Meet Cherry Glazerr: Too Punk for the Hippies, Too Hippie for the Punks

(L-R) Sasami Ashworth, Tabor Allen & Clem Creevy

(L-R) Sasami Ashworth, Tabor Allen & Clem Creevy Felisha Tolentino

While the incoming administration teases a foreboding sea change for women in this country, Clementine Creevy isn’t concerned about shifting paradigms so much as burning them to the ground.

Despite just graduating from high school last year, the 19-year-old leader of Los Angeles garage pop band Cherry Glazerr has moved beyond the vulnerabilities that her city’s industries prey on, becoming a formidable presence in the Los Angeles music community.

Since forming the band in 2013, she’s also been modeling—one photographer prefaced her band by claiming it was fronted by Yves Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane’s “muse.”

Nurturing her tremendous musical talents alongside the fashion community that seeks to license them or frame them in primarily aesthetic contexts has fortified Creevy with some strong ideas about female solidarity, the importance of all-ages show spaces, and re-wearing your underwear three days in a row.

“I see more culture vultures that wanna exploit young, beautiful rock stars. They idealize and fetishize a lifestyle that isn’t all glitz and leather and fucking coke and tour buses. It’s just not like that.”—Clementine Creevy

That last opinion comes on “Trash People,” a catchy ode to crustpunks on Cherry Glazerr’s fantastic new album, Apocalipstick, out Friday on Secretly Canadian. That the tunes on their sophomore record sound developed and arrived at would be impressive coming from anyone, let alone someone so relatively new to the game. Since her comparatively lo-fi Burger Records years, Creevy has developed her sound into shiny, simmering scuzz.

But age and perspective on the media industrial complex mean nothing if the songs aren’t any good. And from the Apocalipstick‘s opening number, featured in the video below wherein Creevy’s blonde wig laughs at her old look and the band finds themselves crowded by oblivious, ubiquitous dudes, we’re totally fucking pummeled with great song after great song, chock full of catchy and timely screeds about being your own fucking human. If they keep this up, we’ll all be slaves to the Glazerr before too long.

If the trash people wear their underwear three days in a row, who wears no underwear at all?

The underwearless? [laughs]

This is coming out almost three years to the day from your last full-length on Burger Records.

Yeah!

Lineup aside, what’s changed for you?

So much! I live in Boyle Heights, in a really big yellow room. And I don’t call my parents as often as I should. I have fights with my roommates about who should clean the dishes. I have a lot of unpaid parking tickets. And I have this really good cold brew in the refrigerator called Secret Squirrel that’s the most intense nitro cold brew bullshit that you can get. It’s really fantastic.

Are you guys living in a utopian society, paying the bills with love?

Oh man, not that I’m aware of. It’s not a possibility.

You had this line on your first record that was something to the effect of “I like your smell, let’s go to The Smell.” Is there a gathering for the crusty kids of L.A now, for the trash people, besides The Smell? I know The Smell is still around for now, and that you’re a bit involved in that.

Oh man, that’s a good question. In L.A., DIY spaces have always come and gone. There’s always this rotating scene of places.

“The DIY scene follows the sociopolitical climate, you know?”

Sounds like New York.

Yeah. Non Plus Ultra is still going strong. The Smell and Pehrspace are still open, but yeah, they’re getting shut down and it’s an all-ages space. It’s sad and it sucks, but there’ll just be more all-ages spaces that pop up, that come and go, that come and die. It’s a characteristic of the DIY scene not being a sanitized, stable establishment. The nature of it is just fucking very loosely curated spaces run by kids [laughs]. If the space is open for more than a year I always applaud that.

Your city seems better at keeping these spaces all-ages and thriving. The question I’m sure you get ad-nauseam about you being a “young woman in music” contributes to my theory that the youth are taking over Los Angeles. Could you have come up and for lack of a less trending word had a “safe space” to figure out your songs and your shit without them?

No, I think they were so vital in cradling a lot of my early musical exploration and experimentation. I very much will always continue to support D.I.Y. culture. It’s hard because it’s under attack all the time. Apparently after the fire in Oakland there was all this weird chatter from right-wingers that said D.I.Y. spaces are hubs for liberalism and we need to control this situation.

Satan’s loft.

Yeah! “Kill them all off, fucking heathens running around playing their rock ’n’ roll.” That seemed really weird and scary and archaic to me, that type of response. But it’s just a reflection of a shift in the socio-political climate. So the DIY scene follows the sociopolitical climate, you know?

Maybe it also sets new models for the climate to follow, taking into account how inclusivity and gender dynamics work, without becoming a “P.C.” issue. More about how you just treat people decently in a tight space. How you and your bandmates work and play together, even just fucking around, seems rooted in a communal comfort that people can’t have in traditional venues that are corporately booked and managed by commercial interests.

It’s completely true. That’s where you grow up, at D.I.Y. shows, at punk shows. I remember just being at The Smell every night not knowing who was playing until the doors opened, so I could see my friends and we could figure ourselves out, smoke cigarettes and be angry and talk to each other and live with each other. The first time I ever had real, visceral, emotional and political awakenings. I know it sounds kind of cheesy.

No! That’s what people go to college for, but you don’t always need to pay somebody $30,000 and leave your hometown, either. Maybe it’s about uprooting yourself and putting yourself in a new scene or society?

Completely.

That comes up on the new Cherry Glazerr record too, right? There’s a lyric on “Only Kid on the Block” about being treated as a child by everyone. Do you still feel that way now, as a young woman, after making this badass record?

That’s sweet.

Are you still consciously exploring the vitality of youth, as people have labeled the driving force of your first album?

You know, I don’t know how much I’ve really changed and how much I’m gonna change. [Laughs] If we’re being honest, I’m always gonna be a self-conscious child, really. But yeah, I suppose that lyric was just borne out of a moment of self-doubt. I suppose that’s just something everyone always deals with.

I think there was a moment when I was really upset that I didn’t have any peers my own age, ‘cause I was like, “Fuck that, I don’t wanna gonna go to college, I’m just gonna go straight into adulthood. I don’t need this!” Then after a year in the real world I started to wish I was surrounded by a bunch of baby teenagers and ramen and homework. But at the same time, I’m not, and everyone deals with their own bullshit no matter where they are.

Amen, sister.

Hell yeah!

 Cherry Glazerr performs onstage during the 2016 Budweiser Made in America Festival

Cherry Glazerr performs onstage during the 2016 Budweiser Made in America Festival. (Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Anheuser-Busch)

I’m thinking about my first chat with Devendra Banhart—

Uh, fuck yeah, I love Devendra!

Very much a kooky L.A. dude, but also very different from you guys sonically.

He’s so cool, though, he’s perfect. Ape in Pink Marble is a great record. I deeply, deeply love him.

Well you and him operate in a similar dichotomy insofar as you both have some connections to both the music, and fashion community. I once talked to him about this art coffee book he was putting out on a fancy German press. And we were talking about how hard it is to be treated as an interdisciplinary artist. I asked him who bests respects his ability to work across disciplines, the music or the visual art community. And he said it was the fashion community, which blew my mind. All I’ve ever heard from the fashion community are horror stories. So what’s your take, as someone who both works as a model and takes her music very seriously?

I may have a slightly different take on it than Devendra does. That’s interesting and funny, kind of coy and a tongue-in-cheek response because the fashion industry fuckin’ pays. They pay so much. They pay musicians so much more than [we] could get for anything else. It’s kind of baffling, and I’m talking big brands, iconic brands, fashion relationships. If you’re making a 20-minute song for the Saint Laurent runway show, licensing your song to a fashion company or whatever.

This is gonna sound elitist, but I feel that a lot of the people I’ve been involved with in the fashion industry in relation to my music have always been sort of unaware of the hardship and reality of being a musician. I think they sort of idealize this rock ’n’ roll lifestyle.

The aesthetics of it?

Yeah, exactly. It’s fetishizing and idealizing the aesthetics of it instead of actually giving a shit about the music. And giving a shit about the music doesn’t mean saying all of it is great—it means actually listening, actually critiquing it, actually feeling it, actually going to shows, actually being present for it. I don’t see that very often.

I see more culture vultures that wanna exploit young, beautiful rock stars. They idealize and fetishize a lifestyle that isn’t all glitz and leather and fucking coke and tour buses. It’s just not like that.

Your Tusk era is never coming.

Dude, exactly. And they’ll even fetishize the grittiness of it, which is kind of weird because they’re not actually showing the reality of it. They’re not showing it in an unbiased light. They’re glamorizing the grittiness that some punk musicians live within.

“It’s a weird, sanitized exploitation and presentation of one version of an artist, when a fashion brand takes an artist under their wing.”

That seems like such an L.A. thing. Like way back with Darby Crash and The Germs, and it feeds into these kids dying too young from shooting up shitty, cheap drugs. I feel like you’re saying that every time there’s an aesthetic narrative around that culture it leaves out the ugly shit.

Totally, it’s not The Decline of Western Civilization. It’s not some Penelope Spheeris documentary on the real music scene in L.A.—it’s a weird, sanitized exploitation and presentation of one version of an artist, when a fashion brand takes an artist under their wing.

We saw that with the first video from this record, too, which clearly makes a point about female solidarity as you’ve suggested. The iconography and the sheer sense of space and having all those dudes crowding you. You said that all anyone was talking about was your tits, which are out for like a second?

[Laughs] Yeah.

So no matter how loaded with subtext and meaning and intention something is, the aesthetic and stylistic narrative are sometimes all people get? But you’re in a unique position to fuck with that artistically, through your music. You bring a tremendous perspective to that through your songs.

Yeah, it’s true! I’m so lucky to have an outlet, it’s fucking great. I use my musical outlet because I can’t help it.

Does L.A. have a special role in the music of Cherry Glazerr? Because like it or not, women, and particularly young women, have a prominent role in the L.A. rock mythology. Some of it triumphant, some of it tainted by these perverse male energies like Kim Fowley to the Runaways. “Come to Los Angeles, baby, and I’ll make you a star” kinda people. Are you working out any of that shit by just growing out your pit hair and hanging out with your friends, are you destroying any of those energies?

I don’t know, I hope so! The D.I.Y. scene has always had a stronger female power base in running shows and booking shows and being in bands than the corporate music world, and that’s always been true. But I usually play with all men, there’s usually a man booking the shows, there’s usually a man doing sound and running the ship. I’ve definitely seen females in this position, but it’s not anywhere near equal. So yeah, it’s still male dominated in power structure roles.

Where does conscious solidarity come into play here?

It’s true that a lot of people aren’t knowledgeable about female solidarity. And fair enough, shit, that’s what we’re all told. We all have to deal with our ingrained misogyny. But solidarity is about the notion that, if white men have helped white men who’ve helped white men then women need to support other women who support other women, so you can pass that legacy down.

Create that legacy of passing down honest fucking support, the same way men have done. But it’s a flawed feminist ideology to say “let’s just do what men did” because then you end up in the same place.

The aggressor?

Yeah, it’s hard to unpack, but once you do exactly what men have been doing, then what? You end up in technical equality, but there’s still so much time where men ruled and subjugated women.

How do you make up that time?

Exactly. So there just needs to be a new, different system. A new, different type of power structure. Instead of just perpetuating the power structure by just flipping it around for women, I think we need to dismantle it and come up with some new system. I don’t know what that is

Well on this record you’re a fierce advocate of doing whatever the fuck you want, creating your own reality, which may create a sense of solidarity with yourself. An important lesson for the youth. And I’m hearing that self-love and self-respect don’t mean automatic respect for others. You can love yourself and still stand your ground, be a snot and a goofball and a shithead. And that’s O.K..

Hell yeah! I’m straight goofy, 100 percent of the time.

Cherry Glazerr.

Cherry Glazerr. Daria Kobayashi Ritch

 

You know what’s fucked up? Pluto was Goofy’s pet. No one talks about it.

Oh my God, I’ve never thought about that. I feel betrayed and wronged.

Do the kids of the hippies grow up to be punks, and do the kids of punks grow up to be hippies?

Oh man, that is a really great question. I think there’s a lot of truth in that! [Laughs] There’s also this in-between of punks and hippies, where they’re kind of both both. That’s the fourth generation.

California’s kind of leading the way on that, eh?

Dude, it’s true! There’s so many punk hippies here. That’s a big, thriving scene. I’m always texting my friends that I’m too much of a punk for the hippies and too much of a hippie for the punks.

But you still found your people?

Yeah. Power in the ambiguity!

Cherry Glazerr play Bowery Ballroom Wednesday, January 18

Meet Cherry Glazerr: Too Punk for the Hippies, Too Hippie for the Punks