Okay, hear me out: imagine if Tegan and Sara got possessed by the ghost of Alex Chilton. Only in this case, we have a four-piece instead of a duo, and instead of Memphis or Calgary, their home base is Illinois. It doesn’t require a wild stretch of the imagination to realize that that group already exists. They are the self-described “indie-femme mom rock” outfit Pinksqueeze.
This May, Pinksqueeze released their debut full-length album, Be Gay Have Fun, a project chock full of liberating indie rock bangers that range from the wistful (“Straight Girl Crush,” “When We Were Kids,”) to the satirical (“Queer For Clout,” “WTF is Bubblegrunge”) to outright soul-crushing (“I’m Thinking of Ending Things”).
A Grrrl’s Two Sound Cents caught up with Pinksqueeze to discuss recording their debut album, the profoundly transformative impact of found family in queer communities, and their simple yet potent manifesto: to be gay and have fun.
To start us off, who is Pinksqueeze?
Pinksqueeze is a queer indie mom-rock band in Chicago made up of Ava, April, Anna, and Logan. Pinksqueeze formed in 2019 as a two-person project with Ava and April and became a full band with Anna and Logan in 2021. We’re four friends from different corners of the country [who] found each other in the beautiful community that is the Chicago local music scene!
What did each of your musical backgrounds look like when the band formed? Had any of you played in previous projects before?
Our musical backgrounds are all quite different- April and Ava are both classically trained musicians that majored in music in college (at different colleges) with Ava as a classical guitar primary and April as a viola primary, but both of us also had interest and experience in non-classical music. Logan has been playing drums since they were a young child and was taught by their uncle who is also a drummer- Logan participated in some teen cover bands, and then had a music focus in college as well and built most of their performance experience while working in mega-churches- this comes as a surprise to many but is 100% the truth of Logan’s past life! Anna played fiddle as a young person and switched to upright bass in school and eventually electric bass. Anna played in the super cool teen band Hardly Boys in high school, and then played bass for Spiral XP, both in the Seattle area, as well as some projects in the Chicago area while in college, so Anna had the most experience in the DIY Punk/indie rock scenes prior to PS. April played viola in a couple of projects in college including a folk-pop group Joanna and the Jaywalkers (now under the name Joanna Sterling) and strings cover group in Michigan called Eclettico, so Pinksqueeze is their first ever rock project!
Power pop is a very whimsical and romantic genre, which makes it an extremely apt sound for queer love. Who are some of the band’s biggest musical influences?
There are so many inspirational artists and bands that influence us! A few of our influences include Beach Bunny, The Beths, Illuminati Hotties and Tegan and Sara.
This year you released your latest album Be Gay Have Fun. Can you tell me a little about the project and how it came to be?
This is our first full-length album, and we are so excited to have it out there! We had some songs we were ready to record and were between doing another EP or a full-length album, and decided to go for the full-length. We had some older songs from EPs that we wanted to re-record with the full band, and some other songs that we were performing and wanted to record. The title “Be Gay Have Fun” came about a couple of months into putting the album together- this comes from a little pre-show ritual we’ve been doing for a long time, where we take a moment on stage right before we start our set and link up our pinkies, blow each other a little kiss, and Ava would say “be gay have fun” for us to just set that intention for our set. So naturally, it seemed like a fitting title for the album. When we had that title set, it became clearer what kind of songs we wanted to write to fill out the rest of the album to support the title.
I also love that your sound has a twee-pop childlike innocence to it–very But I’m a Cheerleader-core–like Go Sailor or Tiger Trap.
Thank you! Truly, for all of us, this band is a space for us to be creative and express ourselves and have fun, and that is really our intention so we are not afraid to be really camp- it’s good to hear that comes through!
What are your favorite things about the art scene in Chicago?
There is something just undeniably special about the DIY music and art scenes in Chicago. I feel like we entered it in the summer of 2021 with our first full band show, and we just met so many people in other bands that were so excited to really be involved in the community, and consistently showing up to each other’s shows with such supportive energy. None of us have ever been part of such a supportive music and artistic community before. When we travel to play in other cities, it just seems from conversations with bands in other communities, there isn’t quite that same level of support. Speaking for myself (April), there is nothing more fun than going to a friend’s show and seeing dozens of familiar faces all around. It is also just fantastic to see how much collaboration there is between people in the community and how much cross-over there is between many different modalities of art and music making. We are so grateful to be part of such a supportive, talented, and fun scene here in Chicago!
“WTF is Bubblegrunge” has to be my favorite song on the album. How did it come about?
“WTF is Bubblegrunge” really came about from us jamming and joking around. We envisioned this one as kind of a silly and playful interlude in the album, so it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that it’s a favorite on the album! We were just talking about kind of the controversy of the term bubble grunge, and played around with telling stories of our experience being non-men in the rock world and it came about pretty organically- In fact, by the time we recorded it, we had really only worked on it a couple of times, and some components really came together in the studio. We will be performing it live for the first time ever at our album release show this weekend, and we are excited to share the live version!
What does the rest of the year have in store for Pinksqueeze?
Being gay and having fun!
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LISTEN TO BE GAY HAVE FUN