Bacchae on Greek Tragedies and Good Timing - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Maud: Hi, I'm Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I talk to queer musicians and bands about their music, their experiences, and much much more. Today, I am with DC punk band Bacchae. Hi, would you like to introduce yourself?
Katie: Hi, I'm Katie from Bacchae, representing the rest of the band tonight. My pronouns are she/they, and I am the lead singer and I play keyboards in Bacchae.
M: Amazing! It's so wonderful to have you here, and the first thing that I really want to zero in on is your band name because it's quite unique! I definitely had to do my own research on where the word came from, and found out that there was a famous greek tragedy called The Bacchae, which was then tied to an event that is much more familiar probably to a lot of us (I know it certainly was to me) which is The Bacchanalia. So what inspired your band name and is it in any way tied to this literary history?
K: Yes, so when we came up with the band name we all wrote down a bunch of ideas, and discussed, you know, which one like felt right or just had that like special something you know? I don't know, like we just figured if we made a list and looked at it for a while and talked about it we would settle, and like one of the choices that we wrote down and Eileen actually suggested The Bacchae which and it just sounded kind of mysterious, but it also had a good backstory, where it's an ancient greek play that was written by Euripides, and it's basically about it's about Dionysus and his followers and his followers are a bunch of women and like they go out and they have parties in the woods, and the King of Thebes doesn't really like that, and he doesn't like that Dionysus has all these people following him and has all this attention and he's trying to sneak into one of these parties and the women who follow dionysus rip him to shreds basically is what happens at the end of the at the end of the play.
K: Yeah, it’s just a cool storyline
M: Very cool, yeah it's cool to see that those you know are related to each other. Can I ask, you know maybe what else was on the table when you were thinking about names?
K: um, I don’t…
M: Had anything that stood out or?
K: I honestly don't remember. I know that I looked at it, yeah we've been a band for a little over four years now, and I know that I looked at like the we have like some lists that we were emailing back and forth at some point and I know I looked at it at some point in the past like two years and I was like “oh my god like, we considered this?” or like things that I wrote down I was like “that sounds horrible like what was I thinking?” I don't know I mean it's funny I think like ultimately it kind of doesn't matter. I'm sorry, I'm like wrestling my dog right now um..
M: That's okay [notices the dog] aw, hello! What a lovely addition!
K: I think ultimately it doesn't, it kind of doesn't matter what you choose to name your band because it's all about the music you put out, and what you do. I mean, it can like it can like trip you up I guess if you have like a band name that like sounds a certain way, like I kind of worried at first that Bacchae sounded too much like a metal band name, but I don't know. Yeah I think ultimately like it doesn't you don't don't need to stress out about choosing band name like you'll grow into the name eventually.
M: That's a great piece of advice, thank you for sharing that! And then next I kind of want to move into your music, so your latest album, Pleasure Vision came out in 2020 and features the single Life Online, which speaks to privacy, greed, consumerist culture, and more. Due to the timing of the release of this album I have to ask if the idea or the lyrics for this song existed prior to quarantine or if it was really inspired by the crisis?
K: It was, so the album the album actually we wrote most of it like two like a year and a half two years ago, because we recorded it in at the end of 2019 and then we released it in March of 2020 this past year, so I can't remember, I think that might have been one of the songs that we wrote like closer to recording so we wrote in like summer of 2019? But yeah it has like it's become kind of yeah like listening to it now after you know everything's or many things have gone online it is kind of weird we have thought about making a music video for it but... where was I going? I'm so sorry I'm still I'm still like wrestling my dog is trying to chew on a bunch of cardboard.
M: Yeah I know, I mean I was going through the lyrics for that song, I was just like “wow they must have written this after because it's just like every single word connects to people's like current experiences” and even like the tone of the song is really feels like it's drawing from that like panic and grief that everyone's going through, so no it's so interesting to hear that it existed like prior.
K: There have definitely been moments where I've thought I have like thought about the song like actually not like after writing i do think about it when I'm shopping online I'm just like just like thinking like this is so twisted like you know i shouldn't be ordering something online right now and like every I don't know like in the middle of a pandemic you know like why i don't deserve to like you know buy something that's gonna like give me pleasure or whatever but yeah yeah we were that was before the pandemic
M: Yeah oh totally fair and I mean it's a really hard time to be balancing that that mix of you know “I want this because it might bring me joy,” or you know “I just kind of want to get something,” what are the ethics of ordering stuff online right now what am I participating in you know that's it's a really hard time for that and you know I think a lot of people have been reflecting more on that uh so I hope people go check out that song in particular so they can see you know, how it might relate to their current experience as well.
K: Thank you.
M: And then from an outside perspective it looks as though your aesthetic is kind of going back and forth. So your debut album Down the Drain from 2017 has a very brooding cover but it was followed in 2018 by your self-titled EP that was very bright, and colorful, but then Pleasure Vision came back with that you know brooding darker cover again, and I was just wondering you know, are these changes reflecting anything? Are they reflecting a change in tone or maybe feelings that are going on behind the music?
K: I don't know, I would say that oh no I would say I'm so sorry! I would say that I don't know, I would say that all of our music is pretty, or not all of it, a lot of it is pretty dark and brooding I think. Also like as a songwriter, I like to write about things that you know feel bad as a way to kind of like expel the demons and you know, just as a cathartic process. I would say yeah I guess we do have like some popular sounding songs on pleasure vision and that's something that all four of us listen to pretty eclectic mix of music, and we're always trying to experiment with different genres and different song structures when we sit down to write songs.
M: Absolutely, yeah so it's kind of cool that you just you know, decided what kind of art style you were feeling then it was just kind of you know what you think would look cool for each of those albums and really picking it out based on that it seems…
K: Yeah our the so down the drain our friend one of our friends who Andrew and Eileen and I were living with at the time, she drew that and we yeah we used that and then I designed the cover for Pleasure Vision and we used Rorschach Test inkblots and yeah that's, I don't know…
M:Yeah I know I thought that was really cool especially with you know the inkblot tests on Pleasure Vision’s cover because it really just, it's that kind of artwork that you're like “oh this album's gonna make me like self-reflect, it's gonna make me like look deep inside myself as well,” and I think that's a really cool way to go into listening to something
K: Yeah yeah that we kind of talked about how you know you can get totally different, there's like the intended meaning that the person who writes the thought or the you know when you write a song you have like an intended meaning that sometimes you know people can get totally different interpretations of the song it can mean something like us one song could mean like something really sad for someone, or be like this beautiful thing that reminds them of falling in love or getting married, and it's just you know it's because you can interpret the lyrics a different way or like the song just comes to you at a different time in your life
K: Yeah, yeah
M: Yeah and that's so important to think about. Well, if anyone else wants to be listening to this incredible music that we have been talking about be it the EP, be it Down The Drain, be it Pleasure Vision or if you want to stay tuned to any future music and follow them on social media you can find all those links below the video, thank you so much for being part of this week's Tunes Tuesday it was so wonderful to have you here do you want to say anything before we go?
K: I want to thank you especially, but also anyone watching for putting up with my dog! And yeah and thank you for asking us to be on it, we saw that Suzie True who's also in Get Better Records that they were on it and that made us you know want to talk to you even more and anyways I yeah, you can find us at Bacchae.bandcamp.com, or BacchaeBand on any social media. I'm pretty much hands yeah
M: Amazing, and for those who haven't seen it yet because you mentioned it I will also make sure to be linking Suzie True's wonderful interview at the end of this video so you can check it out next. bye folks!
*Life Online by Bacchae begins playing*