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

April 6, 2014

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!
while you read: http://theetsunamis.bandcamp.com/ 
© 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”.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Do you tour
much?  Do you enjoy touring?  What’s life like on the road for Thee
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
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
© 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
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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