Girl power is alive and well and slamming Lone Stars, wearing leather skirts, full of punk energy, and kicking your butt. Stay tuned for a chat with the women who make up the punk band The Applicators ... and a beer.
Listen to The Applicators:
She Smells Like Me
When the opportunity arose to finally speak to The Applicators, I jumped right on it. These guys rock.
Or, girls really -- four of them. All hailing from the nether world of Texas and rocking the scene like punk era Go-Gos wielding ratchets and sharing a closet with Joan Jett and her Runaways who learned how to be a hit-making machine by having a secret crush on Sleater-Kinney.
When I played their debut CD, Whats Your Excuse, for my buddy Greg, who is more of a metal maniac than I, he had to hit repeat after listening to the grand tune "I Dont Bleed."
"Fuckin' good man," he said in blithe admiration. "That chord progression. Whew!" He had to suck even harder at his beer, thinking that red-hot females could whip him into true rock shape.
And hot they are. Not just in musicality, but lookability. One sultry night in San Francisco, I was marooned on pillage island with some friends who had a thing for ransacking dive bars. "Hey," I muttered from the back, "lets stop by that club. I gotta check out this band." We did.
There on the stage were The Applicators. I got nervous. They were so good. They were so good looking. I froze. I was supposed to talk to them, but after two songs I split.
As I dialed the number for the interview I felt that belly twist of nervous anticipation. Was I going to come across as a typical man-journalist and ask dumb questions while at the same time lean toward a flirtation of sorts? That moronic guy process of landing chicks even through the phone, the girls having never seen him, of bantering like an ape, the questions and machine-like answers, the hang up, and the man-writer thinking him King of the World. Not me I hoped. Someone picked up.
"Is Sabrina there?" I asked. Sabrina being the lead singer and whose number I had.
"Hi. Are you Mark?" asked the girl on the other line. I told her yes. "Well," she said, "this is Erica (the guitarist) and my lovely band mates are no where to be found. They partied pretty hard last night and arent feeling too good. Wanna do this another time?"
We both laughed and agreed on the next day. I immediately relaxed and grew a sense of empathy, seeing as I have been in that situation before. Yesterday in fact. Anyway, I hung up and knew I had a crush on each and every one of them.
Monday evening around 7 pm. I picked up and called a different number, a cell. Erica answered again. They were in the middle of rehearsal and were contemplating food. They switched off their gear and Erica got back to me.
"We just wrote this totally kick-ass song," she boasted. I asked her to play it for me but the others had left.
I explained about how amazed I was at the bustling punk scene in Austin when I passed through there for SxSW. "Hell yeah," she said. "Austin rocks!" Which is true. If you're in a band and just want to play somewhere, Austin is the "live music capitol of the US."
I asked what the others drank the night before as to not have them answer a bunch of dumb questions. Erica asked the room. She came back. "Everything." There were giggles abound.
The cell phone then made its way to Kristina, the black-haired, bubbly bassist. Can I say bubbly?
"Whats up. Mark right?" Yes. The subject went immediately to beer.
"What kind of beer are you drinkin right now?" she asked.
"Um. Red Hook." I answered.
"Ooh, I like Red Hook."
Kristina then informs me that she is now a sophomore in college, but still doesnt know what she wants to study. "Just takin the basics right now. Havent figured it out."
Which is fine. With a tight and amazing band in her clutches, the girl has little to worry about. But she did inform me of her side project, something called Wasted Crush.
"Like a cross between Motorhead, AC/DC, and the Misfits." Rock on. Of course her main objective is still The Applicators, which is why college is taking a back seat. Not to mention the tours and the beers. It takes up time. And cash. But we hit on the Misfits thing for a while.
Soon the phone was handed to the bands drummer, Stephanie. Her voice is so darn high I hate to think her above the age of 16
"We just ate this bag of chips. Now were bummed because ... it's gone." Punk rock poetics in purist form. Then some guy busts into their practice space and starts yammering questions. Stephanie gets distracted.
"Probably wants to be like a roadie or something," she laughs. I had to know what its like being in a band like they are and having the bombardment of guys come up to them post-show in pubescent glee.
"When I play, I play as hard as I can, like give it all I have you know. So afterwards, Im pretty darn tired. Honestly, I would love to just rest with a beer. Not that I dont like talking to people, its just that I get so exhausted, from the tours and playing, I sometimes just wanna go sleep in the van."
She then told me of further ambition beyond being a premiere punk drummer.
"I have this piano in my apartment and I was thinking of playing piano in like a retirement home or like some resort in Palm Springs. Yeah. Like later when Im older." No arguments here.
One last phone pass to the singer, Sabrina. She just graduated from cosmetology school.
"Im good. Really," she says with staunch confidence about her ability to fuss with a quaff. "But Ive always wanted to be in an all-girl band. So I was trying to put one together and one night it just happened. We were hanging out and just knew. You know?"
Whats Your Excuse was produced by Circle Jerks/Bad Religion guitarist Greg Hetson. "Everything just fell into place with Greg," Sabrina said. "He liked us, we liked him -- well, of course -- and then when it came time to record he was in Austin and did it, and there you go. Hes rad."
There wasnt much more to say. They needed food. I needed another beer. We promised to meet up again someday. This time Ill stick around.