How has Agent Ribbons sound evolved since your last record, Chateau Crone?
Lauren: We’ve gone back to being a two piece after Chateau Crone so we’ve been revisiting our more minimal side. There is more emphasis on vocal harmonies now.
How has relocating to Austin shaped how the band works, or the sound itself? What is the music community like there? How is it similar/different than Sac or places you have traveled?
Lauren: Austin has helped us grow as a band and as people. We both are involved with activities that enrich our personal lives which helps us be more well rounded and creative individuals. I started another band during Agent Ribbons downtime where I play guitar and it actually has helped my confidence in Agent Ribbons. The music community is really supportive and rad! You don’t have to beg people to come to your shows here! Most shows here are free which totally helps attendance. I miss Sacramento a ton, especially in the spring and fall! But Austin has a certain kind of follow through that is really appealing. You can do things here that you probably couldn’t sustain in other places. I’ve been able to DJ girl punk and weird stuff here to a crowd that is excited about it and gets it. That to me is super exciting, just to be with like minded people and not have to explain yourself and your interests constantly.
If you could live anywhere – besides Austin – where would it be?
Probably Portland, San Francisco or somewhere on the Northern California Coast.
What is your favorite city to visit – but not live in?
If you were to give an Agent Ribbon fan a recommended book, music, or movie list what would you include?
BOOK: Women of the Underground Interviews by Zora von Burden
ALBUM: Dolly Mixture – “Demonstration Tapes” and The Zombies “Odyssey and Oracle” to be played simultaneously.
What are your favorite bands you have discovered in the last year?
Shoppers, Nu Sensae, The Mallard, Lower Dens.
As a voyeur – what individual artistic expression can you say changed your life?
Seeing Sonic Youth for the first time in my early teens.
How would you describe your current sound?
Minimal indie with heavy harmonies
If your band could have a motto what would it be?
Onward and Upward!
What are your most recent musical influences?
Been listening to Prefab Sprout, Shoplifting, Lower Dens, Grass Widow’s new album, Occult Chemistry. I listen to a gazillion things, always shifting and changing.
What song would you like to have played during a toast to your legacy?
Oh man, I don’t know….something with the word “party”involved. Nothing sad.
Besides music, what inspires you to make it?
Creativity in general. Boredom, haha.
What is your favorite album of all time?
This is a toughie. I’ll give you three of my top faves: The Slits “Cut”, Team Dresch “Personal Best”, Sonic Youth “Daydream Nation”
How has the song writing process evolved over the years?
We are definitely trying to expand our sound as a two piece. Adding harmonies wherever we can, more interesting and compelling changes and moods.
Favorite show memories?
The memories that tend to stand out are the embarrassing ones. Like the time we were opening for Cake at Austin Music Hall for New Years. It was a huge event, totally packed. Natalie broke a string on the third song and ran off to try and replace it while I sat at my set like a dear in headlights. People were shouting, “drum solo!” which furthered my embarrassment because I most certainly don’t do drum solos. It was terrifying at the time, but pretty darn hilarious now!
What are the highs and lows of touring?
The Highs: traveling, seeing rad bands, eating regional food, free beer, occasional thrift stores. The Lows: no sleep, bad shows, scraping by on nothing, having to be social for long periods of time.
How has the internet shaped the band’s direction?
I think its helped us out just like every other band out there. Our first couple of tours were booked primarily through Myspace. We’ve met bands from all over on the internet that have turned into good friends and able to hook up shows. Now its pretty much integral in promoting and booking shows. We are starting to focus on making a website that is outside of Facebook, because that will inevitably die someday.
What challenges has the band had to overcome?
Being constantly broke, a few lost guitars, van dying, being banned from the UK, adding a violin and then subtracting a violin, loosing cymbals, struggling to keep the band alive but also keep our sanity!
If there was an Agent Ribbons documentary – or based on a true story movie – what scenes from your career would you want included? (or dare I say, omitted? ha)
Definitely us traveling around Europe for the first time! For some insane reason, we decided to bring my entire 5 piece drum set and a small amp. Our friend Debbie went with us and between her, Natalie and I, we carried the drums, guitar and amp on trains, metros, through the streets, up flights of stairs- everywhere. It was crazy! I had to pack my clothes and merch in the drum cases! So before every show, I’d be taking out my undies and random clothes from the drum cases! Then any scene of us tired out of our minds driving through the desert at 3am saying the weirdest shit would be entertaining. Well, at least to us!
If you could share the stage with any current artist who would it be? What about the disbanded or dearly departed?
If the band was to end tomorrow what would be your next creative outlet?
Well, the band took a two month break last year and I started another project immediately called CITYMEN where I play guitar. So I would for sure keep playing music no matter what. I also have always wanted to start a cool queer magazine, own a vintage shop, study nutrition, make more jewelry, etc. I have a million ideas and interests!
What is your opinion on the current state of the music industry? Do you think it has gotten better or worse (or stayed the same) since your band has formed?
Its gotten better as far as the power seems to be shifting into the hands of bands and smaller labels instead of the majors. The internet did a great thing for independent music as far as getting it out there to a potentially huge audience without requiring large sums of money. Sales of music have dropped considerably, but the vinyl and cassette resurgence is a great thing and I hope it keeps growing. I’m ok with people downloading music as long as they come out to the shows and show support in other ways.
Do you have a good luck charm or a ritual you perform before a show?
Inspiration Spritz! Its an imaginary mist that we “spray” on ourselves before shows. It’s fake for now, although I think I will make us some real spray soon.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 25? 50?
10 Years: I will be 40. Hopefully still doing awesome stuff, but will have my shit together enough to own my own house and a business. Maybe I will have a child at this point that will be named Cloud. 15 Years: I will be 45. More of the same as 40, except more travel and adventures with Cloud. 50 Years: I will be 80 and crotchety as hell.
What does Agent Ribbons do during downtime while on tour?
I try to take naps whenever possible. We like to find a coffee shop or cafe and read, we have managed to kill hours of time that way. We can’t always afford to, but thrifting is always a thrill!
If we were to raid your food supply what would we find?
I’m ultra into health right now so I’ve got kale, sweet potatoes, quinoa, black beans, etc. All the cheap but healthy options.
What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? Your old standby?
I love a good Hefeweizen with an orange! Not too into hard alcohol, but I’d go with a Gin & Tonic.
Why is tangible media (records, tapes, CDs) important to you? How do you feel about the digital era of music?
There is nothing more rewarding to me that putting a record on the turntable, sitting in front of the speakers and reading liner notes. Even though listening to music digitally is more convenient, its boring, easy and sounds bad. Things like Spotify are cool, but I like to hunt for my music and explore in tangible ways. Don’t get me wrong, I spend hours online researching music, but then I have to have the physical copy!
What advice would you give to young people who are starting their first band?
Don’t worry about what kind of equipment you have, what you look like, what your parents think – DO IT!
What’s next for Agent Ribbons?
We are embarking on a two month tour in September. First to the east coast and then over to the west. We can’t wait!!