“We went to a flea market today, and there was a sign that said ‘Tasers on Special’ next to a sign that said ‘Real Cool Knives’ or something. This place has, like, the worst humans,” says Alex Edgeworth with a laugh. Her phone is half-functioning, so she’s blasting this speakerphone conversation out to an empty beach somewhere near Jacksonville, Florida.
Edgeworth is catching some downtime before tonight’s show with garage-pop band Peach Kelli Pop, a Burger Records staple fronted by mastermind Allie Hanlon. Though she’s been playing her own music for a long time, this latest experience — as a hired-gun guitarist — is a first for the multi-instrumentalist. She joined Peach Kelli Pop shortly after moving to Los Angeles, but long before that, she was an integral part of the Colorado music community.
Born in New York and raised in Rhode Island and Florida, Edgeworth made her way to Colorado in the early 2000s to attend University of Denver. This is where she started playing music, co-founding the thrashy pop two-piece Lust-Cats of the Gutters around 2009 with guitarist and singer Robin Edwards, who now lives in Seattle and performs as Lisa Prank (Edwards is also a former Westword writer).
“I sort of Forrest-Gumped my way into the situation,” Edgeworth says of starting that first band. “I wanted to play drums for a really long time, but it hadn’t crossed my mind that it was something I could just do. I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone: I’ll be in a band and learn the drums as I go.”
The approach worked well for the two friends, who were learning how to be a band together. “We were just very practical about the whole thing,” Edgeworth recalls with a laugh. “We were like, well, we’re a band now. I guess we’d better find a practice space and say, ‘Every Tuesday, we’re going to practice.’ We set modest goals for ourselves; it almost felt like a school project. It was like we were on the same science team and had to come up with a blue-ribbon prize.”
The musical lab partners went on to become staples of the Denver/Boulder DIY community, playing shows, touring, releasing an album on the Burger label and booking shows for other bands. Edgeworth learned a lot from those first few years as a Lust-Cat: “I think it set a really good standard for how I feel about being in bands now; it’s like, keep your cool, have fun and keep your eye on the ball.”
In 2011, Edgeworth began to feel that she had outgrown Denver, so she headed to Vermont to join the Happy Jawbone Family Band. Based in Brattleboro and composed of acquaintances, the group needed a keyboardist and singer, and Edgeworth needed a change. “They were very intelligent, highly creative, and absolute freaks who were interested in being cozy and making psychedelic music, and that was really appealing to me,” she says of her newfound scene.
“Denver is a very male town; it’s a place where you dress in black and get dice tattooed on your neck,” she says, half-jokingly. “It started to feel like any other scene, where punk and metal and hardcore and that sort of pandering, gothic Americana can have these frustrated-male overtones. I think also because I’m a tomboy and I subconsciously want to be one of the boys, and I want to keep up — well, I look back on that and think, 'Who cares?' Why did I care? It didn’t matter.”
While Lust-Cats of the Gutters was a self-taught lesson in being in a band, being part of the venerable western Massachusetts music scene showed Edgeworth just how versatile her own playing could be. She joined a project called Bird Names, which she describes as “arrhythmic, with lots of texture,” and then there was the solo work that she performed alongside multi-instrumentalist friend Ruth Garbus.
Eventually Edgeworth left for L.A. — her thinking was, “I haven’t tried this place yet” — and once there, she continued to work on solo pursuits. She wrote songs and recorded all instruments, looping sounds herself on a Tascam eight-track cassette recorder. This project is now known as Bed Bits, and she’s assembling a lineup to make it a live band.
Referring to her current stint touring with Peach Kelli Pop, Edgeworth says that the experience of joining an already popular band that runs like a well-oiled machine sets a higher standard for her as a player. “It’s a very L.A. experience,” she explains. “People rotate through bandmembers fairly often in L.A. and don’t bat an eye when they’re hiring virtual strangers as their next bass player or something. That was super-weird for me. I was like, isn’t this like picking a roommate off of Craigslist? But L.A. is so big, it’s almost a necessity.”
Teaching herself to play multiple instruments, walking herself through the recording process, trying out for bands and traveling among various music scenes have all made Edgeworth the multi-purpose, cross-genre music generator she is today. “I was a shy, unhappy kid who just wanted to be able to lay claim to something awesome,” says Edgeworth. “I feel like that’s what I’m doing now.”
Peach Kelli Pop, 9 p.m. Thursday, May 26, hi-dive, 7 South Broadway, 303-733-0230, $8-10, 21+.
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