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Andy Frye writesPinksqueeze: Their New Single and Why They Love Chicago’s Music Scene

Pinksqueezeby Andy Frye

The once-young music fan in me was lucky to catch local favorites PINKSQUEEZE when they played at Cobra Lounge on May 11 with indie rock veterans Skating Polly. The all-queer foursome—comprised of Ava (vocals/guitar … she/her), Anna (bass… she/her), April (vocals/guitar… she/they), and Logan (drums …they/them)—released their first full-length album Be Gay Have Fun last summer to great acclaim.

Pinksqueeze’s presence at that warm Saturday night show seemed to signal the band had brought summer back early, exclusively for their friends and fans at Cobra Lounge. Certainly, Pinksqueeze put on a performance that was everything you'd expect from the band: kinetic, emotional, outspoken, and super fun. 

The Chicago band’s guitarist, April, described it as a homecoming in more than one way.

"We always love playing at the Cobra Lounge, and this was such a fun show.  We were excited to play with Skating Polly…they are such a rad band that we've been listening to.” She added "Some years ago, our bassist Anna interviewed Skating Polly early in their music career—so it felt like a really special full circle moment to play with them. And they were really lovely to meet and play with."

Also on the bill was Lord Friday The 13th, a wild and irreverent foursome fronted by siblings Felix (vocals) and Sloane (guitar) Lenz. The Austin, Texas-based band describes itself as a “dollar store trash-glam-punk band" and brought a sound and style that felt like a memorable fusion of the New York Dolls and The White Stripes.

April said of Lord Friday, "We had been unfamiliar with (them) before this show, and to be honest, they blew us away. Both with their incredible performance and their friendliness towards us. They really embody the queercore spirit that we also really value in our music and performances.”

Pinksqueeze releases its next single “Crybaby" this week. Guitarist and vocalist Ava spoke with enthusiasm about the newest release.

"Our new single ‘Crybaby’ blends punk, emo, and power pop elements for a catchy and cathartic song, perfect for summer screaming in your car. It’s about how it feels to lose yourself in the process of losing someone else.”

Previous Pinksqueeze singles such as“I’m Thinking Of Ending Things” and “Straight Girl Crush” —as well as the entire Be Gay album—punch out the thoughtful, melodic powers of the Indigo Girls, doused with Dressy Bessy’s whimsy blasts of fun and in-your-face cuteness. Meanwhile, “Stacy’s Mom,” released as a stand-alone single in 2022, serves up a 1980s chart-topping sound and energy reminiscent of, dare I say, Bryan Adams or Patty Smyth & Scandal.

But what’s most unique is how Pinksqueeze stamps its own element of community and queer identity—call it self-awareness, perhaps—on each tune. April says this all starts with a songwriting approach that is a vibrant, ongoing conversation.

“Our songwriting process varies from song to song but always has a collaborative element.  In the past, many of our songs were written with lyrics, melody, and rhythm guitar or a riff by one person, who then brings that song to the rest of the band.”

She adds that once a song is “brought to the band,” each other band member brings their own ideas about how to craft its riffs, bass lines, rhythms, and supporting vocals further.

“As we move forward, we are writing even more collaboratively (and) in the moment, together at band practice.” 

April also describes this collaborative, all-in songwriting process as a “little more energetic,” perhaps than solo songwriting. It benefits from what April calls their “humorous elements because that is our natural dynamic together.”

Put bluntly, April concludes that for everyone in the band, “None of our songs feel quite ready until everyone has put their own touch on it.”

Moreover, anyone listening to Pinksqueeze’s music is bound to hear the band’s hometown pride in almost every song. Much in the way that Tacocat constantly touts Seattle or how Southern Culture On The Skids taps their southern roots to serve up their famed “swamp rock” vibe, Pinksqueeze trumpets our wonderful music scene and city across the board, most notably in their well-known song “Summer In Chicago,” also released in 2023.

The band is currently in the middle of a tour that started in the Midwest and is now stretching out across the country as far out as Bellingham, Washington.This week Pinksqueeze also announced they are playing a free show at Thalia Hall on August 24.

No matter where Pinksqueeze is playing, the band always keeps its local roots top of mind and deep in their hearts.

“We honestly feel so lucky to be part of Chicago's music scene. When we tour other cities, we get the sense that what we have in Chicago is unique and special,” April said. 

She sums it up with a comparison that heralds Chicago’s artistic community: “In other cities, it seems like it can be more competitive, whereas the community and camaraderie in Chicago allow us to lift each other in a really inspiring and encouraging way.”

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Categorized: Interviews

Topics: pinksqueeze

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