The truth is out there
Feminist pop-punk group Tacocat talks mansplaining, menstruation
If the title of Tacocat’s third full-length album sounds like a familiar phrase, you’re most likely a devotee of The X-Files. Vocalist Emily Nokes is obsessed with the series, and penned Lost Time’s opening song, “Dana Katherine Scully,” in honor of the fictional FBI special agent.
The Seattle band has made a career—eight-plus years—of observational punk and garage-pop, honing in on the type of pop-culture minutiae you might find in a nostalgic 1990s TV retrospective. But the band also deals in equal measure with socio-political fodder, and emerges as one of the Pacific Northwest’s most outspoken bands when it comes to feminism.
“I can see why people would get annoyed by it, but we really like talking about it,” explained bassist Bree McKenna during a recent interview. “It’s a little bit of a complicated issue. I know a lot of women in bands who are very strong feminists but who think, when it comes to their music, they don’t wanna talk about it because it doesn’t have much to do with it.”
One of the issues the band’s members have embraced is menstruation. They took on the topic in “Crimson Wave” from 2014 album NVM, the first recording on Sub Pop imprint Hardly Art. Lost Time’s “FDP” is a companion song, with the chorus, “FDP, don’t fuck with me,” about the first day of a period. Meanwhile, “Men Explain Things to Me,” a title borrowed from a Rebecca Solnit essay skewering male bravado, is a peppy, bubblegum-pop punk track.
“All the topics and everything are just basically very much things we discuss as friends,” McKenna said. “I was a teenage horse girl, so we did ‘Horse Grrls,’ and mansplaining at shows is definitely a thing that comes up with guys telling you how to use your microphone or whatever.”
The band evolved its sonic imprint on the new album by hiring producer Erik Blood, whose credits included the sparse, dark indie hip-hop of Seattle crews Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction.
Tacocat has had a run of exciting moments so far this year. Just prior to the April release of Lost Time, the band was approached about performing at a high-profile political campaign event in Seattle. “Somebody asked us to play a Bernie Sanders rally, and I was thinking it was like a barbecue or some weird benefit show,” recalled McKenna. “Then I got a couple of other phone calls about it, and we realized, ‘Oh, my God, this is at the stadium!’ So we had to do this.”
Despite the obvious bump up in notoriety by way of such sets, the band members’ feet remain firmly entrenched in the DIY underground. Still, they acknowledge that the mansplaining has been taken down a notch these days.
“At one show, Emily had a bad mic cord and some guy in the crowd was like, ‘You have to hold it two inches from your face!’ and gave some dumb advice on how to hold a mic,” McKenna said. “That sort of thing used to happen all the time, but it’s dying down, maybe because we’re playing less sketchy dive bars or something.”