Chastity Belt, a self-described "post-post-punk" Seattle-based four-piece with song names like "Cool Slut" and "Nip Slip," is a proudly feminist band.
Don't call them a girl band.
On second thought, go right ahead.
Chastity Belt, a self-described "post-post-punk" Seattle-based four-piece with song names like "Cool Slut" and "Nip Slip," is a proudly feminist band. Upon listening to those songs, however, it becomes clear this is not a band to be pigeonholed in any single way.
"On one hand … why does [being in a female band] always have to be so important?" said Lydia Lund, the band's 25-year-old lead guitarist. "But it actually is really important to us."
Chastity Belt — which also includes guitarist/singer Julia Shapiro, bassist Annie Truscott and drummer Gretchen Grimm — formed in college town Walla Walla, Wash., and at the time put out appropriately collegiate party songs. Now they find themselves with a slightly more mature, yet no less fun, sound after a move to Seattle, and garnering a wider fanbase thanks to a tour with the critically acclaimed Courtney Barnett. They play Friday night (without Barnett) at Metro Gallery.
"We still have college kids. We just played a show in Portland [recently] and there were lots of young people dancing and they were definitely drunk. We still have maintained that fanbase, but it's also shifted," Lund said, calling from the road "somewhere in southern Oregon."
Following 2013's "No Regerts," Chastity Belt released "Time to Go Home" in March, which they recorded in a deconsecrated church in Anacortes, Wash., before signing to record label Hardly Art. The welcome respite was spent recording the album to tape with José Díaz Rohena, and later mixed with Wire guitarist Matthew Simms.
"In the past we just recorded in basically a garage in, like, two days," Lund said. "That's where we recorded 'No Regerts,' and that was pretty stressful, trying to do it so quickly. So we were looking forward to getting out of Seattle and having more time."
Contrary to some reports, Lund and Shapiro were not new to their instruments upon forming Chastity Belt — they've played guitar since middle school — but regardless, jamming out, free from skill-based limitations, has proven to be a positive force.
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"We can now write songs that can just come out organically," Lund said. "For the most part though, our songs are still mostly written where Julia comes to us with some chords or maybe even a full-formed song, and once we start jamming on it we'll figure out the structure."
Also organic are the feminist overtones present in songs like "Drone" — "He was just another man trying to teach me something" — which represent a natural extension of the band members' upbringings and personalities, rather than a concerted effort.
"There's so much pressure to be eloquent and to be PC, to make sure that the way you talk about feminism is the right way to talk about feminism. And that's exhausting," Lund said. "I'm really grateful that our personalities lend themselves to this more [expressive] way of talking about feminism."
Like any band comprised of women, Chastity Belt still is not free of gender-based assumptions and scrutiny. However, sometimes more attention paid to elements of music by women can have unintended positive consequences, Lund said.
"Female musicians' lyrics tend to get so much more attention than male. And in so many ways that's great, because I do feel like we have a lot to say," she said. "We did this panel with [music critic Jessica Hopper] where she talked a lot about the riot grrrl movement and how everyone felt like they had to yell to get attention, and I don't feel like we have to yell anymore. I'm so grateful for that."