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Thee Tsunamis interview with Betsy Shepherd, Josephine McRobbie, and Sharlene Birdsong

© Tall and Small Photography

God I love Indiana, and Bloomington happens to be home to so many of the best bands that I’ve heard over the past few years and I always seem to find them in funny ways.  Thee Tsunamis have been kicking around in my tape player since I bought their debut tape, A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find blind at the local shop on faith of the Magnetic South logo.  Since then Thee Tsunamis have been stirring the water and causing a hell of a storm, which has taken form in their latest effort, the 7” EP Delirium and Dark Waters on the ever amazing Magnetic South label.  The trio has been busy honing their addictive brew of pop, surf psych and snarling horror themed garage rock.  Howling vocals explode over the top of deliriously reverb-laden guitars and tremolo bends, all backed by a rhythm section that knows when to pull things back a bit, and when to kick things into overdrive!  Songs like “Haunted House” and “Psycho” cleverly toy with the band’s foundation in classical horror elements, while “Down At The Swamp” and “Seeing Red” definitely smack of late 60’s/early 70’s garage rock.  This three-pronged attack on your ears is sure to please with raucous burners, psychobilly surf explosions and some insanely catchy psychedelic garage rock face melters, all wrapped in deliciously in these addictive two and three minute injections of sincere bad assness!  It’s not every day that I compare someone to the likes of Heather Sawyer of The Hussy, but Thee Tsunamis definitely bring her to mind.  It’s a lofty goal they’re attempting to achieve despite the simplicity of the goal.  With so many bands falling victim to a theme rather than letting it serve a purpose or allow the band to change end evolve as a result of a decided direction, it’s not often you hear a band and you can just tell.  You can tell that they’ve come to kick ass and chew bubblegum…  And Thee Tsunamis are all out of bubblegum!
Listen while you read: 

© Ben Rains

Who’s in the band and what do they play?  Has anyone joined or left the band since it started?

Betsy:  Mustang guitar

Josie:  Univox bass

Sharlene:  Shake Rattle and Roll drums

Josie:  Our dear friend Evan, who I’ve played with in various groups for about five years, played drums with us during our nascent period as the questionably named, Catsup Forever.

I love playing musical connect the dots and figuring out what other projects people are, and have been involved with, but I have to admit that cheating beats spending hours reading stuff and talking to random people online ha-ha!  Are any of you in any other active bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us about it?

Betsy:  I’ve played with lots of bands you’ve never heard of.

Josie:  I was in a band called Tammar for a long time, we put out a couple of records on St. Ives and Suicide Squeeze Records.  I still play with some members of the group, doing mostly freaky psychedelic live film accompaniment.  And sometimes, I more than happily, get roped into recording bass or drums or pill-box shaker for Bloomington’s, Elephant Micah.

Sharlene:  I first started in 2010 singing and drumming for a solo project called Brains & Teeth in Bloomington, Indiana.  Since then, I’ve been a part of a few bands including Brown Bottle Flu (defunct), Raw McCartney, White Moms and The Bloody Mess.  Raw McCartney is an Indianapolis band that has a prime roster that’s always changing.  In that band I was able to play with tons of Indianapolis musicians that I admire and still follow.  White Moms is my super-bud pop group, made up of the best Black musicians in Indianapolis rock right now, and I recently joined our Magnetic South siblings, The Bloody Mess on bass.

Where are you originally from?

Betsy:  I grew up in a swampy corner of southern Louisiana called Opelousas, next door to the spice man Tony Chachere.

Josie:  Canberra, Australia!  We toured last year with a seriously excellent Aussie band called Blank Realm, so I got to re-familiarize myself with Aus-slang like “Esky” and “drongo”.

Sharlene:  Indianapolis, Indiana.

What was the local music scene like there when you were growing up?  Did you see a lot of shows?  Do you feel like the music scene there played an important role in shaping your musical influences or the way that you play today?

Betsy:  Opelousas is a town the size of a postage stamp, but also happens to be the home of Clifton Chenier and the zydeco capital of the world, so I grew up seeing and listening to a lot of raunchy chank-a-chank cowboy blues.  Also, drinking anthems are a cultural heritage in south Louisiana, so I grew up thinking all American towns, like Opelousas, had their own music specialty and trademark party songs!  Opelousas Sostan and Opelousas Hop were primers.

Sharlene:  I grew up in Indianapolis and spent Friday nights at venues like The Emerson Theater checking out local metal, and punk bands.  The Emerson provoked interest in live music and exposed me to local artists.

What about your home?  Was there a lot of music around when you were growing up?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music?

Betsy:  My tone-deaf grandmother who had a big hand in raising me, was my church choir teacher and wrote song-poem type “blues” songs on her mountain dulcimer.  She overused the word ‘baby’ in her songs as I do, and thusly and in many more ways, has been a big influence.

Josie:  My mother used to sing “Pearly Shells” to me a lot, and that’s one of my most cherished musical memories.  My uncle Vern is a rockabilly/surf guitarist in Australia.  He’s been in tons of groups including the Mint Patties and the Bamboo Rockets, and builds his own instruments from discarded objects.  Oh!  And two of my sisters play music; Carol sings and plays violin in Saturday Looks Good To Me, among other groups, and Margaret is a crazy good singer and guitarist in Chicago.

Sharlene:  No one in the house played an instrument, but I am related to Bill Simmons of the 80’s funk group Midnight Star.

What was your first real exposure to music when you were younger?

Betsy:  My earliest musical memory is listening to Dwight Yoakum in a car seat in my Dad’s Chrysler LeBaron.  Things got better from there.

Josie:  My father is a huge Led Zeppelin fan, and some of my earliest memories are of watching their concerts on VHS and being enthralled with Robert Plant and his beautiful long hair.

Sharlene:  My first exposure to music was listening to soul and R&B songs with my mother.  Her favorites were Al Green, Anita Baker and Michael Jackson.  I remember the first song I learned all the words to was “It’s My Party” by Lesley Gore.  I think that style of music has always been the root of musical inspiration for me.

If you had to pick a moment, a moment that redefined your perception of music and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities that were possible, what would it be?

Betsy:  The scales dropped from my twelve-year-old eyes when I saw a rock ‘n’ roll band in the flesh for the first time.  Frigg-a-go-go was a gang of four flamboyant, trash-talkin’, sleazy, dirty, sexy, raw, raw-raw-rawk and rollers in Beatle boots and bangs.  While still underage, I always snuck into their shows through the back alley, which, I must say, makes for the best kind of rock ‘n’ roll viewing.  Henceforth, hell or highwater hasn’t held me back from that bomp!

Josie:  My life hasn’t been the same since I was twelve, and heard Sleater-Kinney’s “Call The Doctor” on a friend’s Discman in choir class.

Sharlene:  In high school a friend gave me a compilation CD called, Songs in the Key of Z.  It was madness.  The songs were by various weirdoes and they were about mosquitoes, imaginary friends, fake dances, and being an aviatrix.  It inspired me to write songs about whatever I wanted.  Josie and Betsy have the same love of the unrefined.

When did you start writing and performing your own music?  What brought that decision about?

Betsy:  I first started writing songs when I left home for college.  Super fed up with the put-me-to-sleep-already indie rock and corny Blues Hammer-ish bar bands that tend to overtake college town bar scenes, I thought “Shit, I can do better than this.”  It was a long while yet before I started performing, I just wrote and recorded songs for fun and put them on mix tapes for the boys I was in love with.

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get it?

Betsy:  I bought a bass off my cousin when I was twelve, and taught myself how to play all the basslines from Hole’s first EP Ask For It, which had Hole originals and these Wipers, Germs, Beat Happening and Velvet Underground covers.  That’s right, I first discovered the Velvet Underground through Courtney Love.

Sharlene:  My first instrument was piano.  I took a college course to learn something new.  I gave that up right away and hopped on drums.

When and how did the members of Thee Tsunamis originally meet and when was that?  What led to the formation of Thee Tsunamis and when would that have been?

Betsy:  Josie and I were friends for several years before we started playing music together, along with our drummer friend Evan, in March 2012.  Around that same time, we met Sharlene at a basement show drumming with her then-band, Brown Bottle Flu.  Thee Tsunamis booked shows with Brown Bottle Flu, and when Evan dropped out in December 2012, we called Sharlene up and christened her Thee Tsunamis drummer.  Thee Tsunamis really gelled with Birdsong on the beats, and we recorded our demo tape A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find less than two months later.

Sharlene:  I met Betsy and Josie at a Catsup Forever show at Magnetic South.  I told Betsy she sounded like Miss Pussycat and I guess she was okay with that.  When I saw them again as Thee Tsunamis, I was floored.  They dressed in costumes and sang girl-group style backups over fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll songs!  So, when they asked me to play drums, I was more than happy to join the gang.

Is there any shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Betsy:  The loud space between notes.  Rock ‘n’ roll or bust.  Panties are for housewives.

Josie:  Betsy and I were going through a period of Half Japanese obsession when we started playing together, and I see Jad Fair as my own personal talisman of the true rock ’n’ roll spirit, especially his line about “the only c(h)ord I know is the one that connects the guitar to the amp”.  I would say that you get a different level of scrutiny if you’re in an all-lady band, especially if you go for some level of “primitive” hooky three-chord sound.  We’ve developed some good chops over the years, but I still think Jad Fair’s encouragement of a democratic ethos of rock ‘n’ roll is very important.  Everyone should be able to joyfully play music for, and with, their friends, whether or not they are experienced musicians.  End soapbox!

What does the name Thee Tsunamis mean or refer to?  It’s really fitting and evocative of the sound to me.  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

Betsy:  Thee is an homage to our spirit animal and rock ‘n’ roll High Priest Billy Childish, whose bands Thee Milkshakes, Thee Headcoats and Thee Mighty Caesars, and sister bands, Thee Headcoatees and The Delmonas, are hugely influential to us, sounding every bit like a roving band of feral children gone electric.  And we are Tsunamis because of our love of tiki kitsch, our hand in reverb-laden natural disasters, and, perhaps most importantly, our penchant for silent and soft T’s.

Where is Thee Tsunamis located at these days?

Betsy:  We are Hoosier-side, and split the difference between Bloomington and Indianapolis.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are at these days?

Betsy:  Because of its PCB warped brains, extreme winter-induced mania, and townies’ middle-finger waving at collegiate squaresville, Bloomington has a really active underground music scene.  On a good night, you might see someone singing 18th century ballads in Marie Antoinette drag, a masked man pouring water over a heated toaster oven attached to contact mics, and a one-person band playing drums with a pair of rubber dildos.  It’s a pretty fun place to live in.

Josie:  Bloomington, where Betsy and I live, is a vibrant but small music scene of generally very lovely people, and everyone kinda knows everyone.  So, I’ve found that even if you align yourself with a particular genre, you’re still supportive of what everyone else is up to.  And that is really nice!

Do you feel like the local scene has played an important role in the shaping or evolution of the history or sound of Thee Tsunamis or do you feel like you all could be doing what you are, regardless of your location and stuff?

Betsy:  What’s true of 50’s rockabilly, 60’s garage and 70’s punk still rings true today: the best rock ‘n’ roll is always regional rock ‘n’ roll.  It always comes out of a local scene, because that’s where its blood and guts start pumping and its distinctive features evolve.  Magnetic South, the local record label/house venue that put out our record, embodies Bloomington’s weirdo rock ‘n’ roll subculture, and works really hard to keep the spirit of DIY Midwestern rock ‘n’ roll alive.  So we owe a lot to Magnetic South and friends for adding fuel to this town’s fire-belly.  Thee Tsunamis took shape over time, while writing songs and performing for Bloomington’s freak scene in musty basements filled with junk storage and sewage pipes.  And so our sound, intentionally gritty, echoey, and subterranean, is a direct outgrowth of that.  Why bother with what ifs?  We think everything, and especially the accidental and wrong notes, were destined to happen in this moment/place in time.

Can you describe Thee Tsunamis’ sound to our readers who might not have heard you before?  Whenever I do these interviews I feel like I’m selling bands when I don’t give them the opportunity to do it themselves…

Betsy:  Psychedelic tittyshakers, gar(B)age rock, and voodoo chants soaked in kerosene, blood, and reverb as thick as mud.

What about musical influences?  You all have a nice combination of sounds going on so I’m curious who you would cite as influences personally as well as on the band as a whole?

Betsy:  Jerry Lee Lewis, Link Wray, The Sonics, The Shangri Las, Billy Childish, Poison Ivy, Bo Diddley, The Mummies, The Gories, ad infinitum.

Sharlene:  Little Anthony, The Shangri-Las, Holly Golightly, Lesley Gore and The Oblivions.

Josie:  The Monks, The Shirelles, The Makeup, Wooden Shjips, 13th Floor Elevators, Shannon and the Clams, Beat Happening, Dolly Parton, The Clean, Lou Reed, The Oblivians, The Coke Dares and Patti Smith.  But Sharlene and Betsy are my biggest influences and inspirations on the day to day.  So cheesy, I know, but it’s true!

Can you tell us a little bit about the songwriting process with Thee Tsunamis?  Is there a lot of jamming or is there someone who brings ideas in to the rest of the band to work out?

Betsy:  We all three write songs on our own and toss them around at practice, where the tunes take on new directions and get mixed with specialty and secret tsunami flavors.

Do you all enjoy recording?  As a musician myself I think that most of us can really appreciate the end result.  Holding an album in your hands is an amazing feeling, and one that’s hard to beat!  Getting to that point though, getting stuff recorded and more, getting stuff sounding the way that you want it to can be a real uphill battle.  What’s it like recording for Thee Tsunamis?  Is it very stressful?

Betsy:  Recording always feels like an exhilarating trial by fire.  On the one hand, the studio allows more freedom to experiment with playing songs differently than the way we play them live, recording multiple guitar tracks and using studio effects like the Echoplex.  On the other hand, the very act of recording is by nature one of limitation, committing songs to their final form, which comes with a little postpartum anxiety.  We love doing analog recordings.  A Goodbad Man is Hard to Find as well as Delirium and the Dark Waters were both recorded to tape at Magnetic South, because it captures dynamics absent from digital recording, because of tape’s rich fidelity and maybe more so, because the process of recording to tape with a limited number of tracks more closely approximates playing live.  We recorded the basic tracks playing together as a band on a Friday night while drinking beer, and the recordings are a true document of that.  We then overdubbed individual vocals and guitar leads, drank more beer, and mixed the tracks, all within a weekend’s time.  John Dawson, the recording engineer at Magnetic South, helped us realize the full potential and range of each song, while maintaining the raw and live quality of each.  He and Seth made the recording experience really fun and productive, and in the end, something we’re really proud of.

Josie:  Most of what’s hard about making music is the writing and arrangements for the songs, and much of that is done for us before recording, save for some experimentation with vocal harmonies.  We’re lucky to work with people like John and Seth from Magnetic South, who can really visualize and bring to life the sound we’re going for.  So recording is generally a real pleasure.  We usually track live to tape with scratch vocals and then add lead and backing vocals and extra guitar tracks, depending on how many tracks we have left.

Your first release that I know of is 2013’s A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find cassette for Magnetic South Records which is how I originally heard you guys when I randomly picked up your tape out of a pile of Magnetic South stuff that was being unloaded at the local shop.  I really dug the production value and the songs on the album.  I’m pretty sure that A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find is still in print as I write this, is that a limited release?  If so, do you know how many copies it’s limited to?  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first album?  When and where was that at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used? 

Betsy:  A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find was recorded at Magnetic South by John Dawson and Seth Mahern in February 2013.  The tape is currently out of print after a 300 copy run.  I ran my guitar through a blender: a Vox AC-15 amp, a custom made Fuzz pedal dubbed the PeeWee13, and Stigtronics vintage overdrive pedal.

You followed up A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find this month (February 2014) with the Delirium and Dark Waters 7” EP again for Magnetic South.  As the single is just coming out I wasn’t able to find a super amount of details about it floating around online yet.  The pictures that I saw online were of these awesome looking translucent green vinyl.  Is the Delirium and Dark Waters EP going to be a limited release?  Are they all going to be colored or is there only a limited amount of those and then a black pressing?  I know you all played a release party for it, but when is that going to be available to purchase online?

Thee Tsunamis:  We pressed 500 translucent green vinyl copies of the 7” Delirium and Dark Waters, which are available now to order at Magnetic South, along with downloadablemp3s.  The next pressing may be black, or may be a picture disc…  You gotta buy all these first pressing copies to find out.

Delirium and Dark Waters marks your second release for Magnetic South.  How’s your relationship with them?  It seems like you all have to be getting along pretty well.  Do you plan to continue to work with them in the future for your releases?

Josie:  Seth and John are completely supportive of us, and I respect their approach to recording and releasing music so much, both aesthetically and on a more political/ethical level.  I highly recommend this interview!  Beyond that, I’m also a huge fan of their creative projects, Thee Open Sex and Apache Dropout, and that makes it feel like a really organic partnership.  Also!  Seth’s former group John Wilkes Booze is very special to me, they were one of the wildest bands I’ve ever saw when I was a young and wide-eyed kid in Bloomington.

Does Thee Tsunamis have any other music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or a single that I might have missed?

Sharlene:  Magnetic South recently put out a compilation of unreleased and out-of-print analog hits that you can find here.  You can hear our track “Shakee Jake” and a few other Magnetic South gems.

With the really recent release of the Delirium and Dark Waters EP, are there any other releases planned or in the works at this point?

Betsy:  We’ve got a big stockpile of new songs that we plan to record for a full-length record sometime soon.

Where’s the best place for our readers, and hopefully your new fans, to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Betsy:  Facebook stalk us, why don’t ya?

© Jeremy Hogan
© Jeremy Hogan
© Lisa Rett
© Lisa Rett

With the recent postal rate increases, especially internationally, I try to provide our readers with as many possible options as I can for picking up music as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?

Betsy:  We’ve stockpiled records at our favorite record stores: Permanent Records in Chicago, Landlocked in Bloomington, Vibes in Indianapolis, and Bull City Records in Durham, North Carolina.  Starting in May, Secretly Canadian will be distributing the Delirium 7”, so record stores across the US will also be able to stock up.  And for those who dig the postage rate, you can order them online from Magnetic South.

What about our international and overseas readers?

Betsy:  We ain’t scared of a little water. Magnetic South ships overseas too.

Do Thee Tsunamis have any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in 2014?

Betsy:  We want to be on as many Local Access children’s TV shows we can.  Let us know if you’ve got any leads.

Do you remember what the first song that Thee Tsunamis ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?

Josie:  Oh boy!  It was probably “Crazy Love” or “Ray Davies”, and it was at the Bishop in Bloomington.  I was so nervous that I wrote down all the bass parts and had them on the floor in case I forgot something.  It was after that show that Betsy wrote “The Jitters”, which was about stage fright.  Now it’s the song that we play when we want to get freaky and roll around on the ground or jump into the crowd, so I’d say we’ve come a long way.

Betsy:  Josie and I played our first song “Crazy Love” along with “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and Lee Hazelwood’s “I’m Glad I Never” at a house party with lots of music school students.  Josie’s bass strap broke mid-song and she played through even though the bass got (far)out of tune, producing a warped Shaggs-esque sound.  Boy, did the avant-gardists think we were hot shit!

Do you tour much?  Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on the road for Thee Tsunamis?

Betsy:  Last summer we toured the Midwest and East Coast with Apache Dropout and Blank Realm.  My favorite roadside pearl came from Count Sonny Blood: “Cement mixers, like all things possessing great beauty, sometimes wreck cars.”  Despite Blood’s dark portending, we had a beautiful time without incurring any physical or emotional wreckage along the way.

Josie:  We like finding new and exciting pizzas and learning new and exciting dances.  Ask us about Peanut Butter Reese’s Cup and we’ll be happy to perform it for you!

Sharlene:  Touring with Thee Tsunamis is a blast!  I want to tour with these ladies all the time.  Tour with us involves a lot of dancing, creepy sight-seeing, cheap beer, junk food stops, and our favorite monster jams for the ride.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes?

Thee Tsunamis:  This summer we’re crossing the Mason-Dixon Line for a Southern jaunt. Come party if you live in or near these cities:
May 1st THUR Knoxville, TN
May 2nd FRI Atlanta, GA
May 3rd SAT Nashville, TN
May 4 SUN Chatanooga, TN
May 5 MON Montevallo, AL
May 6 TUES Little Rock, AR
May 7 WED Memphis, TN
May 8 New Orleans, LA
May 9 Lafayette, LA
May10 Austin, TX
May 11 Beaumont, TX

You all have played with some seriously killer bands!  Who are some of your favorites that you’ve had a chance to play with so far?

Sharlene:  Blank Realm, Apache Dropout, Oreo Jones, Art Adams, Vacation Club, Frankie and The Witchfingers, Red Feathers, Nobunny, The Hussy, Spacin’ and Foul Swoops.

Betsy:  Ian Svenonious from Nation of Ulysses, The Makeup and Chain and the Gang, because he’s one of the best extant rockers/stylists/philosophers, and he busted out some class-act dance moves (The Swim and The Pony, if memory serves me right) during our set!  Chain and the Gang’s backing band for the tour was the killer D.C. rock ‘n’ roll band Foul Swoops, who in turn made us do The Swim and The Pony in kind.

Josie:  We opened for Lydia Lunch recently and man, oh, man that was a special experience!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Josie:  For one show we were playing a song we’ve never recorded called “The Stick-up” and we decided to wear pantyhose over our faces like robbers.  One of my favorite Tsunamis memories is crowding into a bathroom and trying to figure out how to cut the holes in the right places so we didn’t mess up our lipstick or look too horrifying.  Not sure if we succeeded, come to think of it.

© Lisa Rett

With all of the various mediums of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods of releasing music that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If so, can you talk a little bit about why that is?

Betsy:  Releasing to tape and vinyl sound great, and when people buy your music even though they don’t currently have a way to play it, you feel like you’re doing them a big favor beyond just selling them your songs.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band like flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers and other artwork?  Do you have anyone that you usually turn to when you’re in need in those regards?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Betsy:  I designed all the artwork for A Goodbad Man and Delirium, both of which combine a minimalist punk aesthetic with low-budget B-movie camp.  From the beginning, I treated Delirium and Dark Waters which is a collection of monster songs, like it was a low-budget horror movie shoot.  I hand-designed the monster mask and costumes, and blocked out action scenes for the album’s photo shoot.  Then I designed the artwork after posters of various ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s era horror movies, including my favorites Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Exotic Ones and Night of the Living Dead.  Seth Mahern of Magnetic South has designed a lot of the posters and flyers for shows we’ve played, and his artwork is really eye-catching and absurdist, utilizing pastiche and typographic sensibilities similar to that of printmaker Art Chantry.  He also made Thee Tsunamis banner on our album cover, a distressed and inky Xerox graphic of our name using a kitschy electro-shock style font.

© Tall and Small Photography

I grew up around a fairly large collection of music and my dad encouraged me from a really young age to enjoy it all.  I would go up to these massive shelves of music, pick something, stick it in the player, kick back, read the liner notes, stare at the artwork and let the music transport me off to another place.  Having something physical, something “real”, to hold in my hands and experience along with the music.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Betsy:  I got started on collecting records from my mom.  After the Goodwill distribution center wouldn’t sell her a mass of her favorite 60’s and 70’s records because they were set to be distributed to various stores, she loaded them in the back of her car and drove off without paying for them.  Then I stole them from her, and now have most of my early-era Stones records because of that two-part heist.  We’re both out of the stealing business these days, but I still get a little underhanded when it comes to coveted vinyl collectibles, so watch out!  Short of a live show, listening to a physical copy is the best way to commune/interact with the music and experience rock ‘n’ roll in the way that it’s meant to be experienced; as a tangible, sweaty-pawed pleasure.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but with unparalleled access to music these days it’s just impossible to keep up with one-percent of the amazing stuff that’s going on right now.  As a result I always ask people that I talk to, is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of yet?

Josie:  The Indiana musician who I’m consistently in awe of is Justin Vollmar.  He’s a lovely Bloomingtonian who writes the most beautiful, lo-fi, bedroom folk gems and typically performs them live at an almost painfully quiet and wholly modest volume level.  I’m part of an ad-hoc Vollmar bootleg circuit in town, if that tells you anything about the level of fanaticism he inspires round these parts!  Some of my other favorite local/semi-local groups we haven’t already mentioned are Sleeping Bag, The Bloody Mess, Erin Tobey, White Moms, Busman’s Holiday, The Sands, Vacation Club, Chris Barth / Norman Oak, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, Sir Deja Doog, and Circuit des Yeux.

Sharlene:  DMA, John Flannely, KO, Oreo Jones.

What about nationally and internationally?

Betsy:  Psychic Baos, Danny and the Darleans, Foul Swoops, The Hemingers, Thee Yolks, Red Feathers and Three Man Band.

Sharlene:  Garden, Running, Burnt Ones and The Sueves.

Thank you so much for doing this interview, it was a total blast getting to talk about Thee Tsunamis so much!  I know it wasn’t short and it had to have taken you a while to get to this point, but hey!  You’re done, I swear no more inquisition.  Before we sign off, is there anything that I might have missed or anything that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?

Betsy:  Fun fact: we made it onto Billy Childish’s Wikipedia page.  We’re but a teensy, tiny footnote to one of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest torchbearers.  And that’s plenty.

(2013)  Thee Tsunamis – A Goodbad Man Is Hard To Find – digital, Cassette Tape – Magnetic South Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2014)  Thee Tsunamis – Delirium and Dark Waters EP – digital, 7” – Magnetic South Records (1st pressing limited to 500 copies on Translucent Green Vinyl)

© Tall and Small Photography

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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