Toronto-based punk quartet Bad Waitress is ferocious and furious, serving up gritty and groovy fits of fury with their confrontational debut album, No Taste. The album emits riot grrrl energy showcasing their penchant for loud, straight-up rock and roll. But while No Taste is certainly offering us a powerful concoction of energy and empowerment, it’s clear that every lyric, beat, and fiery riff is performed with conviction, solidifying their place in and out of their local punk scene as an emerging powerhouse.
Bad Waitress was born when the members decided they were sick of playing in bands with old men. Setting their intentions, they channelled that energy, “got the fire under their asses” and created their genre teasing, electric 10-track debut. They are fearless when it comes to creating sounds that are authentic and true to who they are. They’ve found themselves experimenting with “creepy performance stylings” for tracks like “Lacerate” and “Manners,” and have even created riffs inspired by scrapping beer bottles on their guitars. In short, No Taste is not shy. We sat down with drummer Moon and bassist Nicole Cain to chat about all things punk rock, and the nitty-gritty behind No Taste.
Congratulations on your new album, No Taste. How does it feel to be finished?
Nicole: I’m excited. We recorded No Taste back in 2018 so it’s a long time coming. I’ve been in a bunch of bands and I’ve never made anything like this that I believe in so much. I think it fills a lot of gaps with what’s happening with music right now. It gives something that no other band is putting out. There are some groovy bops on it and there’s some dark heavy ones and some mellow pretty songs too. I think No Taste is a more elevated version of some of the songs we’ve already put out.
Moon: It’s a huge milestone and accomplishment. I never really thought I would be holding my own vinyl in my own two hands! I’m excited to share it with everyone and see where things go.
How has your sound changed from your earlier singles and EPs?
Moon: Our path as a band has definitely changed. You could say we’re a more mature version now. Honestly, I didn’t expect it to go where it did, from us having fun and wanting to play loud, fast music to growing to what it is now. It still has that fun playfulness, but we’ve taken that energy and channelled it into a direct path while still having a lot of space for us to grow as people and musicians.
We love the punk rock energy brought in No Taste. Do you remember when you first discovered punk rock?
Moon: I was first introduced to punk music in Grade Eight, when I worked in a record store. I discovered different bands like Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, and James Chance and the Contortions. There was a huge mix of punk rock and new age at the store and having access to that at that age was super influential in terms of my journey into music. My dad was a DJ in his early 20s and my mom is a huge music enthusiast too, so growing up in that environment gave me access to a wide range of different genres which led me to be the drummer I am today.
Nicole: I played in an indie band for like five years. I couldn’t play and I was afraid to jam, and it was a band with all dudes, which is so different from being in a band with non-men. After that, I was in a weird experimental electronic punk band for a bit and then I was in a hardcore band that started as a joke, but then our first show was playing Halloween at Soybomb (HQ) – checked that off my bucket list.
Bad Waitress has a persona: you’re walking down the street feeling badass, or maybe you’re sippin’ whiskey and smoking cigarettes – it’s empowering. What way would you describe the sound in No Taste? Does your music have a persona?
Moon: Yes! We love that persona!
Nicole: Same! And that is largely the vibes we’re putting out, empowering for sure. We all use this project to blow off steam and talk about things that we think are important and use it as a safe space to share experiences as non-men, which I think makes other people feel safe listening to our music and makes them feel like they can be themselves.
What sort of music did you listen to growing up and how did that work towards inspiring No Taste?
Nicole: I think what we have in common with our influences is the energy they all bring. We listen to a wide array of music that you might not necessarily hear in No Taste. I know when we were writing No Taste, I was listening to a lot of Fiona Apple. But I don’t think you’re going to hear that in there, you know? Like maybe? Or like Daughters, which is super hard rock.
Moon: Daughters are so good!
Nicole: I don’t think we go that dark, but maybe it infiltrates somehow. Whether we’re listening to old country, jazz, punk or whatever – it has that gutsy energy!
What inspired the lyrics and the themes in the songs for No Taste?
Nicole: I know Kali (Butala, vocalist/guitarist) wrote a lot of songs about her adolescents. She was raised in the Northwest Territories and had a unique experience growing up as a dance kid and was encouraged to grow up to be this perfect little girl. “Delusions of Grandeur” was written during Trump’s presidency and it’s basically a commentary on “what the fuck is going on here and how is all happening in this day and age.” These are problems that have been going on forever and they’re getting exasperated by this dude. “Standards” is a song I wrote lyrics for. I wrote it when I was in a relationship with someone for four years and two years in, I wrote it. The song basically says “you kind of suck, but you don’t suck as much as the last person I dated so I guess it’s fine” which is not the vibe, and no one should ever stick around just because it’s not terrible.
What is your favourite song from No Taste and what song are you most excited to perform?
Nicole: The song I’m stoked to perform is “12 Years Old” because it’s a real rockin’ song. But I think “Restless Body” is one of my favourites on the album because it gets my heart going. I’m happy it’s the last song on the album. I think it’s a really nice way to wrap things up. It can get a little chaotic throughout the album and that song is comforting and uplifting.
Moon: “Rabbit Hole.” I love playing that song. The drums are super fun with that track. It’s spooky and so fitting with “falling into a hole” of the album which represents taking you on this journey and I really enjoy it. “Also, “Yeah Yeah Yeah” is such a “I don’t give a f*ck I’m going to eat tacos in my underwear, whatever” song and it’s just so much fun.
No Taste is out now on all major music streaming platforms.