Sin Desires Marie on Fugazi and the puzzling novelty of women playing powerful music

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But rather than settling for amateur excellence, the members always sounded like they knew what they wanted to do with an almost strident urgency. With music akin to the bass-driven post-punk of Joy Division and Mission of Burma and a cathartic, twin vocal delivery worthy of Rites of Spring, Park and her bandmates, guitarist Claudine Rousseau and drummer Germaine Baca, had a rare alchemy of dense yet dynamic melodies and inspirational idealism.

After breaking up in 2002, with a reunion show in 2004, Sin Desires Marie's principals went their separate ways, with Park briefly performing in Midcentury, Rousseau performing also in the short-lived Nippon Cha Cha Cha and Baca relocating to Portland, Oregon, for a time and becoming a member of both Old Time Relijun and Arrington De Dionyso's Malaikat Dan Singa.

But in 2010, the three found themselves back in Denver, and it seemed like the right time to reform the band for a reunion show that became what Park has joking referred to as "reunion summer." Its first reunion show this past April at the Hi-Dive was a resounding success and a powerful reminder that the group never lost its emotional vibrancy and relevance. We recently sat down with the three members of the band and talked about its history, its connection with Fugazi and the puzzlingly lingering attitude about the novelty of women playing sonically powerful music.

Westword: You were both in The Pauline Heresy?

Yoon Park and Claudine Rousseau: Germaine was too.

YP: We were roommates in college.

CR: Holly Fitch was our singer. After that band she never played or sang again. I met Germaine through Ron Marshall. He was the drummer for Blue Ontario and Christie Front Drive. She was interested in playing drums. I don't even know how we acquired instruments, it was like a whirlwind.

YP: One day we decided we were going to start playing music and be vegan.

CR: That's right. We essentially learned our instruments together because we didn't know what the fuck we were doing.

What was the reason you chose your respective instruments?

YP: Peter Hook. [laughs]

Didn't the name Pauline Heresy refer to Saint Paul?

YP: Sort of. I was taking a class at CU Boulder, and my professor mentioned "The Pauline Heresies" and St. Paul's Gospel sort of against women, and since we were all women... For Sin Desires Marie, it was our middle names. For Claudine it was Desiré, and mine is Sin, but in Korean it's pronounced "Shin."

Didn't Pauline Heresy play the first or second ever Monkey Mania show with 90 Day Men in 1998?

CR: That's when it was at 50 North Lipan? I think that's right.

YP: That was right after Wonderground.

CR: Before Wonderground. By then we were Sin Desires Marie.

YP: The Pauline Heresy lasted one year.

You opened for Sleater-Kinney on their first tour through Colorado at the Fox Theater in Boulder, right?

CR: Yeah. [laughs] That was hilarious. I think one of our greatest supporters is Jason Heller, and at the time he was writing, and I think he was booking shows. Just through knowing a lot of people, he helped us a lot. We did a lot of house shows, and that helped. There were so many bands touring. We played with Juno at The Acoma House. We played with Los Crudos.

YP: Paul Kane helped us a lot, too. We played with the Get-Up Kids and Braid -- at Club 156.

CR: Scott Bransford and Virgil Dickerson were setting up a lot of shows in Boulder. They knew each other and always had house shows. Before The Faint became The Faint, they were a three piece, and we saw them at Virgil's house. Through playing those shows, we got hooked up.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.