A sheet-clad Maya Deren Meshes of the Afternoon Muppet tromps thru the trash of a California alleyway, barreling toward LA-based GUPPY, carooned in ‘70’s dad gear. The video for “420 7/11 (I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down)” is ultra groovy, amping a cartoonish psychedelic plotline complete with an evil slushie antagonist, perfectly complimenting Guppy’s campy charm. “By the end of the song, the band has learned to harness the power of the puppet for good and now he is their newest member,” lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Julia explains, adding, “Honestly, this song is about a hallucinogenic experience I had standing in line at a 7/11, so I wanted the video to reflect the chaotic, mundane and dreamy nature of that.”
Transforming from Abba-clad to Hot Topic Goth after befriending the Dark-Crystal-on-crystal-meth mutant, one could interpret “420 7/11” as the concept of ‘if looking long enough into the monster, the monster looks into you’. Either way, following the recent release of “Sentimental”, “420 7/11” has a punchy energy entirely appropriate as the opening anthem for Guppy’s upcoming In Heat LP. The 8-track album is a collection of genre-less goodness bound to find listeners bopping along, track by track like a different adventure in Pete and Pete with an extra dose of teen angst.
Growing from Julia’s bedroom pop project Therapy Dog to a full DIY outfit (Gabi taught themself to play drums from YouTube tutorials), the backstory of three film students in Boston binding together for unbridled kicks led Julia, Marc and Gabi relocating to the West Coast. Though earlier press references Guppy as a trio, Michael started performing as second guitarist after Guppy’s first handful of shows. He was already a strong presence with the group since he recorded the 2017 In The Garage EP literally in a garage. “Because of the quick and DIY nature of that original recording, Michael ended up throwing some vocals on a few tracks as well as guitar on one track. Once we started playing those songs live, we realized it just wasn’t the same without him pretty early on,” Julia says of their 4th full fledged member. “I was sleeping on Julia and Marc’s couch on and off for about two months while the songs were being written and I brought a whole mess of amps and mics down I had at my folks place up in San Francisco to set up the garage as a jam space. Someone just gifted us a drum set and we were kind of off to the races,” Michael adds. “We decided to wait for the hottest week of the summer to record in that sweat box of a garage. I think we were trying to have people smell us through the recordings.”
Guppy’s sass is in many ways an endearing exorcism of energetic rage, pom-pomed in the prettiness of tweepop touches that revolve around Marc’s driving bass lines and Gabi’s riot grrrl beats. As a 4-piece promenade of spit in a whirwind of raunchy riffage within wild-hearted rock’n’roll hymns, the undoubtable 90s-influence has no bearing on Guppy’s unique sound that is all their own. Sure, this queer-led band veers between the bitchy kitsch of “Hollywood Rejection” to the softling wist of “Cactus Dreams”, but Guppy as a group has become a more actualized satellite of indie ditties no matter the tone of each track. Guppy may be a weird bird not of taste to all but that’s the last thing they are trying to be. For those who vibe, the underlying spirit of fun, a pure and precious punk ethos, on top of driven rock riffs and playful lyrics, finds a friendship in Guppy’s tinsel strewn junk food caravan of cowboys with eyerolls. And lucky for Guppy, the group is finding better spaces in which they are more able to thrive with like-minded folx.
“There are a lot of queer artists and bookers that we’ve been connected with through actively seeking out queer and queer friendly communities. For me, it is just very important that I be playing in a space where I feel comfortable and safe in my queer identity,” Julia explains of LA’s musical landscape, expressing deep appreciation for Rosie Tucker, Sleezehog Productions, Greg Katz, Ally from Get Better Records as just a few who created welcoming receptive pathways. “When we first started playing and we were kind of just accepting a lot of gigs without finding a community, I definitely had to compromise this value. I’m eternally grateful to all the queer and ally artists + bookers that have empowered me to demand that safer space for us to perform and for our fans to enjoy our music.”