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an interview with Austin feminist punks Sailor Poon ++ tour dates & videos

words by Lindsay Krause

Sailor Poon, Austin’s dearly beloved squad of unapologetic raunchy feminist punks have hit the road, and they’ll be making their way to Alphaville in Brooklyn this weekend (all dates are listed below). With lyrics like “Eat me out, buy me shoes, make me cum, and then please leave,” their infectious attitude is impossible to resist or ignore. The Poon goons are fresh off of their first major festival appearance at November’s Sound on Sound Fest, and notable live gigs over the past year include sharing the stage with King Khan (who mixed their track, “Leather Daddy”), GAYCL (Austin City Limits’ LBGTQ counterpart event), and opening for NOBUNNY in Houston late 2016. The band is following the steps paved by fellow thrashing and empowered BAMFs like Bikini Kill, Pussy Riot and Karen O. However, with the mighty sax being a cornerstone of their work, it’s clear that multiple musical styles ranging from jazz to classic Austin psych have helped to shape their sound. They are one of those multi-genre gems pushing music with a lyrical message forward. Singer and tambourine player Shea Selby is currently experimenting with a vocal technique she developed based on a lower octave version of a theremin, fittingly named “thera-moan.” I caught up with the crew at a recent practice to chat about how they got linked up with King Khan, the sexual health of pigeons, their future plans, and tampons. And then they kidnapped me.

We’ve also got the brand new video for “On The Rag” off last year’s Yeast Pigeon 7″, and videos for two songs off their 2015 debut LP Pooney Tunes (“Butts” and “Leather Daddy”). Continue below for all three videos, full streams of both of those releases, and our interview with the band. Photos from the day of the interview/band practice are in the gallery above.

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What’s up gals? You have an upcoming show in Brooklyn on your tour, the poster is amazing! That cheeto looking bastard. Billie I know you do a lot of the band’s artwork and gig posters. Are you ready to party into the apocalypse and kick some ass?

Billie Buck: Thank you! Yeah! I’ve been doing poster art for about five years now, trying to keep with the legacy of the Austin psychedelic poster artists from the ’70s and 8’0s like Jim Franklin, Micheal Priest, Guy Juke, and Ken Featherston…

It’s good stuff! So King Khan mixed “Leather Daddy” from your debut record, Pooney Tunes. How did this come about?

Billie: He picked us up on his Texas tour dates in 2015 with BBQ Show, and again when he came back with the Shrines in 2016.

Heidi Gloom (aka Mariah Stevens Ross): He sent us a Facebook message on our band page. At the very end he said “FUCK YOU MARIAH.” I was like “How does he know my name? Why is he saying that?” Then I realized at the end of one of our demo recordings Shay is shouting “FUCK YOU MARIAH.”

He did his research haha.

Heidi Gloom: Yeah! He just really liked our stuff and heard our demos, and wanted to put his touch on it to see if we liked it, so we sent him our stuff and his sound engineer in Berlin actually did it there and then they sent it back.

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Do you have any plans for more mischief with him in the future?

Billie: We talked about having [the band] dress up in monkey suits and dance around on stage haha. But yeah we’re hoping to do some more stuff with him in the future.

You guys are very committed to giving back to the community. You’ve done benefits with a few organizations like Planned Parenthood and the Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio. I think it’s important for the music community to reconnect with local issues, and feel like it got a little lost for a minute where bands weren’t really doing that kind of stuff. What has been the response from some of the organizations you have worked with?

Cheraya Esters: The politics of Texas right now are pretty screwed up, so Planned Parenthood is a big deal. Especially within our community itself, people were ready to pool together for that and show up, and put the money out for the benefit record… that was pretty badass. I guess every little bit counts. The Rape Crisis Center gig was pretty interesting, it was a younger crowd. It’s been a minute since we’ve stepped out of a bar scenario…

Billie: It was at Imagine Books and Records in San Antonio!

Nice! Tearing up the bookstore.

Cheraya: Totally! It was cool, the bookstore was super supportive. It was a younger crowd, and it is so badass that the kids in that neighborhood have that place to go to. I really enjoyed thinking about it after we did it. I think it really impacted them… it probably made a big difference in their life to see that.

Heidi Gloom: I could have used that when I was that age. I always wanted to play music but for some reason always felt like I couldn’t because I’m a girl. If I had seen bands like us when I was younger, I might be a better bass player now.

It’s super important right now, because you hear what’s going on with all ages and DIY venues like The Smell in L.A. There’s not very many, and the ones that are around, are having a hard time staying afloat due to outrageous rent and financial issues…

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Let’s talk about Yeast Pigeon, the 7″ you released in 2016 with the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. Can you enlighten the readers who might not be familiar exactly what a Yeast Pigeon is?

[Everyone bursts out laughing]

Billie: Welllllllll the recording studio that we were using, Sweetheart Studios, had a pigeon coop in the backyard.

Heidi Gloom: They have a big garden in the back so it’s kind of like a farm on East 4th.

Billie: The name Yeast Pigeon came about because we got to talking about the sexual organs of the pigeon. We came to the conclusion that they have a cloaca, so we thought that since we like to be very informed about our sexual health, if you have your piss and shit come out of the same hole you may be more prone to get a yeast infection.

This is true.

Billie: So that’s… Yeast Pigeon. It stuck.
[Laughing] I’m glad you guys are bringing this to people’s attention. Probably not something most people realize or think about. I know I feel better now that I know this is an issue.

Madison: And chickens too!

With all birds I suppose!

Heidi Gloom: It’s the shit/cum/pisshole.

Madison: Do you feel like dinosaurs were like that too?

Heidi Gloom: We’ll have to do some more research. Any hole is a fuckhole.

Cheraya: As granny always says…

So the video for “On the Rag,” I love how much you were able to pack into one minute and twenty seconds… my thought when I first saw it was that old wives tale about women not swimming when they are on their period… personal story, my mom told me when I was young that I shouldn’t swim on my period (she doesn’t use tampons) and I think I may have been the first person in my family to learn how to use a tampon because of me wanting to go swimming really bad one summer.

Madison: Did you read the instructions?

Yeah I was like, “I got this. I’m going swimming, fuck this.”

Shea Selby: The first time I learned to put a tampon in was at Target. I was like twelve and was just thinking “NOOOOOOO!” The cardboard freaked me out.

The group hashed out a few more songs over the course of that night’s rehearsal. When the practice wrapped, Madison tossed me in her van and we adventured down to Hole in the Wall so I could watch her cover “In Spite of Ourselves” by country legend John Prine with one of her friends. This also involved us putting the hurt on a fifth of bourbon. Madison also performs with her Houston based band, Whit.

Not only are they loud and proud about performing as a cumwave collective, but genuinely charming and delightful to be around. Sailor Poon are especially interested in kidnapping some more lucky fans while on tour, so be sure you remember to go say “Hi” if you catch any of their tour dates! Also, they have will some badass granny panties available at their merch booth. The unsigned sextuplets plan to release new material in fall of 2017.

The Brooklyn show happens on inauguration day at Alphaville (1/20) with Pizza Boys, Holly Overton & the Midnight People, and Straw Pipes. Tickets for that show are on sale. Check out the poster for that show (designed by saxist/vocalist Billie Buck) and the list of all dates below.

sailor-poon-alphaville

sailor-poon-tour

photos by Jenna Million, words by Lindsay Krause

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