Mixing D-Beat, crust, thrash and hardcore into an explosive ball of furious energy, Portland, Oregon’s Cliterati are one of the most exciting bands to come out of the punk underground in a while. The band released a split with Violation Wound (who feature Autopsys Chris Reifert) earlier this year and it’s one of the most vital blasts of music we’ve heard in 2018, that you need to check out if you haven’t done so. The band are currently working on their debut album on Tank Crimes records and we had an informative chat with Cliterati bassist Natalie Lucio to hear all about what we can expect from it, the split with Violation Wound, band influences, memorable live shows and greatest gigs, her time playing bass in Kings Of Punk Poison Idea, favourite albums and the hardcore scene in Portland.
How did Cliterati start as a band?
Well I joined the band in 2015, replacing their first bass player. I was friends with the original singer of the band, who I think came up with the name Cliterati. She was the one who asked me to try out. I had seen them live before and said yes, with no hesitation. Amelia was living at our drummer’s house I believe, and was friends with Melissa when they first got together. After Amelia passed away, we played without a singer for some months – unsure of who we could ever find to replace her. Live, she was very confrontational and had a lot of presence and energy. She left some big shoes to fill. We heard a rumor that Ami from VOËTSEK had moved to town. None of us had any contact info though. We found some mutual friend who passed our demo along to Ami. We all met up for karaoke but Ami wouldn’t agree to come to practice unless every member sang a song. So the first song we ever performed on stage together was “Wanna Be” by The Spice Girls. That was Coleman’s (our drummer) choice.
Who are some of Cliteratis main influences as a band?
I asked the dudes and they yelled out a bunch of stuff: NWA, L7, Body Count, Suicidal Tendencies, Amebix and Bad Religion but we listen to all sorts of music in the tour van. I love the Melvins, so their CD ends up in the van stereo a lot.
How would you describe Cliteratis sound to someone who hadn’t heard of you before?
Describing our sound is kind of hard. We have been compared to all sorts of bands from L7 to Sacrilege, maybe with a little bit of Los Crudos thrown in. Our press material usually says something about D-Beat, party crust, hardcore… those are all usually thrown into the mix. Though a friend who has seen us play since the beginning says our new stuff sounds kind of thrashy. I dunno.
You’ve done a split with Violation Wound. How did you hook up to release a record with those guys?
The violation wound split is something that came through Ami, I believe. I met Chris just a few months ago when we played together in Oakland for the split release show. He is a really nice guy and super fucking talented. I love it when people you look up to you also turn out to be rad humans. But to answer your question, the split came about basically because Ami is famous.
What has the reaction to Cliterati been like so far?
For me, the reactions have generally been better than I ever expected. Our demo tape released through Tank Crimes got a fair amount of attention when it came out. And just recently, Kim Kelly at Noisey put one of our songs from the split on her best songs of 2018 list (https://www.google.com/amp/s/noisey.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/qvqwym/noisey-100-best-songs-of-2018 ) at #63 – ahead of a Lil Wayne and a Lady Gaga song. I think it’s really nice when you and your friends spend hours in a basement – toiling away basically trying to make music that we would all want to listen to, and then other people seem to take notice and actually give a shit. I guess in the beginning, some people would slag on our name, but we usually get a good laugh out of that too.
Will there be a full album from Cliterati in the near future?
We are actually headed to Oakland this week to record our first full length album with Greg Wilkinson at Grammy nominated Ear Hammer Studios (High On Fire recorded their album that’s up for the award here). We’ve had this material for the last year but instead of recording it right away like we’ve done in the past, we practiced the shit out of these songs and even played them on tour first. We noticed that before with our first two releases, we would record the songs right after they were written – but when we listened to them later they seemed a lot slower and not as tight as we were playing them live. Also, we wanted the follow up to our demo to have that same kind of energy as our first release.
Who would you live for Cliterati to do a split with in the future?
I don’t know, maybe Apocalypse, Deathgrave, Iron Regan or Physique? Honestly, we are 100% focused on the full length right now. We’ll see what happens after!
You plyed with Warwound and Plight in Portland recently on December 6th. Were you looking forward to the gig and how did it go?
We have all been really looking forward to this show. I mean, playing with guys from The Varukers, Sacrilege, Flux of Pink Indians, Discharge, etc… I mean, holy shit, right? Warwound is basically a damn super group. They absolutely live up to their reputation live. Definitely recommend seeing them, if you can. The whole show was amazing and I can’t think of a better way to close out the year. Stevie and I talked quite a bit. He told me about how they all got together… it was unreal, hearing about all these legendary guys coming together again after a chance meeting at a train station. We also talked about Cliterati and a possible Euro or UK tour too…
What has been the most memorable gig that Cliterati have done this year?
There have been so many memorable shows. We’ve opened for DRI, DOA, MDC, DK… you know, all the bands with initials. But everyone agrees that our split release show in Oakland with Violation Wound and Deathgrave was probably the favorite. I think we all feel lucky to be part of the Tank Crimes family and that night, there was a lot of love in the house.
Who have been the best band you’ve toured with or played with and what made it so memorable?
We were fortunate enough to get dragged out on tour with label mates Ghoul this summer, along with War Bison. Those guys are all hilarious and huge nerds. We played at a skate park with them one night – that was another one of our favorite shows of the year. I mean, those guys would spray blood on the crowd every night… the place always looked like a massacre when the show was over. We’d have to cover our merch table with plastic sheets, but in between shows we’d just talk about Star Trek. They have a whole crew they travel with that wears, maintains and operates all their costumes. They’re all just the nicest and funniest guys you’d ever wanna tour with. They put on a crazy show and getting to open up for that every night was an experience that’s hard to forget. Also honorable mention to Mephiskapheles. We ended up on a bill with them this summer when our tours crossed paths and we hit it off right away. Who would’ve thought we’d be besties with a 90s ska band?!
Who would you love to play live or tour with in the future!
Well after the show last Thursday, I’d say WARWOUND!
What are the bands live plans for 2019?
Our first show of the new year is with Victim’s Family in January with local pals Nasalrod. We don’t have anything booked after February, I think. Everyone has just been focused on the new material and recording. I think we were hoping to make it out to the East Coast this year, but we’ll see.
Will you be making it overseas for some live dates at any point? We’d love to see you in the U.K.
We’d love it too. Hopefully sooner than later.
What has been the highlight for Cliterati this year?
Well, technically it happened in 2017 but it was a year ago at this time that we teamed up with Sign of the Beast burlesque and put out our first music video
They absolutely killed it. We were really happy they wanted to collaborate with us on this. The result was awesome. A local paper named it best music video in Portland last year – which is hilarious because it features vomit, a sacrifice to the devil and pepperoni as nipples.
Chris Reifert of Autopsy/Abcess and Violation Wound was recently photographed wearing a Cliterati tshirt. thats must have been some good publicity for you?!
We gave him that T-shirt! Ha. What can I say – he has great fashion sense.
What is the punk and hardcore scene in Portland like at the moment and are there any bands that you could recommend to us?
Despite rents going up all over the city, there’s still a good scene here. We’ve still got a fair amount venues that regularly book hardcore or other underground music, which is really the lifeblood of any scene, isn’t it? As far as bands I’d recommend: they’re from Eugene, but our sister band Broken Dead is really great. We try to play with them as much as we can when they aren’t out fighting fires. As far as straight ahead hardcore, there’s Long Knife and Dead Hunt… also, we played with a really great band from Seattle called Fetid. They were so good. From Spokane, there’s Wretched Fucks. We dig them too. I feel like I’m leaving a lot out. Sorry if I forgot anybody.
You played bass in Poison Idea for a time. How did the opportunity to join Poison Idea arise in the first place?
Well, Tom and I went to the same methadone clinic for a while. I would talk to him and sometimes give him rides towards the end there. We lived in the same neighborhood. I think he put the bug in Jerry’s ear that I played bass. After Tom passed away, Jerry and I had a mutual friend Lloyd who took me to his birthday party one year. Jerry said their current bass player had a habit of crying after gigs, and quit right before a show in Texas that they played without him. He gave me 5 songs to learn and I locked myself in a room for a week or two until I could play them note-for-note.
Were you a Poison Idea fan before you joined the band and what was your favorite album?
I don’t know if I would call myself a real fan before I played with them. I mean I never owned any of their albums but I didn’t really own much of anything back then. I loved Feel the Darkness. Jerry never wanted to play it live because he thought it was too slow. But I loved playing it. That and Alan’s On Fire were my faves. I know I saw PI play under at a bowling alley once… I guess I kind of took them for granted at the time. They were another band to go see. But, I was in this old band called Spreadeagle (I know, hilarious) that opened for them in like 2002 or 03. Tom pretended to remember us, and even said we were “ok” when I talked to him about it years later – he was kind to say so.
What are your favourite memories of your time with the band?
Definitely the Australian tour. PI had never made it down there before and every town we played each night, the shows were just insane. Stu and Dave who were our tour managers really knew how to throw down. We spent almost a month down there and if I had to move away from Portland, I’d want to live in Melbourne.
Looking back though, all of it was pretty memorable, even from the beginning. My first time on stage with the band was with a ton of past members as well to accept the induction into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. It was hard to believe I was even there. Playing a show with Pierced Arrows was great too. Fred and Toody Cole were very warm and welcoming. Just lovely folks.
In your opinion and taking into account your time spent in the band, are Poison Idea, the Kings Of Punk?
Say what you want about any of them… some of it might even be true, but those songs can’t be beat. In their original lineup, there aren’t isn’t a weak spot in the band, period. Steve’s drumming, Tom’s brutal guitars… there isn’t a better front man than Jerry out there. He’s still a force to be reckoned with. They had some kind of powers working through them, I swear. That kind of punk doesn’t need to play dress up to prove anything. The music is awesome and terrifying and I was lucky to be even slightly close to it.
Have you been involved with any other bands both past and present?
Just a bunch of local bands, really. Right now it’s Cliterati. Also I am singing for a sort of space rock band called Dark Numbers (album coming soon) and I play guitar for a Mexican goth-punk band I just joined called VUELTAS, and we play our first show Jan 5th.
How did you get into punk rock in the first place?
There was a college radio station I got in Seattle from Green River Community College that was where I heard the likes of CRASS or Dead Kennedys for the first time. Before that, all I had heard was grunge or metal or whatever was played on MTV or mainstream radio. I had never heard Killing Joke or anything like them before. The internet wasn’t really a thing back in 1994, so I would call this college station all the time and ask them about different bands they were playing. My high school was really preppy, and I didn’t really have anybody else around to show me cool stuff. They must have really got sick of me calling.
What was the first punk gig that you ever went to?
I’m guessing it was a local band called Whorehouse Of Representatives.I grew up in Seattle and would pretty much go to any show that was all-ages at the time though. My first shows ever were Mudhoney and the Melvins. I grew up in Seattle in the 90’s. I can’t really avoid my grunge kid roots.
Who has been the biggest influence on you as a musician?
That’s a really hard one. I don’t like to pick favorites. No fair! I will say that playing bass in PI completely changed the way I play bass and you can probably hear that in Cliterati.
What has been the greatest gig that you have ever witnessed and what made it so special?
I always go to a lot of shows. Don’t know if I could pick. I like to make the younger folks jealous by telling them that I am old enough to have seen Nirvana and The Ramones play. That’s always good for a laugh. The year we played Punk Rock Bowling was pretty great, I guess. We were scheduled to play at the same time as the Cro-Mags started right next door. We finished our set and I ran next door to see if I could catch maybe their last song. Turns out, their flight had been delayed and I got to see their entire set.
What music are you listening to at the moment?
I feel like when somebody dies, I always dig back through their catalogue. When Pete Shelley passed away last week, there were loads of Buzzcocks songs being played everywhere. I went back through a lot of his solo stuff too. He was pretty great.
What have been your favourite albums this year?
List compiled from the whole band:
Monstrosity – the passage of existence…..
Wretched Fuck – Welcome to the Sewers….
Hair Puller-Old Friends
Broken Dead- Extent Of Pain
BRAINOIL- Singularity To Extinction
At the Gates – to drink from the night itself
Planet Damn – demo
Deathgrave – So Real It’s now
Beak> – > > >
Arctic Flowers – Straight to the Hunter
Earl Swearshirt – Some Rap Songs
What is your favourite album of all time?
How are you supposed to pick?!? Our drummer Coleman said to pick an album you listened to when you were a kid that you still like now. I guess I have a copy of the Melvins Houdini on CD that I’ve had since I was a teenager that I still listen to and a copy of CRASS’s Penis Envy…
There’s no way I can pick, so I’m just gonna say Cliterati’s as yet unreleased first full length studio album!! I know it’s a cop-out but these questions are hard!