Welcome to Almost Famous, a weekly segment where we ask up-and-coming queer musicians some hard-hitting questions about music and life and maybe even convince them to show us photos of their pets. Get to know intimate details about your new favorite artist or band before they hit the Big Time and become too famous for us to interview for real.
Header by Rory Midhani
The Hangover Brigade
San Francisco, CA
In early 2011 a group of musically diverse friends got together to record lead singer Tawnee Kendall’s debut solo EP, In Between Spaces. After sharing some whiskey-soaked evenings and the observation that they could “turn hangovers into fuel; it adds extra passion to songs,” The Hangover Brigade was born. If you like your folk-rock with a side of growling sexual tension and can dig non-autobiographical tunes about poisoning a straying partner, you’ll be glad.
The Brigade is Tawnee Kendall (vocals/guitar), Jeb Havens (vocal/piano), Jacob Wolkenhauer (guitar/melodica), Joe Hickey (bass) and Heidi Weber (drums). In addition to creating upbeat folk jams with the band, Tawnee and Jeb run a monthly LGBTQ singer-songwriter showcase in San Francisco called Homophonic. There’s more on that below.
Answering questions this week is Tawnee.
How would you describe your music?
I typically describe it as folk-rock. It’s folk-rock that’s less on the jingly-jangly side and more on the growling, sexual tension side.
What instrument/s do you play, and how long have you been at it?
I play guitar. I taught myself how to play when I was 15 – so 13 years ago – and still haven’t taken lessons. I’ve been meaning to though, because I still can’t play a B-flat and that needs to change.
Which song would you most like our readers to hear?
Our song “Uh-Huh”. I was writing so many autobiographical songs during my last breakup, that I wanted to do something different and up-beat. The song is about poisoning a cheating partner in order to keep them in one place. You know, if they’re poisoned and sick then they’d have to stay home so you can take care of them. Did I mention it’s not autobiographical? It’s not autobiographical.
What has been the most memorable moment of your music career to date?
Last year was a really great year in general. I released my EP, In Between Spaces, and got to have my CD release party at one of my favorite San Francisco venues, Cafe du Nord. We played to a packed house and people were singing along to the songs. The whole room was electric. Every single time we perform it’s the best moment. I can never get enough.
What inspires you to write?
I used to write purely out of depression. It seems like I intentionally spent a lot of my past focusing on staying in a darker place–or at least having that place accessible–in order to write music. That’s not really a viable option to me now, I much prefer being healthy and happy so I’m almost re-learning how to create music. I’m working on a love song now.
What was the last song you wrote about?
Our most recent song is called “Any Way I Can Get It“. It’s funny, normally I’ll give a little introduction before the songs to let people know what the song is about ‘This song is about whores; this song is about cheating’… for this song, it’s really superfluous to even introduce. The whole song is so clearly about wanting to rip someone’s clothes off. It’s SO much fun to watch the audience squirm when we play it. They go completely bonkers. It’s not on our album, but we had so many requests for it that our guitarist, Jacob, and I recorded a version of it you can listen to and download for free on our Soundcloud. It’s such a fun and dirty song.
How do you feel about dubstep?
OMG I’m glad you asked! I’m actually completely obsessed with dubstep. The Hangover Brigade even covers “Too Close” by Alex Clare. I remember a friend of mine in high school bringing back electronica music from England and I loved it but it wasn’t really accessible at that time. I’m stoked that it’s becoming so popular because there’s lots of really brilliant groups out there now. It’s robot music. How can you not love music that sounds like robot sex?
What do you get up to when you’re not making music?
When I’m not making music, I’m still doing something musical. I co-host a monthly queer singer/songwriter showcase called Homophonic with my keyboardist, Jeb, and another musician named Derek Schmidt. Every month we host a new LGBTQ performer. From jazz pianists to accordion-wielding-slam-poetry-singers.
We’ve been having these monthly shows for about a year and a half now and we’re practically outgrowing our venue at Martuni’s. The last few shows people have been lined up outside trying to get in. As far as I know it we’re the only group hosting a monthly queer event like this. It’s such an honor to be a part of it.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I never eat before a show, for one. I like the feeling of nerves and excitement on an empty stomach. I wear really elaborate outfits, borderline costumes really, and bizarre cirque makeup. The process of putting on crazy makeup is calming before a show. When I’m on stage I always drink bourbon neat.
When you’re super famous what will be the name of your autobiography?
‘Two Hats, No Pants’.
Do you have any pets?
I used to have a bunny when I was in college named Binx. I loved that bunny to bits. We were best friends. I want to get another one, but I’m too busy for pets at the moment which is good that I’m busy but depressing that I’m bunny-less.
Tawnee’s In Between Spaces EP is available for purchase on iTunes and CD Baby, or for streaming on Spotify and Soundcloud. Everything else you’d like to know about The Hangover Brigade can be found here:
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