12 Breakthrough Austin Bands at SXSW Music
Local garage band recounts their origin story
"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.
"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?'"