Mary wanted more. She was a 23-year-old military brat who just received an English degree from William & Mary. The world was her oyster, and somebody had replaced her pearl with the classified ads and a one-way ticket to Raleigh.
“I played guitar for about 8 years and almost gave it up during college.” Mary said, “All the other kids seemed better than me, and I got kicked out of an Irish rock band for having a strong personality, whatever that means.”
On a whim, Mary placed an advertisement on Craigslist about a month before she moved. “I was moving to a strange city where I would know almost nobody. The plan was to make some girl friends and just jam so I wouldn’t be lonely.”
Erin, a graduate student at Duke, and Caitlin, a bored nine-to-fiver, quickly responded to her ad. Erin had considered a career as a cellist prior to studying psychology, so she just wanted to get back into music in some way. Caitlin had taken up the drums because, in her words, “being a drummer seemed to be the antithesis of being a working stiff with a bright future.”
The seemingly motley crew made plans to meet as soon as Mary was in town. At a local café, Mary and Erin ordered the vegetarian sandwich, and Caitlin got a baked potato with “everything -- hold the bacon.” Gasp. [Cue violins.]
“We didn’t set out for Powdercake to be anything political, although you could argue that an all-girl band is inherently political.” Mary said, “It just worked out so well. So being women and vegetarians, that’s our thing – and we do it well.”
It isn’t all “sunshine and tofu-pops,” the band explained.
“Even people who are supposed to be our friends tease us about it,” Erin said. “We have been told lots of times that we aren’t punk – maybe because we aren’t as harsh-sounding as a lot of new punk bands. But punk is all about bucking the system and social change. That’s exactly what we are about. We’re more punk than pop.”
Some people assume they are lesbians. “We’re not, not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Caitlin said. “But we aren’t boy-crazy, either. Isn’t it ok just to be a regular band? Does the vibe have to be about sex at all?” She said they have also been called “vaginaterians,” “feminazis”, and hairy-legged.
“Why do they always whip out the hairy legs thing?” Mary asked. “Do people even really do that? My legs are clean-shaven, thank you very much.”
“We’re normal… ish. I mean, I dyed Mary’s head hair pink – with cruelty-free dye, of course.” Erin said, “And we all went to a local tattoo parlor and got piercings together. Caitlin is 25 years old, and she had never had her ears pierced. We took care of that!”
“So we’re animal cruelty-free, but humans – we’re totally ok with that,” quipped Caitlin, always the wise guy. “Optimist,” she corrected me. “We’re all going to die, so we have to make the best of it. That’s optimism.”
“Seriously,” Caitlin continued, “I was mostly playing with all these 40-year-old men. Everybody was so nice to me all the time, but I wondered if they would have been as nice if I were older or a boy. It’s awful, but I wanted somebody to treat me badly just so I could be sure they were being honest. Mary and Erin are horrible to me -- it’s great!”
All three agree that having so much in common outside of the music is what makes the band work. Powdercake songs and shows are not specifically about being women or vegetarian, but they offer a fresh perspective on life, death, and everything in between.
“Rock tends to be extra masculine and extra sexy,” Mary said. “We just want to do something different. Maybe people will like us, maybe they won’t... at least I like us.”
“I like us, too,” Caitlin and Erin added at the same time
Powdercake is releasing their first full-length album this summer, and the band is doing a short tour this July with confirmed stops in Toledo, Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.
For more information about Powdercake, visit their website, www.powdercakeband.com.
Friend them on MySpace at www.myspace.com/powdercakeband.