Musiciens Je Veux Frencher | Murderess
@ Les Katacombes 8/13/12
Christian tipped his beer at me and asked me my name. I was working hard to look aloof and confident, leaning against the bar. He was a petit, stubble-faced bike messenger with some serious neck tats. I had to lean down to hear him. He’d just seen Murderess perform the night before in Brooklyn. He looked me up and down. “So, what are you doing here?” Ah, a charmer. I’d already observed that my hair wasn’t bleached enough and my eyeliner not smudged enough. Next time I won’t wear my goddamned Keds, but don’t rub it in, okay Christian?
I’m here to see Murderess, obviously, I laughed. “Yeah well you don’t look like the other girls.” I started mapping out the route to the upstairs bar. “How old are you…35?” he added. I pushed in my stool abruptly. Yeah, in about ten years. He gulped. “You’re gonna love this band!” he called after me. I squeezed through the crowd to the other side of the venue. Maneuvering past a giant sculpture of stacked skulls, I hunched next to a guy wearing a frayed jean vest. His back patch read, “While governments exist, peace cannot.” Japanese hardcore blared through the speakers; I scanned the room. Christian was right. I was totally out of place. But it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d worn a screenprint of a Ramones album or whatever. It had more to do with my own self consciousness. I spent my adolescence listening to The Cranberries and Alanis Morisette. I had no context for this genre. I felt that the whole punk/hardcore scene is constructed to weed out people like me: Too smiley, too happy, too fond of Lisa Frank. You don’t get it? Good. Fuck you.
“It’s not supposed to be easy to understand,” Eben says. We sit in the upstairs bar on a bank of couches, the table in front of us crowded with empty shot glasses. I watch him, wide-eyed. This sweat-slinging, stage-stomping, drumming madman was actually a mild-mannered Pacific Northwesterner with a white collar day job. Jozy, the lead singer says, “I have to get this out. It’s what helps me function in society.” Eben nods, “If I can’t hit stuff really hard, I go crazy.” I look across the table at him: But what makes you so angry? He looks at his hands. “Why does everyone ask me that?” Rachel, one of the guitarists, says sharply, “What doesn’t?” I sit up straighter. I was being too obvious. My starry eyed inquisition was degenerating from endearing to irritating.
In Brooklyn last night, Jozy recounts, someone in the rowdy crowd threw a beer can on stage. “I know they didn’t mean to,” she says apologetically, “but it hit me. And yeah it hurt, it made me angry. So I put that into the performance – it fueled me.” By day Jozy is a vet tech, Rachel is a law student: both don’t want their coworkers at their shows. “One time an IT guy showed up at a gig,” Jozy says. “I try to keep those two parts of my life completely separate. It’s hard for them to understand.” Rachel says, “They might support you, but they’ll never get it. It’s like explaining the internet to your grandparents.” I nod and jot notes but feel increasingly uncomfortable. They wanted me to feel ostracized by their music.
On tour from their home in Portland Oregon, Murderess played to a Monday Montreal crowd. Despite a few head bobs, the audience barely moved, their beers held tightly by the neck, their studded denim glinting. The lights bathed an empty mote around the front of the stage. After a few songs Jozy became visibly frustrated. “You know you guys can move around a little… Unless you’re scared. Or too sober or something.” She took a long look at us. “Ok, this next one is about letting go and giving up on religion and society.” Eben stomped the bass drum, Jozy roared into the microphone. The two guitarists, Rachel and Amanda, spidered their fingers up and down the frets. I was riveted. And totally intimidated. They were overwhelming—a wall of frantic energy and crashing cymbals and buzzing guitar distortion. Jozy’s whole body shuddered with the force of her voice. Her bleached hair parted across one Cyclops eye rolling around wildly.
“We really don’t get people writing about how we’re female. It doesn’t matter if you have a fucking dick—” Casey pauses. “Or a pussy. It matters whether you’re good or not.” “Just talking about this—making the point that we’re all women—makes me uncomfortable,” Amanda says. “It’s not important.”
I wrap up the interview with a friendly thank you. As everyone prepares to get up from the table I add, “So, let’s go french?” They glance around at each other and laugh nervously. Casey meets my eye. She gives a flirty shrug: “I’ll french you.” We climb on the deserted bar and awkwardly arrange ourselves into pairs. Husband/wife Amanda and Eben pair up naturally. Rachel and Jozy argue about whose lips and which cheek. I throw my arm around Casey. Mohamed is adjusting the lighting. Test shot? “Yeah! Let’s all blow a kiss at the camera,” I suggest.
“Uhhh…” they all groan. “No.” Jozy looks down at me from her perch on the bar. “We don’t do that.”
Christ, I’m a slow learner. “Right okay. That makes sense. Yeah, let’s just kiss.”
Band members (l-r): Eben (drums), Amanda (guitar), Rachel (guitar), Jozy (vocals), Casey (bass)
Photos by Mohamed Hamad