Pelvis Wrestley’s High-Concept Pop Mythology
Bandleader Jammy Violet embraces queer world-building on sophomore LP
Where can you turn when things don’t look quite the way you imagined? When expectations shift, dreams are deferred, and people disappear?
For Jammy Violet, bandleader of ever-evolving pop project Pelvis Wrestley, a persistence of vision and radical creativity provide meaning in an indecipherable realm. Out on Valentine’s Day, Pelvis Wrestley’s wildly inventive second LP – ANDY, or: The Four Horsegirls of the Apocalypse – sees Violet embrace impermanence with open arms, putting the performer’s gift for queer world-building on full display. Their new release serves as a part-literal, part-fantastical reflection on loss, centered around the mythology of an all-consuming demigod named Andy.
“Andy is a divine amalgam of all missing persons,” summarizes Violet. “The basic story is that Andy is somebody that went missing, and then has become deity-ized and achieved a god status, where other people that go missing are absorbed into Andy.
“All stories of missing people could be said to be about Andy, but then Andy also becomes a place of comfort in being lost. 'The House of Andy’ is a big thing in the mythology – it’s this place that’s outside this world, where you can find yourself.”
Violet began developing the concept in the early 2010s, filling journals with chronicles of the divine being. Inspired in part by real-life missing persons cases observed during high school and college, the self-construction also acted as a haven for the young queer Texan while under the constrictions of Christian schooling.
“I was coming into understanding my queerness for the first time, and having that really rub up against the religious identities and ideologies that I was raised with,” explains Violet. “I stopped knowing how to think of myself as a good or worthy person.
“I just felt so horrible about myself, and my survival project was to build a religious ideology that I knew how to be good within. It was a real life raft.”
As the pandemic drove loved ones apart, Andy also came to represent the desert-sized distances, both literal and emotional, between Violet and important figures in their life. As for the lengthy album title’s latter half, The Four Horsegirls of the Apocalypse – punctuality, purity, perfection, and pestilence – represent the emotional hang-ups that blockade connection.
“Because when things start with the same letter, they’re truer,” smirks Violet.
“Andy,” the final single released in anticipation of the album, serves as a wistful ode to the project’s titular figure. A delightfully glitchy banjo beat soundtracks lyrical allusions to “the tower of my enemies,” referring to the dorms at the songwriter’s former Christian university (“a very sinister, strange place”). Throughout the track, Violet inches nearer to their half-human, half-divine subject, only to lose touch yet again. The singer remains grateful in the face of ephemerality: “At least I know you for a time/ We ain’t gettin’ out of this world alive.”
Violet, a South Austin native, relocated to Seattle in 2007 and performed in sequence-based synth trio ANDY (now on hiatus). After a decadelong stretch in the Pacific Northwest, Violet resettled in Austin, refreshed and eager to make a splash in their hometown music scene with the newly formed Pelvis Wrestley. The pandemic shutdown put these dreams on hold.
“It’s been a weird ride. For a lot of the bands that were just getting started and ramping up toward 2020, there’s this sense of grief,” admits Violet. “It was an unfulfilled moment in a lot of ways. That’s not to say that stuff isn’t going well – it’s just that the expectation of what the story was had to get reframed and repositioned a lot, and values needed to be adjusted.”
The return to live music has seen the group bounce back in extravagant fashion. Signing to Birmingham-based label Earth Libraries in early 2022 provided a much-needed boost with the re-release of queerdo country LP Vortexas Vorever, originally debuted in 2020 via Austin Town Hall Records cassettes. The addition of manager Rylie Jones also infused energy into the project, kicking music video production and tour fundraising efforts into gear.
For an album anchored in impermanence, Pelvis Wrestley certainly manages to have fun. As pastoral woodwinds supplement the celestial opening chords of lead-off hymn “Found a Friend,” listeners find themselves fully immersed in a world of high-concept pop eclecticism. Bouncing from the wacky Eighties-inspired synth of “No One You Know” to infectious baroque dance-along “Holy Host,” the experimenter skirts around structures with glee. While still leaning into the twangy instrumentation of past releases, Violet notes a distinct shift from country-focused first album.
“The concept of making country music was very important to the first record in a way that it’s not important to this one,” explains Violet, who cites Patsy Cline and June Carter Cash as major inspirations on Bandcamp. “This record is less focused on the form, because the form is pretty scattered.”
With ANDY, Violet shifts their attention to a pantheon of genre-bending deities: “I was more focused on some broader pop icons that I hold in my heart – your Kate Bushes, your Perfume Geniuses, your Nina Hagens, Bjorks, and Enyas.”
In this quest for left-of-center excellence, a call sheet of rock-solid local contributors keeps the musician in excellent company. Throughout the production/engineering process, Violet worked alongside Magic Rockers of Texas’ Jim Campo, White Denim’s James Petralli, and Estuary Recording’s Michael Landon. Standout “Horse Dreams,” a rollicking reflection on divine anticipation, features credits from both Chris “Frenchie” Smith and recently passed Nané bandleader Daniel Sahad.
Onstage, OG bandmate Hannah McVay continues to contribute synth wizardry, while more recent additions of Ryan McKeever, Tommy Cook, and Zack Wiggs round out Pelvis Wrestley’s live arrangement. Keeping with their song-matter, the tight-knit band views performance as an exercise in letting go of expectations.
“Adaptation is so important to us as a band – being able to do things smaller or allow it to be bigger, and just not be so precious about having things go a specific way,” they explain. “Trying to get out of perfection, you know, to allow a thing to exist.”
Pelvis Wrestley releases their sophomore album on Feb. 14 at Cheer Up Charlies with Como Las Movies and Con Davison.