Punk-rock meets surf-rock meets pop-rock, all at the hands of two California sisters.
Sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin of sunshine-infused punk-pop band Bleached began their musical careers as many often do— in the garage of their California home. “We would play music all day in there when our parents were out,” Clavin says. “It’s always been easy for us to work together, and we get each other well, music-wise.” Only two years apart in age, the Clavin sisters had already found success with their project Mika Miko. On Bleached’s debut record Ride Your Heart, the pair ventures into more refined punk territory with dreamy harmonies and gritty, surf-driven guitar. They play Circle Bar on Sunday night.
There’s smart songwriting at play on Ride Your Heart; the songs have hooks and Bleached likes to repeat them. From the gritty, dance-worthy “Next Stop” to the retro-smoothness of “Outta My Mind,” the duo turns an old sound into a new one. Bands as different as The Rolling Stones, Blondie, and Fleetwood Mac have made their mark on the Clavin sisters. “The first time I heard Fleetwood Mac, I was still in my punk phase,” Clavin says. “My parents had all of their records in their garage, and for some reason I said, ‘You know what, I’m putting on this Fleetwood Mac record.’ It was Tusk. And I realized that it’s secretly punk. I understood the obsession. When I finally heard it, it was like, ‘This is the best thing ever.’”
As much as Clavin gives credit to the classics, it was L.A.‘s local punk scene that had her curious enough to pick up an instrument. “Jessie and I used to go to shows all of the time, and I remember seeing two girls in a band once,” says Clavin. “All of a sudden it hit me - ‘Wait. We should be in a band.’ I went home determined to learn the guitar.” Clavin’s younger sister approached music a little differently at the start. “Jessie asked for a bass for Christmas in the seventh grade,” she says. “She was more into the idea of playing an instrument first. My dad was always trying to give me guitar lessons, but I’d be like, ‘Eh, I don’t want to.’ You don’t want your parents to teach you anything.”
The sisters were raised in California, and their home state has become a part of Bleached’s sound and identity. But as much as she loves Los Angeles, Clavin says that the road is her favorite place to be. “If I was in L.A. all of the time, I wonder if I’d end up getting bored with it,” she says. “That’s why I love going on tour. I get to see these other places. You drive through these weird towns, you play a show, and you see all of the kids that come out. You can imagine what it’s like to live there.”
It’s the sisters’ bleached-blonde hair and subtle Valley accent that give them away as California natives wherever they go, though. The duo’s habit of bleaching their hair inspired the band name, but Clavin says she dyes her hair so often that “bleached” doesn’t always apply. “Right now, my hair is pink,” she says, laughing. “But I used to dye my hair and so did Jessie. I feel like every weekend we were dying our hair. I’ve had black hair before, and I’ve had bright red. For a second I tried growing my hair out to see what color it actually was. Then I got bored of that and dyed it again.”