JESSICA BOUDREAUX and Marc Swart have been keeping busy. As founders of local label New Moss Records, it's been crunch time as the label prepares its second release, following Sun Angle's Diamond Junk earlier this year.
This time the pair are pulling double duty as they prepare to release No Makeup, the rocking, garage-pop debut of their own band, Summer Cannibals. "I have to send out 200 CDs for a radio campaign by Friday," says guitarist Swart. "I work part time at a coffee shop, our register is an iPad, and I am constantly looking at emails and answering them between customers. I'm sure my boss is pissed."
Somewhere between forming the label and band, transitioning into a touring lineup (now rounded out by bassist Lynnae Gryffin and drummer Valerie Brogden), and planning said tour, Summer Cannibals found time to record their debut. "The music was the easiest part," says guitarist/vocalist Boudreaux. "I make an electronic drum beat and go over that with a bass line, two guitar parts, and then vocals. I bring the full songs to everybody and let them change their parts," she explains.
Swart and Boudreaux previously made soft electronic pop under the name Your Canvas, but they seem more than pleased with this new, louder direction. "It's more fun than anything I've ever done in my whole life," Boudreaux says, beaming as she continues. "There's no other kind of music that makes me feel as good as this."
The two recall the first time they saw Bay Area garage-rock prodigy Ty Segall last summer, around the same time they formed Summer Cannibals as a two-piece. "He blew my mind," says Swart.
"It kicked us into gear to start playing heavier," adds Boudreaux. Like Segall and friends, Summer Cannibals are able to bash through dirty and catchy guitar riffs and then peel back at a moment's notice with total control. It gives Boudreaux's bluesy, sometimes sassy and playful vocals plenty of room to flex and breathe.
The band's impressive live act stands tall right alongside their new release. They've already opened for a who's who of local bands at venues like Mississippi Studios, Star Theater, and the Doug Fir. "With other bands, I was too scared to ask for shows I thought were too big," Boudreaux says. "We still get turned down a lot, but it's about putting your pride to the side."
Swart affirms this sentiment. "We've been trying harder with this band. We have goals in mind." Both of them seem relieved that a Summer Cannibals track found its way onto the 2013 PDX Pop Now! compilation, after years of not making the cut with their other projects.
It seems there's little to get in their way at this point. Earlier in the year they were able to turn obstacle to strength with a little help from Boudreaux's dog, Lemon, who graces the cover of No Makeup wearing a stylish leather jacket. The original art wasn't working out the way the band wanted, and Boudreaux was beginning to worry. Suddenly she realized a re-creation of a silly cell phone picture of Lemon in the jacket was all they needed. "So we did it, and I'm so glad. I love it," she says of the final image.
It shouldn't be too long before we learn if Lemon will get to reprise her role as cover pup or not. Boudreaux says we'll hear two new songs at the No Makeup record release, and she has almost an album's worth of new material to work on recording when they get back from a quick West Coast tour. Throw in a music video for the No Makeup single "Wear Me Out" and plenty of label work for New Moss, and it's clear Boudreaux and Swart intend to finish 2013 as busy as they began it.