A Conversation With Girltype Behaviors, This Year’s Spring Fling Openers

Girltype Behaviors are Wesleyan’s resident “snack punk” band – purveyors of short, dense DIY punk songs like “Root Vegetable” and “Baby with an iPad.” After loosely playing a few shows together in 2016, the band came together after agreeing to open for Frankie Cosmos in Music House (then at 200 High St) in December 2016.

We first interviewed the band last year, after they released their first EP, Live at WESU 88.1FMThis year, they have a new EP out and are the opening student band for Spring Fling. Wesleying recently sat down with May Klug ’19 (lead vocals & casio), Sallie Fullerton ’18 (guitar), Gemma Shay ’18 (bass), and Shea Fitzpatrick ’18 (vocals and drums) to discuss Spring Fling, touring down the East Coast, forming a band at Wes, and the recent announcement that Grimes and Elon Musk are dating.

Wesleying: You just released a new EP last month. When you started the band a year and a half ago, did you think you’d get to the point of releasing two EPs, touring on the East Coast, and opening for Spring Fling?

Gemma: I don’t think we had many expectations going into this.

Sallie: We just wanted to open for Frankie.

May: We were like, “We gotta have something for that.”

Wesleying: How did opening for Frankie Cosmos come about? Did somebody approach you to open for them?

Gemma: I had booked Screaming Females my sophomore year, and their touring agent emailed me and offered to have me book Frankie. I was like, “Yes! But also, I need for form a band so I can open for them.”

Wesleying: It wasn’t even like, “I need to find a student band to open for them.”

Gemma: Exactly. So May and I were in a duo, and then Sallie and Shea and I were all here for the summer, and we formed a full band.

Sallie: I was also…

May: Sal was also in that first band.

Gemma: You were our guest star. Our celebrity guest.

[Sallie laughs, Shea looks at interviewer like Jim from The Office looking at the camera]

May: Did you know that all our songs just say “feat. Sallie Fullerton”?

Sallie: Really?

May: No! Of course not!

Wesleying: What’s the process of recording a studio EP on Wesleying’s campus?

May: We asked Sam Dewees…

Shea: We recorded in Red Feather [Studios], which is easy enough. You can email them and get an engineer. Technically speaking, we recorded everything live, just because we feel like that’s the sound we wanted.

May: Yeah. And then we overdubbed some of our parts.

Wesleying: It definitely sounds like what I expected a studio EP of yours to sound like, after hearing Live at WESU 88.1FM. It sounds like “snack punk.” You’ve described that sound as coming about very organically, but is there any point where one person is like, “I’m leaning more towards this way,” but then other band members are going a different direction?

May: Oh, all the time. I wouldn’t call it “clashing” or “conflict,” but there’ll definitely be moments. There’s definitely be times where I’ve brought in things that are noisier, and it’s just been like, “No, we don’t want to do that.”

Sallie: I’m always just like, “Um, I wanna have the good guitar part.” And they’re like, “Go do it!” And I’m like, “ahhh…”

Shea: Sometimes we’re like, “Maybe a little less distortion?”

Wesleying: Do you have band or song references that you go back to? Like, “I want this to be more Frankie Cosmos” or “I want this to be more Girlpool.”

Gemma: “Hot Knives” by Partner is one. And not that we’ve acted on this, but I feel like we’ve all talked about Sheer Mag.

[rest of the band murmurs in agreement]

May: I don’t think our process is, “Let’s try to do a thing that sounds like this,” so much as….We all have artists and bands that we hold really dear, whose processes we crib from. For me, how I write lyrics is I follow a lot of processes that I’ve seen in interviews with the songwriters from the Mountain Goats or Wckr Spgt – people who are doing these solo singer-songwriter things, which are not at all a sound that we’re trying to recreate.

Wesleying: Are you going for the types of storytelling that they are?

May: Not really. It’s more about how they would sit in a room and just write things quickly. That’s how I write all of the lyrics. I don’t think we listen to a recording…correct me if I’m wrong here.

Shea: We do reference people.

Sallie: Or we’ll come in and be like, “Listen to this,” and someone plays it on their phone.

Shea: That comes up all the time. We do that almost every practice. But they are one-offs, usually.

Sallie: I think the difference is that we don’t really follow them. We do that and then we don’t actually make a song like that.

May: Yeah, that’s sort of what I mean. We don’t have a song where we’re like, “That was our attempt to do X.” We just share music with each other a lot.

Wesleying: I did want to ask you about a couple of the lyrics. “Baby with an iPad” is a really great song. You’re turning someone like Edward Snowden into a little child. What was the inspiration for that?

May: [pauses for a long time] Grimes is dating Elon Musk. I think that’s all I have to say about that.

[everyone laughs, interviewer is equal parts laughing and upset by the mention of Grimes/Elon Musk (GrElon? Grusk? Mimes?)]

Gemma: Retroactively inspired.

May: Yeah, retroactive inspiration. It was written over a year ago.

Wesleying: Are you going to wear a Tesla choker when you perform it?

May: [stammers for a few seconds] This is violence. That was a violence.

Wesleying: This is going to sound strange, but when I first heard “(She Drinks) Human Blood,” it reminded me of that scene in Troll 2 where the guy is yelling, “They’re eating her! And now they’re going to eat me! Oh my gooooood!”

MayThat makes sense. There’s definitely some B-movie horror in there.

Wesleying: But you sympathize with the person who drinks human blood.

Gemma: She’s being bullied! She is us.

May: She’s for sure us.

Gemma: What if it was the other option, where we’re all the bullies?

May: [’80s movie bully voice] We wrote that song about a nerd that we fucking hate!

Sallie: I don’t know if we ever talked about it, but what I thought it was was that there’s a person that’s being made fun of, and there’s just making up a bunch of shit about her, and one of the things is that she drinks human blood, because they don’t like that she’s new in school. It’s like, “Ugh, she’s a creep, so she drinks human blood.”

Wesleying: You went on tour last fall. What was it like playing for non-Wesleyan crowds?

Shea: It was really fun. It was also cool because a lot of us are from the East Coast. We played New Brunswick, which is where one of my best friends goes to school. In some cases, we were playing for non-Wesleyan crowds, but there were still people that we were very close to in those crowds.

Gemma: And when we went to Silent Barn [recently defunct DIY space in Brooklyn], half the crowd was Wesleyan people.

Sallie: In New Brunswick, we got called Girls With Behaviors. In Philly, something else…

May: Was that Girltype Activities?

Shea: There was Girltype Activities, Girls With Behaviors….Girly Things?

Sallie: Just Girly Things.

Gemma: I think that one was online also. In type.

Shea: It was in the event page. “…and Just Girly Things.”

Gemma: That one is our Facebook page URL, so they thought that was our name.

May: What a weird mistake to make.

Sallie: It was fun to get a sense of the place by what they decided to call us.

Shea: I think we played some of our best shows on that tour. Also, touring with Yer Trash was so much fun.

May: We love them so much. Having a relationship between groups of people like that was a really special thing. Between two bands. The dynamic ended up feeling like a friendship between two people or two entities. We would all be a sort of unit at the front of their set, and they’d be a unit at the front of our set. It was a really supportive thing.

Gemma: We all completely know each other’s setlist. One night, we had to play a show without a drum kit, and Will from Yer Trash joined us and drummed on a chair the whole time.

May: And knew all the songs.

Wesleying: Yeah, I guess that’s harder to cultivate at Wesleyan because different bands play different shows every weekend. They’re not constantly together all the time.

May: It was a really special experience.

Wesleying: What do you think the difference was between the crowds on tour and the crowds back at Wes?

Sallie: People here are going out to party, and people at house shows were going out to be at a house show.

May: But then there were definitely shows we played where there was a sense that they were like, going to see music in a way that….I don’t want to say no one here does that…

Gemma: But people here are like, “What’s happening tonight? I’ll stop by a bunch of different shows and parties.”

May: There’s so many things happening on this campus. And I think it’s an amazing thing, it’s amazing that you can be here and it’s like, “Oh, tonight there are three events, and they’re all free to go to.” That’s really incredible. I also think it means that there’s a sense of like, “I’ll go here for a minute and see a song, and then I’ll go to the next thing.” It can be a little weird.

Shea: Also, playing with that many fresh crowds in a concentrated amount of time was really exciting.

Sallie: And to see all the other music people were doing.

May: There was a ska band!

Sallie: And remember Baby Baby, in Providence?

Shea: Baby Baby was so good.

Wesleying: How did you feel about winning Battle of the Bands for Spring Fling?

Gemma: We hoped to be in it, but didn’t really expect to win. I really thought Roach Girl was amazing.

May: Right before, during soundcheck, we were talking about what we were going to play and how we were going to organize it, and we just agreed that we should focus on doing a thing that we feel is representative of what we do, and that we’re proud of it, and that we like. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. So yeah, we were not going into it with any kind of game plan or competitive edge.

Sallie: But Roach Girl is my new favorite band on campus.

Shea: Roach Girl was so good.

May: They were really amazing.

Wesleying: How do you think the Wes music scene has changed or stayed the same since you were freshmen?

Sallie: I remember during freshman year, there were bands like SCHWAB and all-caps LADD that were literally like celebrities to me. I would go to all their concerts, and it felt like I was going to a real show. I would feel really giddy about it. So I think that’s kind of changed.

Shea: Perspectives change, too.

Sallie: That’s true. But I just remember planning my weekend around a show and being so excited.

May: I still do that sometimes.

Sallie: With campus bands, I do it less than I used to.

May: I do it with our band.

Sallie: Of course we do it with our band!

May: There’s definitely been changes in how the school does contracts. There’s been a lot less outside bands. I feel like last year, and generally playing before, there was a structure. It used to be every weekend there was some big, exciting, out-of-town touring band playing, and that would create the space for student bands to open for them. That used to be the thing that you worked for. I think that maybe there’s a lack of direction – less this semester, I think people are coming together and doing a lot more shows, and I’m really excited about that – but last semester, there was a sense of like, “Oh, if those [big shows] aren’t happening, what do we do?”

Gemma: The other thing that happened last semester was that ban on having stages anywhere.

May: That was last year, too. Frankie Cosmos couldn’t get a stage.

Wesleying: Housing capacity has also changed.

Shea: Yeah, it’s a lot of expanded bureaucracy.

Gemma: Everyone needs to have event staff now, and there’s not a lot of people on event staff that are available.

May: Which was students’ fault, because people were horrible to members of event staff in the past. But there’s also a lot of great music on this campus, and I’m still really happy to be a part of it! I remember last year, when we were playing a lot of shows with Yer Trash, but then also Bossy and Goo, and that was a nice little corner of the world.

Sallie: That was my favorite show, with Bossy and Goo.

May: It was nice to feel like we all carved out a little corner for ourselves. We had these bands that we all knew and were routinely gigging with. It was a special feeling.

Wesleying: What advice would you give to Wes kids who want to make music here or start a band?

May: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” is mine.

Shea: I think just like, put it out there and let people know what you can do.

Sallie: We had a weird way of doing this, though, because it happened so quickly. And [my band] Slouch happened because I needed to open for a band that I agreed to open for, without a band. So I just called whoever I knew who played music in five days, and it went from there. There’s something about calling up who you know and being like, “Come on, let’s do something.”

May: Setting yourself a deadline like that. You need something for a show, so you just do it.

Gemma: I was in a series of very unsuccessful bands before this. I think it helps just to do it with your friends.

May: I was gonna say, we’re all friends! And that’s nice!

Gemma: And people who have an equal commitment to you.

Shea: I also think you should do it with people who have very even priorities with you. I wouldn’t say that we’re an intense band, but we’ve pulled together, we’ve done a lot, and that’s because we’re all equally invested. That translates to being very active, because there’s no dissonance in how much we’re willing to commit. That kind of harmony is really nice. And it is hard to feel out.

May: Definitely easier with friends. None of us has to be a leader or anything, because we all care about each other as people, so there’s no sense of like, “Oh, someone called me, so I have to go to the thing.”

Wesleying: Any last things you want to mention?

Gemma: Come to Spring Fling! We’re on at 12:30!

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