Bree McKenna of Tacocat talks Seattle, sequins, and ‘Twilight’

Pretty in punk: The babes of Tacocat.
Pretty in punk: The babes of Tacocat. Michael Lavine

For Seattle punk-rock palindromic foursome Tacocat, balance is key. A band built on a lark and a foundation of friendship in 2007 has since evolved into the hyper-relevant band you wish you were in. Emily Nokes, Bree McKenna, Lelah Maupin, and Eric Randall set out to disrupt the status-bro with their riotous pop sensibilities and their shared disdain for mansplaining and weekends. They've since performed at a Bernie Sanders rally, described themselves as a "tiny font" band when it came to their placement on the 2017 Coachella poster, and once provided High Times with a detailed list of their preferred munchies, which range everywhere from specific New York City bodega sandwiches to Skittles.

While this may be the band's last jaunt supporting their 2016 release Lost Time, Bree McKenna assures that new material is on the way. When we chat with McKenna, she dishes on the cost of being an artist, her stoner-fied Twitter admissions, and Tacocat's obsession with Detroit's own Deadbeat Beat.

Metro Times: What did we catch you in the middle of today?

Bree McKenna: Honestly, I was just worried about the Blue Angels air show interrupting our interview. I just didn't know it was happening. And it scared me so bad. I was like, oh my god are we at war?

MT: What is the Tacocat origin story?

McKenna: Ten years ago we were all friends in our early 20s and we just wanted to start a band for fun to play at parties. We met going to shows and having the same taste and it just grew from there. We learned our instruments in the band. Tacocat is a product of that whole "we should start a band" and we did. I've had so many imaginary bands but this one stuck.

MT: At what point did you begin to take it seriously?

McKenna: It was a slow progression at first but it happened pretty organically. It was like, "We want to play a show," and did it. That became, "It'd be cool to play a venue and not just a house party." So, we did it. We wanted to tour the west coast, then a national tour, and tour Europe. Our collective goals were always changing.

MT: Seattle has been sort of romanticized as a music mecca. How has the scene changed since you guys created Tacocat in 2007?

McKenna: Well, Seattle at the time was bro-punk, very male dominated, and lacked exclusive messages to women. I was thinking it would be fun to get everyone together and play music and infiltrate this scene, which has changed a lot in Seattle. We started playing and meeting like-minded bands. I would say now Seattle has a very strong female, queer-based music scene. I think it's more inclusive now.

We thought it was a Seattle problem, but when we go on tour everyone is saying the same thing. Over the past two years especially it's amping up to be a crisis in our respective communities. Every city in America is facing price increases in rent. It's becoming difficult to be an artist in any city, but here especially, because Amazon priced a lot of people out by putting their headquarters here.

MT: Where does your brand of satire and punk fit into the sociopolitical Dumpster fire that is 2018? Is there a responsibility as artists to have a message or a platform?

McKenna: We've always used satire as a vehicle because it's how we express ourselves, we listen to fun music, and that's how we communicate. I don't think that it is we feel a responsibility because those are just our feelings. On this particular tour, we are organizing register-to-vote tables and it's important to us to be able to do that.

MT: What have you learned in your 10 years of Tacocat?

McKenna: We stayed in the DIY scene for a really long time, slowly growing and learning our instruments, and learning how to tour, which was so great for us because we met so many amazing people through DIY. For example, we met Deadbeat Beat. They threw a house party for us. They're one of our favorite bands in the country. We're obsessed.

MT: It's been two years since Lost Time. Please tell me you're working on new stuff and what does it sound like?

McKenna: We are wrapping up some recordings. But we have nothing to announce. This is our last spin around the northeast for this record. Honestly, all of our records have a pretty natural change as they go on. Our first record was very sloppy, punk, sort of chanty. It's progressed into much poppier, which is where we're headed.

MT: Your Twitter is pretty fire. But I have a few questions. You just watched the Twilight saga...

McKenna: Oh god. Well, we watched the first Breaking Dawn on tour together and we were just like laughing the whole time. We've all separately watched all the Twilights and have a lot of inside jokes about it. But I finally got around to finishing the final movie last night. I think it's pretty fun to know these pop culture phenomena. It helps me understand the teens and the world.

MT: There's a lot to unpack with Twilight.

McKenna: Twilight is crazy! There's a lot there. Bella's whole role bums me out because she's so submissive. It's also crazy that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fanfic.

MT: Did you know that E.L. James wrote much of it on her Blackberry?

McKenna: No! Oh my god, that makes so much sense now.

MT: You admitted that you're addicted to subscription box services. If you could create one that doesn't exist, what would it be?

McKenna: I think it would be cool to have one for bad thrift store sequins. Someone needs to start that. We'll send you a sequin garment in your size from a Goodwill. I have so many regrettable sequin situations, lots of shoulder pads.

MT: They can't be in good shape, though.

McKenna: No. And they have to smell like '70s sweat.

MT: I like the name Regrettable Sequin Situation for an imaginary band name.

McKenna: Let's do it!

Tacocat will perform with Deadbeat Beat on Saturday, Aug. 11 at Deluxx Fluxx (moved from El Club); 1274 Library St., Detroit;; Doors at 8 p.m.; Tickets are $12-$14.

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