Back Issue__ The Girls of Heavy Cream
The girls behind Nashville punk band Heavy Cream hit punk's sweet spotWords: Mish Way
Photographs: Ivy Lovell
When most of us think of Nashville, we think of sticky hot summers, leaky old trucks, tall grass and charming Southern delights we can eat on a wooden stick. We don’t really think punk. Even more so, we don’t really think current. But, those of us who think this way could not be more wrong. In the past few years, Nashville has been pumping out note-worthy bands like The Ettes, Turbo Fruits, Pujol, but we’ve got our eye on the grimy, garage-punk outfit Heavy Cream.
Heavy Cream kick started their career with their 2010 debut LP smash Danny, which sent the band to immediate underground-darling status. The record presented the band as a powerhouse of catchy, sing-a-long punk with scrambled melodies and playful beats. To follow up the success of their debut Danny, Heavy Cream traveled from Nashville to San Francisco to record their sophomore release Super Treatment with Ty Segall and Eric Bauer at the infamous Bauer Mansion.
Heavy Cream has toured, a lot, often with JEFF The Brotherhood, Hunx and his Punx all around North America and back, solidifying them as a band to watch everywhere from SXSW to some dingy basement in North Carolina. The band’s stage presence is a concentration for critics who all focused on front woman Jessica McFarland bratty, jumping-bean excitement that fueled Heavy Cream’s exhibition, while Mimi Galbierz (guitar), Seth Sutton (bass) and Tiffany Minton (drums) provide the perfect mix of power, pop and punk.
Their performance may be tight, but they don’t take themselves too seriously, playing with fashion on stage and attacking their personas full force. On their spring tour with Hunx and his Punx, front woman McFarland sported a one-piece leopard print jump suit at every show.
“I consider my stage etiquette a character that I have created,” McFarland says. As a child, she was the quiet, serious kid who spent hours rummaging through her mother’s outfits looking for crazy costumes. “Dressing up helps me to physically separate my every day self from how I’m perceived as a performer. I think as a musician you owe it to your audience to have a unique aesthetic and fashion is a great way to achieve that.”
“It really does make performing easier if you have stage clothes,” adds Minton. “Performing is sweaty, particularly for me, so one thing to stink up is better than everything you brought with you.”
Growing up in and around Nashville, all the girls in the band (Note: Seth was not present for the interview, but we love him too) picked up their instruments later in life. Minton got her first drum kit at the end of high school and really perfected her skills playing with various bands as well as teaching at Southern Girls Rock Camp, while Galbriez only started playing guitar in college.
“In my mind at the time, there was no way I could learn the guitar,” said Galbriez who was taught by a close friend. “I was already 20-years-old and learning an instrument was something you had to do when you were much younger.”
MacFarland on the other hand toyed with almost every instrument from a young age, trying drums as a kid, trying guitar, and even playing and recording everything from percussion to teacups through a BOSS digital recorder in her first band MEEMAW. When MEEMAW broke up in 2009, she formed Heavy Cream. “I had always wanted to be a singer in a band, even though I didn't really consider myself a singer. I had a lot of energy and words that I needed to find a use for.”
Though their new record has a darker, cut-open feel to the songs (MacFarland says most of the lyrics were inspired by small town life, death and being fucked over), Heavy Cream come off sweet in person. They joke about one another’s roles in the band when on tour: MacFarland hunts down the drink tickets, Mimi man’s the wheel and Minton is there to look after everyone when they have taken things too far. But, sweetness always saves before Minton needs to.
“Mimi and I almost got in a fight once because I hit a girl with a bathroom stall door,” jokes MacFarland. “She cut us in the bathroom line! Right before she got in front of us and her and her friends were spraying their crotches with perfume. We fled the scene.”
So, Heavy Cream doesn’t scrap with chicks in bathroom stalls like The Runaways did – a band they are often compared to – but that’s not what it means to be punk. Punk means doing whatever the hell you want, always. Besides genres and comparisons are for critics and journalists, not musicians.
“We always get compared to The Runaways or The Ramones,” says Minton. “Which of course are influences that we share but the compliment becomes tired. Comparisons always seem moot or clichéd mostly because they are recycled.”
Whether they like it or not, the one thing Heavy Cream have that The Ramones did too is style and that is a compliment that will never get tired.