“Welcome to our pirate wench world,” says Jen Scaffidi, after explaining that a Blunderbuss is a giant gun with a blown-out barrel used by pirates and Elmer Fudd. Add a “t” to it—she points to her chest—and you’ve got Blunderbusst, a play on words that’s a lot like the two-piece band: A little bit awkward. A little bit sexy.
Scaffidi, 31, has been playing music for half her life and has been a member of several bands in Northern Nevada and elsewhere. In 2004, she embarked on a solo music career that she admits “got boring.” She decided she needed a drummer. She enlisted her friend Carolyn Gates, who made her drumming debut at her son’s elementary school talent show with The Gates Family Band.
“It rocked!” says Gates.
The duo has been playing together in Carson City for one year. They’ve found that people generally have trouble classifying their music.
“It’s not like we’re blowing peoples minds with our two-person spazz rock, but if it’s hard to categorize, maybe we’re doing something right, or, at least, interesting,” says Scaffidi.
Their sound is interesting. The vocals have a moody, melodic singer-songwriter feel. But Scaffidi avoids typical folksy chords, preferring a more dynamic structure. Meanwhile, Gates has an absolute blast playing the drums. The result is a fun, indie-rock sound with a tinge of angst. Sort of like The White Stripes meets Alanis Morissette.
Scaffidi draws on “a ton of punk and indie rock” influences. Gates, 36, claims to have spent her high school days in “fringed leather,” the victim of an upbringing in small town Montana. She is still catching up to the “cool stuff.”
They claim that to get through a show without falling down or bleeding is a success. This is a reference to their mutual clumsiness. In reality, they project a confident, self-assured vibe without taking themselves too seriously. They favor quality over quantity and would rather play great for 30 minutes than good for 60 minutes.
Watching Scaffidi, it’s apparent she’s done this before. She doesn’t hold back vocally; she enjoys herself without becoming indulgent about it; and she glosses over mistakes or glitches without letting them become distractions. Behind her, Gates bangs away at the drums with a gusto that is a show by itself. She becomes so engrossed, it’s hard not to take the emotional journey with her.
To elicit such a performance, one needs only to hook the ladies up with some tasty tacos.
“We’re seriously so influenced by tacos,” says Scaffidi. It seems like a joke at first, but as they go on at length about various meats, cheeses and salsas, it becomes apparent that their affinity for tacos is no laughing matter.
“We find tacos more achievable than money,” Gates says. “If I have to go over 10 or 15 miles to play a show, I’d better be getting some tacos.”
Blunderbusst will celebrate their one year anniversary on June 9 at Comma Coffee in Carson City. There will be free cake. Additionally, they have “a bunch of shows” scheduled around the area this summer. They’ve written plenty of songs and have been recording sporadically, but they’re wary of setting a deadline for releasing an album.
“It’ll be done when it’s done,” says Scaffidi.