With their friendship spanning over a decade, it’s clear the five musicians in Womankind are more “old buddies” than “new band mates.” Having just celebrated their second birthday as a band, Womankind—singer/bassist Scott Malin, guitarist Christa Min, bassist Rich Trawick, singer/guitarist Chris Harris and drummer Brady Cranfield—are getting ready to release a self-titled 12-inch EP on Nominal Records. Combining nostalgic ‘80s post-hardcore and noise punk, Womankind are a threatening experience to listen to: their sound is that of a bad drug trip, roaring down an empty stretch of highway with shuddering bass lines at every curve. This is not a band for the faint of heart, but to pass Womankind off as just another angry hardcore band would be a mistake—the only thing more intimidating than Malin’s massive beard is his ability to deliver smart lyrics with crippling intensity. Despite the lyrical content this isn’t a band that takes itself too seriously, as evidenced when Discorder caught up with the act at their practice space before a recent show at the Astoria.
Discorder: We’ve been hearing quite a bit about Womankind but it’s been very hard to find information about you. Is that intentional? Have you kept your presence to a minimum to avoid people like me coming and knocking on your door?
Chris Harris: No, I don’t think so.
Scott Malin: We play shows.
Rich Trawick: Chris is like 80 per cent done a website.
CH: Yeah we’re working on a website. We’re not anti-information.
Brady Cranfield: Just anti-sharing.
CH: Maybe we’re anti-hard work.
RT: And maybe the slowest band, ever.
SM: It takes us a while.
D: Well it seems there’s some reason for that. You’re all veterans of the Vancouver music scene.
SM: Yeah I’ve known Brady for 19 years, that’s pretty good.
D: So you’re obviously familiar with each other. Is there a lot of history?
BC: No, you know what? We keep discovering each other.
RT: Could you rephrase that?
BC: I mean exactly what I’m saying. Every day is new with Scott. You just don’t know.
Christa Min: Their first band—well I don’t know if it was their first band, but they had a seven-inch on Mint Records. [Both the band and the album] were called Kid Champion.
D: The bio on Nominal says this is meant to be your last band. Is that your mentality or are you just sick of working with other people at this point?
CH: I think really that’s because Rich is going to med school in September.
RT: Well, that’s conjecture.
SM: Yeah, it’s possible.
CM: Well, it’s just nice to think of it that way, that we won’t break up.
RT: Here’s what I think: I’ve played in a lot of bands with a lot of different people and sometimes it works. You can produce good music but… I really like playing with this band because it’s just buddies. You’re hanging out with people that you like.
D: How did Womankind get its start? Was this a planned thing or did the fates conspire to bring you all together in the same room?
SM: Brady orchestrated it.
CM: Brady’s wife [Robin] came up with the name.
CH: I distinctly remember having a conversation with [Brady] where [he] came up to me excitedly and said something about “we’re going to start a band that sounds like this.”
D: What was “this?”
CH: It was probably Pissed Jeans, when that first record came out.
BC: I think I heard that record after I had the idea, and I was excited to have the idea be confirmed, but it’s a long-standing ambition and I’m very happy we get to realize a ‘90s retro-nostalgia band. It was a very important time for me, musically. It’s kind of been in the background of other bands that we’ve been in, moving towards noisier, more rock-oriented stuff. It’s fun to finally get to do it. I can’t remember if Robin came up with the name. She might have, as a joke.
CM: Definitely a joke.
BC: Spelled with a “y.”
D: You did end up opening for Pissed Jeans and Jesus Lizard, that was pretty early on… second or third shows.
RT: Yeah, we’ve really lost a lot of steam since then.
D: [Jesus Lizard] was at the Commodore.
CM: The greatest band ever.
D: How was it playing with “the greatest band ever?”
CM: Embarassing? I don’t know.
SM: It was super fun. We got to watch them.
CM: That was the best part.
SM: It was great.
BC: Although it was stressful. The pressure was definitely off because no matter how well we did or how poorly we did, we’d be gone the moment Jesus started.
SM: We were just standing there. Grateful.
BC: To get to meet them all, and to play the show was pretty great.
CM: David Yow said we sucked.
SM: He came up, I can’t remember what he said to me, but he’s like, “man, you guys really suck,” and it was pretty great. He kind of gave me a little pat on the shoulder.
CM: Like “nice try?”
BC: I’m sure he’s able to just say what he means now, and people take it however. Probably joking, right?
RT: Scott was like, “he touched me.”
BC: Christa got to hug a sweaty David Yow post-show.
CM: For five dollars, that’s what you can get.
BC: He charged you?
D: I did want to touch on the double-bass player thing, because I think it’s pretty interesting. I was really curious if you went out with the idea, “ooh I’ll find two bass players because…” or did it just spring up?
BC: Well, Scott, he’s a bass player and then…
SM: We asked Rich at a friend’s wedding.
BC: And it was awesome, so of course, it was absolutely the right thing to do.
D: Just needed that extra bit of bassiness.
BC: We didn’t realize until we did.
CM: We just needed another friend.
SM: We needed more miles, to make it more complicated.
CH: We still really need another drummer too.
BC: I’m happy at any time to step aside.
RT: I’ve always wanted to play in a band with two bass players for years and it never happened. I always thought it would be super fun… my buddies were like, “Aw, come jam with us. It’ll be awesome.”
SM: We’re about making dreams come true, [but] I don’t think we said “jam with us.”
RT: It actually really worked because Scott and I have different styles as well.
SM: I can’t do much. After however many years, I can play on the one.
D: So is that something you think every band should try: two bass players?
RT: That and ecstacy. Or smoking weed.
RT: “Things that every band should try.”
SM: I don’t know… it worked for us!
RT: It’s like the two drummers. There’s the odd band that pulls it out and it works, but it has high potential for failure. But hey, there’s two guitar players… why can’t there be two bass players? And bass is kind of a crappy instrument, too, in terms of …
BC: What does that mean?
RT: You ever hear a bass solo? It always sounds like shit. A guitar solo, it sounds great. You can have somebody doing rhythm, somebody doing a lead or something like that. That’s the failure of bass. It doesn’t let you do that.
SM: You do little leads though.
RT: A little bit, but that’s where you’ve got to figure it out. It’s a fine balance.
SM: Yeah, because I will never [play a solo]. I just can’t.
RT: You do your noise solos.
SM: Yeah, but that’s noise.
D: I think that’s all I’ve got for you guys.
SM: I don’t really know what we gave you.
Womankind plays Pat’s Pub June 3 as part of Music Waste, as well as a record release show at the Biltmore, June 7.