Back Issue__ Sandy Miranda of Fucked Up

September 09, 2009 | By

Not only a talented bass player, Sandy Miranda is also a skilled photographer. All the pictures that accompany this article are a curated set of unseen photos taken by Sandy herself.

Intro by: Becca Monahan
Interview by: Hana May

Sandy Miranda has always had "that wandering spirit." As a child, she sometimes found herself wandering by the freeway, much to the surprise of the cops that had to escort her home to an even more surprised mother. Now she wanders professionally, as "Mustard Gas," her personality as bassist for hardcore band Fucked Up, touring globally. Not surprisingly, a life of mobility has taught Sandy to pack light, and what she carries is revealing, but perhaps even more revealing is what she leaves behind: She carries travel-sized toiletries; she carries a hairdryer; she does not carry makeup; she carries and adds to her collection of vintage dresses, a look she adopted to compliment her figure; for a while, as she began to commit to a more polished aesthetic that included previously unheard of daily showers, she carried a flatiron for her hair, but she now leaves it behind. In an explanation that perhaps perfectly encapsulates the hazards presented to a performer and, perhaps more touchingly, the hazards facing any young woman anywhere, Sandy explains the abandoned hair straightener: 'I felt weird, especially pulling it out in front of the guys. You don’t want others to see the making of you, you just want to sort of appear.'

No one said evolution was easy; this is especially true for Fucked Up, as the band was not intended for longevity. Rather, it was brought together by Mike, 10,000 Marbles, to release a single album as 'the most destructive band...a band that would just not work together.' (After all, their name is considered unprintable by journalism's standard, The New York Times, refer to them as ****** **.) This is the crisis faced by any movement that designed itself as a suicide mission against the audience, against art, and against itself: You must evolve or else disperse in the ruins of your own destruction (like Dada, the anti-art movement that lay the foundations for surrealism but could not be sustained for more than a decade). 30-plus albums later, Fucked Up has blossomed rather than destruct--their hardcore sound now flirts with shoegaze; their bassist wears dresses; they stay in hotels with beds. Maybe this is the story of any adolescent--initial anger and destructiveness that gave way to more measured, more considered, and ultimately more indpendent young people. Maybe that young woman talented musician, who has found herself increasingly happy and, by her own admission, 'normal,' but hasn't given up wandering yet. Maybe it's time to let her do the talking.

Thank you for doing this especially when you're on vacation.

Damian gets all the attention so it's not too often I get interviewed. I appreciate it.

I'm sure it must be a fight for who speaks when you guys get interviewed.

I'm like, "You take it, I'm just going to hang out over here in the corner." [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] You all have nicknames and yours is mustard gas. Where did it come from?

To be honest I can't remember the origins of my nickname. [Laughs.] Damian said I came up with it but I have no recollection. I think it was all accidental. There’s a long tradition in punk to have a pseudonym, a superego of your own, which I liked. I liked the separation of one version of myself, which I have with my family and friends and work and one of this alternative life of mine.

Whose nickname is your favorite?

I like them all for different reasons. There’s "10,000 Marbles," which is Mike’s. Josh is "Concentration Camp." He’s Jewish, which was a little too offensive so he changed it to "Gulag" which is also mildly offensive, but that’s him. He can call himself whatever he likes. There’s Damian, who is "Pink Eyes," which has a pretty gross origin-- it comes from a porn movies but he’s not a porn type guy. He used to work in an underground video store and they had some interesting B movie porn. Jonah, "Mr. Jo." I guess my favorite is probably "10,000 marbles," no reason why, I just like that there are numbers and letters in it maybe. It’s really all just randomness that makes it fun for me.

You’re probably the best-looking guitarist to have a pumpkin on your head while playing. Where did this idea come from?

We had always wanted to do a fun Halloween show. So about four years ago we decided to do one and we just wanted to be ridiculous but also uniform, but we didn’t want to go a traditional costume route. I think it was Josh’s idea to put pumpkins on our heads and it worked. It just hurts a little cause the stem was poking us on our head.

You needed some padding in there. You didn’t think it through.

Yeah I needed some. I did like three songs with it on. Mike was able to do a full set, which was 45 minutes at the time. Looking back at that footage it was fun and I can’t believe it was four years ago and since then we’ve done shows every Halloween and they’ve become a thing in Toronto.

Being a girl in an all guy group do you often get talked into doing crazy things that maybe you wouldn’t normally do?

I’m actually a pretty silly gal and the guys are also kind of silly—I’d say not as much as me.

Oh! You’re influencing them?

Yeah, I just kind of roll with the punches so I have no qualms about poking fun at myself. Often I’ll be the first one to do it. I’m also pretty agreeable too; I don’t like to cause ripples in the band because at the end of the day you need to work with these people all the time. I go along with it unless I feel like they’re ridiculing me and then I’ll say something. But for the most part we all can laugh at ourselves.

I know you always play in a dress or a skirt, is this fashion or function?

It’s a bit of both but its funny growing up I was a bit of a tomboy and I always wore pants up until I guess I was 21 or 22. Then I transitioned to skirts—I’m not sure if it was ‘cause I started working an office job, maybe that influenced me. But I know being a girl of size it was kind of difficult buying pants that would fit me right and I just didn’t like how they looked on me and I’m curvy, so I figured a dress would just work better with my body type.

Yeah, show it off.

Yeah. So I figured they were more flattering for my physique. In Toronto there are a lot of cool vintage shops and [through] touring I’ve been able to come across some great shops. You can just have more fun with dresses.

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