Civet takes cues from Los Angeles’ The Joneses, updating glam punk with the sordidness of the Murder City Devils. Recently signed to Hell Cat Records, Civet is working on a new album and tour.
Ryan: When did you start playing together? I know you’ve got two sisters in the band.
Liza: We had a few lineup changes. We started playing a couple of years ago. My sister Suzi (Homewrecker) also plays guitar; Jacqui (Von Shadow, bassist) has been in the band for a while now—almost two years. And Danni Jo is our newest addition—our new drummer.
Ryan: I asked Joe Nolte of The Last this (because his band has two other siblings in it): Did you both happen to get guitars for Christmas? And Joe and his brother did. So how did you gals end up with instruments?
Suzi: Our step-dad played drums and taught Liza how to play guitar. And then Liza taught me. We started playing together, which kind of turned into Civet.
Ryan: What were you listening to when you started learning how to play?
Liza: A lot of classic rock—Stones and stuff.
Jacqui: I started playing bass when I was eleven. It was the product of a sleepover with my best friend at the time. We were listening to Green Day and thought, “Well, I think we could do that.” We were already playing music in school. I was playing the viola, she was playing the violin. And I said, “I like the deeper-sounding instrument, so I’ll play the bass. And you could play guitar.” We never actually had a band, but we both started playing. I don’t know if she still plays. But that’s what got me going.
Ryan: That’s what got the ball rolling.
Ryan: And Danni, I know you just kind of found your calling. How did you end up playing in Civet?
Danni: Actually, these girls were the ones who inspired me to play drums. I had heard from Jacqui that they had lost their drummer. And I was kind of joking around—talking about how I wanted to play drums. My boyfriend plays drums and I wanted him to teach me.
Liza: And Danni has natural rhythm.
Danni: Yeah, I’ve been dancing for forever—tap dance and ballet. And I told Jacqui: “That’s so funny. I’ve always wanted to play drums.” And she called me back a couple of weeks later and said, “Were you serious?” [laughs] “We still need a drummer and you look like us and have the same interests.” And I told them, “I don’t even know how to play!” But I told my boyfriend and he said, “Look, if you’re going to be in a band, that’d be the perfect band for you.” So I said, “All right.” And we worked on it.
Suzi: I didn’t think anyone could pick it up that fast. And she’s already our best drummer.
Ryan: And that really goes to show you how important it is to have a similar mindset as the people you’re playing with. Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney had had very little experience prior to playing in her first band. I think she picked up drumming at twenty-two. She just had some friends who needed a drummer. Moe Tucker of the Velvets, too.
Liza: That’s true.
Ryan: Can you tell me about signing to Disaster?
Liza: That was fun.
Suzi: Everyone thinks Duane (Peters) approached us. But we approached Corey Parks because we were fans of hers; she was dating Duane at the time. This was right when Corey had joined the Hunns. We really liked her stuff with Nashville Pussy, so we gave her the demo. And I think we just wanted to work with her. She gave our demo to Duane, and before we knew it he was like, “Let’s do a 7”. Let’s do a record.” He’s an amazing person. He has so much energy. He actually performs vocals on the title track to our album. It was great to see him in action.
Ryan: I read this on the internet, Jacqui. [collective gasps] It’s nothing bad! I read that you were in Vogue. How did that happen?
Jacqui: Yeah, I was.
Ryan: That’s just really random.
Jacqui: It was like 2004. I was at Hootenanny. And at the time—that particular year—it was two days long. Someone told me, “Oh, Vogue is here. They’re taking pictures for their magazine.”
Liza: So Jacqui looked extra good the second day!
Jacqui: Well, I always try to look my best! And low and behold someone comes up to me and my friends and says, “Hey, I’m from Vogue. I’d like to take your picture.” I’m sure they had taken thousands of pictures that day and I just happen to get in there.
Liza: Luck of the draw.
Jacqui: Yeah. It was like some issue on psychobilly in Orange County. And the odd thing about it is the old Civet bass player—who’s also named Jacqui—is in that issue of Vogue too!
Liza: My old bass player is in there and our new one—with the same name—is too.
Ryan: A punk rock Twilight Zone.
Ryan: Seeing as I’m a record collector and into esoteric facts—did you know that you share the same stage surname an old L.A. punk rocker, Liza?
Liza: No, I didn’t!
Ryan: Rob Graves! He played for the Gun Club and 45 Grave. I had to tell you that. He was an amazing musician.
Liza: Someone else told me that once. People are more familiar with Michael Graves, from the new Misfits.
Ryan: How long had you been playing Danni, before your first show?
Danni: We had, like, four practices.
Liza: And you did great!
Danni: Thank you. My first show was at the Double Down Saloon. I did my homework. Jacqui made me a CD that they had played. I think it went okay.
Suzi: It went well.
Danni: Yeah. It was so funny, though. Someone said we needed to do more covers if we ever wanted to make it at bars!
Ryan: [Laughs] What a classic line. So what’s in the future?
Suzi: We want to go to Europe.
Jacqui: We want to get something recorded before we go to Europe—a new album That’s our first priority.