The phrase "stuffed and ready" sends a shiver down my spine. Aurally, it's a member of the "moist" family, while visually, the phrase makes me picture a hormone-bloated turkey or a fat Hansel or Gretel kid with an apple in their mouth. "Stuffed" and "ready" are a benign pair of words, but together, the phrase is grotesque, fleshy, vulgar. It just makes you feel weird.
This is fitting, because Cherry Glazerr's new album of the same title will also make you feel weird. Stuffed & Ready, the LA garage-pop outfit's follow up to 2017's Apocalipstick, is in some ways, all about feeling weird: feeling bad, feeling broken, feeling lost, feeling wretched, feeling itchy and wrong in your own skin. Clementine Creevy, the band's indomitable frontwoman — whose resume also includes Transparent's fictional rock band Glitterish and modeling for brands like UGG and Saint Laurent — says the phrase wasn't originally symbolic of the album's mood, rather, just came to her while taking a drive and sounded right. It might've been subconscious, but its prickling discomfort pervades every facet of the album. On the cover, Creevy plays guitar in a pink nighty, her mouth stuffed up with Wonder Bread, bits falling to the floor.
Stuffed & Ready is an agonizing record: sonically, as well as in the bitter, sinister stories of anxiety, confusion and insecurity that Creevy narrates. Her guitar-playing, as well as bandmates Tabor Allen and Devin O'Brien's respective drum and bass work, is scathing and claustrophobic. The three-piece conjures turbulent garage-rock tornadoes, which quickly subside into a latent lull of unease.
But Cherry Glazerr's torture is full of satisfaction. Creevy doesn't have any answers or words of advice, but it feels good to just let yourself get dark with her. She lets herself be violently honest about her compulsions, and think all the ugly thoughts that women — especially good, happy, healthy, empowered girls — aren't supposed to have. Over heavy distortion, Creevy grapples with her unconventional relationship to solitude and the refuge she finds in putting up walls on "Isolation" and "Self-explained." Self-loathing is a banal state for Creevy: "I'm full of the bad, bad problems/ So just take me away" she sings indifferently on "Ohio."
Many rock artists write bloody songs about bad feelings, but Cherry Glazerr has an unmatched talent for caustic, slightly beserk humor. On standout single "Daddi," a bludgeoning satire, Creevy whimpers over schizophrenic drum machines and a taunting chord progression."Where should I go daddi? What should I say?/ Where should I go daddi? Is it OK with you"/ Who should I fuck daddi? Is it you?" she sings, ridiculing patriarchal control, romantic and societal, with caricatured submission. But unlike other feminist cracks, Creevy never loses sight of violence: "Smoking makes me taste like metal/ to keep you away" she sings, invoking how self-sabotage can become a form of self-preservation for women, especially against the kind of sexualization and humiliation that Creevy is undoubtedly familiar with, as a frontwoman, model and actress. These moments of lunatic humor, which can also be found on "Stupid Fish," "That's Not My Real Life" and "Wasted Nun," are the closest Stuffed & Ready comes to any kind of rallying cry. But Creevy's just laughing to keep from falling apart completely.
Cherry Glazerr has always been linked to feminism and punk's riot grrrl history (especially pronounced in Creevy's play with a girlish falsetto). But in the past, the band's confrontations have been more playful and energetic. Cherry Glazerr's first album Haxel Princess was full of twee feminist quips like "Teenage Girl," on which Creevy sings "Milkshakes and cat eyes/ Lipstick and french fries/ Internalize so much but so little/ Don't make us feel belittled world," ending the song with: "Rob Kardashian's a dick!" Apocalipstick was far more barbed, with rebellious snarls like "Told You I'd Be With The Guys," but that record still felt ultimately hopeful. Stuffed & Ready's morbid humor was borne from a new breaking point: it offers no anthems, and no answers.
"It can feel like the weight of it is just so much, that sometimes you just breakdown and start laughing like a madwoman, because it's just too funny, that it's so fucked up. Just this overwhelming feeling of, 'are you fucking kidding me?'" Creevy explains, of the album's darker moments.
The itches and wounds of Stuffed & Ready don't offer much relief, but sometimes it's a comfort to just sit with your demons rather than fight them.
PAPER spoke with Creevy about creating Stuffed & Ready, her inability to write love songs, and her frustration with our culture's regime of self-improvement.
When and why did you start writing this album as opposed to another album.
That's a good question. I wrote a lot of it on the road, because we played 200 shows in 2017. I was writing some bits and pieces in hotel rooms and during sound check. When I came home in early 2018, I kept writing. Then we went up to San Francisco with John Vanderslice and recorded a new batch of songs, and we took some of that stuff and began Stuffed & Ready. Basically I came in with a lot of songs and a lot of faint sections of songs and [Carlos de la Garza] kind of helped me with arrangement.
Was Stuffed & Ready produced by the same team as Apocalipstick? I know you recorded with a new band.
The core of the Stuffed & Ready was me and Carlos and Tabor and Devin. So it was the four of us, and it was really, really fun. It was like, my favorite record-making process ever.
We just work so well together, the four of us have really great rapport. And, I've developed a pretty good ear over the past few years. I had a vision of what I wanted and I knew how to communicate it better than I had in the past. So, for the first time ever, when I heard playback I wasn't surprised. It came out the way I had expected it to come out, and that was a very cool process because it was, for learning stuff, the world kind of broke open a little bit and it was really fun.
It must be really cool to just see yourself getting better at the thing that you do.
There's this narrative that Apocalipstick was your "angry" album and Stuffed & Ready is your "dark, sad" album. Does that feel right to you?
Yeah, I think that's basically true. With Apocalipstick, I was a little bit more self conscious about proving something to other people about my playing abilities and had a sort of tendency to maximalize things. I think with Stuffed & Ready I had more confidence in myself, in this way that I didn't need to prove myself to other people, so I let things be simple and more direct. I just kept it that way and didn't feel the need to overcomplicate the music. For sure.
I feel like we're seeing a lot of indie artists move towards, and be praised for a more direct, raw, honest style, whereas I think in the past it's been in vogue for indie bands to be abstract and austere. I feel like it's been correlated to women in rock receiving more adequate attention. Do you think that has to do with the pressure you've felt?
I mean, I don't know, yeah. I think that there's some great records like that that have been getting the praise they deserve, like the Sharon Van Etten record and the Mitski record. I thought those were two awesome albums. But I still think there's a lot of really great music by women that goes unnoticed. I know this because I do a lot of digging around for new shit every day. I would love to think that we are moving towards a different mind-frame as a society, but I'm not so sure. I wouldn't put a hard yes on that.
Would you say you felt a little bit freer, less like you had to impress an indie canon?
I don't know if my tendency towards that was a product of how the world has changed. It was more just that I've lived in my own head for the past two years, and I think this style came from a practice and a philosophy that I created for myself. It sounds cheesy, but just the idea that if you're kind to yourself and everything great kind of comes from that. So I tried to keep that in mind throughout the process.
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Stuffed & Ready's so full of self-doubt and anxiety. That's interesting that it came out of such a positive philosophy.
It is, but that philosophy, it's more related to, not the content of my work, but of the process of making it. I trusted myself that what I'm saying is valid and okay to say and put down in my music — that I don't have to change it. My work, my songs can be very sort of... people have been saying that they're really dark, which is probably true. For sure they are. They're just honest feelings about the struggle I've felt recently, and what I've been feeling in my life for reasons that I'm not entirely sure. But yeah, so it's not that the content is positive, but my philosophy about trusting myself has been positive.
"It's not fun to be a feminist, being a feminist is fucking exhausting."
The album feels really personal, though it's easy to jump to the conclusion that music is personal when it can be very fictional. Does Stuffed & Ready feel personal to you or is that projection?
Yeah it totally does. It's funny because I always write personal music, but I think I had more obfuscation in my music before. I love singing these songs more than I thought I would. In practice, I've been really loving singing these songs because of how personal they are. It feels a little more real to me than some of the songs that I've put more obfuscation behind.
Despite that Apocalipstick versus Stuffed & Ready narrative, there's still a lot of anger on this album though. Tell me about "Daddi."
So "Daddi" happened with this riff that I came up with. I was playing that in our old practice space. I was jamming with my band, and I came up with that little bit and we all started jamming on it, and it was really cool. This weird, cool arpeggiated thing, and I was just loving it. So I turned it into this loop thing. I had just gone through some personal stuff in my life, and I was feeling very... I don't know, I felt like I was awake to some of the shit that I had gone through. I felt more awake than ever, because I had just gotten past it, and I felt like I could see it in clear light. I felt like I had put myself in this subservient role as a girlfriend, and it made me really pissed off, both at myself and at the system that society's created for people like me. It just turned into this ironic song.I was just feeling so pissed off, about what was expected of me in relationships.
You play with this ironic pseudo-submissiveness a lot in your music. It reminds me of this age-old strategy of women in punk, from Blondie to Riot Grrrls, of exaggerating femininity: pouting and simpering, and then fucking it all up. Do you take any cues from that tradition?I just want to say I feel very honored that I was just compared to those folks. No, you're exactly right, I'm exactly like those people, if not better! [Laughs]. No, just kidding. But definitely, I don't know. It's so much easier said than done with feminism, because my feminism has, how do I explain this... I became a feminist when I was 17. I took a women's studies class and it changed my life. I learned all these incredible things about the world and I started to see the world in a new light. And that that's not fun, it's not fun to be a feminist, being a feminist is fucking exhausting, because you're seeing everything that's are going on around you in a real way, in a real light, and it sucks. I wish I wasn't a feminist, I wish I didn't know the things that I did.
It would be so much easier.
It would be so much easier! Right? But, it's not that way. So it can feel like, the weight of it, is just so much that sometimes you just breakdown and start laughing like a madwoman because it's just too funny that it's so fucked up, and that's how I feel like I was trying to get across with some of the songs, like "Daddi" and "Stupid Fish" and "Wasted Nun." Just this overwhelming feeling of like, "Are you fucking kidding me?"
On "Daddi" there's one line that really hit me "Smoking makes me taste like metal to keep you away." It's such a gut-punch, the implication.
There is a lot of power in reclaiming your sexuality. It really frustrates me when I'm sexualized when I don't want to be. It can feel so impenetrable and violating, that feeling of unwanted sexualization. the only way I can feel like to make it go away, to reclaim my own sexuality, is to self-sabotage, so that's kind of what that line is about.
I'm in love with the title, Stuffed & Ready. It's so gross, it makes you uncomfortable, just the phrase itself even when you don't know what it means. Were you trying to make people uncomfortable?
Yeah, I had a list of names for titles for the album. I had this working list and we were almost done with the record and didn't have a name for it, and I was freaking out, like "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! What are we going to call it?" I had this whole list of names, fucking thirty different names, none of it was working. I was just like "It's not good." I took a solo drive by myself, just trying to get away from the studio for a minute, and it popped into my head, "stuffed and ready." I was just like, "This is great, this is really fun and stupid." It just sounded good, it had a good mouth feel, and that's kind of all I really want from an album title is for it to sound cool to say.
So there's no real reasoning behind it, but then this concept came to me within the same time that I thought of it, "Stuffed & Ready is this pushing onward where you are incapacitated but you do what you think you're ill-prepared to do anyways." So yeah, I thought it would be funny to have me with a bunch of Wonder Bread stuffed in my mouth, like a guitar with the cart.
[laughs] It's funny that you say the title isn't laden symbolism, because it feels like it fits the anxiety and discomfort of the whole album so perfectly.
Maybe that's why it felt so perfect! But it was maybe a bit more of a subconscious thing. It just felt right, more of a gut thing than anything.
A lot of the songs are about you. There's an apathy towards romance that's rare in rock. There aren't a lot of love songs on this album.
[laughs] I tell my bandmates sometimes that my goal in life is to write a love song. Because I've never, I just can't do it. I don't know why. I just can't, I just can't write a love song. And it's sad to me, but I don't know, whatever, I just don't feel that way. I just can't do it! Something about me, that's just not who I am or whatever, that's not really how I feel. I don't really like love songs.
I write about myself because that's what I know, and I write the best about myself, because that's who you are. That's what feels the best to me to write about. And that's just kind of what comes out naturally. But yeah, it's kind of funny, I can't write a love song. Maybe one day I will, knock on wood. [laughs]
"What ever happened to good old fashioned hating yourself?"
You wrote a lot of Stuffed & Ready while you were traveling. A lot of this album is about isolation. I'm curious if that isolation, for you, is related to being a musician, or if it's a more general kind.
I think all of it, really. I love my solitude, but then I feel guilty about loving my solitude because I think there's… there's such a pressure on people now, to do stuff: to better yourself. "Socialize because it's better, because it's good for your mental health" and "you'll be a better person if your mental health is good" or "exercise because it'll be better for your mental health and therefore make you happy." I don't know, I've been thinking about, 'what about doing nothing for no reason?" and "when's the last time I did that?" I'm always doing stuff to better myself and better my career, better my health, and that's interesting to me. I think it's a mode of survival. I think it's something we've been doing forever. But, I don't know, it's so in your face now. Because people want longevity in their lives.
"It" being this imperative to self-improve?
Exactly. You bring up an interesting word, that it's an imperative. And it's like, "what ever happened to good old fashioned hating yourself?" What about that, I love that, that was fun?
This militant command to "love yourself" and "love your body" can be very tedious, especially as a woman. Like, "you can say that all day long."
Yeah, right! It's… and you know, it's a practice. I can't tell anyone that I love myself, or that I'm doing well right now, because that just feels so forced to me…. Because I don't even know what that means. When people say, "I'm doing really well right now," I don't mean to sound like a total jerk-off when I say this, but, I just don't really identify with that feeling. Because happiness is, I think, fleeting, and it's okay to not be happy, because that means you have a beating heart and you're feeling feelings. It's really nice when you do have those moments of happiness, and I love that, and I love when people feel that way. But it's interesting, sometimes it feels like you're convincing yourself when people say that.
"It's okay to not be happy, because that means you have a beating heart."
Did writing this album feel different knowing that you have a bigger audience after Apocalipstick?
Hmmm, no. When I was making the album, I was thinking that no one's gonna to listen to this [laughs]. 'Cause, I don't know! That's how I have to make myself think about it, in order to have a fun time in the studio and be free and experiment. That's kind a trick I play on myself, that I have in my mind. I still don't know whether or not people will listen to it [laughs]. So I just don't know, I try not to think about that stuff.
You're 22, but you've been making music and art since you were a teenager. I'm curious, what are the most important things you've learned artistically.
The most important thing is to be kind to yourself, and to not beat yourself up, and trust yourself. And that feels like the greatest lesson I've learned since I started making music.
You've also dabbled in TV and fashion. I'm curious how those projects came about, and if that's something you se more of in your future.
I feel like I'm already too old for modeling [laughs]. Maybe I have one or two years left. Modeling has been great, because it's been... Well actually, let me start over. So, how modeling came about was, I got scouted by Hedi Slimane at this festival I was playing, so I started working with Saint Laurent, and then I started making music for them as well. So that sort of threw me into the sphere a little bit, and I did modeling with some other companies. I've always thought it was a fun time… I don't see it as a creative outlet though. It's more of a job to me, it's more like work. Which is kind of nice for me! Because I live as an artist and that's what I do. So it's nice to do an actual job, where you go somewhere and you work and then you get paid and then it's over and done with. And it's like, your whole ego and identity aren't wrapped up in it. And you actually make money, it's crazy!
Whereas, as a musician, like, you don't! Like, but that's fine [laughs]. I wouldn't choose to be a rock musician if I thought I was going to make money off of it. For sure, I wouldn't have followed my dream of being in a punk rock band.
If you're trying to get rich.
Yeah [laughs]. That's not what I've expected. Yeah, and then acting was really cool because I love Transparent and I love Jill [Soloway]. It came about very naturally. I got the chance to audition to be in Glitterish and I loved being on the show. It was very... it's a very cool medium, I think acting is a really interesting medium. I can connect to it a lot.
That's been less of just a job.
Yeah! Definitely. It's much more of a creative outlet. Fashion and acting are so different.
Speaking of shows you go to, I saw that you recently curated a playlist, which included Doja Cat, which I appreciated. One of the best songs of 2018.
I was curious about some of your favorite albums from 2018, or just who you're psyched about.
Who I'm psyched about this great punk band called Sabrina Is Not In This Chat, there from here and I fucking love them. Also, I love Eartheater, I feel like she's doing a lot of really interesting stuff. I love Tierra Whack, I feel like Whack Worldwas like insanely good. I've been into some weird ambient, sparse production stuff like Eartheater and Sneaks. Sneaks has been so consistent as a producer and I love her songs so much.
Do you ever see Cherry Glazerr's sound expanding past rock? Or rock is your canvas?
I definitely feel free to put any type of music under Cherry Glazerr. I don't feel tied to any... I don't feel like I need to make any particular type of music. I think that I can evolve as an artist and put it under Cherry Glazerr. So maybe! I have been making a lot of computer music recently.
Just for fun, or do you have ambitions for it?
No, for fun! I don't have any plans for it. But at the same time, I just love the guitar so much. I feel like it's such a world. Even when I make electronic music, I always put guitars over it, because it's just like... I don't know, I love the guitar and I feel like it holds so much power.
I have one extremely stupid last question. I saw that you tweeted the "rawr XD" motif. We keep saying this is the year that scene comes back. Were you a scene kid?
I don't know if I was... I wasn't scene—
Like, long swoopy bangs, purple hoodie scene.
Yeah, I wasn't scene. I wasn't into Never Shout Never. But I did have some friends who were, and I don't know, I just thought it's so funny, more than ever, like. It's just like this really hilarious thing that happened in American culture. I like the idea of scene coming back though. I've been wearing bottom eyeliner.
Oh hell yeah. Well, Avril Lavigne's putting out an album, anything can happen.
Yes!! Anything can happen.
Photos courtesy of Pamela Littky