The Flytraps Can Afford Their Rock & Roll Lifestyle
The Flytraps have a contingency plan for just about anything, it seems. If someone were to end up in an insane asylum, for instance, the band would have no problem rehearsing there. "It'd be just like band practice, but we couldn't get out," says singer/guitarist Marz. Not that that's a possibility, but if you've heard the tapes, you'll understand. Especially if you hear the songs on which they scream.
When they started a year and a half ago, they had more cops coming to see them than actual garage- and rock & roll-lovers, thanks to constant practice in bassist Kristin Cooper's San Clemente garage. The neighbors thought they were great, says Marz—"They were our first fans!" The police didn't like them, however, and gave them the usual "If I ever catch you again!" warning. Luckily, they never saw the same officer twice, not even when the Flytraps practiced every day to get ready for their first show at Laguna's Trash Pretty, which they'd booked before even becoming a band.
"The Flytraps were already an idea," says Marz. "Kristin saw me playing, and over coffee and cigarettes, she was like, 'Wanna start an all-girl band?' And I was all about that."
"I knew I wanted it [to be] like . . . old-school garage rock," Cooper says. But the only band all the future Flytraps ended up truly having in common were, of course, the Cramps. (To this day, Cooper regrets not securing a ride to the Cramps' last local show before Lux Interior died—too young to drive, she was stuck at home.) And there's plenty of inspiration evident in the Flytraps even now, from lead guitarist Elizabeth Boyd's note-by-savage-note guitar leads to Cooper's often-deployed horror-movie scream, used to great effect on songs such as "Victim" and "I Wanna Party." ("You just breathe in and let it out and not care how fucked-up your face looks," Cooper explains. "Every picture from every show has me making some weird, distorted face, with my nostrils all flared and my mouth open and my eyes all squinty and red!")
"What's NOT to love about the Cramps?" asks Marz. "They were fucking WEIRD—it's amazing."
Cooper adds, "They were the embodiment of primitive rock & roll."
After a lineup change that placed Boyd and Laura Kelsey on lead and drums, respectively, the fresh Flytraps put out 25 copies of a cassette—there would have been more, but they got too lazy, explains Cooper—and presented to the world a set of songs that was definitely primitive, the kind of thing Bomp! magazine called "hardcore punk" in 1974. The band used both terms with as much ferocity as they could handle; songs such as "Get Outta Town" and "The Hunter" are the same kind of blown-apart rock & roll the most committed of weirdos were making in the mid-'60s after they'd seen the Beatles on TV and thought, "Really?"
The legendary Norton Records specializes in compilations full of this stuff, issued under titles such as She Was So Bad! And I've Had Enough. Within, you will find horror-movie screams and guitars processed through barrels of swamp water by people who were primitive and damn proud of it. It's the same with the Flytraps: "Raw," said one showgoer last time they played Detroit Bar. Admiringly, we should add.
Naturally, this needs to be on vinyl, so it can hang out between 45s by the Pleasure Seekers and the Gories and the Pandoras and the Rip-Offs. That's coming up soon, thanks to a fruitful Flytraps relationship with the people at LA's Redwood Bar and Grill, noted downtown home of rock & roll admired for its rawness. (The Flytraps will be playing with the Blasters there soon, by the way.) Cooper says the band have enough songs for a few future 45s, with Marz adding there are two more as yet unrecorded and unassigned.
Once they've got vinyl, they hope to fund a tour in something better than Kelsey's battle-damaged sedan, which has only one working window and delivered them after five hours driving on the 5 in summer to a Bay Area show feeling as though they were boiled lobsters. (They came up with a plan to fix that later, too—hitting up Facebook friends and fans for a van to borrow.)
But that kind of thing dissolves when they're playing, says Marz; that's when being the Flytraps is easy. "So fucking easy!"
"If I could choose to hang with anyone," says Cooper, "it'd be the girls in my band."
"Yeah," says Marz. "They're the only friends I have!"
This article appeared in print as "The Flytraps Stick Together: The all-girl band from San Clemente makes rock & roll seem easy."
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