Cadette back on track after devastating fire [INTERVIEW]

Cadette back on track after devastating fire [INTERVIEW]
Sharyn Morrow

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Fire at Cadette drummer's house takes friend's life; benefit tonight at Turf Club

Laura Larson, Steph Nelson, and Beth Cullen of Cadette lead busy lives. Besides their three-piece punk fury, their members also split time with Regal Treats, Kitten Forever, the Deaf, and Musk Assault.

The current lineup stabilized just a year ago and played their first show together opening for Atlanta's Coathangers. With the Coathangers returning to the Triple Rock tonight, Gimme Noise saw it fitting to reminisce about the past year -- and to catch up on the recovery from a devastating fire that saw drummer Beth Cullen lose a close friend, her home, and her drums.

The three-piece clearly has chemistry  -- they're joking together on the Hexagon's patio as trucks rumble past and a few sprinkles bounce off the patio's awning before their scheduled Thursday night practice at a nearby space. Cadette defines their music based on their relationships with each other.

"I think that we ended up being really lucky with the line-up that we have now, and it was really surprising the way it came together," Larson says. "Beth was such an amazing addition that Steph and I never expected. We were looking for a new drummer and she just fell out of the sky, more or less. We all have this really perfect energy together that works really well for this band."

"None of us were friends prior to playing together," adds bassist Nelson, "which is pretty unique for this town and it's worked out really beyond belief." The relationship extends into the music. Primary songwriter Larson handles lead vocals and guitar, but all three take turns screaming into the microphone and there's a coherent group feel behind the songs on their debut release. Cullen's emphatic pounding pulls everything together and underscores the vitriol.

Flesh Without Hunting is sold primarily on cassette, a format band likes for its tangible qualities--you can hold them, study them, and make a project of putting them together. Plus, as Cullen notes, many grew up on tape trading and mixtapes which gives a personal, nostalgic element. For those without tape players, cds are available and it can be downloaded from their bandcamp page.

The band was riding the momentum of their new release when March's fire at Cullen's home abruptly interrupted any progression. However, a few months have now passed, and the band is now starting to put things back together. Cullen and her roommates have relocated and recovered, and the band has found a new practice space. Last Friday they played Hell's Kitchen, tonight they are at the Triple Rock, and there are upcoming performances at the Girls Rock n Roll Retreat and Gastro Non Grata.

Fans 18-and-over can catch many of their upcoming shows, and younger girls will have a chance to see them in Hopkins this week for Girls Rock n Roll Retreat. "They teach girls confidence in terms of writing their own songs, performing in front of people, they teach them about positive body image, how to make zines," Larson explains. Cadette is there as a performing band, leading a Q&A session with the girls after playing a set. Tonight, they celebrate with the Coathangers, who released Larceny and Old Lace last year on Suicide Squeeze Records. "They're totally wild on stage," says Larson, playing with them for the third time (her previous band, Baby Guts, opened for a 2009 show at Big V's).

The Coathangers, Heavy Cream, and Cadette play Triple Rock Social Club tonight.
8pm, $10, 18+

Following is a Q&A with the band concerning the fire itself.

Gimme Noise: Was a cause ever determined?

Beth Cullen: No.

How was it finding a new place?

Cullen: We stayed with friends until we found a place. They offered us another property -- we're like, "No, not after your behavior." They wouldn't give us our security deposits back because we didn't get our stuff out. Well, some of us...couldn't have done that. Avalon Investments LLC. Do not rent from them.

Besides the obvious impacts on time, money, and stress, how did the fire affect the workings of the band?

Cullen: The basement wasn't damaged by fire, but all the water came down so my drums were ruined and my other bandmate, Jess [Wilton, Musk Assault], her amp was ruined. We had to put everything on hold for a while, basically, just to deal with emotions and stuff. We lost a little over a month of practice time.

Larson: And it was really hard because that was right after our tape release. It totally took the wind out of our sails. Obviously, I have no right complaining about any of that. Just on a very basic level, it did pull the rug out from under us for a little while and we're still trying to get back on our feet about it. But most important was to take care of Beth and her friends and make sure they were stable and okay before we even tried doing anything with the band.

You were home when it happened. Were you rescued or were you able to get out yourself?

Cullen: There was no option to get down the stairs. The fire was halfway up. I went on the roof and they saw me and put the ladder up. It was really fucking scary. It's one of those "what do I do?" situations. I was in my I went on the roof, and I'm like, "I don't know -- should I jump?" 

How did the benefits go?

Larson: One was at the Turf and one was at Sisters Camelot and they both went really, really, really well. A lot of awesome people showing a lot of awesome support.

Was it emotional to be on stage for such a personal cause?

Cullen: The first one was.

Larson: The first one was two days after it happened. We had the show planned and asked Beth if she wanted to cancel and she was like, "I feel like I should be playing music. That would be good for me." And we ended up playing it and they turned it into a benefit show for the house. That was unexpected and wonderful. That was really cool of Sisters Camelot to let us do that. That was a hard show to play.

Cullen: It was a really short set.

Larson: Yeah, it was a very short set.

Nelson: We played really well though.

One last question. I was looking at your Facebook page: when did you cut off the rattails? Or was that a joke?

Laura: It was not a joke. It was for real. We both had rattails. It was last summer and I had to get a real haircut for a wedding that I was going to. I was actually too embarrassed to have the stylist see it, so I just cut it off before I went there. I was like "I don't know what happened to that chunk."

Cullen: Mine had just worked itself into a nasty little dread.

Nelson: I did not have a rattail.

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