by Michi Heckler
Band Photo by Sarah Lim
Leather Girls are a self-professed rock and roll band consisting of four people, Erik Camacho on lead guitar and vocals, Mike Garrido on guitar, Dillon Fernandez on drums and Deborah White on bass. Their self-produced, self-titled debut album came out on June 2nd via Yippee Ki Yay Records and has been building up attention for them in Austin and beyond. Michi Heckler caught up with the band while they were on tour and interviewed them about the band’s roots, what life is like on the road, an obsession with serial killers and more!
Ovrld: Hi Leather Girls, how are you all doing?
Mike Garrido: Good! We’re in a strip mall in Milwaukee!
Ovrld: Getting some shopping done?
MG: Yeah, we need to get a bag for Dillon, because he lost his. Life on the road, man.
Ovrld: Yeah, that is the hard truth. So you’re touring, Friday you were in Louisiana, today you’re in Milwaukee, where are you headed?
MG: We’re playing at High Dive tonight, and played Chicago last night.
Ovrld: How was Chicago?
MG: Lots of really, really great people in Chicago, and lots of really, really great record shops in Chicago.
Ovrld: Make any record store stops?
MG: Yeah, we went to Bric A Brac, which is a definitely a band favorite, and then to Permanent Records.
Ovrld: When you’re performing as often as you are on tour, do you have any preshow rituals?
Deb White: I get drunk.
MG: I have a special pair of shoes I put on but that’s about it. And I like to sit away from the band. I get away before we play. (Laughter)
Ovrld: I hope that really helps your performance.
MG: I like to think it does. Actually, it’s pretty clearly does.
EC: I usually have a preshow nervous breakdown, that’s my ritual.
Ovrld: Are those less frequent on your tour?
Dillon Fernandez: Oh yeah, I got it down to a science.
MG: We’ve all really honed our hidden rituals.
DW: Kind-of wanted to cry after last night’s show.
Ovrld: Was the audience responding how you hoped they would?
DW: There was no audience.
MG: There were like 14 people. It was a soaring high plummeting low thing, we basically sold out the show in New Orleans, the show was at capacity and then we went up to Chicago and it was like 15 fucking people.
DW: It was 11 counting the bartender and the sound guy.
MG: Yeah, 11 people. We went from a sold out show to 11 people.
Ovrld: Yeah, the true ups and downs of touring I guess.
DW: The city was great.
Ovrld: So talk a little about the name of the band?
MG: It’s the name of a book.
Ovrld: Oh, ok. Is it someone’s favorite?
MG: I really liked the cover. The story goes, we’d been playing together for a few months and needed a name. And it was sorta like, in order to force us into getting a name, we just booked a show and then they were like what’s the band called and we’re basically like we’ll get back to you. The group text that week was completely insane. If you didn’t look at your phone you’d have like two hundred unread messages of band name suggestions. It’s a lesbian pulp novel called Leather Girls. It’s really, I found a copy of it and I read it and it’s a little…
DW: It’s a little racy.
MG: Yeah, a little racy and had I read the book beforehand, would I have suggested the name Leather Girls? Maybe not, but I think we’ve grown into it, I think it suits us now.
Ovrld: So when you first introduced it to the band, it was immediately accepted?
Erik Camacho: I think it was an overall positive response.
MG: Yeah, it was definitely like “Well, this is the best one so far.”
EC: It’s a good rock and roll thing I guess.
DW: And who doesn’t love lesbians?
Ovrld: For sure. I hope you’re not wearing leather on this summer tour though.
MG: No, hell no. Maybe leather boots, but it’s fucking hot.
EC: It’s just as hot in Milwaukee as it is in Louisiana.
MG: Yeah, it’s humid here, so no relief.
Ovrld: Well I’m sorry! I was really hoping the weather would be nice for you guys.
MG: Yeah, come see us in the winter, and we’ll be wearing leather.
Ovrld: Cool, that’ll be what I expect to find. So tell me a little about the album, it has thirteen tracks, and includes the single, “She” from the release in April. How would you describe it?
EC: Rock and roll music.
MG: That’s pretty much how we see it. When we’re asked what it sounds like, we’re like well, it’s rock and roll.
DF: Some people call it prog rock or psych rock. All the influences we have, seemed like, we have a love for that style of music.
DW: There’s obviously a heavy ‘60s sound on it.
MG: “She” felt like a good song for a single. It’s a nice summary of the band.
Ovrld: Yeah, and even though you’re a garage rock band, when I listened to the album in its entirety, I heard some serious The Stooges punk vibes.
DF: Oh yeah, like early proto punk and all that.
MG: I can talk about The Stooges all day, I won’t because it could go on forever. I could talk about Ron and Scott Asheton and James Williamson. Yeah, I sound check with a Stooges song for every show.
Ovrld: Who are some other influences?
MG: Erik, you have to get better about talking.
EC: You know, just great soulful rock and roll music.
MG: You’re terrible at this Erik.
Obviously The Stooges, and the sort of ‘60s Nuggets and Pebbles stuff, is a huge part of what we draw from. But each of us have something specific that speaks to us. That’s something we all try to sort of insert. Like Dillon is such a monster drummer, he peppers in Ginger Baker vibes all over the place on the record. And Erik like he said is kind of soulful and you can see that come out on the record, and you can see that with what he sings. For me, I love Brazilian Tropicália stuff which is a lot of like the echo effect thing that comes through on my guitar and Deb is just a freight train that keeps us all going with her Kinks bass lines and stuff like that.
Ovrld: I know for me, the thought I had was that I was traveling back in time while listening to garage rock, so if that was the intention, then you mastered it.
All: Thank you!
DW: Erik is being very humble but he wrote most of the songs.
Ovrld: Yeah, so how does the writing process work? Who contributes what?
DF: Well, Erik brings lyrical ideas and riffs to the table and we all sort of hash it out and try and piece things to go together like a drumbeat and have Mike play out a bunch of noise and put it all together organically.
MG: Yeah, 80%t of the time Erik comes into the room with a song idea in mind, and then everyone just adds their own spin to it.
DF: A lot of talk about sounds when we’re writing– if it sounds like that, what feels like this– just launch off of that voice.
EC: Lyrics are inspired by different stories that I can think of.
MG: Yeah, I wrote one song on that record, and it’s like a story about an abusive relationship. The songs all sound linear to me.
EC: They’re definitely about characters I’ve come across or imagined. Like “Poor Charlie.” It’s about a friend of mine who died of alcoholism.
MG: Really light, airy uppers. Real upbeat tracks.
EC: Yeah, a song about Dahmer too.
Ovrld: I’m guessing that’s the song titled “Jeff.”
DW: It is. Yeah, I guess I have an unhealthy obsession with true crime, and it felt like a healthy way to release some of that. To keep myself from having nightmares.
Ovrld: I think a lot of people are behind you on that. We have a crazy fascination with true crime.
DW: Yeah, someone like Jeffrey Dahmer, he was a smart, really shy dude hiding bodies in his house. Like that could be someone next door to you.
MG: And it really is.
Ovrld: Yeah, thank you for that thought, I’m going to go check up on my neighbors.
MG: Maybe check it out Suburbia style, maybe checkout when they’re taking out their trash.
DF: Big bags of ice.
Ovrld: So are we going to see a John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy themed song?
DW: Uh, I mean, I’m guessing they don’t want me to keep writing about serial killers. But I have a special place in my heart for them.
MG: Yeah, the future is unplanned. I feel like you have to leave that door open.
DW: I thought about writing a song from the victim’s perspective. There is an unsolved case called the Fort Worth Three, about these girls who went missing and that is pretty interesting.
MG: Deb’s going to solve it and then write a song about it.
Ovrld: Perfect, two birds with one stone! How was it recorded?
EC: We recorded that album ourselves.
MG: No one talks about it, but Erik mixed and mastered it himself in his bedroom.
Ovrld: That’s awesome. When will you be back in Austin?
MG: We come back to Austin on the 18th? We are all looking forwards to petting our animals.
Ovrld: Who isn’t! What pets?
MG: Dillon has a lot of pets. Dillon go first.
DF: I have three dogs and a cat and a snapping turtle.
EC: We’ve got two cats, Willow and Hector. They’re adorable. I miss you guys!
MG: I have a cat named Gritz.
Ovrld: I’m so glad your pets got a shout out!
EC: She also has three legs. So everything she does is triumphant. She is just constantly overcoming adversity.
Ovrld: Truly an inspiration I’m sure.
MG: Yeah, you’re going to sleep better tonight knowing that there is a three legged cat out there that is just living her life.
EC: We thought about going home after Chicago but then we all just thought about Gritz.
MG: And we decided to keep going!
Ovrld: You’re kind of closing up your tour, how is your sanity traveling across country in a van?
MG: Yeah, we haven’t really gotten on each other’s nerves at all.
DW: Speak for yourself!
EC: It’s easy when everyone just makes fun of me.
MG: The focal point is giving Erik a hard time, which really pulls us together. We don’t really worry about his feelings and we go from there.
DW: That’s why he seems so quiet right now, we all just gang up on him.
MG: We yell at him to shut up and then we do interviews and yell at him for not talking enough.
Ovrld: Well Erik, you can vent right now if you need to. Well thank you!
MG: Thank you, we’re going to hop in the mall and buy Dillon a bag.
Leather Girls’ self-titled debut album is available now.