Fireball Fueled: Barren Girls Talk Identity, Booze, & Merge

Photo: PJ Sykes

Photo: PJ Sykes

The release of new music rarely means rest for a band.  Typically, it comes with relentless touring and days spent enduring boring-ass press obligations.  For Carla Wolff and company, such things will be a welcome break from the swirling days that led up to the release of their first 7″ on Merge Records, Hell Hymns.

In just a few months,  the raucous quartet has changed their name from Lazy Janes to Barren Girls, got used to long distance practice sessions, and became bonafide working musicians. Worry not, punk-loving folk. They haven’t let all this official business kill an insatiable thirst for booze or tame those rip-your-face- off shows.

Frontwoman Carla Wolff recently entertained a few questions from The Donkey before their big EP release at Steady Sounds in Richmond, VA this Saturday, March 30.

Donkey Jaw: From Lazy Janes to Barren Girls. How are you adjusting to the name change?

Carla Wolff: It’s been interesting. At first there were a lot of stutters when people would ask us our name. It’s finally seeming more natural to us. There is quite a bit of repeating it to people. They always hear “bear girls?” or some random ass names.

You note on Twitter that you all are “booze enthusiasts”?  What’s your poison of choice and why?

Haha. We always slam a shot before we play and that is 9/10 times, Fireball. That being said, Evan Williams green label is the go-to bottle at practice and in the van. The not so rare tequila shot is also enjoyed. Lots of beer. Tecate, PBR, and Miller Lite, baby!

It’s been a busy past few months for the band.  You performed at SXSW, are releasing your EP Hell Hymns on Merge, and have shows coming up with Bob Mould.  I’m assuming this is a much busier schedule than you all are used to.  How is everyone handling being a signed band?

It’s really exciting. We all love touring and playing music everyday so that aspect is awesome. The support that Merge gives us is really rad. We’re not used to having a team of people looking out for us so well.  It’s pretty frightening at the same time. Quitting jobs to tour, putting your music out to be criticized by any and everyone. It’s worth all the BS though.

Any surprises that have come along with doing this for a living?

When I first started playing in bands, yeah for sure. It blew my mind how hard it really is to be in a band. I gotta say it was pretty damn surprising that Merge took interest in us! Haha.

You were Raleigh-based until half the band came to Richmond.  What prompted the move?

It was just me who moved to RVA. Fran (our bassist) has lived here a few years. She joined the band right after I moved up here. I lived in Raleigh my entire life. I had to get out. Raleigh is an awesome little city, but it was time for a change! I’ve always come to Richmond for shows and to party. Seemed like a no brainer to me!

What (if any) are the challeges/benefits that come with living a few hours apart?

Challenges have been practicing as much as we’d like. We practiced three times a week when I lived in Raleigh. Now, we practice once a week at best. It works though. Fran and I play together often and Ash and Jenny come up all the time. It does make us utilize our time together way better as opposed to farting around and just getting loaded at practice.

How does the punk scene in Raleigh compare to that in Richmond?

Richmond actually has a punk scene! I mean, Raleigh has had some really killer bands over the years with COC, Double Negative, Stripmines, etc. But half the time, touring bands wouldn’t even come through Raleigh. There certainly aren’t many Raleigh punks. A few years ago a lot of young kids started coming to shows and that ruled. It’s seems a bit stagnant there now. Richmond is awesome, there’s shows every week and tons of like- minded punks here. There are always new bands starting and the record shopping is killer here for punk/ hardcore.

Lazy Janes/Barren Girls were a Hopscotch discovery by Merge’s Mac McCaughan.  If you could give a deal to any band you saw last year at Hopscotch, who would it be and why?

Oooooh. Well hands down, Paint Fumes. They are friends of ours who have since signed to Slovenly. Three extremely talented dudes. Whatever Brains are buds of ours as well and have put out a few records on sorry state, those guys rip. Naked Gods were killer too.

Will you play the festival again this year?

Hopefully! If they ask us, we will be more than happy to play!

What’s on tap for the next release?  A full-length on Merge perhaps?

I’ve been writing! We will start recording a full-length after we finish this month long tour. If Merge supports us, that will rule. If not, we will get it out there somehow!

Barren Girls celebrate their first 7″ Merge release, Hell Hymns, with a free, Richmond in-store on 3/30 at Steady Sounds. Come get rowdy around 5 p.m. and buy some records, y’all!

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