Scrunchies are many things: raucous punk rockers, impassioned feminists, music scene veterans. And if you didn’t know better you’d think they emerged, fully formed, as some sort of mythical boss-group with a full live set and an album, Stunner, ready to go only a few short months ago.
But the Scrunchies story starts back in 2017, as guitarist Laura Larson’s brainchild, an outlet for more straightforward punk than she plays with her other band, the much-lauded Kitten Forever. “I love Kitten Forever,” she says. “But I also wanted to do something where I had the full creative vision of what I wanted the band to look like—musically, conceptually, creatively.”
Larson roped in drummer Danielle Cusack of Bruise Violet, bassist Bree Meyer of Double Grave, and guitarist Stephanie Jo Murck of Tony Peachka, and the four spent the better part of 2017 practicing and recording an album—without telling anyone what they were doing. (Murck stepped away recently, and Larson’s old friend Angie Lynch has filled in some on guitar.)
As women in a band, Scrunchies have to put up with stupid crap. Sometimes it’s pure old-fashioned dirtbag objectification. But sometimes, according to Cusack, it’s about the burden of unachievable expectations.
“I think the label of the ‘strong badass rock woman’ is a double-edged sword,” she says. “Because of course I wanna be seen as tough and cool, but also, it can be damaging in the instance of people really trying to take advantage of that or make it more into a fetish and unachievable expectation.”
“I don’t give a fuck what that guy wants to think I am, because I’m not writing music for him,” Larson says. “I’m writing music for 15-year-old girls, for people who feel like they don’t have a space in the dominant culture.”
But another burden, Larson says, is that it’s exclusively female musicians who are asked to address feminist issues in interviews. “I’m not saying don’t ask us,” she says. “I’m saying why doesn’t anyone ask 4onthefloor what they think about feminism in the mainstream or the Minneapolis music scene? Women end up taking a lot of the brunt of answering for these issues and that puts us in an extremely vulnerable position.”
So what advice would Scrunchies give aspiring rock and rollers? I put my daughter Chuck on the phone to ask—annoying her to no end. The band, though, is game to help a 10-year-old out.
“Learn about everything you’re playing with, what you think sounds good, and as long as you’re having fun with your friends, that’s the most important part.” says Larson. “That’s why I do it,”
Adds Meyer, “It’s okay to be a nerd.”