12 Breakthrough Austin Bands at SXSW Music

Leather Girls

Local garage band recounts their origin story

Photo by Jana Birchum

12 Breakthrough Austin Bands at SXSW Music

"We don't consider ourselves a psych band," says Leather Girls guitarist/vocalist Mike Garrido, nursing a Topo Chico on a noisy Friday night patio at Lala's. "We're more garage than psych. I always want more reverb on the vocals, and Erik says, 'No, dry it up!'"

"I want something more raw and dirty than reverbed and polished out," insists singer/guitarist Erik Camacho.

"That stuff's in all our veins," smiles Garrido. "When we started, we wanted to be a more modern version of Nuggets."

Indeed, the fuzzy clang Leather Girls discharges across last year's self-titled debut LP on San Antonio indie Yippee Ki Yay Records is only psychedelic by dint of the production. It follows two-and-a-half years from NYC native Garrido's introduction to Camacho through local psych institution Holy Wave, both musicians nursing fresh band breakup wounds. After the duo wrote the LP's "Call Tomorrow," they encountered a Chardonnay-soaked Dillon Fernandez on Hotel Vegas' patio.

"'Hey, man! You guys need a drummer!'" Garrido mimics. "'I'm a really good drummer, man!' Then we get with him in a room, and he's un-fucking-believeable on drums! We were like, 'Yeah, this'll do just fine!'"

Deborah White, whose serial killer obsession led to the album's Dahmer homage "Jeff," entered after dating Camacho awhile.

The fuzzy clang Leather Girls discharges across last year’s self-titled debut LP is only psychedelic by dint of the production.

"I've been playing bass since I was 17," she smirks. "I haven't gotten any better."

Steady gigging at venues like Hotel Vegas and Cheer Up Charlies has made Leather Girls a solid rock & roll machine. The only danger to the band's progress? Camacho's skateboard. A spill off his deck last year landed him a traumatic brain injury and a three-day ICU stay. It cost him his sense of smell, and lost the band a West Coast tour and opening slot with Thee Oh Sees.

"He got out the day before the Oh Sees show, and I went to see him the next day," says Garrido. "We were watching The Simpsons and he was slipping in and out of consciousness on his bed. Then he rolls over at one point and asks, 'Uhhh, what song are we opening with tonight?'"

Leather Girls

SXSW showcase: Sat. 17, Cheer Up Charlies, 8pm

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Dungeon Family Headlines SXSW’s Free Outdoor Stage
Big Boi & Co. rolling into Auditorium Shores next Friday

Kevin Curtin, March 4, 2019

Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
Playback: Does Size Matter at SXSW?
A smaller SXSW Music week still satisfies

Kevin Curtin, March 23, 2018

More by Tim Stegall
From Revolution to Entertainment in <i>We Are Fugazi From Washington, D.C.</i>
From Revolution to Entertainment in We Are Fugazi From Washington, D.C.
Chronicle writer Joe Gross goes documentarian for the hardcore pioneers

Dec. 8, 2023

The Riverboat Gamblers' <i>Something to Crow About</i> Turns 20
The Riverboat Gamblers' Something to Crow About Turns 20
The album that made Austin's apex punks earns anniversary vinyl remaster

Aug. 11, 2023


SXSW Music 2018, Leather Girls, Mike Garrido, Erik Comacho, Yippee Ki Yay Records, Dillon Fernandez, Deborah White

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle