The hard rock and soft heart of Elect Trick City
by Nancy Ford
Photo by Julie Christie
Elect Trick City: it’s not exactly a phrase that easily rolls off the tongue.
Is it a political strategy? A new eco-efficient Texas suburb? What is this Elect Trick City you speak of?
“It’s definitely different,” admits Elect Trick City’s vocalist and synth technician, Madison Whitaker. “It’s really like a play on the word ‘electricity.’ We all have our own electricity that we put into our music. Or, we’re focused on ‘electing’ something, like making a decision for yourself or the greater good.”
“There’s a lot of those names going around—electric this and electric that—but we really liked this one,” says Angela McCutcheon, the Houston band’s lead guitarist and vocalist.
Elect Trick City’s five-member, all-female sound is hard and loud; their live appearances feature original material
interspersed with more recognizable
covers. “I guess we would describe it as indie pop or sparkle grunge . . .” McCutcheon says. “Laced with love!” Whitaker quickly adds.
But don’t make the mistake of trying to classify or pigeonhole Elect Trick City’s very eclectic group of performers. “We definitely don’t want to be defined or to be labeled, necessarily, to a genre or to a certain demographic,” insists McCutcheon. “We don’t want to confine ourselves to a certain type of music. We want to be open.
“We’re just trying to let this grow,” McCutcheon continues. “Like, if somebody comes to the band with a song that they already wrote, we might take a part of it, but we will make something new out of it. We want to create everything together and we don’t want to concentrate on any certain sound. We just want to let it happen organically.”
Naomi Toledo plays bass, Lauren Wilson does the drumming, and Rachel Hansbro plays lead guitar, rounding out the quintet’s contributors. Most of them met as a result of working at Guitar Center, where the women sometimes rehearse.
“Naomi and I were hanging out, playing shows at The Usual, just playing cover songs,” McCutcheon says, explaining Elect Trick City’s genesis. “The two of us decided we wanted to start an all-girl band. We just kind of went from there.”
McCutcheon had also previously performed with Wilson in local bands 9 Volt and The Zachary James Band. “We toured Alaska and Canada, opening for Emmy Lou Harris,” she says. “I was in Alaska for a year and a half. Then we came back here and started this band.”
Since that time, in addition to performing at The Usual, the band develops their sound by working the local Montrose club circuit. A recent gig at Avant Garden turned into a weekly Sunday Funday engagement at that lower-Westheimer club.
One of their first shows at that venue was a benefit that raised funds for the families of Mollie Olgin and Kristene Chapa, a young lesbian couple attacked by a gunman in June in Portland, Texas. Olgin, 19, died from her wounds; Chapa, 18, was critically wounded but is expected to recover. As OutSmart went to press, the assailant had not been found.
“When we all heard what happened, we thought, well, it could have been a hate crime. We’re not sure yet,” McCutcheon says. “But even if it wasn’t a hate crime . . . they just needed so much money to pay for the funeral and the hospital bills. Of course, we all wanted to be a part of that. We would have done anything to help raise money for that.
“That probably felt better, playing that show, than any show we’ve ever played, because we were all there for this common goal and we all cared so much about the cause.”
In addition to the weekly Sunday Funday dates at Avant Garden, Elect Trick City plays Flavor, a new traveling dance party for lesbians produced monthly by Julie Mabry. The first Flavor is scheduled August 18 at House of Dereon, and features guest appearances by cast members from Showtime’s The Real L Word. They also perform at The Mink on August 10.
In addition to their live appearances, the women of Elect Trick City are currently working on writing and recording songs for their first album, which they have dubbed Vote Trick City, scheduled for release in November. “We really like that our album is going to come out in November. We want to have our CD release party on Election Day,” McCutcheon says. “Right now, we just have two songs recorded. We’re going to release that as an EP, but come November, we’re going to have a full-length album.”
The release will be available via iTunes, and from the women’s own website, electtrickcity.com. “That will lead you directly to our Facebook,” where Sparks and potential Sparks may purchase it, McCutcheon says.