Tacocat are more than a humorous palindrome. All cheery vocals and pure fun on the exterior, the four-piece—guitarist Emily Nokes, bassist Bree McKenna, drummer Lelah Maupin, and guitarist Eric Randall—rocks an inner style that puts the punk back in spunk. Set misconceptions about the weight of their lyrics aside, as the members of Tacocat tackle legitimate issues through their music, from the period-positive menstruation anthem “Crimson Wave” to the taunts mocking street harassment in “Hey Girl.”
The proof is in Lost Time, the band’s third studio album, too. With stories about the first day of menstruation and knuckle-headed GOP ideas, the 2016 album pushes their embrace of everyday female issues into the music without beating the subject matter over listeners’ heads. Every double-backed vocal harmony of sunny guitar line lifts the mood without undermining the topics. Though this album is their most recent record, Tacocat are working on new music, the likes of which fans can catch at their live shows this summer.
“We recorded a bunch of songs and will be playing some of those on this tour,” says McKenna. “We wanted to make a new album, and while we can’t announce anything, I can say we wanted to try these songs out for people. All of our albums have a natural progression. Our first record was a bit more punk, but as we’ve grown it’s gotten more pop while also less simple songwriting.”
To give the personality of Tacocat time to shine, we interviewed Bree McKenna for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask musicians questions inspired by their song titles. With Lost Time as the prompt, her answers are jubilant even when tackling downer subjects—a peek into what the band will flaunt when headlining Great Scott this Tuesday.
1) “Dana Katherine Scully”
DIGBOSTON: When was the first time you ever saw an episode of The X-Files?
MCKENNA: Oh my god, my first X-Files episode was episode six, the episode the band was named after. I think a lot of people have seen it? Basically, it’s the eve of two and three, well, I guess there’s clones or something? I guess I haven’t seen that episode in forever, but I remember it because that’s what the band got its name from. I was definitely watching reruns of The X-Files in high school and skipped around through the series that way.
DIGBOSTON: Can you name two of your favorite swear-word alternatives?
MCKENNA: Let’s see. I have so many good ones for this but can’t think of them! Actually, I’ve been trying to use “ducking” and “duck you” more because my phone autocorrects to it anyways.
3) “I Love Seattle”
DIGBOSTON: Which non-touristy activity or place do you always recommend to people visiting Seattle?
MCKENNA: For my friends, I usually recommend our house because three of us live together. I live in First Hill with Lelah and Eric from Tacocat. Also, this is kinda touristy, but there’s a beach called Denny Blaine that we go to a lot. It’s across the street from the Cobain mansion. If you go over there, there’s a bunch of Kurt Cobain carvings into the benches outside of it. There’s a lot of candles and “We miss you, Kurt” messages. We usually swim at the beach, but once in a while we like to bring friends from out of town over there to swing by.
4) “I Hate the Weekend”
DIGBOSTON: Excluding the fact that it ends, what do you actually dislike about the weekend?
MCKENNA: Well, we work at bars a lot. We all usually work on the weekends. That’s why it’s not usually fun for us. It’s usually hoards of people, too, that destroy our lives and party in our neighborhood and then leave a huge mess.
5) “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit”
DIGBOSTON: Who was the worst employer you ever had and what were they like?
MCKENNA: So many bad ones! I used to work at a venue in Seattle. Probably the worst one was this gross, kinda cokehead guy that I worked for, and he was really annoying. He was the ultimate music dude, just exclusive, a jerk, and talking badly to other women.
6) “The Internet”
DIGBOSTON: What’s your favorite website or corner of the internet to visit when you have time to kill?
MCKENNA: I like looking at pictures of goats and baby goats. I follow a couple goat Instagram accounts. Also, I like Pumpkin the raccoon on Instagram. It’s a raccoon named Pumpkin and it’s so cute.
7) “Plan A, Plan B”
DIGBOSTON: If playing in a band didn’t work out as your job or passion project, what would be your plan B?
MCKENNA: Oooh. I mean, the Sex and the City dream would be pretty cool. Not really [laughs]. I was listening to this podcast where people do joke storyboards for Sex and the City 3. [The podcast] is just called Sex and the City 3 and it’s really fun.
DIGBOSTON: Do you have any personal speech quicks?
MCKENNA: Um, I’m from southern California and I brought a lot of stuff from there up here when I moved to Washington. The whole West Coast does this thing where they make everything sound like a question at the end of sentences. I think a lot of East Coast people make fun of it when they come here. It’s never really ever bothered me, though. It’s definitely a thing people do here. I feel like it’s the whole West Coast!
9) “Men Explain Things to Me”
DIGBOSTON: Where were you the most recent time you were mansplained to?
MCKENNA: Oooh. It’s something that happens a little bit every day, for sure. Like I have a newer bass than this guy who doesn’t play bass, he plays guitar, but he was giving me a bunch of opinions about what to do with my strings. I wanted to be like, “What are you even talking about?” It was someone I vaguely know. I was kinda doing something already anyway, so I just said thanks and shrugged it off. Because at the time you’re like, “Okay, cool.” But then you realize, “Wait a minute, that was actually pretty lame.”
10) “Horse Grrls”
DIGBOSTON: What stereotypes do you believe are true of horse girls?
MCKENNA: Actually, I was a horse girl and I definitely provided a lot of info for that song [laughs]. Horse girls are often very quiet, love reading weird horse novels, draw horses, and watch horse movies. That was all true for me as an adolescent. Now, I haven’t even ridden a horse in forever. I definitely don’t read or draw horses anymore … unfortunately.
11) “Night Swimming”
DIGBOSTON: Where is your favorite place near you to swim at night?
MCKENNA: Basically any place where you can’t trip over a bunch of rocks on the way out. I like places without that. There’s a place near us with a dock on Lake Washington that we like jumping off of. It gets really hot in August and September, and that’s when prime nighttime swimming happens.
12) “Leisure Bees”
DIGBOSTON: If you woke up as a bee one day, what would you be most excited to do on your first day as a bee?
MCKENNA: Oh my god, this is a sweet question! [laughs] I think I’d be excited to serve my queen and my community with my new sense of altruism, definitely.
TACOCAT, GYMSHORTS, LEOPARD PRINT TASER. TUE 8.14. GREAT SCOTT, 1222 COMM. AVE., ALLSTON. 8:30PM/18+/$15. GREATSCOTTBOSTON.COM