Interview by Kristen
Although I live in Boston, I didn't grow up here and don't consider the Boston punk rock scene to be my home. I moved around too much for any place to be my "home". So I missed out on a lot of local-to-me bands, including Tijuana Sweetheart. But when I heard they were reuniting and a friend told me how rad they were, I knew I had to check them out and feature them on Mable Syndrome.
Unfortunately, their reunion show, originally set for January, has been postponed until May. Sad, but smart, move. We will promote the hell out of that when it's time. But for now, let's dig a little deeper into this band, and get them on YOUR radar too. - Kristen
So stoked to learn about your band and hear you are reuniting for a split album and reunion live show. Why the time away and why reuniting now?
Hellion: Thanks so much! Yeah, we are super excited to play again after 10 years. In 2012 when we ended the band, we had been going pretty hard for awhile, and I think we honestly probably just needed a break. We all moved onto other musical projects and life stuff. And I wish I could say we had really hemmed and hawed over the reunion show, but like all things with Tijuana Sweetheart, we put very little thought into it -- LoWreck and I were at the Lobster Shanty in Salem some Wednesday night in 2019, and I believe Troy from Razors asked us if we would ever play one more show and we both said "hell yes!" We were extra psyched when we asked Keri (lead guitar) and Julie (bass) -- who are currently living in CA and TX respectively -- if they would fly out to play the show and they cheerfully agreed! And Smokey and Ivahna Rock from our previous lineup of the band will be making guest appearances as well. It will be a big old family reunion.
How did you ladies meet one another and how did the band form?
Hellion: I had always wanted to play in a band, but never had the confidence (or skill) to actually try to do that until I was in my twenties. I convinced a couple of the awesome women I worked with at the time (Elena Siegman and Leeanne Williams) to join me, assuring them that we could learn together and that it would be a fun ride no matter what happened. Leeanne knew LoWreck from... I dunno, something awesome -- the art scene, I think -- and we hit it off from the first meeting. I cannot stress to you how inexperienced we were when we started. That first lineup was 95% heart, 1% skill, and 4% hard alcohol.
LoWreck: The breakdown was at LEAST 35% hard alcohol.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Hellion: We've had 3 or 4 different lineups, so we've shared a ton of different musical influences over the 7 years we were an active band. We were hugely influenced by local Boston bands like Cocked n Loaded, Buried in Leather, and We're All Gonna Die. Currently I'm obsessed with A Wilhelm Scream, Oh the Humanity!, and Ondt Blod, and I know LoWreck is listening to Gallows, The Bronx, The Darts, and Steely Dan. She's always listening to Steely Dan.
LoWreck: I am NOT ashamed to be the only Steely Dan fan in every band I am ever in. Suck it, everyone!
Julie TwoTimes: All my friends in the Boston music scene and Stiff Little Fingers.
Keri: No Doubt, The Distillers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
You have had songs featured on Rock Band and Guitar Hero, awesome! How did that come about?
Hellion: This is a boring answer, but I've been working at Harmonix since 2004. When we were putting together soundtracks for those games, we wanted to have a bunch of local artists for two reasons: 1) because we deeply care about local music, and 2) because it was very cheap. So it was really one of many instances in which we got an awesome opportunity by being cheap. :)
We’ve heard differing opinions on this… “female band”, or just “band”? How do you like/ not like to be referred to?
Hellion: Thanks for this question! When we were active, we used to heavily promote ourselves as an "all-female band." At the time, we did that to differentiate ourselves, and because we wanted to give visibility to the existence of women artists in the local scene. These days, I would absolutely not attempt to promote my band based on our gender identities. I feel relieved and psyched to be playing at a time when the fact that we aren't men is no longer a "novelty" to anyone -- and if it is, they have missed out on way better artists than us.
LoWreck: Yeah... no gender labels please! Although I did appreciate the multiple offers from dude musicians to wear a dress so they could be in our band.
What do y’all do for work and fun?
Hellion: I make video games for work. For fun, I read comics and play music.
LoWreck: I work in marketing and design.
Hellion: Her favorite pastimes are shouting and gesturing wildly. And true crime.
LoWreck: I also enjoy shouting and gesturing wildly ABOUT true crime!
Julie: I work in a plasma testing lab, and in 2021 I joined Los Verdes, a soccer supporter group for Austin FC and is one of the most inclusive, fun, community-driven and generous bunch of people I’ve ever met. I even started playing bombo (big bass drum) for the games with the band!
Keri: I work in tech. When I'm not clacking away at a keyboard or rolling my eyes in a zoom meeting (camera off!), I usually try to get outside. Love going to the beach, walking my dog, and fishing!
How can humans and venues make shows safer and more pleasant for women?
Julie: Properly trained security, bands who won’t allow BS at their shows….it all starts with trust and the sense of community that got us all into the scene in the first place.
Keri: Women should feel safe going to a show alone and not have to worry about creeps in the crowd. Love it when bar staff keep an eye out for bad vibes in a crowd and can help spot when someone might be danger or need a way out.
Who are some of the other women in punk rock you admire and respect?
Hellion: I admire anyone who does their own thing and takes shit for it. I love Blood Command and Against Me! And Rochelle from SkyTigers is basically the coolest person I've ever met.
LoWreck: Besides me, obviously.
LoWreck: I bet someone somewhere wants one of us to say Joan Jett or Kathleen Hanna, so I won't say that.
Keri: Kathleen Hanna for me for sure!
LoWreck: (sigh) Fine. Well I love Bad Cop Bad Cop and The Coathangers. Also, Sasha Alcott from When Particles Collide (who is also a chemistry professor and big game hunter in Maine) is one of my #1 idols.
Julie: All the rest of my Tijuana Sweethearts!
Reunion show with Razors in the Night, Sonia, Boston, May 28, 2022
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