California should be it’s own country. It’s the perfect state.
BLEACHED, made up of Jessie and Jennifer Carlin, have bounced onto the scene as the latest incarnation of ‘77 style punk with pop, garage and even surf-punk undertones. With vocals reminiscent of Belinda Carlisle in early GO-GO’s (back when they opened for THE CLASH) they reference THE RAMONES, BLONDIE and the LA punk scene of the late seventies and early eighties. BLEACHED features two sisters who grew up the San Fernando Valley. This is a part of Southern California renowned, in equal parts, for its porn and TV studios and stereotypically bland suburbs. Please note: when sent to find them in a café in Friedrichshain, I could hear that distinct Valley accent from across the room, and contrary to stereotypes, all Valley girls are not vapid and materialistic. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION sat down with Jessie and Jen to talk about growing up in the Valley, bike wrecks, and the wonderful state of California.
Is this your first time to Berlin?
Jessie: We’ve been here before…we have some bad memories though [starts laughing]. Last time Jen had this terrible flu, she was sick for days, and I had this bike, I don’t even know how I got ahold of it, but I was biking and someone was yelling at me “You’re on the wrong side!” right before I crashed into this girl coming the other way. It was painful, and I was so lucky she was nice about it.
Yeah, in Berlin you are lucky she didn’t get aggressive and start yelling at you. Being women musicians, do you feel like you have to work harder for credibility or to be heard, especially in punk circles?
Jen: It was more like that when we were younger and just starting out. Now that we have more experience, we know what we want and can be pretty specific with the sound guy.
Jess: Yeah, I think I also don’t take it personal anymore. When we were younger, people would be more dismissive, but now, we know what we like.
So your first experience playing together was MIKA MIKO. What happened with that project? You then spent some time apart before reuniting to make BLEACHED. Tell me about how that happened.
Jen: We always played together as a side project to MIKA MIKO. When we broke-up -
Jess: Which was painful, like a real an emotional, relationship break-up.
Jen: I went to school for fashion, and we went our separate ways, always keeping BLEACHED in the back of our minds. Then we started touring and it came together.
What can fans expect from a BLEACHED live show?
Jess: It depends. We just played London for the third time, I would say the first the audience was still testing us, the second time was insane, and this last time was good but calmer as it was mostly press. We feel really good about ourselves, putting on a show that fans will like.
Jen: It’s so funny seeing footage of our early shows, when people hear the songs off our seven-inches they start dancing.
BLEACHED: “Passion is whatever makes you work hard”
Ahh, the San Fernando Valley. What do you hate and what do you absolutely love about it?
Jenn: First, let me just say we both have 818 tattooed on our lower lips. [Peels back lower lip to show tattoo of the Valley area code] Basically the Valley is so boring it forced us to start playing our own instruments.
Jess: Or take the bus two hours into Hollywood to go entertain ourselves. We started doing SLITS covers in our garage.
Jen: We grew up deep in the Valley, sort of a valley within the valley, where that scene from E.T. was filmed.
The one where they run from the cops?
Jenn: Yeah. We both dropped out of high school, and started to make music then.
Which high school did you drop out of?
Jenn: I went to Granada and Jess dropped out of Hollywood High. We were own personal Valley Girl movie. [1983 film with Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman. Cage is the punker form Hollywood and Foreman is the Valley Girl, they fall in love despite coming from different worlds. As awesome as it sounds.]
I love that movie. Especially the soundtrack.
Jen: I know!
Playing the Chloe Sevigny opening in St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery in New York, you were following in the footsteps of many great musicians like PATTI SMITH who played there. What does that feel like?
Jenn: We were really excited. Since I studied fashion, I always had this dream to play a fashion show. I’ve also always to play in a church so to combine those two things was special.
Jess: Chloe [Sevigny] is also really nice, she was totally there and present during the show. She is a serious music fan.
Okay so Northern California versus Southern California: is this a pointless discussion? Should we have two states?
Jess: Obviously, I love SoCal because that’s where we live.
Jenn: I can’t decide. What about Big Sur, is that Northern California? Because that is one of my favorite places in the world, it’s so beautiful.
Jess: That is what California is all about, you can go from beaches to mountains to desert. It’s the perfect state. California should be it’s own country.
Good answer, so glad we agree. Who are your musical role models?
Jess: There are some obvious ones, like GUN CLUB, THE RAMONES, and THE MISFITS. I also really admire JIMI HENDRIX, for his skills.
Jenn: DEBBIE HARRY. SIOUXSIE SIOUX. I also really admire STEVIE NICKS. She is a musician that helped me feel confident about writing. Before, I was kind of embarrassed to be honest and sing about things like break ups and feelings.
What do hope and passion mean to you?
Jess: Passion is whatever makes you work hard. It’s like us, when we wanted to start playing guitar, we practiced all the time.
Jenn: Passion is when you feel strongly about something.
Jess: I don’t like the term hope, it’s unsure. The word hope stressed me out! Why don’t you say “I will” instead of “I hope?” There is more of a chance of a let down with hope.
Jenn: By saying hope, there is a more of a chance of it not happening, not coming true.
Jess: I want to say some other things about passion. Passion never dies or ends in you, it keeps going.
Jenn: Yeah, exactly.
Jess: Also, I think it would be a great name for a perfume. [laughs]
Check out BLEACHED, playing SXSW this year at the Death Match 2013, the Thrasher/Converse party. The debut album “Ride Your Heart” is out April 2.