Surfing The Crimson Wave with Tacocat: A Bitchtopia Interview

All photography done by Tatiana Tenreyro
All photography done by Tatiana Tenreyro

Earlier this year, Tacocat released their video for “Crimson Wave,” a catchy song with a surf pop vibe about the woes and pains of being on your period. Their album, NVM, is equally catchy and addictive. They manage to bring a new, fresh way of discussing topics that may be considered to be taboo in pop punk, which allows them to sing about feminist ideas, such as dealing with street harassment, while being appealing to people of all genders.

I had a chance to see them perform last week at The Windmill Brixton. While their audience was mostly made up by guys, that didn’t stop them from dancing and singing along to songs about periods and street harassment. I never thought I’d see a bunch of men in Brixton dancing to a song about periods but that’s just the effect that Tacocat has on the crowd. However, the band was quickly interrupted by a sexist heckler, who demanded the girls in the band to take their tops off. Eric, the guitarist, who is also the only guy in the band, responded by taking his shirt off, much to the amusement of the crowd. He stripped as he said to the heckler, “I’m making your wish come true.”Being in a female-fronted band is not easy, especially when you have to deal with sexual harassment and sexism. However, Tacocat are able to handle it in a way that brings awareness while still making feminism fun for everyone. After their show, I had a chance to chat with the members of the band about feminism, sexual harassment, Miley Cyrus, and Tonya Harding.

 I was really bummed that nobody moved to the front during your set when you told them to move to the front if they had their periods before performing Crimson Wave. Why do you think periods are still such taboo? Was Crimson Wave written with the intention to change that? 

Well, they don’t really have to – it’s just something we want to put out there and encourage. I think the taboo has been set in society for so long that it’s kind of difficult for people to get over that. I’m sure it’s the way people are raised, and even how it’s thought about in school. It takes a long time to overcome dumb taboos like that, but we’re getting a little closer! Having a sense of humor about it definitely helps. It’s over 50% of the population for crying out loud.

Your song “Hey Girl” is about street harassment. Street harassment has currently been a hot topic due to the Hollaback video. How did you as a band decide to approach this topic and is it something that is part of your life (including Eric’s)?

Oh yeesh, street harassment is a part of a female’s life from pretty early on. We just write about what we know, so that was something we just had conversations about as women and it made sense. I think males can deal with things like that as well, but this is really about the ladies here. It happens everywhere, all the time, and it’s unacceptable. 

When I saw your show,  you had a gross, sexist heckler. It seems like there’s always one guy at feminist band shows that tries to make the female performers (or audience— or both) as uncomfortable as possible. How do you deal with that? 
Ugh, yeah that happens. The great thing about Eric is his ability to take on some of that energy and throw it back (when the guy yelled “Take off your shirt!” Eric didn’t even skip a beat and took his off haha). And yeah, having a sense of humor about, as in hoping the heckler will eventually feel more stupid, is how we usually approach that. Or just ignore it. Those people are pathetic haha. And they usually know it. 

As a band, you’ve said that you really like Miley Cyrus, even though she’s a somewhat controversial figure in feminism. What is it about her that you identify with and think she’s a good feminist performer?
Miley is so polarizing in the feminist community! I think pop art is not for everyone by any means, but some of us went to her show and felt really inspired by what she is doing. We are all personally hoping that she ends up collaborating with Kathleen Hanna for an upcoming project.

I really like the fact that you’re a feminist band and Eric’s part of it, since it’s often thought that feminism is only for women. Do you think there’s a way to integrate more men and people of genders who are not female into the feminist movement without having them focus on the stereotypes? 
I think it is really important to have men being vocal about feminism-Boy, Girl Revolution, Yah?

You’ve been touring Europe since October, which is awesome. Is there any other place in the world that you’d like to perform in?  
We would LOVE to perform in Japan – I think that’s next on our list. And maybe Australia while we’re at it on that tour. Europe has been great and there is definitely more to explore – tons more. The Netherlands, other parts of the UK, then South America… we love traveling, so there aren’t many places we wouldn’t go.

You  tweeted a while ago that the DJ was DJing “live from the inside of your heart” when they played Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana. If Tacocat ever did a DJ set as a band, which songs and artists would be in that playlist? 
We DJ as a band all the time, actually – we have Spotify playlists we add to collaboratively, so the list of things we all like is pretty big… The Lemonheads, Jimmy Eat World, OutKast, Antwon, The Slits, Plastic Bertrand, The Ramones, Bratmobile,  Girl Pool, Beyonce, Ragnoutaz, Stereo Total, Beat Happening, Wimps, Pony Time, Suburban Lawns, MIA, Chastity Belt, The Headcoats, The Headcoatees, Shannon and the Clams, Forever, Jenn Ghetto’s S, Dog Jaw, Slutever, Coconut Coolouts…. and so many more! 

I’m a big fan of your cover of “I Am a Girlfriend” by Nobunny. What are some other songs that you’d like to cover? 
We have covered quite a few songs in our time as a band- but in the future we have talked about doing “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles. 

You have a song, “Sk8 or Die ” about Tonya Harding. Who do you think would win a fight now: Tonya or Nancy Kerrigan? 
 Definitely Tonya! She’s the figure skater of the proletariat – tough as nails!!!

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