Photography: Nicole Anne Robbins
After years of touring, LA-based, Bleached, is back again with a sophomore album, Welcome The Worms, out now via Dead Oceans. Jessie and Jennifer Clavin began writing the album, while coping with one tumultuous life experience after another, from an eviction to breaking off a toxic relationship. Leaving their troubles behind and diving head first into their music, the sisters along with bassist Micayla Grace, headed to a remote house in Joshua Tree to look at their problems from afar.
By imbuing the perspective they gained from their trip into songwriting, the result was an ambitious, honest album about perseverance and self-reliance, with jaded commentary about LA Culture sprinkled on top. Lyrics dig deeper in Welcome The Worms, giving a taste of what a “polished” Bleached sounds like. With help from from producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes) and co-producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, YACHT), the album features cleaner tracks that flows with purpose—a huge step forward from their 2013 debut, Ride Your Heart.
Following the release of their new LP, we chatted with the Clavin sisters about disconnecting on their trip to Joshua Tree and the inspirations behind, “Girls Bite Back,” a playlist they made exclusively for BULLETT.
What were the inspirations for “Girls Bite Back?”
Jennifer Clavin: It’s always easier with a theme, so we thought to use all-girl punk bands from the late ’70s and early ’80s. That’s what got me into punk music and really digging into music. It definitely wasn’t easy accessing those bands when I was younger, so it was more exciting discovering new music. I remember having Napster and that’s how I found out about a lot of bands or from going to the record store and buying something because the cover art looked cool.”
Jessie Clavin: When I was re-listening to the playlist, I was remembering how amazing the bass players are in a lot of those bands. There’s always an awesome bass part in a lot of those songs keeping it going, and we were really inspired by that.
Welcome The Worms seems more stylistically rock & roll and punk-inspired than your last album. What caused this shift?
Jennifer: We grew up with punk and rock & roll, and were always playing in those types of bands. I feel like when Bleached started we were trying to be a little more polite.
Jennifer: I got bored of being polite, or trying to be that way, and not saying what I wanted to say. Sound wise, [with this album] we found a producer that understood what sound we were going for to help us bring that out.
Jessie: I think it really took the right producer to get that sound. We’ve always heard this in our heads and envisioned it, but it took the right team to get it to come across.
Talk about your songwriting process and visit to Joshua Tree.
Jennifer: We have this house in Joshua Tree that we could go to, and then we have a practice studio in North Hollywood in the Valley. A lot of songs were written in all those places, but going to Joshua Tree was amazing because we were able to get away from everything. We were in this really secluded house in the middle of the desert where you really couldn’t drive to much. We got groceries before and just camped out there for a few days and jammed together, and wrote songs.
Did the physical act of disconnecting help your creative process?
Jessie: 100%. L.A. can be so loud and distracting, so when you go to the desert it’s really quiet and peaceful. We turn off our phones when we get there. We don’t have internet. All there really is to do is wake up, eat breakfast and start playing music. There’s no pressure on us there. It’s a really relaxed environment.
Jennifer: It’s easy to have moments of clarity there. I feel like all my problems disappear when I go to the desert. I still have the problems when I go, but it allows me to look at them from an outsider point of view. That’s why for me, it’s easier to write when I’m out there. Our bassist Micayla was actually surprised that I could write about what I am going through, while I am going through it. But it’s almost therapy for me—healing and cleansing.
What was is like being a part of the Saint Laurent after show in February?
Jennifer: That was really awesome. We’ve done photos with Hedi before, but I just couldn’t believe it. It was so surreal playing the Palladium with Beck, Father John Misty, Joan Jet, and seeing Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Lenny Kravitz at the party. Justin Beiber showed up alone on a skateboard. Lady Gaga looked like she was a crack dealer. It was pretty funny, very ‘LA.’