Music News

Tacocat on Broad City, Rookie and Using Humor To Make a Point

Tacocat’s web address is Tacocat’s name is a lighthearted palindrome. While these initial details might seem silly, they reveal much about the irreverent humor and lateral thinking that underpin the band’s creative work.

“Everybody that uses Tacocat on the Internet uses it for [something fairly silly], so we had to get creative with it,” says drummer Lelah Maupin.

Formed in Seattle in 2007, Tacocat also includes bassist Bree McKenna, vocalist Emily Nokes and guitarist Eric Randall. The band evolved during a resurgence of garage rock and surf punk, a wave that crested around the time that it released its first album — the strikingly diverse Shame Spiral. Prior to that release, the band had toured the U.S. and connected with like-minded artists who also didn’t fully fit the mold of the current underground rock movement. Tacocat didn’t shy away from social critique, which further set it apart from many of its peers, who were often either decidedly apolitical or focused on largely hedonistic lyrics. But when addressing issues of sexism and class, Tacocat employs a sharp sense of humor that circumvents listeners’ resistance to discussing such topics.

“That’s been our thing the whole time, but maybe we didn’t know it until later,” says Maupin. “No one wants to hear anyone yelling or squawking ever again. It’s kind of a turn-off.”

“I think the way we communicate is to make jokes about things or be funny about it,” adds Maupin. “It feels like the best way to get our perspective out. Last night when I was going to sleep, I was listening to these Ram Dass lectures, and at the end of one he said, ‘I want to leave you with this: Don’t take yourselves too seriously.’”

Musically and conceptually, Tacocat was a bit ahead of the curve in drawing inspiration from ’90s culture — L7 and 7 Year Bitch, the parallel riot grrrl movement, and the literature produced by iconic bands and writers like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Jessica Hopper. McKenna and Nokes echoed Hopper with their popular “Men Who Rock!” satire for Seattle’s alternative weekly, The Stranger, parodying Rolling Stone’s annual “Women Who Rock” feature. The bandmembers connected with the irreverence and social critique of Sassy magazine in the ’90s, and of today’s Rookie, the magazine founded and edited by the still-teenage Tavi Gevinson.

“I asked our label to get us involved with Rookie because I’m such a big fan,” says McKenna. “It’s not pretentious and not condescending, and it’s smart. Even the fashion is not lame and [not] centered around one type of person or one body type.”

Another recent cultural phenomenon that resonates with Tacocat is the Comedy Central series Broad City, created by and starring comedians Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. “We can really identify with those characters and how they deal with everything,” says Maupin.

“It’s just that the female perspective has been missing from comedy, so I can finally identify with it,” McKenna elaborates. “I think men find it funny because that perspective is not often represented, so it’s really fresh to everyone. I think they’re geniuses, and I wish they were my friends.”

In 2014, Tacocat released its latest full-length, NVM, recorded with well-known Seattle recording engineer Conrad Uno. There’s a self-titled album in the works for release in spring 2016, so expect the band to test out some new material at the hi-dive. 

With Sallie Ford, Thursday, December 3, 8:30 p.m., hi-dive, 303-733-0230, $10-$12, 21+.

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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.