I got the chance to interview the amazingly fierce and sassy garage rock wonder that is Tomboy.  I got to hear the insights of Madeline, Ali, Meghan, and Hanna on feminism, motivation, and whats good in Boston music right now. Catch these prodigious feminist trailblazers shed TODAY at Hassle Fest 6!!!!!

Boston Hassle: How did you start playing together?

Ali: Madeline (drums) and Hanna (guitar) met in 2012 at a party and I started playing with them shortly after. For awhile our adopted motto was “no boys, no bass.” But after Hanna moved to Canada for grad school we invited our friend Meghan to come play bass with us so we could continue playing live shows. I really like what the bass and Meghan add to the band and it’s pretty awesome when we get to play as a four piece when Hanna is in town.

Madeline: I had played in a few bands before but was always the only woman, and for a while I had wanted to start an all-female band named Tomboy, but didn’t know any other female musicians and wasn’t really plugged into the punk scene in Boston until I met Hanna and we hit it off and decided to form a band. When we three first started playing together we barely knew each other, so we really got to know each other and became friends by writing music together.

BH: What is your process for writing and recording?

Ali: I feel like our process is always changing. We’ve always been pretty collaborative about writing which I think is awesome. Someone will have a hook, or an idea for a melody or a message they want to convey and the song builds from there. I’m excited for us to write and work on new stuff and see what that process looks like.

Madeline: I’ve been in bands where one person writes all the songs and then tells everyone else what to play, but Tomboy has always been really collaborative. We all bring our own flavor. We self-recorded our demo at WBUR and then we recorded this record with Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios, which was so much fun.

Hanna: I really love writing songs with Tomboy. Madeline and I in particular have a great songwriting dynamic. Some of my favorite songs of ours came from her directing me from the drum set and saying what sort of sound she was looking for in the guitar parts. I’d play back different things until we had something we both liked. It was so fun! I ended up writing parts I wouldn’t have thought of just on my own. It’s so cool to see a song develop and hear my bandmates trying new things and writing new parts. “I can see,” for instance, was a song I had written on my own several years ago and brought to Tomboy when we first started. Ali wrote the most beautiful guitar part over it and I would never have thought to add something like that!

BH: What motivates you guys as musicians and artists?

Ali: I’m really motivated by people who do things in the punk and DIY community whether it’s playing a show, making zines, presenting workshops, booking a gig, organizing a DIY marketplace thing, etc. I’m really motivated by my friends and my bandmates. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by so many interesting people + getting to collab with my friends is a dream.

Madeline: Teaching has been motivating me a lot recently. I taught drums at Girls Rock Camp Boston this summer and I teach theater to teenage girls right now. Seeing kids with no formal training be brave and take creative risks and be totally awesome has taught me a lot about taking creative risks and just having fun with it.

Hanna: I taught guitar at Girls Rock Camp Boston two summers ago and that was also a really motivating experience for me. But as much as other musicians and friends are a hugely inspiring, I think the drive I feel to create music and other art is something internal, a deep-rooted part of myself. I started graduate school a year ago and felt kind of empty until I started playing music with other people again. Writing and playing music is really motivating in itself!

BH: Is it important for you to intermix messages within your songs? Is there anything you are trying to impact on your audiences?

Ali: Some of our songs definitely have messages and that’s important to us; we’re definitely a band that’s trying to tell people “what’s up.”

Madeline: For me, one of the funnest things about playing in this band is being able to take things we’re really angry about and turn them into something people can sing along with or dance along to.

BH: I feel like some female bands try to stay away from being labeled as a feminist band, How do you feel about that label?

Ali: Tomboy is definitely a feminist band and I’m proud of that. I’d like to think I bring a feminist perspective to everything I do whether I’m literally talking about feminist issues or just rocking out and in Tomboy we get to do those things simultaneously.

Madeline: We’re definitely a feminist band and not afraid to be political. We’re all activists and that’s always been a big part of our identities as people and as a band.

BH: What are some of the other creative projects you guys are working on right now? Inside and outside of Tomboy.

Ali: Our record, which has been two years in the making (!!!), is about to come out on Ride the Snake in early 2015. We recorded those songs in different stages and over a long period of time and I’m excited for people to hear those songs. I’m also in Fleabite and we have a 7” coming out on Puzzle Pieces around the same time. I’m involved with Smash it Dead Fest and planning for next year’s fest with a whole bunch of awesome people.

Hanna: I just started a band in Kitchener, Ontario, with two friends. We are called Hissy Fit!

Madeline: I’m so stoked for the record to come out! We’re planning to tour behind the record and in the meantime we’re writing new songs. I’m also an actor and I’m starting to work on a new play this spring. Part of the reason it’s taken us so long to put this record out is because we’re all so busy with other projects, but we’ve also grown so much as artists through being involved with other projects and I think that’s reflected in our new album.

BH: How did Boston play a role in the development of Tomboy?

Madeline: We’ve shared the same practice space with a bunch of other Boston bands since our first band practice ever and I think that community has been a huge part of why we stuck with it as a band. Everyone has always been incredibly generous sharing gear with us and helping us get started. We’re really excited to put our record out with Ride the Snake, which is a Boston label. No matter where we all end up geographically in the future, I think Boston will always be a home base.

BH: What local bands are you most excited about right now?

Hanna: I have been listening to a lot of soft, sad music this fall. Lily from Parasol, playing under Squilll, has put out some crushingly beautiful songs online — my favorite is probably “Like Lightning.” I live in Ontario now, so a local (to me) artist I love is Dorothea Paas, who lives in Toronto.

Ali: I think Downtown Boys are the most important punk band right now. Disiplin are my buddies and their live performance is mind-blowing so people should definitely check them out. I always get excited about newer bands like Ursula — a really cool noisey two piece. I also really like Ancient Filth, favorite Boston boy band, great live energy.

Madeline: I really like Leather Daddy. Downtown Boys and Malportado Kids are both nailing it and I love Whore Paint from Providence. My favorite Boston boy band is Free Pizza.

See Tomboy live at Hassle Fest 6 TODAY @ 4:25 at Cuisine en Locale.

3pm // All Ages // $17-20 Sliding Scale

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019