The best part of living in Washington, DC is the thriving music scene. Recently it’s been the subject of new documentaries and articles. For me growing up it was always about keeping the punk and hardcore scene alive. Enter my new discovery, Hemlines.
When I heard about a new feminist punk band called Hemlines, I had to check them out and see what the scene was like after years of living in different cities. It’s great to know that punk is still living and breathing contrary to what others might think. After many snow delays and I finally got a chance to see them at the Black Cat downtown (which was an awesome show), take some photos and find out more about the band and just what advice they have for the future generation.
How did Hemlines come together, do you have any vivid memories of any specific or favorite shows you’ve played?
Dana: A mutual friend introduced Katie & I because we both wanted to start a feminist punk band. Katie was a bassist, but she wanted to play guitar and scream things. I’m a violinist, but I decided I wanted to place bass. We started writing songs and found Julie, our drummer, online. We tried to hire a girl guitarist but Ian was really persistent.
My favorite show was when we played for a bunch of preteen girls at the Girls Rock! summer camp. They were punk as f***
Katie: The DC Public Library’s show for the opening of its punk archive was an amazing experience. It was our third show and the biggest crowd we had ever played for at that point. At the end of the show, Ian’s guitar input jack fell apart — for our last song, he sat on the edge of the stage and Amanda MacKaye held the his guitar together while he played. So, so, so cool. And the guitar made some excellent, spooky feedback that we’ve never been able to replicate.
What is best aspect of the local music scene in DC?
Julie: A sense of community and support. (Ditto from Dana & Katie.)
Who would be on your dream tour? (name 4 other bands you would like to play with)
Julie: Throwing Muses or any Kristin Hersh project, Patti Smith, Free Kitten, Sharon Van Etten
Katie: But also Screaming Females, duhhhhh. Downtown Boys.
Dana: Savages. Alison Mosshart forever. I’m also a big fan of Alcoholic Faith Mission and Holograms.
What advice would you give to young girls who have always dreamed of starting a band?
Julie: Check to see if there is a Girls Rock! camp in or near your town, and do everything you can to attend. They are non-profit and open to all regardless of ability to pay. This is a great way to start if you don’t have the right support at home or the resources to buy or rent an instrument to try it out, and it’s a great place to meet other people you might want to play with. They will teach you enough to get started and most definitely empower you to try: http://girlsrockcampalliance.org/591-2/grca-world-map/
Katie: Just do it! Don’t feel like you have to be really accomplished at an instrument or like you have to have all the “right” instruments/members. Just make some noise with what you have, and don’t be afraid to be different from other music you hear.
Describe what’s next for you.
We are playing a bunch of shows with our favorite bands in April & May—including with the Max Levine Ensemble on April 12 and with Puff Pieces on May 5. In early June, we’re going to be recording our new EP. And after that we will continue plotting our feminist punk world takeover, hopefully while going on tour.
Of course since I’m a nostalgia junkie, who were some influential figures in your teenage years? Why?
Katie: Joan Jett was my first exposure to a powerful woman in rock music who subverted the norms of gender and femininity. I later got into riot grrrl and found out that she had been a major supporter of that movement, and it was like she was showing up as my hero over and over again.
Dana: Ghost World, the comic & the movie, made me realize that maybe it was cool to be a total loser.