Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin did the punk rock thing and they did it as well as it could be done. Their former band, Mika Miko , was a tornado of energy, a foundation of L.A.’s vibrant underground scene and a band that turned every show it played into an all-out party. If they didn’t perform at your city’s DIY/warehouse space over the course of their six years together, it’s was probably because you didn’t invite them.
Two years after Mika Miko’s breakup, the Clavin sisters (Jennifer is 28, Jessica is 25) are ramping things up with their new band, Bleached . And they’re doing that by toning things down. If Mika Miko was a gang that happened to play music, Bleached is definitely more of a band. “There was no mood to it,” Jessica Clavin says of Mika Miko’s in-your-face, aggressive songs. “It was just party music.” With Bleached, the melodies and hooks are much more at the forefront. These are catchy songs made for singing, not shouting, along.
Bleached has released three 7-inch singles, is working on a full-length (on a label to be determined) for later this year and visits the Black Cat on Wednesday night, opening for Smith Westerns. Click Track talked to the Clavin sisters about transitioning from a hobby to a career.
With Mika Miko it seemed like being in a band was just something that ended up happening, a fun thing you were doing. With the new band, did you go in with different ideas, a different mindset? Was it more goal-oriented and less instinctual?
Jennifer Clavin: Totally. Our first band was, what you said, just kind of playing music to be in a band. And then I think because we ended up being in that band for so long without any plan, we decided to start Bleached with more of a plan.
Does it still feel punk rock even if you think about things and have a plan?
Jennifer Clavin: I mean it doesn’t feel as punk. Bands that are punk, they don’t really have plans. [With Mika Miko] it was just, let’s start a band and play music. And now we’re actually trying to write good songs and caring a little bit more. Before we didn’t really care. (Laughs.)
What was the main takeaway, something you definitely wanted to do differently [this time around]?
Jennifer Clavin: A major thing that we decided to do was to just make the band our band. We wanted to write everything. Just because it would give us more control and we would be able to go further with things and not having to work around four other schedules. That was a major difference. And also the writing style. We wanted to try to write songs that were complex … Personally, I almost think that Mika Miko was almost unlistenable.
Jessica Clavin: I feel like anyone listening to Mika Miko through a recording was just remembering the live show they went to … And when we’re talking about being in a punk band versus now, with touring — I feel like I’m a lot more careful about things. Before I was just like, all right, let’s get crazy! Now I think about what I’m doing, where I want to sleep, getting good sleep.
Jennifer Clavin: Making it more like a job. Not just, oh we’re in a band, going on tour!
There have been a handful of 7-inches so far. Did you want to slowly work your way up to an album?
Jennifer Clavin: We just wanted to experiment with different songs and not have to put them all on one full-length. But then I also think 7-inches are so cool. It says so much, the way it’s packaged, the songs that are on it. Now we have three of them, it’s like a collection is being made. It’s establishing a style, an aesthetic. Also I like how each of them have different style songs. Both the a-side and b-side are similar, but from 7-inch to 7-inch you can hear the growth of the music.
Is there anything that you’re doing now that your 22-year-old punk rock self may have been surprised by?
Jennifer Clavin: One thing is that we have a manager. When I was younger I was like, [Expletive] managers! Also now we bring [other musicians] and have people play with us. I never really thought about that — it’s just a band, everyone does what they’re doing. I never thought I’d be in a band and be like, Well this is the bass line that you’re going to play. It feels kind of weird but it’s kind of cool.