Tacocat’s Lelah Maupin on Music, Mansplaining, and Martians


Last Thursday night, Seattle punk band, Tacocat played at the Great Scott. The colorful and always upbeat band is made up of Emily Nokes, Bree McKenna, Lelah Maupin, and Eric Randall, who are on tour for their newest album, Lost Time. Tacocat, along with their copious amounts of glitter and Narragansett beer, rocked Allston until just after midnight. I was hanging happily in the front row, hearing them play all of my favorites, “You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit,” “Leisure Bees,” “Crimson Wave,” etc. Their surf punk tunes made everyone in the audience dance the entire time—during “Hey Girl,” I could literally feel the ground move below my feet.


Before the show, I was able to catch up with drummer and alien-enthusiast, Lelah Maupin:

Tricia: Being from Seattle, how did the Riot Grrrl scene influence your band?
Lelah: We all were affected by it one way or another. When we started the band we weren’t like “oh we wanna be like these bands,” like the band we were inspired by was Beat Happening, and I think what we became a part of was a second wave of that. I think theirs was a lot angrier and ours is a lot more fun.

T: What is Seattle music scene like now? Is it more inclusive for women? Is it what you expected it would be like?
L: Well it definitely feels more comfortable now than when we started. When we started, which was like eight or nine years ago, we didn’t really expect anything, which was in retrospect really shitty. Looking back on how were we treated and the things that were said to us, it just didn’t really bother us, we were like oh, whatever. It was kinda shitty—like no one gave us credit because we were a bunch of young girls. “The only reason anyone likes their music is because they’re cute young girls that can’t play their instruments blah blah blah”…Which is kid of true, I mean I couldn’t play very well. But being an artist isn’t about painting. We created what we had, what we made was good. We didn’t have as much skill as some dude who’s been playing guitar for ten years. Nobody was okay with that but eventually they would. But some people would come up to me and be like I’ve never seen a girl drummer before—we’d be in like Idaho. Like what the fuck am I supposed to say to that? (laughs). But it’s different now, it definitely really has changed—it was a gradual thing. And it wasn’t something I noticed right away. But I remember a couple years ago that it almost became a trend, like gay is the new black. It was like no one gave a shit about your band if you didn’t have at least one girl in it. I don’t really know where it’s at now. I just hope we’re all getting towards the “we just don’t have to talk about that anymore.”

T: So do you guys hate when you get called a female or feminist punk band and not just a band? Or do you think it’s still important to mention that?
L: We’ve gotten this question before and I think it’s an interesting question because there is one aspect of it that’s like well that information is interesting to people. Like if you tell me I wanna go see this punk band and I’m expecting like four dudes who are in black t-shirt, then whenever you know, if you tell me this punk band is made up of four women, I’m just naturally more interested in that. I think that probably everyone probably would like that information. It shouldn’t be omitted because were trying to be too PC. So the label kind of sucks still, it implies that it’s a different classification. It’s very complicated, but then again, nowadays we’ll get female bands, girl bands, riot grrrl, girl band, girl band, girl band. I personally don’t care. I know everyone is out there just trying to do their best. I don’t think someone’s not “woke” if they just don’t know girl bands—you know, it’s information that’s always gonna be commented.

T: I know in your last album you wanted to “Build a Bridge to Hawaii,” and now you have songs like “I Love Seattle.” What has changed, and I’m assuming it’s not the transportation…
L: Oh actually, this has nothing to do with the question, but in fact the transportation in Seattle did change, yeah very big deal. They finally have a train-and they just extended it to go through the actual city. I haven’t used it yet, it’s been clogging up the service streets. Anyway, but about this question, “Bridge to Hawaii” is more like not about how Seattle sucks, but more about how the weather sucks. I feel like I do love Seattle, but it also came at a time when we wrote “I Hate the Weekend.” And also “I Love Seattle” is about how we love our city but our city is also a piece of shit now (laughs). It’s just gone straight to hell in a hand basket. We used to have this really fiery group of community leaders that were representing the queers and freaks and the artists and whatever. Then everyone was like we’re not gonna let them take away our shit, and now were so defeated and everyone’s like I don’t fucking care let’s get out of here (laughs). A lot of people are there, but also a lot of people are leaving. Particularly our neighborhood and Capitol Hill, where all of the artists and freaks live have always lived have been bought out and demolished. Only people that live there in the past year make a million dollars a year and work in the tech industry. It’s just your average gentrification story. And I just feel like that song is about you know, the good old days.

T: Okay so “Men Explain Things to Me” is my favorite song off the album, because it’s just super true and gross because it’s true. But how does writing songs so open about misogyny and mansplaining, as well as stuff about periods and just female stuff in general, like “Crimson Wave” and “FDP” affected the perception of your band?
L: I have some funny stories about that. One time we were just about to play, we were in San Francisco and Emily and the sound guy were having a conversation—obviously over the crowd because he was in the back, about her microphone, and she’s tapping it and talking into it, you know working out their microphone thing. Then some dude standing right in the front starts yelling to her like “hey try this and do this, and is this thing on.” Ugh yes, so we played that song (Men Explain Things to Me) first that night that song was for that guy (laughs). It was really, really beautiful. Yeah, and so now we have two songs about periods at this point, but what’s great is we play these songs every night, and even the dudes there don’t look uncomfortable or they don’t like shrink away, they just stand in the crowd and sing along. It’s really cool, but I’m not sure how that makes us perceived exactly, like maybe we seem like real badasses. But I think it’s cool because I remember being fourteen, getting my first period, and up until I was eighteen like I always felt ashamed and embarrassed. But I really hope that those songs help that, because no one should have to feel that way.

T: Dana Scully is an awesome character, and the first song off Lost Time, is in fact called “Dana Katherine Scully,” so are you all huge X-Files fans?
L: Everyone but me (laughs). And I’m not not a fan, I’ve just never seen it, and every time it’s on, my brain is just like “wait, what happened.” I mean it’s cool, I love aliens, I love outer space, I love weird stuff, I love Scully, I love Mulder, I love it all. I just really, to be honest, have trouble watching any television, I don’t know, it’s just not for me (laughs). But Emily, Bree, and Eric are all big fans of that Emily especially. Even way before she wrote that song, Scully was just one of her icons. We made the video for it and Emily dressed up as Scully. When she put on those close and the wig I was just like oh my god! I love the video, I loved making the video. I should probably just sit down and watch the damn show someday.

T: I totally feel the same way with that and also Twin Peaks.
L: Oh my god me too. I even had Twin Peaks, the six tape VHS set in my room for like five years. I found it at a thrift store and was like “oh well this is worth buying and watching.” And I just never did. I ended up giving it away to my friend that still owns a VCR. I’m like committing two cardinal sins by never seeing the two shows.

T: So last question-since you guys are super into outer space and stuff, do you guys believe in aliens?
L: Yes, in general yeah we definitely believe. I have a little alien tattooed on my finger and yeah I love my little alien tattoo! Who the fuck knows really, but its way more fun to believe. All the universe-y, outer spacey stuff, we all really appreciate that. We all dabble in astrology, everybody in Tacocat is a Libra except for me—I’m a Gemini. We talk about it all the time and Emily is even learning how to do tarot. Bree used to do tarot too, so that kind of stuff, it’s all kind of our jams.

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