Last year may have been a whirlwind of stress and press for Los Angeles duo Girlpool, but this year is all about re-adjusting to daily life – and making sure to jot down all the inspiration that comes with it.
“I’m shopping for pants right now! You know what I realized? I want to take all my pants to the tailor,” bassist Harmony Tividad says over the phone, laughing. “I think the tailor will be my best friend once I explore that option.”
Women don’t experience a one-size-fits number size like men. Pants are tricky, impossible even, to buy. There’s the size of your waist, the size of your hips, the size of your thighs, and the dozen pairs that never get all three right. It’s fitting that Tividad is busy digging through Philadelphia racks while guitarist Cleo Tucker is sitting quietly in New York—there’s no more direct contrast of outward joy and constrained pressures than that—and yet the two sound as if they’re side by side, speaking into the same end of the phone, failing to hold back laughter about the experience.
“So far this year has been about honing in on working on stuff and being one with the self,” Tividad continues. “I don’t think about where spotlights are pointing most of the time. That usually isn’t on our radars, but last year was definitely intense.”
It’s true; 2015 saw the music world fall in love with Before the World Was Big, the band’s debut full-length. Their songs stand somewhere between the acoustic clarity of Frankie Cosmos and the sexual honesty of early Liz Phair. Though both members of Girlpool were in their late teens at the time of its release, they sing about hookup culture and the issues with validation thru sex that usually can be articulated as such in your early 20s.
“When you’re writing songs, that honesty has to be malleable. Harmony and I have talked about how amazing that is that these songs can be a million things, that a song is forever growing and changing meaning and feeling to you. Just as Harmony and I have grown with our own selves, so does our relationship to the work we make. That makes it easier to be more open – knowing that the songs will change as they please. Even in one song, some words feel straighter to me than others. It’s like every Monday doesn’t feel like a Monday” says Tucker. “The context constantly evolves,” Tividad adds.
As they discuss the new material they’re working on, both women delve into the naturalness of it all. There’s an immediacy in these cuts that resonate in the present. “It’s a denser experience playing those,” Tucker says of the new album’s tracks. “It’s probably going to be a minute before that cycle is done. We don’t feel any external authorities as far as what we have to make.”
“I feel like it’s all about internal gratification,” Tividad adds, not missing a beat. “It’s hard to have an expectation for yourself [on a follow-up record] apart from the emotional catharsis. Everything we want to try out, we’re trying out.”
Part of that inspiration to keep going comes from the openers they’ve met or performed with on the road like Beth Israel and French Vanilla. It’s what they miss most about touring—learning about new music—apart from sharing their words with listeners firsthand. With a break from constant press and opportunities to work through recent material, Girlpool are prepped for arguably a better year than last – and 2015 was very, very good to them.
“I did it,” Tividad says. “I found the perfect pair of pants!”
And so 2016 continues to get better.
GIRLPOOL, FRENCH VANILLA, HORSE JUMPER OF LOVE, LADY PILLS. MON 7.11. MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS, 472 MASS. AVE., CAMBRIDGE. 7PM/ALL AGES/$15. MIDEASTOFFERS.COM.