“It will probably be pretty loud and high energy… I’m guessing it will be loud and raw. Kathleen’s been working on some dance moves,” says Carmine Covelli. Covelli is currently drumming for The Julie Ruin, the Kathleen Hanna-fronted supergroup, featuring fellow Bikini Kill alum Kathi Wilcox, along with Kenny Mellman of Kiki and Herb, and Sara Landeau. The Julie Ruin’s debut album, Run Fast, is out today. They’re playing their album release show tonight at the Bowery Ballroom and they’re going to be down to Philly to play Union Transfer on Thursday, September 5th, which will be Kathleen’s first musical performance in Philly in nine years. And Covelli admits he’s not exactly sure what can be expected of the live experience: “We haven’t really played out much. This is kind of new. We’ve recorded a lot and rehearsed a lot, but this is kind of new to us.”
The Julie Ruin initially formed with the intention of learning and performing Kathleen Hannah’s 1998 Julie Ruin album, but gradually began composing their own songs. “We just organically began to write songs and then we decided, ‘We’re going to learn new material, as well,’” Covelli tells me. He goes on to tell me that the five of them quickly got wrapped up in the project: “The whole process has been kind of exciting. I remember listening to our rehearsals on an iPhone and we would be like, ‘This is definitely a cool song.’”
… And the sound of The Julie Ruin… Pretty much the same postmodern, punk sass Kathleen has been churning out for more than two decades now (Fans of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre will not be disappointed.) When I ask Covelli about The Julie Ruin’s sound, he tells me, “At the time we were recording it we were talking about indie music that we had been hearing, around town and on the radio, that was very clean and we didn’t think an overly-produced, clean sound was going to work for the songs that we had.” He also tells me that the finished product is a combination of wanting a not-exactly-clean sound, while wanting the music to sound good, regardless of where or how people are listening to it: “You want it to be gritty and you want it to be raw, but you also want it to sound good and all of the levels to be right. You want it to sound right on all devices, whether it be on a digital play or on vinyl. I found out that some kids just listen to music on their computer speakers, which seems insane, but we want it to sound good there, too.”
I’m curious as to how the particular five members of The Julie Ruin came together and Covelli explains to me, “Kathleen was like a casting director, who cast like the perfect group of people.” He tells me that he, personally, was asked to join the band at Kathleen’s birthday party, which has been one of his more existentially exciting stories of recent years. He goes on to explain the background and dynamic of the band, which is more than a bit amusing.
“I come from a metal, punk, psychedelic, hard rock world, but just because I do punk and metal stuff doesn’t mean I don’t listen to other stuff. I listen to everything from Chris Christopherson to My Bloody Valentine and Kate Bush. Kenny comes from a cabaret background. Sara comes from surf rock and girl groups… I mean, it sounds like it would be a total nightmare. Like, if you combined those things for a DJ set, it would be a total fucking trainwreck…”