Calgary’s Miesha & The Spanks had their newest album produced by Buzzcocks’ Danny Farrant
The mother grizzly is one of the kindest and most compassionate animals in Alberta. It’s playful, noble, endearing, and has a bite that can exert 1,250 pounds of pressure on a human torso, savage when the moment calls for it.
While maybe a little too David Attenborough, that’s a tight and clean description of Calgary-based guitarist and vocalist Miesha Louie and drummer Sean Hamilton, collectively known as Miesha & The Spanks. Their latest release, Girls Girls Girls, is of a similar girzzly nature.
“I had the concept of calling the album Girls Girls Girls since 2014 when it was me and a girl in the band,” Louie says. “We were just kind of throwing that around, and trying to draw attention to women playing music. Now my band is only 50 percent female, but that still meant a lot to me—to keep it at that title, and push women to the front.”
The album is a melodic, power chord laden, kick and snare sorta thing—more fun times than fistfights but comfortable in both. The tracks range from quick and gritty sing-a-long anthems to Ramones-era doo-wop jams.
Of particular note is the production behind the record. Having met and befriended iconic Buzzcocks’ drummer Danny Farrant during the Sled Island music festival in 2011, Louie managed to recruit both Farrant and his partner Paul Rawson to work with them on Girls Girls Girls in the U.K.
“It operated on this 24-hour cycle with the time change.” Louie says. “They’d go over it, send us notes, and we’d wake up the next day and start recording again. It was so cool to remove ourselves from the studio we’re used to, the teams we’re used to, and go to a totally different country, a different continent, and just live to work on the record.”
Louie might have been a comic book artist if she hadn’t been exposed to punk at an early age. Hanging out with a group she refers to as “bad girls” and by extension their skateboarding older brothers, Louie left the dream of drawing for Marvel after seeing her first live show, and moved to Calgary after high school.
With minimal musical training, Miesha & The Spanks released their first EP in 2008, and following a well-established DIY punk-rock tradition, released something new every year for the next three years. As the band’s sound became more focused, that schedule changed, as has the band’s percussionist on several occasions.
Having come up in the more confined and male space of the early aughts Alberta music scene, and with her own name having accumulated weight in the Alberta punk lexicon, Louie has focused some of her efforts over the last five years nurturing the next generation of Mieshas in a project called Girls Rock Camp.
“It’s awesome,” Louie says. “We’ve got a camp we run here in Calgary. We get the girls to be interviewed on CJSW. They form little bands, write songs, do lots of workshops with their instruments, make merch, and we have them record at O.C.L. studios … It’s really just like a lot about building confidence and getting girls who feel like weird girls into a scenario where every girl is weird and interesting. Everyone is just comfortable being themselves.”
With the album, the tour, the girls camp, a wedding, and a tentative plan for a tour in Europe, Miesha & The Spanks are busy. But even with all of that, Louie is still finding a way to clear out room for herself and for her girls like some kind of mama bear of prairie punk.
“It’s important to me,” Louie says. “I’ve just always had this clear trajectory of ‘This is my career, and this is what I want to do.’ And I’ve pushed through all this bullshit to do it. And now that I’m doing pretty good, I can look around and see how me doing good is able to help other girls do the same thing.”
Sat., Apr. 14 (8 pm)
Miesha & The Spanks w/All Hands On Jane, and Spells
The Sewing Machine Factory
$10 at the door