The first night of Burgerama buzzed with a flurry of energy and relief as garage-punk band, Bleached, skipped right off the stage, and into a huddle. Jess and Jen, the bad-ass sister duo that make up the band, collectively laugh and vent about a not-so-ideal amp situation that had the girls rolling their eyes at the pre-show surprise. After assuring each other the sound was fantastic, and the crowd was enthused, we began to walk to the parking lot backstage, and reminisce about the days of the backyard gigs, and where we first started following them and their prior band, Mika Miko.
Bleached is the type of band that makes you feel every bit as passionate about the lyrics, as the songstress writing them. Their heart-felt belts, and killer guitar riffs are soaked in inspiration and nostalgia of your first heartbreak, while leaving you jumping up-and-down, dancing to their catchy energetic tunes. We were beyond excited to catch up with the sisters after their show to see what makes them tick, and explore how they escaped the isolated Valley of Southern California.
So we’ve been pretty huge fans of you guys and your music ever since Mika Miko. What we really want to know is how you both first got into music.
Jess: Well basically our dad made guitars, and always had them lying around the house. So there was always music playing. Plus our parents frequently had family parties and were basically the band for entertainment. Our dad would play the guitar, and our mom would sing Linda Ronstadt covers. (There was a lot of macaroni salad and jumping into swimming pools involved, as you can see.) So we basically grew up around music never realizing we’d end up playing it in the long-run. I guess it was just something that we were supposed to do.
Jen: I met this one girl in high school. She was a senior and I was a sophomore, and she had asked me to go to a show for the first time, which I thought was so cool. From that point on I had become addicted to going to shows. I just remember seeing all these kids having so much fun, and really feeling the music. That show just did something to me that made me feel so passionate about the music and the whole vibe of it all. That night was just really crazy. I’ve never experienced that world before.
Jess: I think going to shows also took us away from things we hated in life, like going to school. Shows just seemed to be the one thing in life that made us really happy.
Jen: I remember going to a show at the Glasshouse once where I saw a girl band playing, and that’s when it hit me, ‘Why aren’t we starting a band?’ And literally the next day we started practicing out of our parents garage.
Where we lived in the Valley was so isolated, we would just end up staying in and play music when there really wasn’t anything else for us to do.
What factors have been major influences on your music and sound?
Jen: Well I’d definitely have to say Blondie, The Slits, Siouxsie and The Banshees - I used to listen to them on vinyl, and would watch their videos all the time on YouTube. It was really crazy when YouTube first started. It was so insane how we could easily search for old punk music videos, and shows, and we would just watch them for hours-and-hours. I started seeing these old videos, which at the time I thought I could only see through VHS or DVD…It was revolutionary at the time. I started finding so much inspiration from just researching bands through YouTube.
Well, now that I think of it, there was actually this one VHS that was a huge inspiration for us starting a girl band (aside from going to shows). It was called ‘Girls Fight Back’, and I’d watch it over-and-over, and would be like “Oh my God. I can’t take it. These girls are so cool.” It was just so rad. Watching Nina Hagen, and Siouxsie performing their songs, dancing on stage - It was just so awesome.
Jess: I feel like when I was growing up listening to music I was just concentrating on getting into my own stuff, but of course looking up to my older sister and what she was listening to along the way. Personally, I feel like I got really into Velvet Underground, and Morrissey. But then also, what Jen was into. At the time I felt like I couldn’t get into the same music as her, because it was HER thing. You know, it was something we just did when we were younger, but now we’ve learned to share our interest. (Ha!) We enjoy and share all of it.
But going back to YouTube, vinyls, and how we first got into the music that inspires us: we really appreciated grabbing our favorite bands on vinyl. There was just so much pride in that action. There’s nothing more gratifying than going to a record store and finding a record that looked cool, and hopefully sounded awesome. The way we’d discover new music would be by album placement in the record store. For instance, our train of thought would be “Well this album is right next to my favorite punk band, so I’m going to assume this sounds rad.” It was nothing like going to YouTube and getting that quick fix, and instant gratification of knowing everything about your favorite band within 5 minutes. The internet now is so easy. You can do so much research. But back when we were in high school, we didn’t even have the internet, so it was all records and backyard shows.
Do you feel that you’ve extracted any references from some of your favorite musical artists into your music?
Jen: Yes, definitely. It gets really awesome for us to sit down and write a song, and reference a band that we love. For instance, we’ll sit around writing music and be like - ‘Oh we should do something like Blondie’, or ‘I’m thinking David Bowie in this song.’ It’s not that we copy these bands exactly - We always like to put our own spin on things.
When writing new music, is there anything you want your fans to get from your songs?
Jen: I feel like whenever I’m writing a song, I try to just be really honest with what I’m feeling inside. That’s what I’ve noticed our fans mostly relate to. Because, you know, we’re all really the same. From our point of view we’re just these girls trying to make it through life, find cool boyfriends who we’d fall in-love with…just live life, you know? There’s just been so many people who’ve come to us saying how much they relate to our lyrics, and how they’ve gotten them through a hard break-up, and rough times. It’s really inspiring. So in the end, we’re just going to say what’s real. We don’t sing about bullshit. Sometimes I like to change things up when writing new music, and cover songs from a different perspective. Like from whatever guy I’ve been hanging out with, and repeating exactly what he’s saying to me.
But then again, I don’t just write songs about guys. Sometimes it’s just about shit we go through growing up, living life, being young, and it’s still continuing. We’re living life.
How do you feel your music reflects your personal style?
We’re just doing what we want, and dressing how we want. Everything is about a feeling, and that’s how we approach both our music and style.
Find out more about Bleached online, and discover where they’re touring next!
Words: Brittany Wood // Photos: Amanda Rae Stephens