A boy can be defined as much by behavior as physiology: making strange, abrasive noises for attention maybe, or seeking opportunities for mischief. There is a simplicity to these actions. When not done for fun, they’re performed simply to kill boredom, to fill a void. If there’s no noise, make some.
This attitude shines through in a band that consists of three teenage members who identify as female—Bell Crawford, Lizzy Ramos and Sunday Sasser-Pickard—plus one male, Garrett Caufield. They call themselves Boys, but three of the band's members are girls. Caufield, to blend in, wears makeup and a dress onstage.
“It’s just kind of a joke showing that gender is a social construct, and you can do anything you want to do,” said Sasser-Pickard.
That spirit of carefree “boyish” behavior shows itself in the band’s repertoire. Three days before their first show at Holland’s event Fresh Meat, Crawford and Sasser-Pickard put together a set. Crawford said the task was so immense, there were so many songs to make, that she was coming up with whatever was at the top of her head.
The song titles still bear the mark of this spontaneous, creative feeling. “I Wanna Die” consists of different lyrics each time, a result of Crawford improvising behind the microphone while Ramos strums a moody chord progression, Sasser-Pickard tugs at the bass strings and Caufield thumps the floor tom.
“We never write our lyrics down,” said Crawford.
“It’s whatever Bell is feeling that day, mostly,” said Ramos.
At times, those feelings are confrontational, often toward the band’s namesake. In one song, Crawford screams, “I don’t care about a fucking man / ’cause fucking men suck! suck!” She said the song is a response to the constant menace that cat-calling represents to her and her female friends.
“I punched a guy in the face for cat-calling me last week,” she said. “He was just saying, ’Oh, this girl’s a freak. She doesn’t talk much.’ I was in a bad mood, so I turned around and socked him.”
Ramos and Crawford play together in the band Snack. Where Crawford finds herself behind the drums in that band, in Boys, she stands front and center with the microphone, dancing around the stage or standing still, following every whim. Allowing herself to focus entirely on crafting melody, lyrics and stage presence gives a fresh energy to Boys.
For all that difference, many of the tactics of Snack are also used in Boys. Songs are composed similarly, with Ramos bringing a chord progression in, then adding a beat, then adding lyrics as a cherry on top. One of Snack’s songs: “Life is Okay Sometimes,” has been opened up and modified into a Boys song.
“It’s like the next generation Snack,” said Crawford. “It’s the full meal.”
It was a meal that first brought together Crawford and Sasser-Pickard. During lunch at their school, Crawford chose to sit across from Sasser-Pickard, then proceeded to talk her ear off. By the end, they decided to skip the rest of the day, head for Egg Roll King, and the two became friends, discovering they both shared similar music tastes.
“We were both in our Current Joys phase,” said Sasser-Pickard.
They decided to start a band, but with Fresh Meat rapidly approaching, they felt underprepared, and called for aid. Enter Ramos and Caufield, and Boys was formed in full, four best friends writing songs together.