Left to right: Lelah, Eric, Emily, Bree. Photo by Sarah Creighton
This past week, everyone in Portland, Oregon, (including myself) has been experiencing the best thing in the world: extreme global warming. True, in a few years, April and May will probably yield 100-degree weather and various strains of cancer. But for now, it was just a sunny and day-drunk 80 degrees for the past five days straight, something unheard of in the land of gray skies and rampant seasonal depression.
Good thing I was interviewing party-time, fun-loving, summer-channeling TacocaT for this installment of Irrelevant Interviews. For me, they epitomize summer. Playing with kittens in your neighbor's yard. Running through the sprinkler while you blast party music, and dance with your friends in sun-bleached dresses. Crashing neighborhood house parties, drinking cheap cans of beer, biking home intoxicated. You know, THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE. In fact, if your life this summer is a fun-time, teenage-channeling, romp-in-the-sun, TacocaT should be your soundtrack. Guaranteed.
If you don’t trust me, take it from these guys. The Coconut Coolouts may not have made it to the national arena in their short time here on earth, but I guarantee you, they were the best Seattle party band of their time. Hell—I’d even venture to say that, in my humble opinion, they were the best band to come out of Seattle since Nirvana. Or maybe Jimi Hendrix. Fact: their lineup included two stand-up drums, a keytarist, and a man dressed as a banana. WHAT IS BETTER THAN THAT? If you look up fun-time-party-band in the dictionary, their picture comes up and here’s what one of their drummers and self-described “recovering party animal, Mexican Jim Morrison, the King of the Pizza Ring, the man behind Gold Van, the dabbler in the downers, the mystical and probably magical” Rubin Mendez, has to say:
Now that the Coconut Coolouts are gone, that leaves TacocaT as the only band in SEATTLE that fits the, "We need a party band that people across the board can get into." For a while there were others, you know, bands with goofy names, funny songs, and novelty dance crazes… but TacocaT is still bringing it. Seriously! Pop, punk pop, pop punk, fun-party-time tunes. They are the leaders in the internet-kitten-and-420-tie-dye-rainbow-and-alien-with-a-peace-sign-cotton-candy-hair thing. They were doing that first. Their music is Trapper Keeper music. It's scented-sticker-book music mixed with a ca-razed-4LOKO-party-animal-drenched-in-beer-vibe. They have a vibrant energy that is endearing to most intelligent folks. The macho machismo, sexist, hard-headed types won't get it, but, you know… that's how you separate the humans from the Neanderthals.
If you haven’t checked out their songs, I suggest it. Their last seven-inch, Take Me To Your Dealer, was released on Hardly Art this March, and they are in the midst of recording a new album set to come out in September. I called them up, they put me on speaker, we all smoked a shit ton of weed (it’s legal now, right?), and I asked them about the summer.
VICE: How was a typical summer spent growing up?
Lelah Maupin (drums & vocals): When I was growing up, I spent my summers at my best friend's house with a sprinkler, under the trampoline, listening to The Lion King soundtrack. My mom bought me a go-cart for no reason once when I was a kid, too, and we would ride that around.
Emily Nokes (vocals & tambourine): I grew up in Montana so a lot of my summers when I was really little were spent at a cabin, or watching my dad fly-fish. Sometimes my hippie parents would put us in a car for three months, too, and we would drive around the United States. I never knew where we were, but it was still really fun.
Bree McKenna (bass & vocals): I’m from Southern California, so summer was less exciting. It’s always kind of the same there. And I would go to the beach a lot in the summer, but I’d mostly watch Friends reruns and stuff. And Seinfeld.
Eric Randall (guitar & vocals): I played a lot of wiffle ball, I would say. Mostly wiffle ball. A lot of wiffle ball.
What’s the worst summer vacation you can remember having?
Leleh: Oh my God. I’ll go first. So when I was seventh grade, I think… sixth grade or seventh grade. My best friend—same one with the trampoline—her mom met and married a southern pastor in, like, two months and then tried to convert everyone to Christianity. Me included. She sent us to church camp. It was awful. It was like three church services a day and then a bunch of bizarre kids. There were the same kind of social cliques that you get in high school, just with strangers in a weird camp setting, for Christians. And everybody had a pair of Oakley sunglasses. And they took away our Nirvana CD, because it was so… what’s the word? Satanic?
Lelah: Secular, that’s the word.
Bree: I think the worst vacation I had was when I was 18. One of my best friends convinced me to move to Eugene, Oregon, for the summer. She was living in her ex-boyfriend’s house, but then their lease was up, and I think we ended up squatting or something. I was really unclear on the situation. You can’t get jobs in Eugene, because it’s all students. So we got jobs at some data-entry place, and we got fired a week later. Then we made a bunch of money selling cans from parties we were throwing at that house. Then the landlord evicted us for squatting. Then we had to go back home.
Photo by Sarah Creighton
Do you have one article of clothing that signifies that summer’s begun?
Eric: I have some special cutoffs. They’re really short shorts. They’re very short.
Lelah: I have, like, 20 bathing suits. I love bathing suits. I don’t know why. I wear them, like, two months out of the year. I love them. I also have this really amazing Bongo brand, denim, floral crop top. I’m always feel like I’m pushing it just a little with that one. Maybe I’ll just wear it on the Fourth of July.
Emily: Summer for me is sandals—Saltwater sandals—and toenail art. I have really, really good toenails, because I have really bad fingernails. I take good care of my feet and get pedicures. I really like to show off those babies in the sun—the one month out of the year when you get to show off those beauties.
Lelah: Emily does have beautiful feet.
Bree: I don’t really change that much in summer, but I wear black boots all the time, so I’ll end up wearing a lighter boot. And I call them summer boots. So that’s about it.
What are some essential summer jams for you?
Bree: I like this band, the Deadbeat Beat. We met on tour. I’ve been listening to them for summer jams. I also like All Girls Summer Fun Band.
Eric: I listen to the Beach Boys consistently year-round, but it feels better during the summer.
Lelah: Every single summer, I’ve known Eric—at least for the past five years—he’s at some point put on the Screeching Weasel on the first day of summer.
Emily: Last summer, I started a Sun playlist that had all different songs with the word sun in the title. It started with the Sun Rays they’re a band that sound exactly like the Beach Boys. They’re, uh, maybe not as important as the Beach Boys, but, a lot of fun about sun… There was also “Walking on the Sun” on that mix. You know, that sort of thing.
Was there a festival in your hometown every summer that everyone went out to?
Eric: Lelah and I are from Longview, it wasn’t like a festival, every Fourth of July there’s a really trashy flea market that was, like, mandated.
Lelah: Go Fourth!
Eric: Yeah. Go Fourth Festival.
Lelah: It was the three, four days surrounding the Fourth of July.
Eric: That’s where you get like your racist bumper stickers, or any other horrible, trashy thing you can imagine.
Lelah: Pro-gun bumper stickers, Cat in the Hat hats…
Eric: A cool knife.
Lelah: An elephant ear.
Emily: I’m from the same town that Evel Knievel is from. So every year there is the best-slash-worst festival you’ve ever seen in your life called Evel Knievel Days. A bunch of people get wasted outdoors, and Evel Knievel’s little sidekick—Spanky Spangler—usually jumps out of the tallest building in Butte, which is not that tall, but still vaguely impressive.
Bree: Southern California has nothing on these festivals.
Have any of you ever entered a competitive eating contest? Did you win? If you haven’t entered one, have you attended one?
Eric: We’ve played at PizzaFest in Seattle a couple of times. I don’t think any of us have ever entered, but I’ve thought about it. I think I could win. I think I’m gonna win it this year.
Emily: The first girl won last year. She was amazing. She was visiting from England, and I can’t remember what her name was. Do you remember her name, Bree?
EMILY: But she was incredible! She whacked everybody.
BREE: She was really impressive.
EMILY: Didn’t we work at an egg-rolling competition? I know I was working. I had to work coat check at an egg-rolling competition.
BREE: The lady at PizzaFest that won last year was amazing. She was talking a lot of shit all night. She had a British accent and was like, “You know, that pizza-eating contest? I’m gonna fucking win it!” She didn’t even know people, and she was saying that. It was awesome. She was incredible.