22/09/2016
Reclaiming the name.

Words by

Amy Campbell

If you’ve been searching for the perfect band to soundtrack that beautifully awkward stage of life between adolescence and adulthood, this could be it.

Seattle band, Chastity Belt, knows exactly how you feel. They’ve written songs about kissing boys, drinking beer and arriving at parties only to wish you hadn’t come.

When your life is riddled with those nervous butterflies and awkward firsts, Chastity Belt is here to remind you everything’s alright.

Their chosen moniker might not evoke the amiable vibes I’m describing. But don’t let the reference fool you. The beauty of Chastity Belt comes from their refreshingly candid sense of humour and their ability to write songs that discuss ‘girly stuff’ on a totally human level.

“I appreciate listening to other artists who are 
just honest, it’s like you’re having a conversation with them,” vocalist Julia Shapiro tells me.

“When I’m writing songs, I’m not trying to force any messages out there. I’m just like, ‘hey, this is how I feel... this is what’s bothering me... I wanna talk to you about it.’”

Shapiro met guitarist Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott and drummer Gretchen Grimm while at college in Walla Walla, Washington. They went to frat parties but “kind of hated them,” and preferred spending weekends road tripping to nearby Seattle to watch their friends play in Battle of the Bands (which they eventually entered and won).

“The name came from college. We would go to parties and run around yelling ‘CHASTITY BELT,’ just to see what kind of reaction we’d get from frat brothers,” Shapiro tells me, chuckling. “Eventually, we decided it would be a hilarious name for a band.”

What began as an antidote to Chastity Belt’s small town college scene has evolved into a fully-fledged post-punk project that’s not-so-quietly taking on the world.

“We started with innocent, simple songs like ‘Nip Slip’ and ‘Healthy Punk’, and now we have more depth,” says Shapiro, of Chastity Belt’s coming of age. “Sometimes I listen to our earlier songs and I’m like ‘darn, we were so silly!’ We’ve basically just learnt how to be in a band.”

They’re feminists, but you don’t need to call them a ‘girl band’. Their catchy, colourful punk rock sound speaks for itself in a way that refutes the age-old tendency to attribute their success to gender.

Their lyrics are playful and they poke fun at all that giddy/gritty stuff we endure as we mature. It makes you feel as if you might have known the Chastity gang in another life.

“I never feel the need to make lyrics overly serious 
or complicated. I think it’s better if songs just sound real, ya know? Most of the time our lyrics come from conversations I’ve had with friends or my boyfriend. I’ll say something and be like, ‘wait, I gotta write that down!’”

We can assume there’s been some seriously good convo happening at Chastity Belt band practice lately, because they’ve just finished recording their third, yet-to-be-named album.

At the end of September, they’re bringing it to Australia, a decision that was made after the band supported Courtney Barnett on her recent American tour.

“Courtney totally convinced us to come to Australia. She was trying to teach us all this Aussie slang so that we would be ready,” laughs Shapiro.

“I really took to saying ‘sheila’, but then I found out it was offensive to call someone a ‘sheila!’ Maybe I won’t use that one when I’m there...”

Shapiro, a self-proclaimed Pokémon Go addict, is totally excited to venture Down Under and catch the Kangaskhan, which, for people like me who aren’t Pokémon versed, is a native Australian Pokémon. “I hope to find him bouncin’ around somewhere,” she says.

If you want to try Chastity Belt’s soundtrack on for size, we recommend pouncing on a ticket to their upcoming Aussie tour. These girls are so darn authentic and chill, they’ll have you feeling like soul-sheilas before the gig is even through.

You can catch Chastity Belt
 on their Australian tour throughout September and October.

For details head to their website.

chastity-belt.bandcamp.com

This article was originally published in Fashion Journal 161. You can read it here.

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