By Karina Espinosa
At the end of 2017, sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin knew they wanted to take their music in a new direction. Their sunshine drenched garage punk band, Bleached, just wrapped up two major tours opening for Paramore and the Damned. Inspired by the energy those bands elicited each night, the Clavins resolved to go back and write the kind of live bangers that would be fit for stadiums.
Up until that point, the LA rockers have benefited from lo-fi fuzz and playful punk jams. But according to Jennifer Clavin, it was only a matter of time before Bleached dove into different sonic territory.
“I feel like a lot of bands over time put out one disco song, even if it’s not part of the plan,” Clavin laughs. “Like, Metallica’s ‘Jump in the Fire’ has a disco beat throughout, and it’s one of their best songs. I slowly realized that I was drawn to that kind of sound.”
For their upcoming album, Bleached worked with producer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells), whose penchant for vintage gear complemented the band’s 70s-inspired aesthetic. The resulting Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? is glossy and upbeat, a dance record that shows the most growth for the band out of all their releases to date. Tracks like “Hard to Kill” and “Somebody Call 911” are slick, disco-infused tunes à la Blondie. Meanwhile “Rebound City” recalls the rock and roll ethos of the Runaways, maintaining the edge of Bleached’s earlier work.
It’s also the most collaborative effort between the two sisters, who returned to their original two-piece set up. Clavin is quick to praise her sister, Jessie, who took over the majority of the guitar work for this album.
“She mainly plays guitar live, but she’s honestly the best bass player I know,” she says. “She was controlling all the bass, and I think because of that it ended up being this dancier record.”
More than creative exploration, the Clavin sisters underwent significant personal changes that fuelled the majority of their song writing. It’s the first time the two open up about their sobriety, a theme that underscores the entire album. In her lyrics, Clavin reflects on ending toxic relationships and friendships, shedding self-destructive habits, and the difficulty of leaving the past behind. She later realized that her raucous lifestyle only hindered her ability to write music from a truly honest place.
“I was really working on being present. When I was drinking and partying, I thought I needed that kind of lifestyle to help me write music, which I think is something a lot of artists struggle with,” Clavin admits. “But as a sober person, I knew to get to that creative place I needed to be present. And I realized playing music in itself is a form of meditation that forces you to be present.”
Clavin says she learned not to judge herself in the moment and to allow her ideas to take shape on their own. As she began to examine her life with greater self-awareness, she also opened herself up to the idea of self-love. It’s something she accepted when, on an impulse, she decided to retreat to her aunt’s house alone one weekend. There, she immersed herself in the beauty of the surrounding California desert and decided to write one great song.
“I ended up writing ‘Daydream,’ which is one my personal favourite songs from the album,” she says. “It was this real moment of clarity where I realized, ‘Okay, I got this. Being sober totally works for me.’ Because the other version of me would’ve just bought a bunch of wine and gotten wasted trying to write something.”
The two sisters, newly motivated, have made some of their most focused and ambitious music on Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?. They may have freed themselves from unhealthy influences, but their bond together continues to be as strong as it has ever been.
“I have to remind myself of how lucky I am to have my sister at my side, because I have other musician friends that are sober, but the rest of their band isn’t,” she says. “I know it amazes people that we can get along together. But it’s really comforting to be in a band with her. In the end, I think we just have a lot of fun with it, which is why it works out so well.”