Photo by Erik Caballero
Last year, we were fortunate to catch Sacramento’s Sad Girlz Club at Wiretap Records’ Attention Fest; This indoor festival had a stacked lineup, and Sad Girlz Club were a definite standout. Self-described as “bummer punk”, the band (Shelby Murray - rhythm guitar, vocals / Eric La Febre - drums / Lys Mayo - lead guitar* / Travis Dunbar - bass, vocals) clearly has a knack for writing catchy, relatable, heartfelt tunes. Unfortunately, plans were cut short due to the pandemic, most notably an upcoming stint on La Escalera’s L.E. Fest (where Shelby and Eric were also supposed to perform with their new project, Lousy Advice), as well as Gainesville's Fest in late October/early November.
We recently caught up with Shelby, Eric and Travis. The band was kind enough to answer our questions regarding writing, touring, influences, their thoughts on adequate representation, and also snacks!
GRRLS LIKE US: How did you get started? What's the story behind the name Sad Girlz Club?
SAD GIRLZ CLUB: Sad Girlz Club was started by Shelby and Travis, we found Eric because he was a mutual on Travis’ Instagram and Eric had posted asking if anyone needed a drummer. It seemed like a no brainer! We asked Lys to join us two weeks before our first show. The name came from me (Shelby) because throughout the years I have always referred to my own personal “pity parties” as my Sad Girlz Club.
GRRRLS: How would you describe your music to people?
Eric: I would describe our music as a blend of Letters To Cleo (largely from Josie and The Pussycats), RVIVR and The Regrettes. I think we say we’re Bummer Punk. We’re like fun sad music. Shelby: I agree with Eric! I will say that writing-wise, we are also heavily influenced by bands such as Cobra Skulls, Nothington, and Dead to Me. Like Org-Core, but inclusive of women! It should also be said that I personally am influenced by Paramore. Shocker!
GRRRLS: Your music is very upbeat and pop-punk-ish but talks about things like breakups, and other life experiences that people go through. How do you find the balance between keeping your songs fun, but also comforting in a sense that it's relatable?
Travis: It’s easy to dance to songs in a major key no matter how sad they are! Personally speaking- I tend to be a bit of a nihilist at times and I just try to write to what I know, so my/our songs can definitely skew a bit towards subjects that are kind of a bummer in most conversational settings. There’s something special about getting together with your friends while your life feels like it’s falling apart and saying ‘fuck it, I’m going to dance and scream my heart out anyways’, it’s so cathartic.
Shelby: I think what makes our songs so relatable is because 100% of the time, we are writing about real things in our very real lives. We really like to focus on the theme that “it’s okay to be sad and feel sad,” which is why I think is why it ends up balancing naturally.
GRRRLS: We saw you won a Sammie for best 2020 punk/post-punk band (congrats!), what's your favorite part(s) of the Sac/NorCal scene?
Shelby: My favorite part of being a part of the Norcal/Sacramento scene is that these people make me feel very safe. I have been going to shows there since I was 14 years old, and over the years it has really become a place that almost everybody who is a part of it works to protect. It’s got a big sense of family.
Eric: My favorite part of the NorCal/Sac scene is probably the earnestness by which most folks who are a part of it participate. Obviously in any bunch there are shitty people but overall, the Sac punk/pop punk is full of earnest folks who want to be there. They want to support their friends and support things they like. Whether it's a house show, a fundraiser, an up and coming band, people really want to help in whatever way they can.
GRRRLS: You were supposed to play FEST this year but it got cancelled due to the pandemic, how have things changed for Sad Girlz Club since touring isn't an option right now?
Shelby: We are largely apart right now. Eric and I recently moved to San Diego and became roommates so we are finally starting the process of demoing songs and I’ve had quite a bit of songs written for our next record since the release of Hard Feelings. Travis has also been writing on his own and we hope to record a new release in the coming months. It has been slowly but surely between the 3 of us.
GRRRLS: You were featured on the compilation "This Will Not End Quietly," which aimed to benefit and support fair elections and while increasing the number of women in elected office, what are your thoughts about this topic and having more women be a strong presence overall in society?
SGC: Women represent half of the population in the United States and have been far too underrepresented in our government for far too long It is vital to have representation in any and every way in our government, and we are severely behind in that sense. We are thrilled to see progress happening, and we DID just elect our very first woman vice president, a woman of color! Which is a great start, as well as some new people elected to senate and the house of representatives. RBG said that she wouldn’t be satisfied until there are nine women on the supreme court, we agree.
GRRRLS: Shelby and Eric, you're also in the band Lousy Advice, how do you find a balance between the two bands and making sure they don't have any conflict?
Eric: With Covid, Lousy Advice has also been on a bit of downturn just as far as momentum goes. When there were shows it was just a matter of keeping a schedule. For Shelby and I, Lousy Advice is band where we get to play with genre and sound. It’s more of an eclectic playground for us which is a lot of fun. Shelby: Eric couldn’t have said it better. It’s nice because SGC is a band where I can really let loose and rage. Lousy Advice is a band that I get to do a lot of experimenting. It’s been fun! We’re both pretty organized as far as bands go, so it hasn’t been an issue when we were actively playing and practicing.
GRRRLS: Grrrls Like Us is all about inclusivity and having punk be a safe scene for people who may not feel represented (LGBTQ, POC, women, etc.) or comfortable in their own skin, can you offer advice or words of encouragement for someone who may feel that way?
Eric: As a Queer person, I would say, remember that your family isn’t necessarily the one you were born into. You will find those in the world who see you and love you for all that you are. This family will uplift you, comfort you and champion you in ways you didn’t know possible. Surround yourself with those who bring you joy. Obviously feel your feelings, know them and learn from them, but feelings are not facts. Also, you deserve joy. Always.
Travis: No matter how alone and isolated you feel, no matter how much you feel like you’re the only person who feels the way you do- there are people out there who will unconditionally love every aspect of your being. Loving oneself can be a harrowing journey but when you are able to connect with those people who lift you up, you will feel like you can do anything. Ultimately, you deserve to belong in a place that welcomes you and celebrates you for who you are, never stop fighting until you get there.
GRRRLS: If you were to describe Sad Girlz Club in 5 of your songs, what would they be?
Shelby: Old Habits, Call My Name, Lonely Nights, Ex Men, Again.
Travis: Old Habits, Back Around, What You Want, Again, The Way It Goes
Eric: Again, Pedestal, The Way It Goes, Old Habits, Ex Men.
GRRRLS: What are your favorite snacks?
Eric: My favorite snacks are guac and tortilla chips or garlic edamame.
Shelby: Milk and Oreos!
Travis: Takis! (Chaotic answer, I know)
GRRRLS: What's one thing you can't live without while on tour?
Travis: Support from your tour mates! Eric: A sense of humor
GRRRLS: Favorite city to play in?
Shelby: San Diego and Seattle! Eric: Denver, Chicago, or Toronto. Travis: San Diego!
GRRRLS: Best gig/Worst gig?
Eric: Best gig- House show in Davis CA, worst gig – House show in San Francisco Travis: One of my favorite shows on tour was when nobody showed up to a coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon in Idaho and we just dicked around and played for our tour mates in Lightweight. Anytime you feel like the “odd band” on a bill, one time we got booked on a math rock house show and ran into a bunch of technical difficulties and the vibes were just so off.
Shelby: Worst show was when we played Gilman with a bunch of odd ball bands on a weeknight, I had worked in a coffee shop and got a 2nd degree burn on my wrist the morning-of AND had lost my voice! Best show: I’d say my favorite show we’ve ever played would be Gilman for This Year Sucked Fest! HA! Gilman twice!
GRRRLS: If you could play a show with any artist/band, who would it be?
Shelby: Realistically? Cobra Skulls. On a grand scheme? Fleetwood Mac! Eric: It would be opening for Rina Sawayama.
Travis: I mean like….any?? Fleetwood Mac and have Shelby hop the mic with Stevie Nicks for Rhiannon.
Follow Sad Girlz Club and Lousy Advice on Instagram @sadgirlzclubband / @lousy_advice, Sad Girlz Club on Facebook, and _SadGirlzClub on Twitter. You can purchase Sad Girlz Club first full-length album"Hard Feelings" here.
(*Due to schooling and distance, Lys Mayo has since announced their departure from the band).