Something about Tacocat feels important to me. This intuition is not unique. The spunky, pop-infused rock quartet has been drumming up attention since the release of their second album, NVM, in 2014. Since then they have toured frequently and extensively across the US and beyond. Their newest album, Lost Time, dropped earlier this month. They recently opened a rally for Bernie Sanders in their home state of Washington and received multiple press and airtime opportunities during their stint at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas. In some serendipitous stroke of collective unconscious, Katy Perry seemingly lifted their shark costumes from the music video for “Crimson Waves” in her 2015 Super Bowl performance, forcing Tacocat’s hand in drawing up some retributive demands. But most notably, Tacocat is praised for the feminist bent that is made apparent in their songs, among them celebrating menstruation, scorning catcallers, and sneering at the commonly known notion of “mansplaining.”
But that’s not endemically what endears them to people. Despite the tongue-in-cheek commentary their lyrics often provide, musically, Tacocat veers into a joyous celebration of poppy, punky mellifluousness, both on recording and live. They seem first and foremost interested in representing a good time. Which, in all honesty, is exactly what a growing consciousness about the state of gender politics needs. We can’t be angry all the time. If we are, we’re no better than – to quote comedian and notorious podcaster Marc Maron – the “unfuckable hate nerds” who populate men’s rights activist websites and seriously detriment whatever validity their arguments concerning men’s issues actually hold, by resorting to childish name-calling and contradictory demands of the female demographic.
When I had the opportunity to sit down with drummer Lelah Maupin and bassist Bree McKenna some odd months ago, my suspicions were largely confirmed. “I feel we’re very driven by what we think is funny and important at the moment. There’s just so many emotions that you have every day that I think dominate a lot of our songwriting. Like there’s definitely themes about love, and that’s very consuming and important, but there’s so much other stuff. Like street harassment, and periods. Or Peeps,” Bree assures me.
Despite obvious setbacks that they have experienced as a band, having so far enjoyed a nine-year tenure, both ladies seem deterrent to the notion that they are particularly oppressed, or angry. “If we play a city that doesn’t respond as well to us, it’s not like we edit our setlist or anything,” Maupin tells me.
“We have gotten some really horrible comments, of course,” McKenna adds.
“And,” Maupin chimes in, “for the first five years we were a band, we couldn’t go on tour without someone shouting ‘Tacopussy!’ And I don’t even really know what that was supposed to do… like, put us in our places?” This unfortunately does not surprise me, but neither member seems to be holding any nefarious grudges towards this sort of treatment. It is at once, something to be expected and tolerated, but also something to be grateful for the absence of, most of the time, these days.
At one point, conversation steers itself towards other forms of entertainment. We are all appreciative of female stand-up and I was grateful to hear my own sentiments echoed in these headstrong ladies: female stand-up is great (like, really great), but there is an incredibly disproportionate amount of jokes made about how jokes cannot be made about menstruation, than there ever have been jokes that are actually made… about menstruation. I don’t consider it necessarily such a small feat, then, that Tacocat’s single, “Crimson Waves”, has landed so successfully in light of this.
“Satire,” McKenna says, “can be a very sincere way of informing people.” Satire is a sort of suture solution to a sort of elevation of emotion and action in movements and beliefs. Sometimes, I say, the extremism is a little too extreme. It can be off-putting. It can be hard to get behind.
Maupin agrees. “For me, personally, that’s how I feel too. When things get a little bit too extreme, I definitely agree but I don’t feel comfortable doing the exact same thing. For anything to really work, it has to be kind of smart. Like comedy doesn’t really work unless it’s smart. Not to say that yelling isn’t smart, but… I don’t know.”