, then our upcoming album (tentatively titled Visceral Cinema) is the sound of a euphoric and demented period of hermitage, complete with dream sequences and choreographed dance moves for one. 

I’m digging the two differing vocal lines from Mary Jane and Brigette on many songs.  It a refreshing change from most dual vocalists that try to mirror each other in song.  How easy or difficult is this vocal approach for you?  Why did you decide on two singers and not just one?

If one of us gets laryngitis then we always have a back-up. Plus, we are suckers for good harmonies– a good harmony is ace.

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Genius Fatigue got enthusiastic approval from the long-standing and opinionated U.K. (and now Australia-based) music critic Everett True.  In the 1990s he was a fun ‘n’ florid writer for Melody Maker and a prominent proponent of the riot grrrl style and movement.  I have a feeling he’s heard some of that lineage in your sound and vision.  Do you have an affinity for this genre and/or its offshoots?

It’s interesting that the first impulse for many is to describe our style as riot grrrl, although honestly we don’t have any tangible connection to that scene and the only thing we have in common with the sound is the freedom or ferocity behind our music. Of course being weirdos and a band with two singers that happen to be women, we benefit from the work of the riot grrrl foremothers who had to set fire to the stage, scream, and kick in order to begin to create a safe space where women could take on leadership roles in bands and it wouldn’t be viewed as a novelty.

Of course, the fact that we are compared to riot grrrl bands and not bands that we have more in common with sonically, like the Ramones, Half-Japanese, or Nirvana (also bands that Everett True has championed), is telling…because it means that first and foremost people see our band as “female fronted”, which is a tricky thing sociologically, because it means that we are being defined as “other”. Being in a female fronted band shouldn’t be headline news. It shouldn’t be strange. It should be as common as the natural division of genders in nature (which is roughly 50/50 with a slightly higher number of females).

But as far as the riot grrrl tag goes, we don’t define ourselves that way. We aren’t interested in fighting battles or starting revolutions that happened decades ago. We have our own revolution to lead, which is compatible with and indebted to movements of the past, but is certainly not history repeating itself. 

I’ve visited Atlanta, Georgia, but not the Athens area where you’re located.  My memories of Atlanta include a Coca-Cola factory tour (and sipping samples of odd Coca-Cola concoctions), eating yummy cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory (I know, it’s a chain and not local.), and hitting a bunch of cool record stores, thrift shops, and diners.  How does Athens compare?

Athens is quaint and lovely. Except for those damn bulldog statues everywhere…

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From what I’ve read, your MO is to have fun, but you get downright serious on this album, channeling your energy into songs that have a sharp, focused edge sonically and lyrically, like the menacing line “Don’t let them see you coming.” from “Duchess For Nothing”.  Are you writing specifically about yourselves mostly or the world you see around you? 

Life is never all fun or all tragedy, and our music and approach to playing music mirrors this. Our song lyrics come from observations from the world around us, not necessarily from our own experiences but collected and reframed through our own unique world views. For instance, “Duchess for Nothing” is a song about unconventional and powerful female heroes — punk rock legend Jayne County, the Duchess (guitarist for Bo Diddly), and a character from Margaret Mead’s ethnography Coming of Age in Samoa. So, you know, art is everywhere man.

My previous question also ties into early songs on your album, like “Serpents & Light” and “You Do What You Want”.  On “Serpents & Light” I’m not sure who or what institution you’re railing against when you exclaim “Confounded by insipidity / We know they’ve got it wrong.”

“Serpents and Light” is not so much “railing against” any particular institution as it is calling for war against banality and complacency.

The hypnotic “You Do What You Want”, with the lighter, repeated vocals, drum thump, winding guitar lines, and lyrics of “You say it’s a new start.” begs the question(s) – Is the song title a mantra for the seemingly self-absorbed Millennial generation?  Are you commenting on the current divided and in flux state of the nation?  Or am I reading too much into the lyrics?

The song is there for your interpretation, and we would never want to take that away from you…

On a lighter note, how’s the Twitter going for you these days as a marketing tool?  Are you (ab)using the site to counter a “life of penniless irrelevance” as you (or was it hhbtm?) put so succinctly?

I’m not quite sure if we are doing it right, but it sure is fun trying to figure it out!  Plus it means I get to follow Neil Degrasse Tyson, who is hilarious and brilliant.

You also have a recent EP out titled Form A Line with different versions of that song.  By version do you mean remix?  Who contributed to the variations?

All of the mixes were done by Tunabunny with the tireless efforts of our drummer and engineer Jesse Stinnard. Our friend Vanessa Briscoe Hay (Pylon, Supercluster, The New Sound of Numbers) also agreed to sing on a track, which we were very very excited about because she is a lovely and talented human being!

Lastly, can you please list your official site(s)?

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