Los Angeles band Girlpool is made up of only two members, Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker. Both sing vocals with Tucker playing guitar and Tividad playing bass. On their second album, Powerplant, Miles Wintner was added to the mix and various touring members have come along for the ride since then.
The two are playing Europe this July, then Japan, Australia and New Zealand in September in support of the latest record titled What Chaos Is Imaginary.
Tucker uses the pronouns they/them and came out as transgender publicly. The duo sat down to talk before their concert at Lincoln Hall in Chicago.
Windy City Times: Did you study music growing up in LA?
Harmony Tividad: I went to a music arts high school. It had fickle funding, but it was really helpful and my dad was a musician. I was surrounded by creative energy.
Cleo Tucker: I started playing guitar when I was in second grade. I did jazz guitar in high school and was always into music.
WCT: Where did you meet?
CT: We met at DIY venue in Downtown LA called The Smell. Harmony was working the door and I was at a show. We were 16 and 17 years old. We would go there every week to play shows and hang out.
We were both playing in different bands and fell in love with each other so we wanted to play music together. We were not actually dating though and didn't fall in love that way!
WCT: Where did the name Girlpool come from?
HT: It's from a novel by Kurt Vonnegut called Cat's Cradle. There's a chapter where a roomful of people were typing. They were being fed information and not thinking before typing. We liked that because it was a commentary on how we can live very mindlessly.
WCT: You are both still based out of LA?
HT: Yes, after all these years…
WCT: I saw your performance at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. How was the experience?
CT: It was raining, but it was fun. Some of our friends were playing, so it was a great time.
WCT: How do you currently identify?
CT: Transgender. I'm Cleo Tucker and 22 years old.
HT: I have had a hard time identifying with anything my entire life. I honestly have a hard time with titles. I feel disconnected from gender ideologies and have for a very long time.
WCT: Did you feel you needed to come out publicly, Cleo?
CT: Coming out was an after thought. It was intuitive and fluid. I have always been one to embody whatever is resonating with me. It may vary on the weirdo spectrum of not being cis straight and not palatable in our culture. I feel there is a spectrum of how far out you can get.
I was very fortunate to grow up in a house where I was encouraged to be me. Obviously there were outside pressures and transphobia because we were around it in the world, but I had an incredibly inclusive home. When I felt something I just did it, but it took some time to break down fears that were indoctrinated in me. We may not even realize we are not being our full selves. Subconsciously, we might be repressing so many things that are our truths.
With Girlpool, I was femme presenting when we started and I was a teenager. People thought we were a riot grrrl band, which we never identified with or talked about. We were inspired at the time by femme fronted musicians. There was a lot of feminine energy from the get go. We were pigeonholed and clocked as a girl band rather intensely at the beginning.
This freaked me out as my feelings came to the forefront of my identity. At first it was my sexuality, then it was more about gender. It has been interesting being in this project. Everything we do is just a picture of us in that moment. Things have change a lot since we started.
WCT: How long has it been since the beginning of the band?
HT: It has been about six years.
CT: We have put out an EP and three records.
WCT: Have fans reached out about you coming out, Cleo?
CT: We have always had intimate relationships with fans in general. Our friendship being the focal point of Girlpool has a made people feel close to us. It's sweet to hear from young queer people. I'm just figuring it all out myself.
WCT: You are just friends or more?
HT: Just friends.
WCT: I was confused by watching one of your videos.
CT: We fall in love in all of our videos.
HT: We love each other and are basically married.
CT: We are life partners.
HT: We share credit cards.
CT: And secrets…
WCT: You don't live together?
WCT: You travel in that little van parked in front?
HT: Yes, it's a sweet deal.
WCT: Do you have a song that reaches out to the LGBT community?
CT: I guess "Roses" is the song most about gender. "Hire" is about my identity. I don't sit down and write a song about being trans. It is all interwoven. Everything I write about is through my experience.
WCT: Are you mainly the writer?
HT: No, we both are.
WCT: Do you have one demand on tour for your dressing room?
CT: We are both doing the keto diet.
HT: We only eat meat, cheese and greens.
WCT: So no Chicago pizza?
HT: No. I have always wanted pizza every time I come here. I'm a little heartbroken to be here and not be able to eat it!
For more on the band swim over to GirlpoolMusic.com .