Meet Girlpool: LA transplants creating girl-punk duets
The reason Cleo Tucker started playing guitar was because she and British multi-genre performer, Joan Armatrading, have the same birthday. She was seven and saw the musician play a concert after she finished school one day.
When Harmony Tividad was a kid, she would sing a lot, so her parents put her into choir and piano lessons.
“My dad is a bass player and played a lot of music when I was a kid,” she said. She was 13 when she started playing bass; she’s 19 now.
Tividad and Tucker were both born and raised in Los Angeles. They are the two halves of the girl-punk duo Girlpool, and started attending shows in the downtown scene when they were sixteen.
Tividad started volunteering at the local venues and found the scene to be an “inspiration.”
“It was empowering that DIY could be anywhere,” said Harmony, who started putting on shows in a friend’s warehouse.
They found Bandcamp as a great tool to explore other music scenes across the country, which may have foreshadowed their move to the East coast.
Cleo and Harmony met at a show at the legendary Smell venue around the time they began frequenting the LA-DIY scene.
“Cleo was dancing and we started talking about Bright Eyes,” Tividad said.
They were both playing in garage punk bands at the time of meeting, but were also writing their own music. They saw their creative similarities and decided to bring their talents together.
Like most other DIY-artists, they created lo-fi bedroom demos and started playing on each other’s written songs. Once they formed Girlpool, it became relatively easy to get on shows in the LA scene since Harmony had been booking shows and made connections.
“We both really loved music and it was pretty evident in our personalities,” Tividad said.
Their unconventional approach to performing may generate much of their attention, as they switch instruments during sets and record and perform without a drummer, but their striking harmonies maintain a strong hold on listeners.
In their first month as a band, Girlpool played a show in an LA suburb. They were one of the first bands of the night. It was their first “tour” – or at least it felt like it with them being outside of their city comforts.
“People were just really into it. It was cool to know not only our friends like our music,” Tucker said.
Harmony recalled bringing mini merch pins and having very little left by the end of the night.
After graduating high school, the band picked up steam and went on a week-and-a-half long tour with guitar pop boy-band, Heathers, along the California coast.
In November, the duo’s self-titled EP was released through Wichita Recordings, which they signed to in September 2013. It’s a seven-track album featuring thumping basslines and some serious rock ‘n roll riffs. Tucker and Tividad’s combined vocals are a vivacious amount of power. Tracks like “Blah Blah Blah” showcase their instrumental talents with intricate strum patterns and the girl-punk fun they aren’t afraid to have.
For the sunshine-adapted girls LA, Philly was something new to look towards – even with an extreme differences in weather – and a new place to make music.
“It’s a city closer to a lot of cities,” Tucker said.
Growing up in Southern Cali, they were far from most cities, which made the prospect of touring difficult.
The band first visited Philly in October while on tour with their split-pals, Slutever, who in a way traded places with Girlpool – they moved from Philly to LA last year.
The band recently played at their first Philly non-DIY venue since their move; on Feb. 3, they opened a sold-out show at PhilaMOCA with Philly-native Alex G and fuzz-pop Teen Suicide.
They’re currently in the process of recording an album that will come out later in 2015.
“We’ve been playing the songs on this record for a while,” Tucker said. “If anyone is familiar with our live shows, it’s going to be similar.”
They released the single “Chinatown” and a lo-fi music video of an LA adventure to go along with it. The track will appear on a 7″ coming out March 24 that also features a cover of Radiator Hospital’s “Cut Your Bangs.”
Upcoming appearances to get stoked on are South by Southwest date in March and a performance with Waxahatchee at the Union Transfer on April 8. Girlpool will also play the First Unitarian Church on Feb. 9 with Dogs on Acid, LVL Up, and Free Cake for Every Creature. The show was originally supposed to be their first appearance at the Golden Tea House (RIP).
“It’s been a conglomeration of events that have collided for us,” Tividad laughed about the bombardment of their recent success. Tucker added “We were just doing all kinds of work because we kept saying yes.”
Girlpool plays the First Unitarian Church on Monday, February 9th with LVL UP, Dogs on Acid and Free Cake for Every Creature. Tickets and more info on the show can be found here.