Tacocat makes feisty synth-pop for our rough reality

click to enlarge HELEN MOGA PHOTO
Helen Moga photo
The Tacocat you hear on Spotify today isn't the same group that formed in guitarist Eric Randall's mom's garage in 2007.

Loving a band that has stayed together for over a decade means witnessing the group's style evolve. While the last two records by Seattle's Tacocat railed against cat-callers and tech bro jerks with surfy pop-punk, their new album This Mess is a Place shifts focus from outside actors to an inner emotional landscape, reassuring us "it's OK to feel everything at the same time."

It's an existential record made by grown-up musicians — adults juggling side projects and jobs but still down for goofing around. "Being out of my 20s is a true relief," says bassist Bree McKenna, who calls her 30s "a blessing." This Mess delivers splashes of pop-punk and familiar Tacocat-itude, but mostly spotlights synth sounds perfect for spacing out and pondering the cosmic "Joke of Life." Today's Tacocat is slightly jaded but also holding tightly to a light beyond the Willy Wonka horror tunnel that is the daily news: This world is a mess, and Tacocat is still creating their place in it.

Tacocat took time from their tour to email responses to the following questions; this interview with Randall, singer Emily Nokes and drummer Lelah Maupin has been edited for length.

INLANDER: Eric, you're a longtime fan of Carly Rae Jepsen. I trust you've been listening to her new record. To me, your album sounds less pop-punk and more synth-pop. What pop or dance artists influence you, specifically while making this album.

RANDALL: I have been listening to the new CRJ album, and I'm absolutely in love with the song "Everything He Needs." I love how weird and different it is compared to the rest of the album. As far as influence on the new album goes, I was definitely listening to a lot of Bee Gees, and later T. Rex. I think we have a message that we'd like to get out to as many people as possible. I love how pop music can really transcend and connect with so many different types of people.

Tacocat has always embraced bold style and fun fashion choices. Your current look seems more glam. Any major style icons or inspirations?

NOKES: I do feel much more drawn to glam fashion. That probably comes from the fact that we've always been attracted to "more is more" when it comes to fashion, so "more colors!" sort of naturally evolved into "more rhinestones!" At this rate I'll look like Liberace by the time I'm in my early 40s. Other inspiration in the glam vein has to be David Bowie. And of course the punk couture of Vivienne Westwood, and the whole wardrobe of Blade Runner as well as the Fifth Element.

Lelah, you're a dog mom now. That must make touring different. How has being a dog parent changed you?

MAUPIN: As far as tour goes, being Sara Banana's mommy does make it harder. I've missed friends and whomever I may have been dating on previous tours, but missing your doggy is different. In general, being a doggy mommy has changed me for the better. It has given me some responsibility I didn't know I needed, and an endless well of cuteness and love and fun.

Emily, as a graphic designer and editor, you worked on the Shout Your Abortion book and have been involved in the #SYA movement since its start. What's your hope for the future of reproductive freedom in the U.S.?

NOKES: Working on the Shout Your Abortion book was a really powerful and profound experience. My hope is that people stop telling womxn (and everyone) what to do with their bodies. And that people realize this isn't a partisan issue — all people, no matter their political standing, need access to abortions. And guess what? They're having them anyway. Stigma has made it so we don't talk about our experiences.

What would you like to accomplish together that you still haven't achieved?

NOKES: We'd love to go to Japan. We've also never been to Australia, which looks really neat. I think we'd all pass out from happiness if we ever got to play with Dolly Parton — or tour with Bikini Kill. I think it would also be amazing to collaborate with a fashion designer, or to create a line of makeup or shoes. I don't even know how people get into the shoe design business, but I'd like to say on record that if anyone needs an apprentice, we're somewhat available! ♦

Tacocat with the Paranoyds and BaLonely • Wed, June 12 at 8 pm • $12 • All ages • The Bartlett • 228 W Sprague • thebartlettspokane.com • 747-2174

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