LIKE THE RED STUFF pumping through your arteries, Heart Beats Red makes music akin to an untouchable lifeblood; they're a little poppy, ominous, tough, and sad, all at once. Most importantly, they're true--vocalist/guitarist Tasha Christensen's voice rises up in a way that's challengingly honest, while guitarist Sarah Brown rings in at times to concur. Emily Brown Kingan defends it all with a big drumbeat that's never intrusive. For all intents and purposes, it's emo, but it's not something to be pigeonholed into a rock critics' easily consumptive category--Heart Beats Red is emo because it's honest and moody; unjaded, yet unfaltering, and never, ever sappy. "I feel like when I'm happy, I can't write a good song," says Christensen. "It's always about somebody who's totally broken my heart."

Only together as a band since February of this year, Heart Beats Red comes from a layered, hectic musical background. Kingan plays with The Haggard, The Never (with sts from The Haggard, and Rachel and Radio from the Need), and a Cyndi Lauper cover band with Christensen; Christensen was in 10-4, Sharks Kill, and Cherry Ice Cream Smile; Brown plays solo gigs. They've mostly been playing all ages shows, something Christensen feels strongly about. "I feel like all ages shows are super important, and I won't play a 21-and-over show unless I'm playing an all ages show in that city also, because I think it's important that kids can go. But I want to play to a broader audience, because sometimes people are fucked up and they need to hear what I'm saying and need to hear how I think and how I feel."

That's a traditionally punk rock aesthetic, and their influences may have something to do with it. "I listen to Harem Scarum and the Need. I loved Team Dresch," says Kingan. "I connected with that band emotionally. For this band, I'm not a songwriter, but in my other bands, it's more political than emotional."

Heart Beats Red are releasing a seven-inch record and touring California with Made for TV Movie this November, and just returned from a tour of the Pacific Northwest with The Disappearer and Welcome to My Skirt. With their serious riffs pulling in vocal sentiment, they're all heart. "I think, to us, the important part about playing is that we write what our guts tell us to write. I'm not doing this for anybody else but mebut if people like it, I'll be glad," Christensen laughs.

This is survival music. It comes straight from the inside, a reminder that everybody's got mystical blood driving near their hearts. Says Brown, "The thing for me with songwriting is about letting other people know they're not alone."