Week in Pop: BSKi, The Ruby Suns, Tunabunny

Sjimon Gompers

Behind & beyond the celebrity masquerades with your heroes Tunabunny; photographed by Jennie Cain.

Tunabunny

The most triumphant return of Tunabunny; photographed by Jennie Cain.

The entire international underground & DIY worlds are rejoicing in unison because the influential Athens, Georgia band Tunabunny is back with news that their new album PCP Presents Alice In Wonderland Jr. will be available June 23 from HHBTM Records (Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records) that makes vintage 4AD style aesthetics sound as fresh as ever. The quartet of Mary Jane Hassell, Scott Creney, Brigette Adair Herron & Jesse Stinnard return after three years with a double 28-track strong album that is already beginning to inspire many & catching the attention of new fans everywhere. Presenting the world premiere for their Jennie Cain video for “Me & Nancy”, Tunabunny described their new single with the following insights:

A Syd Barrett sea shanty about girls who like to fuck shit up and the male oafs who don’t understand them. Consumerism as a latent revolutionary impulse, a yearning to escape from one’s chains. Call and response in the tyrannical home.

Tunabunny’s visuals for “Me & Nancy” from Jennie Cain present the band caught in a kaleidoscopic & psychedelic lens where the group is styled in a variety of designs, paints & flair as they pose before the camera’s eye. Mary & Brigette sing a sing-a-along song about where the boys aren’t that offer up chorus ear worms that will stay stuck in your head with the feminist punk waltz of “why you gotta know, where I go, why you gotta know, everyday…” The single itself is bookended by strange elongated synth keys that adds a hedonistic component to a song that celebrates the importance of autonomy that is outside the cis male conventions & their old exhausted orders of things. Both the visual & audio aesthetic of Tunabunny’s “Me and Nancy” celebrates the fun facets of one of the states’ most exciting, progressive & innovative groups. Like the best bands, Tunabunny’s sound makes today feel like yesterday & tomorrow, all at once & not necessarily in that order. One can hear a convergence where the arts of your independent icons of the past are updated with a whole new kind of energy that is set to inspire generations of now & the ones soon to follow (& subsequently discover).

Tunabunny talked to us about everything that has been happening in recent years to now & a whole lot about the making of their new album:

Wind back the clock to the past three years & tell us what sorts of experiences & approaches would lead to the 28 song cycle that is PCP Presents Alice In Wonderland Jr.

PCPPAIWJ is somewhat different from previous albums in that it was written and recorded during a time when we were not touring, as opposed to say, Minima Moralia, Genius Fatigue, and Kingdom Technology that were formed and then recorded through playing a lot of live shows. As I (Brigette) speak, an almost three year old child is placing a toy bulldozer on my head and saying, “I’m baby Ringo! I’m baby Ringo!” so that speaks to one of the more dramatic shifts in our band that has certainly impacted both our experiences and approaches to creating this record–the birth of our son (Scott and I, though certainly Mary Jane and Jesse enjoy a kind of joint custody). For me, the experiences of pregnancy, birth, sickness, chaos, conflict, joy, the battle against my ‘bodymind never quite being enoughness’ is all over this record. The main approach was ‘get this album done by any means necessary.’ So while there were more constraints in the band due to various life situations of all members of the band (not solely having to do with having an infant around), from my perspective that also put us in a position of having to work not from a privileged place of ‘I’ll create when the mood or muse strikes me’ but from a place of utilizing every spare minute of an impossibly busy day to put in the work to get the record done.

What did you all learn about yourselves creatively/personally from over the course of these past three years?

We all deeply love each other very much.

Tunabunny from left, MJ, Brigette, Scott & Jesse; photographed & styled by Jennie Cain of Viva Wild.

Tell us too about the making of the psyched out Jennie Cain video for “Me and Nancy” with all those wild projections & playful shenanigans.

Jennie’s a friend, and like us she’s creatively intense but personally laid-back, so the whole experience was a blast. She even framed a page of the drawings we did during the video shoot and gave it to us.

What is amazing right now in Athens, Georgia?

It’s amazing that they keep putting up these giant beige buildings to be filled by tiny beige people, that living in Athens feels more & more like living in an anonymous Atlanta suburb than the weirdo psychedelic paradise it used to be.

Local artists, activists, arts & causes we should know about?

There are some great activist groups—Athens For Everyone, Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, others—doing important work to make this town less of a racist neo-liberal shithole. Art-wise, we don’t get out enough to pretend to know everything that’s going on, but the scene around the Go Bar continues to create inspiring & original music & art, And then there’s Expermentique night at our local art house movie theatre, a monthly female experimental music night that’s always amazing. It’s cool to see how the definition of ‘experimental’ expands into something gloriously eclectic & surprising once you remove the boys & their endless delay pedal clichés from the equation.

Tunabunny on 8 track; press photo courtesy of the artist.

What else is everybody listening to?

The RaceTrac I’m sitting right now is playing “Rock & Roll High School” by The Ramones and I can’t tell if I’m living in a utopia or a dystopia anymore. This cassette label called Doom Trip put out a great comp last month. Bandcamp champions interesting stuff on a weekly basis, as does this guy on twitter, and this site. We mourn the recent death of OSR Records, and of course there’s lots of great stuff that’s more popular but we already all know about that.

Survival tips for 2017 and thoughts on the future?

Survival? These days it seems like it helps to be white and born into a rich family. For the rest of us, our only hope is safety in numbers—there’s never been a more important time to find a buddy. The future doesn’t look good, and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better, but as long as there is a future there’s something worth fighting for.

Other parting insights?

Good manners enable sociopaths. Don’t forget to vote in your local and mid-term elections. In fact, vote in every election you possibly can. Hell, run for office. Park an RV in your congressman’s parking lot and roast marshmallows with his face painted on them and tell him his pastor’s next if he doesn’t get his shit together. Or just vote. Voting’s cool too.

Tunabunny anticipated new album PCP Presents Alice In Wonderland Jr. will be available June 23 from HHBTM Records (Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records).

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