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Birthday cake and scorpions, glitter-glam and steel-toed boots—Family Pet isn’t some bubblegummy girl group trying to sell your 13-year-old cosmetics. They’re female empowerment incarnate. They deliver garage-punk riffs with flippant aggression, their snotty, subversive lyrics smoothed like strawberry icing over the beating heart of rock & roll. The band’s new eponymous Colleen Green-produced single and B-side “I’m a Bitch” (out June 2) make a perfect soundtrack for dismantling the patriarchy in Trump’s America.
Family Pet’s name is a (sad) joke about the American ideal of normalcy, symbolized by the domestic female. “It’s just a fantasy,” lead singer & bassist Kate Dwyer says. “This idea that giving up your own dreams in exchange for comfort, for family happiness, is worthwhile. Keeping up the status quo, trying not to be offensive, watching your tone. That’s what the fantasy woman is. She’s your family pet. Your homemaker slave.”
The song “Family Pet” bludgeons the concept home, speaking to anyone who’s ever felt trapped by expectations. “Every day I deal with shit … Hi, I’m Mrs. Fairweather!” Dwyer sings. It’s an anthem celebrating the moment when a woman decides she’s had it. What follows is a struggle both social and spiritual, as Family Pet indulges this base instinct to fight back. “The song is about living in the world and being creative,” Dwyer says, “Except nowadays the world is made not for creativity but for giving up. It’s a constant battle. Creativity has to be fought for. I really believe that.”
This feeling of teetering between oppressive burden and wild enthusiasm, between compliance and defiance, is a big part of why Dwyer started the band in the first place. “Family Pet is a response to me being frustrated as a female musician,” she says. “It’s a labor of love for the community, but it’s also for me—something I’d want as a music lover.”
This impassioned, take-no-prisoners desire for liberation continues unabashed with B-side, “I’m a Bitch.” High-octane drums and adrenaline-pumping guitars propel the verse—”You’ve got a lot of time on your hands now / I’ve got a lot of ‘leave me alone.'” It deals with a situation where Dwyer quit a terrible job where the boss wanted her to work extra hours without pay. “After I quit, they basically hit me up to let me know, ‘You’re a bitch’ because I wouldn’t work for free,” Dwyer says. “The fact that my old job would contact me just to be shitty—who has time for that? You know what? If sticking up for myself makes me a bitch, then so be it. I am a bitch.”
Family Pet comes from the ashes of Dwyer’s previous bands Sadwich and Feeling Feelings. Both used overly cutesy elements Dwyer felt no longer suited her temperament. She was simply too pissed off. So Family Pet was built on frustration and aggression. Dwyer promptly recruited her sister Maggie on guitar, and they put all their efforts into this blood-bonded punk-rock sister act, à la Kim & Kelley Deal of The Breeders in the late ‘80s. Once rounded out by guitarist Natalie XXXX and drummer Katie XXX (drums) (who played with Dwyer in her previous projects), Family Pet went to work crafting their rambunctious, aggressive and unapologetically feminist sound.
Music has been a weapon of empowerment for Dwyer—a way to express her frustrations and overcame adversity; a machete for carving through the jungle of L.A.’s unforgiving music scene. Family Pet is now running a gauntlet once traversed by pioneering all-female Los Angeles legends like The Runaways and L7 while joining the ranks of contemporaries like Colleen Green, Cherry Glazerr and Bleached. In the band’s short life they’ve already shared stages with Honus Honus (Man Man), The Memories, comedian/writer Dan Harmon (Community, Rick and Morty, Harmon Quest) and the rest of the Harmontown cast. Family Pet’s debut LP, Petty, is slated for a July 2017 release.
To set up an interview with Acid Tongue, or get your hands on press passes, advance music, hi-res photos, album art or videos, contact Baby Robot publicist Rachel Hurley.