Q: What’s That Smell? A: Sailor Poon

Austin garage-punk broads are hungry for stink

Hells Angels: Sailor Poon (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Sandwiched between moody single “I’m on the Rag” and a song about tripping too hard to get laid at a music festival (“Levitation”), Sailor Poon’s Yeast Pigeon 7-inch offers a gripping mystery in which Austin’s queens of the obscene try to locate the source of a peculiar odor.

Spoiler alert: It involves one of music’s other uses of a bathroom.

You can stream “Something Smells” below, but only after scrolling through this entertainingly inane interview with Sailor Poon sirens Billie Buck and Mariah Stevens-Ross, wherein they discuss things that smell, touring, and being a “very serious band.”

Austin Chronicle: What’s the worst-smelling thing you’ve ever whiffed?

Billie Buck: Well, the other day I was trying to figure out, “What is that smell? Where is it coming from?” I looked at all the various smelly things lying around in my room and threw them all away. Then we were going to Marfa, so I picked up my suitcase, opened it, and there was an ancient peach inside.

Mariah Stevens-Ross: Sometimes you look around and you realize the smelliest thing you’ve ever smelled is yourself.

AC: What about when Sailor Poon is on tour? I imagine that’s a bouquet of interesting odors.

BB: Our van’s pretty big – we can spread our smells out. Cheraya is probably the smelliest one and she drives, so she’s a little separated. We only did a little tour so far, so we’ll find out in August. God, it will probably be the smelliest tour ever.

AC: The new song talks about finding two people rutting on the floor of a bathroom. Were you envisioning a specific bathroom?

BB: I was actually envisioning a YMCA bathroom, so the floor is wet and there’s foot mold.

MSR: I had a whole spiel prepared about how the song is actually a metaphor for patriarchy and how you look around and say, “What smells? I’m smelling that something’s off,” and then you realize that you are the part of the problem.

AC: Shill the new 7-inch, please.

MSR: It was recorded at Sweetheart Studios by Travis Beall.

BB: And it’s on Jon Chamberlain’s new thing Giveaway Records. I think the purpose is to do recordings that are affordable enough for the artist that you can donate proceeds to good stuff. It’s a charity thing.

MSR: Ours went to Planned Parenthood.

AC: Why that organization?

BB: Because it’s important as fuck.

AC: This is your second recording?

MSR: Yeah, and it’s our first vinyl.

BB: The first one was done in our friend’s bedroom, but this is our first official recording. We’ll probably go back and do some more with them.

MSR: And hopefully work with Daddy Khan.

AC: King Khan has expressed interested in working with Sailor Poon?

BB: Yeah, he wants to put out the next album. We’re trying to figure out the logistics of that.

MSR: He lives in Berlin, so I don’t know if he will fly us all out there.

AC: What were those recent gigs like opening up for him?

MSR: Well, we first played with him in October when he was playing with BBQ Show. That was in Dallas and San Antonio. Paper Tiger in San Antonio reached out to us and said they thought we’d be a good fit. Then our recordings got sent to his agent and he messaged me like, “Fuck you, Mariah.” It’s been history ever since, or whatever that expression is.

AC: “The rest is history.”

MSR: Yeah, that.

BB: He’s been really good to us. He says we’re better than the Black Angels.

AC: This could lead to a King Khan/Black Angels feud – which would be like a Biggie/Tupac thing for the garage-psych genre. Tell us about the upcoming tour.

MSR: [In valley girl accent] We’re going to L.A. to get big. We’re really gonna make it, I think.

BB: Unfortunately the Smell will be closed, so we can’t play “Something Smells” in the Smell. Have you been there? It’s a venue in L.A. We went there when we were on vacation from our vacation of a life. The Uber driver pulled up to an alley and was like, “You sure you want to go down there?” We walked down the alley, and it was just piss alley. But back there, there’s this little shotgun-style building. It’s so cool.

MSR: It was like a straight-edge club and there was no alcohol.

BB: We took pictures in the bathroom and were covered in mystery goop from leaning on the walls.

This time, I think we’ll be taking Cream Puff, our trusty airport biodiesel shuttle. It runs on vegetable oil and the tears of men.

AC: Does it have those school bus-style doors?

MSR: Yeah, I was leaning against those doors one time trying to take a picture because Cheraya was driving and someone was in her lap. It was either a dog or a person, I can’t remember. We turned this corner and I fell right out of the van. They just kept on driving. They didn’t notice I fell out. I was just sitting there like, “Guys?”

AC: Do you think Sailor Poon offers a good representation of Austin music to people of outside lands?

BB: I hope so. It’s kind of hard to get a bill that has anyone similar to us.

MSR: We’re just sooooo unique.

BB: They’ll just think Austin is a bunch of filthy babes who sing about sharting.

MSR: Or fucking in the pussy in that one song about diarrhea.

AC: Is this a feminist message?

BB: Yeah definitely. But it’s sort of ...

MSR: I don’t know if it’s tongue-in-cheek to say it’s tongue-in-cheek. We’re just really serious. We’re a very serious band.

Sailor Poon’s Summer Tour

8/11: Austin – tour kickoff at Hotel Vegas
8/12: Arlington – house party
8/13: Tulsa – Barnacle Banger festival at the Yeti
8/14: Santa Fe – The Ghost
8/15: Phoenix – TBA
8/16: Los Angeles – The Resident
8/17: TBA
8/18: Los Angeles – TBA
8/19: San Diego – Bedder Mattress
8/20: Tijuana – Moustache Bar
8/21: Tucson – TBA
8/22: El Paso – Monarch
8/26: San Antonio – K23 Gallery
8/27: Houston – Satellite Bar
9/4: Austin – Hotel Vegas pre-Labor Day party

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