When Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker met outside downtown DIY haven The Smell, they were both pissed off.
The girls were both frustrated about the lack of female presence in the music scene; they also felt artistically oppressed and not valued as musicians. “It's like people expect that girls are not as musically competent,” says Tividad, who is 18. “I was sick of being shoved to the side.”
So was Tucker. After being dismissed for lead parts in a male-dominated jazz band throughout high school, she was sick of feeling powerless. “I didn't feel comfortable being the girl saying 'I want it,'” says the 17-year-old.
But by late last year Tividad and Tucker were ready to do things their way. Thus, Girlpool came to be. Their raw, bluesy punk sound is incredibly simple, shaped only by the sounds of Tividad's guitar, Tucker's bass, and the two girls' aching vocals.
On their self-titled album – out on Big Joy Records – they address issues that aren't often discussed in music. Like slut shaming, for instance, which they talk on in their track, “Slutmouth.”
“I'm inspired by the fact that people feel like they can't talk about things,” says Tividad. “Vulnerability is so important in music.”
In fact, they credit their vulnerability for their quick ascent through the local scene. They booked their first show at the Echo only months after forming in November, were recently featured in NME's Radar Buzz section, and even got a twitter shout out from The Office actor BJ Novak after their KXLU set.
The girls are frequently approached by audience members touched by their honest song-writing. Both Tividad and Tucker say their lyrics are very important to them, and that they draw influence from Bright Eyes, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, and the beat poetry movement of the 1950s.
Oh, and don't ask them if they need a drummer – they don't want one. They opt for an unconventional setup, a form of “quiet rebellion” that allows for even more vulnerability. “If one of us messes up you can hear it,” says Tividad. “It's a reflection of things we lack, but we do it anyway.”
“We don't need to be a four piece band,” says Tucker, “I can sit here and bang on this and [Tividad] can play two strings on that.”