Although this was never intended to be part of the story, I’ve actually spent much of the past few hours live-Tweeting back and forth with LA-based punks Death Valley Girls about the 18-inning, Game 3 of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox… And, in a weird way, chatting with some of my generation’s greatest garage rockers made me feel better about my greatest guilty pleasure indulgence of white American culture… But anyway, Death Valley Girls, who would seem to be inspired in equal parts by MC5, doom metal, and the most profound sounds of the Delta, released their third album, Darkness Rains, earlier this month on Suicide Squeeze. They even managed to snag hero, friend, and fan Iggy Pop to star in their recent music video for single “Disaster (Is What We’re After),” in which the Godfather of Punk recreates “Andy Warhol Eating a Hamburger.” Death Valley Girls are currently in the middle of a nearly-two-month US tour and will be, once again, headlining Kung Fu Necktie this coming Tuesday, October 30th. I recently got a chance to chat with Death Valley Girls vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Bonnie Bloomgarden. Here’s what she had to say about the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection and their latest record.
Izzy Cihak: Since this is Philadelphia-based publication, I’m curious your thoughts on the city. Any favorite experiences? You’ve played here a number of times over the years. (I saw you at Kung Fu Necktie in 2016, but I’m pretty sure I also missed you a handful of times.)
Bonnie Bloomgarden: That was one of our favorite shows in Philly! We have had so much fun in Philly, but our most memorable experience was when we went into a wormhole, I think 🙁 We started in Philly, drove an hour and a half south on the 95 and then arrived in Philly an hour and a half later!! We have no idea what happened. It’s one of our weirdest occurrences to date. We recorded everyone in the van’s account of the occurrence separately after just to make sure it happened, it did!!
Izzy: I know you just released Darkness Rains. How do you feel as though the album compares to previous releases? Was the writing and recording process kind of standard, or were you trying anything new?
Bonnie: The writing process was different in the sense it was done over a little longer than usual! We would record the basic track – drums, bass, guitar, and organ – and then add lots over it later! We had lots of friends come and sing, play synth/organ and saxophone too, which was really fun.
Izzy: What would you consider to be the album’s most significant influences?
Bonnie: Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street and The Stooges were major musical influences. But mainly we wanted to talk/think more about death! We think it’s so interesting that everyone dies and how little we talk about it. We don’t want people to be sad about death, and want to know what people think happens after life. Our main interest in the paranormal is finding out the mysteries of the universe – which we think you find out when you die – but we wanna know before we die!
Izzy: Do you have any significant influences that you think might surprise your fans?
Bonnie: Dogs are pretty significant influences! (Our record is named after one of our favorite dogs, Darkness).
Izzy: I dig the whole album, but I especially love “Wear Black,” which just sounds like the absolutely perfect amalgam of riot grrrl and garage rock… or Sleater-Kinney on LSD (Hopefully you take that as a compliment.) How did that particular track come about?
Bonnie: Thank you for the compliment! Not sure what the origin of that song is, but I do know it is about our stolen 65’ Mustang (guitar). She was a beautiful orange guitar with stars, and when she was stolen we decided it was only right to have black instruments until we get her back!
Izzy: In addition to your music, I really like your recent music videos (especially “More Dead”). What would you consider to be the most significant influences behind the visual elements of Death Valley Girls?
Bonnie: Thank you! We make videos with Kansas Bowling and Dylan Mars Greenberg! Videos are one really cool way we getta collaborate with them! So usually they come up with an idea and we are like, “Holy shit, that’s such a good idea!”
Izzy: How is it being on Suicide Squeeze? They’re definitely one of my favorite labels. Any favorite labelmates? I’m definitely a big fan of The Coathangers.
Bonnie: Suicide Squeeze – David and Meg rule! They are as excited as we are about stuff and energy is the most important part of making dreams come true! We love, love most of the bands on the label, but our best friend bands are LA WITCH and The Coathangers for sure! We strive to be more like them!
Izzy: You’re in the middle of a pretty big handful of dates. Are there any gigs you’re especially excited to play, or just cities that you’re especially excited to visit or revisit?
Bonnie: Philadelphia!! 🙂 That’s the only city we want to go to! 🙂
Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience when you return to Kung Fu Necktie? I definitely had a blast the last time (At least I believe it was the last time?) you were there.
Bonnie: We played there with Roky Erickson and L7 since that show! So, this will be very exciting to see all our new friends we made when we played with them!
Izzy: What do you have in the works for the end of 2018, after these dates wraps? Is there anything you’re especially excited about, or are you more excited to be able to take a bit of a break?
Bonnie: No days off!! We are excited to tour more and hopefully tour more after that!