Vivian Girls - Cassie Ramone interview

'We are weathered women.’

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Vivian Girls - Cassie Ramone interview

‘It kinda bums me out if a reviewer compares us to anything twee or C86,’ explains Cassie Ramone, frontwoman of Vivian Girls, taking a break from doing her laundry at home in Brooklyn to talk to The List. ‘Bands like that really weren’t an influence on us at all. That whole sound evokes a light-heartedness, or a naivété, which is really not us. We are weathered women.’

The ‘weathered women’ making up Vivian Girls’ current psych-pop trio (previous members Ali Koehler and Frankie Rose left to join Best Coast and go solo, respectively) are Katy Goodman, aka solo songstress La Sera, and Fiona Campbell - one half of the duo Coasting. But probably best to side-step comparisons between their projects, and Ramone’s own side-project, The Babies, with Kevin Morby from Woods. (That bums Ramone out too.)

Instead, the title of recent LP Share the Joy (Polyvinyl), is how Ramone sees their music; not defiantly cheerful, or what would Ramone calls ‘crazy-person happy’ (although their skuzzy girl-group harmonies do make for some undeniably swoonsome and well-crafted pop); it’s named after a Burt Bacharach track. ‘I’d imagined it would be a really happy, upbeat song, but it’s not. It’s a really sad, haunting song. I guess I’d hope our music would also be a cathartic experience for the listener, I can’t really say we’re trying to achieve anything though. We’re just trying to do what we do - without abandoning our punk roots.’

Album three definitely sounds more cleaned-up and polished than their last two; their self-titled debut and Everything Goes Wrong, with the DIY dissonance and rough, fuzzy edges of the first two gradually being replaced by sharper, poppier, 60s girl-group melodies. But the moodiness, and tainted take on love songs still remains.

‘It’s a natural evolution for us,’ says Ramone. ‘We were just ready to have everything not be so fuzzy all of the time.’

The next few months look busy for Ramone; she’s recording an EP with The Babies, before Vivian Girls are touring Europe, then back to the States to tour with The Babies. After that? ‘Hopefully a vacation - somewhere like Tucson. I want to go and hang out in the desert for a few months. That’s probably my favourite place. It’s a really good place to go and think. I feel really at peace with the world there.’

After touring for years, and playing in various bands, Ramone knows when she needs some time on her lonesome. ‘You have to learn how to be alone, even when you’re surrounded by people. I’ve had to figure out how to feel like I’m alone, even if I’m in a car full of people. That’s really important to do. Otherwise, I start to feel really cranky and irritable. Once you’ve done it a bunch, touring is just a different form of real life, you know? It’s not that hard, if you do it right, it’s usually a lot of fun. And looking out the window is where I get a lot of my ideas. I love all that Douglas Coupland, modern America imagery, so the offbeat stuff you see on the side of a highway from a tour-bus is usually pretty good for inspiration.’

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