We met up at a park. The sun was out, and Greer McGettrick squinted into it as I circled her, taking photos. She lamented wearing sunglasses. “I hate pictures of musicians in sunglasses,” she said. I suggested we stand in front of a brick wall, or maybe some railroad tracks. She laughed.
Greer’s band, the Mallard, is refreshing if you like your thunderstorms mixed with melodies. It’s fuzzy surf-rock grooves and noise. Her first album, Yes on Blood, was recorded in one month, then mixed in the next, before being released in 2012 by Castle Face Records. It’s like a maddened sketchbook. Greer weaves melody and dissonance with abandon. She says she’s veering toward garage on the next album; I think the Mallard is something more interesting than garage already. There’s a visceral energy she’s tapping into here: handmade turbine-generated electricity.
After our interview, we talked about the show she would play that night as part of San Francisco’s annual Noise Pop festival. She was mischievously irritated. She got put on a lineup with some disco music she said. Opening slot for !!! and some band that bled pretension out their nostrils (my words there, not hers). She was going to show them, though, she said raising her eyebrows. She was tired of playing her same old songs, which meant her band must be sick of them, too. Tonight was going to be a one-cover set: one 26-minute-long cover of the Throbbing Gristle song, “Very Friendly.” She was going to put the noise back into Noise Pop. I said I would cancel all my previous arrangements and go. I had no choice. She told me she never gets nervous before playing, but today, she was nervous.
That night Greer incanted on stage, hair draped over her eyes, visually channeling the Wizard Patti Smith. The lights flickered and bent. The band behind her conjured the perfect storm. I am usually a pop-driven woman, but her noise made me reconsider my faith as it attacked the audience with lightning breath. At one point, I looked around and realized the better half and I were the only ones screaming them on, howling and clapping and stamping our feet. [Correction: there was one old man drinking wine who was going mad with excitement, too. I wish he was my dad, but he was not.] The girls in this season’s right dresses and the men who drove them there in exchange for sex were not excited when Greer climbed down off the stage and started corralling them with her mic cord. I was.
BEST SHOW I’VE SEEN IN YEARS.
The Mallard is coming out with a new record soon, and yes, it’ll be on Castle Face. But that’s not the reason you came here. Fuck relevancy. Here’s the interview.
VICE: If you found yourself homeless today, what kind of archetypical homeless person do you think you would be?
Greer McGettrick: I’d take the liberties to shout everything in my mind constantly. I’d be one of those people.
If you could choose where you were born, where would you choose?
That’s a good one. Maybe somewhere, like, super desolate with like no human contact or TV, like Siberia, or something.
What was your last family holiday like?
It’s really just me and my mom now, so we had Christmas with a family friend and one of my friends, and we all got really high and fell asleep. Yeah. It was really fun.
Where were you on December 31, 1999?
Oh, let’s see… I was just starting college. I think I was just hanging out with my parents because I wasn’t old enough to go to bars, and my mom was worried about Y2K. We stayed up and watched fireworks on TV. Boring, sorry.
What’s your favorite internet celebrity?
I don’t really do that. I don’t know. What’s the vampire girl who’s always depressed-looking? Kristin something… She’s Bella. She’s fun to look at because she’s always grumpy, and I feel bad for her. It’s like she didn’t choose that, almost. Or she’s just grumpy.
What’s the biggest trouble you’ve ever gotten yourself into?
I got arrested with my friend Heather for dumping over a shit ton of trash cans in the middle of the night. We ended up going to the drunk tank.
Echo or reverb?
Lately echo. Or delay? No, that’s not an option. But the answer is delay.
I eat a lot of sandwiches, just because I’m lazy. Salami and provolone on an Acme roll.
At home, or do you go out for it?
No, I am too lazy to even make my own sandwich. I usually just go across the street from work, and because it’s across the street from work. There’s Bi-Rite, and after 4 PM, they have half-off sandwiches. So it’s normally $8.99, and it’s $4.99. On the cheap.
You have $1,000, and you have to spend it today on something fun, it cannot be practical.
It can’t be like a pedal or something or a guitar?
I’ve always wanted to go into a bar and just be like, “Drinks on me.” I don’t know if that would make a thousand, but I’m sure you could get pretty close.
What do you think is the most normal thing about you? And conversely, what do you think is the most abnormal trait you have?
I guess the most normal thing would be physical, what I look like, normal. The most abnormal is my ability to completely space out, like 100 percent. Like gone, not there, at all.
What’s the worst movie that you can remember seeing?
Working at a video shop, I tried to watch bad movies every once in a while just to totally space out. Eating Raoul was awful.
You’re given a billboard, what do you put on it?
Man. These are good questions. “When’s your next album coming out?” I don’t know, dude… these are good…“What’s your inspiration?” Hmm. Billboards. See the thing is, I look at billboards and want to change them, but it’s always billboards that are already there. I think a mustache every once in a while is classy, even though the whole mustache thing is very Burning Man now. Not that I’ve ever been to Burning Man, so I can’t really talk shit on it. It just kind of feels like a rave for yuppies, now, though. Yeah, I used to do wheat pastes and go around town and just fuck with things. I feel like I just think differently now, where I just kind of accept my surroundings a little bit more. Getting soft, I guess.
What were some wheat pastes you’ve done in the past?
Giant animals with different heads and bodies. I used to go around with tempera paint because it’s washable, so I didn’t feel bad that I was graffitiing.
Did you have a hangout when you were a kid?
Some neighborhood kids and I would met at the wash, which a basin next to the LA river. We’d blow things up and have little pyromaniac club. Yeah. It was fun.
Photos by Kat Gardiner