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Interviews: Getting sentimental with Lexi McCoy of Suzie True

Last week, Los Angeles-based trio Suzie True released their superb second album Sentimental Scum. The album sees the band exploring queer identity, talking about the journey to sobriety, dealing with past relationships, building up self-worth, and highlighting the importance of friendship through their signature blend of garage pop, indie rock, punk, and grunge. Sentimental Scum is out now via Get Better Records and you can pre-order the vinyl right here. Suzie True will be touring California this summer and playing Fest in Gainesville this October. Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist and bassist Lexi McCoy over Zoom to talk about the new album, dealing with emotions, looking after your mental health, the significance of friendship, and so much more. Read the interview below!

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You recorded Sentimental Scum with Alex Rogers in Joshua Tree at an Airbnb using a DIY setup. What was the recording process like?

We were working with a really small budget, as we do, and we got this really cheap Airbnb in Joshua Tree for a week and we all just stayed there. Alex set up the amps in different rooms and the drums mic’d up in the garage and we recorded the whole thing live. We did that over the course of five days or so in Joshua Tree. On the last day or two, we did the vocals. It was amazing! It was so much fun. [laughs]

Would you record that way again?

Yeah! I think the next time we record we want to record in a studio but honestly who knows? We might just do the garage method again. It’s way more fun. It was like a week-long sleepover. [laughs]

How would you describe the magic of Joshua Tree?

Joshua Tree is one of my favourite places ever. I think it’s so beautiful and very calm and peaceful. It’s very close to LA, about 2-ish hours away. I have family from Arizona so I love the desert and hot weather. Being out there always makes me happy. All three of us band members really like Joshua Tree so it made sense to get an Airbnb there.

The cover of the album was done by Creepy Gals. How did you decide who to work with?

I had been obsessed with her art for years. I follow her on Instagram and I have some of her art prints and a shirt I bought from her website. I just love her aesthetic. I was like, “I really want her to do the album art but I don’t know her. So I’m going to cold email her and just ask and wait a couple of weeks. If she never gets back to me, that’s fine. I’ll figure out something else”. Like shoot for the moon, fall among the stars. She emailed me back right away and was like, “Yeah, I’d love to do this!” I told her to do whatever she wanted because I love her art so much. I told her what the album was about, sent her our music, and was like, “Just do whatever you want”. It came out incredible! I’m so obsessed with it. I feel like our aesthetic fits in the world that she creates. I would want to live in her world. She’s amazing.

Sentimental Scum is angrier than your debut album Saddest Girl At The Party. What inspired this direction?

I am a person who takes a long time to process things. I started writing these songs during the lockdown part of COVID and that felt like a big time for processing. I feel like a lot of these feelings that I was having that were previously rooted in sadness started to feel like anger. I started processing more and I started feeling anger. I wanted to work through that anger with these songs. That is important to me because I do feel like anger is a natural emotion that we experience no matter what and if we can find a healthy outlet for our anger then that’s the best-case scenario. I feel like music is the perfect outlet for anger rather than snapping at someone. Like putting that angry, frustrated energy into the music just to fucking get it out.

What’s helped you to embrace your emotions and prioritise your mental health?

Probably focusing less on others in terms of people pleasing. Going inward and doing a lot of work on myself and trying to do a lot of healing from trauma and different things so I could grow as a person.

Your journey to sobriety is a huge part of the album. What would you say to someone who wants to become sober?

This is a cliche phrase – but I would say, your bottom is when you stop digging. I think people feel like, “If I don’t get in a drunk driving car accident or if I don’t lose all my money or have this horrific thing happen to me then there’s no reason to stop drinking or using”. You get to decide to stop drinking or using whenever you want. It doesn’t have to look like what other people’s journeys look like. Whenever you decide that you want to live soberly, that’s up to you and it doesn’t have to be this low low. I think people often think that to get sober they have to have their life end up in shambles and that’s not the case. Whenever you decide that you wanna get sober, you can. Things don’t have to get that bad.

How would you describe your songwriting process?

I usually write by myself to get the skeleton of the song where I make a song structure and have the chords. I’ll usually just write it on bass and then I’ll record that with the biggest part of that being the melody and lyrics. I’ll build it on Garageband with fake drums and stuff to get it how I see it sounding. Then I send it to the band and they listen to it and we all get together and really work on it. That’s when it turns into a song. That’s when we’re like, “We’ll change the song structure”. I’ll change the lyrics. Sarah will write her own drum part. She’s an incredible drummer. G writes her guitar parts. G usually helps me with a lot of song structure things too because I’m like, “Uhh verse, chorus, verse, chorus – the song ends!” [laughs] And she’s like, “Let’s add this cool bridge!” She really helps give it that structure that it needs. We’ll tweak things and take things out. We’ve turned two songs into one song before. I feel like whatever I bring to them, they really are the ones that make it into the song.

On “Drain” you talk about learning to let go of the hate in your heart and in your head. What has helped you to do that?

I think first and foremost, I just try to be grateful for every day. I make a gratitude list that I send to my friend every single day of stuff like, “I’m grateful for these ten things”. Sometimes I’ll be having a really hard day and I’ll be like, “I’m grateful for water and food. I’m grateful I have arms and legs”, just these bare minimum things. Sometimes I’m having a great day and it’s like, “I’m so grateful that I got to hang out with my friends and we got to do this”. Really focusing on what I’m grateful for and focusing less on myself has helped. It can always be so much fucking worse. We all go through shit. We all experience trauma and obviously, no one should experience trauma but I see that as a way for me to grow and use that experience to support others and use it in a way that is beautiful. Everyone is going to experience shit, that’s just the human experience. I just wanna work with it.

On “Wallflower” you say “Being sad isn’t romantic / It just fucking sucks”. Why do you think sadness has been romanticised? What can we do to see it as it is?

Sadness is another important emotion. You gotta feel it. You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you just have to go through it. I think when I was younger, maybe in my early 20s, it would be rainy and I’d be walking and I’d be like, “Ugh, I’m so sad! I’m getting broken up with. I’m going to smoke this cigarette and kinda romanticize it a little bit”. And there’s nothing wrong with that! You have to do that sometimes. But as I started getting older sometimes I’d be like, “Man, this just fucking sucks! I can’t romanticise my way out of this one. This just fucking sucks!”. And that’s ok too. You don’t need to romanticise everything. You can just be sad and lay in your bed and binge-watch Netflix. [laughs] Give yourself permission for it to fucking suck and be sad and you’ll get through it.

At the end of your song “Sentimental Scum” you say, “I promise I’ll grow up on my 26th birthday”. What does growing up mean to you?

I wrote that song when I got laid off from my job and had just started trying to get sober. I moved back in with my parents in Central California for a few months. I felt like, “I am a failure! Here I am, back in my hometown”. I was speaking kinda literally like, “By the time I turn 26 I will get my shit together” because I wrote that song a few months before my birthday. It did not happen. It takes a little longer than that. [laughs] I got laid off from my job, I needed to get sober, I needed to move back in with my parents. I was still growing through all of that. I guess I just meant it more in a way of how society sees us growing up. There’s nothing wrong with doing any of that. It’s not linear.

Friendship is at the core of the band and it really shines through in your music videos. How do you keep your friendship strong?

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, this is so cheesy, but on my favourite movie Josie and the Pussycats, they say, “Friends first, band second”. [laughs] The band is super important to all of us but I make sure that we’re friends before we are a band. If one of us is going through a hard time, we rally around that person. It’s easy to get caught up in the band stuff but first and foremost we look out for each other and our mental health and our physical health. We take care of each other, we really do. All of us are orphans in a little bit of a way so we just made our little queer chosen family. We love each other and we have each other’s backs. We make sure we do a lot of non-band-related stuff. We have dinners and watch movies and do stuff where we can just hang out and not worry about getting shit done.

Your video for “Keep In Touch” was directed by Rae Mystic and has a colourful, romantic feel to it. What was the filming process for the video like?

I went to college in San Luis Obispo where the hotel where we shot it is. and I’m obsessed with that hotel. [laughs] It’s called the Madonna Inn and is a super cheesy, super pink, theme hotel. Our friend Rae, who directed it and did an amazing job, is also obsessed with that hotel. We were both very familiar with it because they had been there a lot and I had been there a lot. We were kinda like, “Let’s just get a room. Everything’s there. Let’s just figure it out when we’re there! Bring the camera and bring some outfits”. We kinda had no plan. [laughs] Our plan was just to make something that looks pretty and Rae did amazing at that. It was super fun and very little pressure. We hung out and shot it in a few hours. We were just running around the hotel and then we went swimming in the pool at night. It was amazing! [laughs] I always wanted to stay in the room we shot in but I never had enough money so it was really cool that we got to stay in the room and shoot in it.

You have some Californian shows coming up in the summer and you’ll be playing Fest in Florida in October. What are you looking forward to the most about these shows?

I think summer will be really fun because the shows are in California and they’re with a lot of friends. We’ll be playing LA and going to the Bay and playing in Orange County which are some places we’ve played a lot so it always feels good going back there and seeing our friends. It’ll be fun hanging out with everyone. I think the summer shows are just going to be super fun. I’m really excited for the fall. We’re going to announce more shows. It’s all going to be fun. I feel like our main focus in the summer is having fun and then in the fall we’re going to tour and definitely have fun still but definitely take care of business.

You described yourself as “tour mommy” on Twitter. What does being tour mommy entail?

[laughs] Tour mommy likes to take care of her tour babies. I just make sure everything is taken care of. I handle all the money stuff and the whole schedule. I tour manage the whole thing basically. I plan everything like where we’re going to stay and how far we’re gonna drive. I plan all of that beforehand and I put it on a spreadsheet and I give it to everyone. [laughs] When we’re actually on the road, I’m definitely Tour Mommy. I’m like, “Alright guys! We’ve got two hours, let’s go!” I’ve definitely had to shake them awake and be like, “Wake up now. We’re leaving!” Like I said, I love my bandmates. I want to keep the ship going but I also care about them so much and I want to make sure they’re doing ok.

Also on Twitter you said mentioned a Suzie True McDonald’s milkshake. If you could make one, what would be in it?

Oh my god, Suzie True McDonald’s shake. [laughs] It would be pink obviously. It would probably be a strawberry vanilla shake. I feel like it would be crazy but maybe put some espresso in there or maybe blend in a Strawberry Ultra Dreams Monster. It needs caffeine. I don’t know if the espresso would be good, it might need to have just the Monster. Whipped cream and pink sprinkles too.

How would you describe the DIY scene in Los Angeles?

We have been so lucky to have met the people and the artists and the bands that we’ve met in Los Angeles because there’s a million fucking bands. I’ve been playing music for over 10 years outside and inside Los Angeles and in Los Angeles you definitely meet a lot of people who just want to be famous and they’re not very nice or they’re very fake like fake-nice. You can just see right through it.I feel like you find bands or artists that exist in the same dimension as you. You meet the people you’ll be friends with. The vibes that you put out are who you bring in. We met Chris Farren, Cheekface, Guppy and all these bands that we play around with and it’s like, “Ok, we all just wanna have fun. We all like writing music and we’re all here to have a good time. We all exist in this little dimension”. Then when you meet someone who’s obviously just trying to be famous or has these social climber vibes – which is a lot of people in LA – you just don’t click and that’s fine. When someone comes to me with those vibes that I’m not vibing with then I’m just like, “Nice to meet you! You’re never going to ask to play with me again, I’m never going to ask to play with you again. You don’t like me”. [laughs] I feel like we’re not ‘cool’ enough for a lot of people in LA. We’re all fucking dorks and all of these LA cool kids are wearing sunglasses and leather jackets and we’re just like, “Hiii”. [laughs] But the people that you meet that have the same outlook as you do, you just click. We’ve been so lucky to click with so many amazing artists and honestly just make so many friends in the music scene down here.

What are you listening to now?

So many people are putting out new music! So much good new music has come out this year. I’m listening to the new Militarie Gun album and the new PONY album. My friend Desert Mambas just put out an album on Kill Rock Stars so I’ve been listening to that. Save Face and Jhariah just put out a single together that is insultingly good and I can’t stop listening to it. I love the new Scowl EP, which came out a few months ago. That is on rotation. Just Friends just put out a single too. The new Speedy Ortiz singles are also really good. I’ve definitely been on a new music kick. Every week there’s more singles to listen to and it’s awesome! Sometimes I’ll get into a rut of listening to the same thing over and over but lately, so many people have been putting out new music that’s kept it fresh. There’s so much to look forward to!

What does the future hold for Suzie True?

We’re just vibing. We don’t know what we’re doing or what’s going to happen. We’re recording sometime in the late summer / early fall and we’ve been writing a lot. I’m really excited for the vinyl of our record to come out.We’re going to have some tour dates around Fest and besides that, we’re literally just vibing. We’re trying to go where the wind takes us. Wherever the wind takes us, we will go. [laughs] We’re going to keep doing our thing whether or not anyone likes this album or anyone comes to our shows. We’re still going to be doing it. [laughs]

Just let the Universe decide for a bit.

Exactly! I’m like, “I’m just going to write these songs. Universe, you take care of everything else”. [laughs]

Date Venue City Details
Jul 24 Moroccan Lounge Los Angeles, CA w/Rosie Tucker, Supercoze, Porkboii
Aug 21 Thee Parkside San Francisco, CA w/Devon Kay and The Solutions, Eichlers
Aug 22 Programme Orange County, CA w/Devon Kay and The Solutions, Skasune Miko
Sep 01 Knitting Factory Los Angeles, CA w/We Are The Union, Bad Operation, Half Past Two
Oct 27-29 Fest Gainesville, FL

Source: punknews.org

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