Bleached Return to Their Original Shade
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
Credit: Todd Cole
Let's just get this out of the way. Until now, Jennifer and Jessica Clavin have been primarily known for singing and playing bass in the seminal Smell punk band Mika Miko. This biographical information has burrowed its way to the forefront of every article written about their new band, Bleached.
The sisters point this out before I can even turn on my tape recorder. But the constant references to their past successes are more of a stamp of quality than an attempt to link them to a bygone era. After all, anyone who saw Mika Miko perform during their 2003-09 run became an instant convert. Four girls created a four-alarm blaze, aided by bleeding saxophone licks and Jennifer shout-singing into a red telephone.
Then Mika Miko pulled a Dave Chappelle, going out on top. But rather than sojourn to the ends of the Earth, the bandmates pursued routes more conventional to those in their mid- to late 20s. One got married. One wanted to become a doctor, and one wanted to go to art school. In 2010 the Clavin sisters formed Bleached.
"We were excited to sound like bands that you couldn't sound like as a traditional punk group," Jennifer says on a balcony with a panoramic view of the backside of the Hollywood Hills. Clavin shares a five-bedroom, three-story house in Universal City, filled with books, records, art and empty Starbucks cups. Her younger sister, Jessica, lives in Silver Lake.
"We were really getting into Gun Club and Johnny Thunder," Jennifer adds, sporting a black, striped T-shirt, blue cloth shorts and champagne-colored hair. "Bleached is punk but with a more rock & roll edge. It's ideally somewhere between Blondie and Siouxsie & the Banshees."
Bleached started as a test. Directly after Mika Miko, Jennifer Clavin decamped to New York to briefly join a dark-wave group called Cold Cave. Splitting her time between coasts, she wrote two songs that the Valley-raised sisters recorded and released on a new micro-label run by Chinatown bookstore Ooga Booga.
"We figured that way, if Bleached didn't turn out to become anything, it wouldn't be a big deal," Jennifer says.
But the songs and subsequent singles immediately earned praise from Fader, Pitchfork and Spin. They were offered a deal for a full-length, Ride Your Heart, which was released last month on respected indie label Dead Oceans.