Seattle's finest surf-pop feminists kill it on their third album. Plus we talk aliens, mansplaining, and soundtracking 'The Powerpuff Girls.'
Shot by Michael Levine
Today is a good day: we’re premiering Tacocat’s third album, Lost Time, below. If you’re unfamiliar with the Seattle band, know this—they love tacos, cats, sci-fi, feminism, and comedy. We’ve been supporters of the quartet for years, talking to them about freebleeding (why not?), and hanging out in Seattle and learning about utilizing a leotard as a chastity belt (good to know). Made up of Bree McKenna, Emily Nokes, Eric Randall, and Lelah Maupin, Tacocat are one of a clutch of excellent bands coming out of Seattle right now, alongside Chastity Belt, Boyfriends, La Luz, Childbirth, and Lisa Prank. Musically they set their feminist-centric anthems to pop melodies and surf rock guitar rhythms—something that they play up with a moodier tone on Lost Time (out on April 1 via Hardly Art). It’s a record that tackles women’s issues like taking Plan B (“Plan A, Plan B”) and dealing with mansplaining dudes in the music industry ("Men Explain Things To Me"), among other true life situations. Their songs are direct and to the point and more invigorating than a shot of chili laced tequila.
Releasing their forthcoming album isn’t the only thing Tacocat are excited about: they’re living the dream as the band singing the new Powerpuff Girls series theme song for the Cartoon Network revival. We talked to Bree McKenna about fat cats, tackling feminism in music, and the existence of aliens. Plus listen to Tacocat's spunky, awesomely unapologetic record below.
Noisey: So what’s your favorite kind of taco, and what’s your favorite kind of cat?
Bree McKenna: Basically any kind of taco from a taco truck—that’s the best way to go. We all really like fat cats. Fat gray cats are really cute.
Me too! I have a fat cat named Pancake.
Bree: That’s a great name for a fat cat. Emily has a fat cat named Dr. Phil and we have a really chubby tabby named Pete. They’re the best—they like to lay around and be adorable.
So how is your upcoming record different than your last one, NVM?
Bree: It’s a lot moodier, which is funnier. NVM was so funny and silly. But, the sounds are different because we tried some different things and because the producers were different. We experimented more, and we’re really happy.
You’ve collaborated with Emily in The Stranger. How did you guys get into doing that? Who are the most ridiculous people you’ve dealt with?
Bree: Yeah. Me and Emily both have written for The Stranger in the past, which is an alt-weekly. We’ve been writing on and off for a couple of years now. I started writing a little bit before Emily because the editor asked me to write something for the queer issue from basically talking to him while I was waiting tables. Then me and Emily collaborated on a piece called “Men Who Rock” which is a parody of Rolling Stone’s “Women Who Rock” issue. We sort of reversed the gender roles and issues and talked about men in the manner women are generally spoken about. It was just funny to talk about men that way.
Who was your favorite person to poke fun at?
Bree: I think that all of the guys we worked with were down and in on the joke, but one of my friends is really metal, and he was talking about his luxurious walks and all of the silly stereotypes. It was just funny asking him those questions because he’s into the heaviest metal possible. Emily was actually the music editor of a paper for a few years too.
I heard you guys are doing the new Powerpuff Girls theme song. How’d that happen?Bree: It was crazy! We got that email last year, and I don’t think I’ve ever answered an email faster. It was someone from Cartoon Network, and they wanted us to do the theme song. We instantly answered back and said “yes, yes. We’d love to do that.” A composer wrote the song, and we performed it. We love the Powerpuff Girls.
Did you watch the show growing up? Who was your favorite?
Bree: I did! My favorite Powerpuff Girl was Blossom. I love them all. They’re really really cool. We actually saw an episode of the show while we were on tour in LA and it was awesome.
Tacocat obviously has a lot of feminist messages in your music. Do you think that they overshadow the music itself sometimes?Bree: I don’t know. I was kind of thinking about that recently... I love being asked about feminist issues in our music because what we were inspired to express are the topics we want to talk about. I know some bands are not so enthusiastic about that. I know some bands don’t want to make everything a feminist issue with their music because they’re female. With us, it’s not a problem.
On that note, what’s the message behind your latest album, Lost Time?
Bree: The album is a lot of connected stories about our lives in Seattle. We have a lot of feminist issues we’ve been talking about for years. We have a song called “Men Explain Things to Me” about mansplaining. That’s so prevalent to everything in music. We have a song about the Plan B pill called “Plan A, Plan B.” We wanted to write that song forever. Like, your Plan A was to go to dinner and go to karaoke, but your Plan B was to take the Plan B pill. It’s just sort of reflections of our lives.
What influenced this record the most for the band?
Bree: The X-Files. We were all watching a lot of The X-Files. I’m only halfway through the new episodes. They’re interesting. It’s very exciting, but very weird. The last one I watched was really weird. All of the titles really reflect some of the things we were influenced by. With “Night Swimming,” I was really addicted to going nightswimming every night during the last few summers and really wanted to write about it. A lot of our friends’ bands in Seattle really influence us—really cool women that we play shows. Just playing shows with them gives us ideas about what to write about.
Back to the sci-fi stuff, do you believe in aliens and extraterrestrial life?
Bree: Absolutely. Wasn’t it Tom DeLonge from Blink-182 who turned an interview into his conspiracy theories? He went on a rant about believing in aliens. I’m holding out hope that another species can listen to our music. It would be kind of nuts.
Tacocat Tour Dates
03.31.16 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey
04.02.16 - Pullman, WA - Kazzuzapalousa @ WSU
04.07.16 - St Paul, MN - Turf Club (tix)
04.08.16 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle (tix)
04.09.16 - Detroit, MI - Marble Bar (tix)
04.12.16 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
04.13.16 - Brooklyn, NY - Palisades (All-ages)
04.14.16 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs
04.16.16 - Washington, DC - Comet Ping Pong (tix)
04.19.16 - Durham, NC - Pinhook
04.20.16 - Atlanta, GA - 529
04.21.16 - Nashville, TN - Stone Fox (tix)
04.22.16 - St Louis, MO - Billiken Club
04.24.16 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
05.27.16 - 05.30.16 - George, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival
05.01.16 - Machester, UK - TBA
05.02.16 - Nottingham, UK - JT Soar
05.03.16 - Edinburgh, UK - Electric Circus
05.04.16 - Glasgow, UK - Broadcast (tix)
05.05.16 - Cardiff, UK - The Moon Club (tix)
05.06.16 - Brighton, UK - Sticky Mike's Frog Bar
05.07.16 - London, UK - The Lexington
05.09.16 - Paris, FR - Le Mecanique Ondulature
05.11.16 - Luzern, CH - Schüür
05.12.16 - Geneva, CH - Kalvingrad L'Usine
05.13.16 - Schorndorf, DE - Manufaktur (tix)
05.14.16 - Tilburg, NE - Extase
05.15.16 - Hamburg, DE - Aalhaus (tix)
05.18.16 - Stockholm, SE - Lilla Hotelbarren
05.19.16 - Oslo, NO - Internasjonalen
05.20.16 - Lund, SE - Mejereit
05.21.16 - Copenhagen, DK - Huset
05.22.16 - Berlin, DE - Monarch (tix)
05.23.16 - Antwerp, BE - TBA