‘Pussy Gillette’ and Inconspicuous Affirmations

With every year that passes, I always circle around to a couple of the same realizations and conclusions.

The first is that linear time is a scam (more on this some other time), the second is what an idiot I had been the year before (someone’s God, give me mercy), and the third is the sneaking anxiety and inkling that I am in a race against time (even though the idea of constant progression is false, I believe).

By this, I more precisely mean I am afraid that if the things I want aren’t happening right now, they won’t ever happen, that everything is hurtling towards me with freight train immediacy and all I can do is dodge, without enough time to hop on.

Even so, every once in a while, something pops up in order to remind me that I do, at the ripe age of 22, have loads of time. One of those things recently has been the band Pussy Gillette.

Pussy Gillette is a trio composed of Masani Negloria, bassist and frontwoman, Brent Prager on drums, and Nathan Calhoun on guitar. The punk group formed in Austin, Texas a couple of years ago, and released their debut album in 2021, titled Pussy Gillette Album.

I recently found out that this is the first band that Masani has ever been in and that she also started learning how to play the bass around the time of the group’s formation when she was 37. I don’t mean to say that 37 is old, but it is over a decade away from my 22, which eases my anxiety that I am not doing enough. And what’s success, anyway? Pussy Gillette has less than 1,000 listeners on Spotify, and yet they’re better than all the garage rock you’re probably listening to.

And what’s success, anyway? Pussy Gillette has less than 1,000 listeners on Spotify, and yet they’re better than all the garage rock you’re probably listening to.

Pussy Gillette’s songs are not interested in taking themselves too seriously. They are upfront and to the point, which seems to be their primary intent. Anything else is up to the audience, but Pussy Gillette is not overexplaining.

“210” is one of the best opening tracks I’ve heard in a while. An opening song shouldn’t ease you in softly, especially if you are playing anything that might be deemed punk. “210” offers a warning, a boast, a story, a declaration, all in one. Right away we get a taste of Masani’s alluring delivery as well. Her voice seems to be warping around the words, which are all deliberate, elongating most of the ending syllables, dragging you along with her.

Her bassline opens the song as well, introducing her as the face of the band. “2 to 10 / that’s my second conviction / tell mama I ain’t comin’ home” she sings assuredly, while a distortion of drums and guitar back her up. In concert videos, her performance appears stoic, her facial expression not betraying anything. All the members, in fact, appear to be in their own, private worlds, bridging into each other through the extensions of their instruments and play.

The work on the album ranges from humorous to matters of the day-to-day to political. “Banana” is perhaps the main illustration of the band’s sense of humor, “I got a problem with you stealing my banana,” Masani snarls, “I got a crunchy lettuce wrap at home.”

Personally, I am happy to know the main contenders in her diet. The idea that whatever pops into your brain – including the contents of your fridge – might be worthy of a song, is hopeful to me. It continues to reinstate the punk ideal that anyone can do it and it’s never too late.

The idea that whatever pops into your brain – including the contents of your fridge – might be worthy of a song, is hopeful to me.

The music video for the song shows Masani in a purple latex bikini in front of a firepit, while Nathan and Brent flank either side of the fire, dressed in banana suits. They spend the video hanging out in the back, her backup dancers, if you will, while Masani eats a banana, waves around a hammer, and gives the camera attitude.

The video for “Mala Noche,” unavoidably references the humor in “Banana,” as there are shots in the same backyard, but it is evident that the subject matter is meant to be taken more seriously. Brent bangs on the drums, which are on fire, with everything he’s got, and Masani wears what may best be described as a “sexy” nun costume. The inverted crosses on the side of the house that appear behind Brent and Nathan tell us what we ought to know about their feelings towards our lord and savior.

There is, too, “Walking Crime,” perhaps the most serious song on the record. A commentary on racism and police violence, Masani sneers her way through, “you see me as a walking crime / but you’re just a pig to me.” Once again, the songs are not interested in overexplaining, favoring instead a plain and straightforward communication. The instrumentation on the track pushes forward with steady resolve, never wavering or meandering in anything but harsh support for the words Masani presents.

More than anything, what I appreciate most in Pussy Gillette is their commitment to the moment and their personal vision. The song writing all seems to be intuitive and spur of the moment. They’re playing music that they want to hear. They show no signs of slowing and no motive besides traveling about and getting to play for people, and I appreciate this reminder of life’s unpredictability.

A couple of years ago, Masani probably never would have imagined she would be fronting a band, playing bass. And then one day, she just did. People always seem to be trying to convince you that life somehow peters off after you turn 30, or get married, or graduate, but it turns out that after this version of yourself, there is another, if you want it. And if that isn’t a comfort, at least there’s bands like this one making good music in the meantime.

© Yoana Tosheva (2/5/23) Special for FF2 Media®

LEARN MORE / DO MORE

Visit the band’s Instagram @pxssy_gillette to keep up with news, tours, and more.

Visit The Austin Chronicle to read an interview with the band.

Visit Bandcamp to buy the band’s music.

Visit YouTube to watch the video for “Banana” and “Mala Noche.”

 

CREDITS & PERMISSIONS

Featured photo: Pussy Gillette. Photo by Ismael Quintanilla III (@ismaelquintanillaiii on Instagram).

Bottom photo: Masani of Pussy Gillette. Photo by Ismael Quintanilla III (@ismaelquintanillaiii on Instagram).

Tags: Brent Prager, Mala Noche, Masani Negloria, Nathan Calhoun, Pussy Gillette, Pussy Gillette Album, Walking Crime, Yoana Tosheva

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Yoana Tosheva is an artist, a writer, and an immigrant. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in English and Art History. Her poetry and essays have been published in Sixty Inches From Center, West Trade Review, Sunlight Press, Constellate Literary Journal and elsewhere. She is also a part of Pink Slip, a zine and budding press based out of the west suburbs of Chicago. Yoana is most interested in the collective and personal archival nature of music, making this the focus of much of her work. She'd love to talk to you about your band, your favorite band, or why you've decided you'll never date another person in a band ever again.
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