The DC supergroup discusses conspiracy theories and goddess worship.
“Alex Jones / I hate you too! / Alex Jones / Fuck you!”
So goes one of the most memorable refrains on the Washington, DC-based punk act Gauche’s latest single, “Conspiracy Theories.” The song is pissed off and playful and defiant, featuring spastic bursts of saxophone and a series of shrieking, howling, gargling “Fuck you”s that sound equally disturbed and cathartic.
For a song inspired by Pizzagate—a bogus conspiracy theory involving the Clintons, a non-existent human trafficking ring, and DC’s famed pizza-and-punk venue Comet Ping Pong—“Conspiracy Theories” is surprisingly fun. “I don’t feel angry when I play the song anymore,” said drummer/vocalist/guitarist Daniele Yandel, who also plays in Priests. “Now I just like to moan as loud as humanly possible on the mic.”
At its core, Gauche consists of Yandel, guitarist/vocalist/bassist Jason P Barnett, and bassist/vocalist/guitarist Mary Jane Regalado, who also plays in Downtown Boys and designed the cover of AdHoc 27. Like many of their shows, their upcoming tour, which kicks off March 29, will feature a host of friends and collaborators, including saxophonist/vocalist Adrienne CN Berry, auxiliary percussionist/drummer Shawn Durham, and keyboardist Pearie Sol. The band released their debut EP, Get Away with Gauche, on Sister Polygon Records back in 2015, and recently signed to Merge Records. Their debut LP is due out later this year.
AdHoc recently caught up with the group to talk about the “Conspiracy Theories” music video and goddess worship. Read the interview below, and catch Gauche at Alphaville on March 30 with support from Pearie Sol and Privacy Issues.
AdHoc: When, and how, did Gauche first come into existence?
Daniele Yandel: What year was that?
Mary Jane Regalado: It was late 2014, when we first started practicing, but the first show was not until January 2015.
Daniele: Mary was in a band called Neonates that was amazing. [She] and the bassist had both moved to DC recently, but their drummer in the band didn’t move, so I started filling in on drums. Then [the bassist] got super busy doing other stuff, so we couldn’t really jam with them very often. So Mary and I just started jamming a lot, and we started jamming with Jason and Pearie and it just kind of naturally evolved.
What’ve you been up to since your last release? Has your lineup changed since then?
Daniele: It was a different lineup, actually, cause it was Pearie, Jason, Mary, and me, but we had a friend, Cameron [Hartofelis], who now lives in Baltimore, singing with us, and our friend Laurie [Spector] played drums in a couple songs, but Laurie also moved to Baltimore and is doing some other stuff. My partner Jhon [Grewell] has played a couple shows with us and toured with us, and [another] friend down here [in DC] plays horns with us. So we kind of mix it up.
Mary Jane: We’ve had people come and play auxiliary percussion with us, like our friend Shawn Durham, who’s probably going to play at the AdHoc show. She lives in St Louis now. So it’s cool; we can bring these people back on certain tours.
Do you have other any other projects outside of Gauche?
Mary Jane: All of us. I play bass in Downtown Boys, and I also play in a new band in DC called Clear Channel, which is really fun. It’s with Carson [Cox] from Merchandise and [another friend of ours] from DC. Pearie has this solo project called Pearie Sol. Jason is in a band called Flamers. Pearie and Jason and I play in this band called Cool People in DC. Jason was in the most amazing band from DC called Coup Sauvage & the Snips.
Daniele: Best band ever!
Mary Jane: And Daniele is a co-owner of Sister Polygon Records and plays drums in Priests. Also Adrienne plays in Ted Leo sometimes.
In “Conspiracies Theories,” you mention the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and Alex Jones. What inspired the song?
Daniele: So Pizzagate ended when a dude came into the restaurant with a gun. He didn’t hurt anybody, luckily.
Mary Jane: He came with an assault rifle, not just any gun!
Daniele: He was like, “I’m going to free the children,” and then there were no children there. We all play a lot of shows there, and I work two doors down at a restaurant that’s owned by the same person that owns Comet. We have a lot of shared staff and facilities; we’re kind of like sister restaurants. I was working there at the time—not the actual day—but I worked there, and I came into work the day that it happened and I couldn’t get into work because the whole block was taped off with police tape.
Mary Jane: I feel like at the moment, the song was really cathartic and kind of a survival tool, like, “I can’t believe this shit’s happening.”
Daniele: And it became fun. I didn’t stay angry. I don’t feel angry when I play the song anymore. Now I just like to moan as loud as humanly possible on the mic.
You released a music video with it too, which has this kind of ’90s DIY aesthetic, like a home movie or public access TV. What was your vision for that?
Mary Jane: Well, our friend Alex Santos, who is from DC, is amazing, and has all this old VHS footage. I’m a huge fan of that style of music videos, where it’s just, like, non-narrative and fun and weird.
Daniele: We were originally going to do all these really innocent activities outdoors, and then it rained all weekend. We had to improvise a little bit, but I like the way it turned out. Like, what’s it called—“Restriction is the mother of invention?”
Mary Jane: [Because] it was raining that weekend, we shot a lot in Jason’s basement. We got streamers to try and decorate it.
I noticed the banner in the background that says “Gauche.”
Mary Jane: Yeah, we made [that] together!
There’s this one scene where you’re holding hands, and you form a circle in a park. What’s going on there? Are you becoming believers of something, resisting something?
Daniele: There’s this beautiful park near where we live. It’s abandoned, with all these cool buildings and stairways. We were like, “Oh, let’s just crawl and run around and film there,” and we were wearing all these funny colors. We were like, “What if we hold hands and skip, like we’re in a weird cult or something?” It kind of felt like it went with the whole conspiracy theory vibe, to just be as weird as possible.
The phrase “goddess worship” has popped up around your materials. What does that mean to you?
Daniele: Centering femininity and not a single god. A lot of times in more progressive communities, there’s a lack of interest in spirituality. And there’s a lot of white, college-y, liberal feeling around that. [We’re] envisioning a way of resistance that’s a little bit different than that.
As an “anti-capitalist, anti-racist, feminist jam band,” do you ever find it difficult to be in the music industry?
Daniele: I mean, yeah, a little bit. Actually not at all—I take that back. I think anyone that’s anti-capitalist has to live in a capitalist society, and I don’t feel bad about that. And I don’t find it hard at all to be antiracist or feminist in the music industry, because there are so many good POC [artists] and so many cool women and nonbinary people making art, that if you don’t see that, I feel like you’re a fucking idiot.
You have an album in the works with Merge Records. Has your sound changed at all or evolved since previous records?
Mary Jane: Well, we recorded that album a couple years ago, so a lot has changed since then. Everything’s changed. Definitely a fuller sound; there’s a lot of saxophone, there’s some songs from the EP that we re-recorded, but they feel more confident and faster and more put-together.
Daniele: We have another single coming up soon, and we’re excited to share it with everybody!