I’ve loved Whitney’s other band, Homesick Abortions, for ages and that love followed over to her new kick ass Apple Valley hardcore band, Ursula. They’ve recently released their debut, Meet Is Murder, 8-tracks of honest, rawness.
What was your first introduction to punk rock? How has punk helped shape your life?
W: hmm, good question! In retrospect, if I had to pick a moment in my life where I can say “this is what paved the path”, it was being introduced to Green Day’s Dookie album… I was maybe 9 years old. However you wanna categorize it or the music, it was definitely a turning point in my life as far as music went. However, I was exposed to other bands that are still significant to me, such as Nirvana, the Cranberries and Alice in Chains around that time too, it was that era! but before that, it was whatever my parents had playing in their record players or in their cars, i.e. classic bands like ELO from my dad and Madonna & Michael Jackson from my mom! haha). The Dookie album was angry & faster than anything else I’ve really ever heard at that point in my life. The attitude & emotion behind it all is really what drew me in. it spoke to me and it eventually inspired me to pick up the guitar and start writing shit down in notebooks!
What were you like growing up?
W: Not too much different than I am now; moody, quiet & introverted. But pretty easy to get along with, I think. I have a “resting bitch face” but I strive to make people laugh and also think, I hope!
When did you first pick up a guitar?
W: I started messing around on my dad’s acoustic when I was about 10 years old. I had no idea what I was doing or what “sound” I was looking for. I was happy enough to be able to randomly pluck the notes for lullabies, haha.
What inspired you to start a band?
W: This sort of touches back on my first answer; Green Day! I won’t lie, I was obsessed with Billie Joe Armstrong and thought, I can do this, too.
What do you love most about your new band, Ursula?
W: Collectively, I love the music, my bandmates (Jesse, Josh & Justin) and the fact that I can fully let loose with zero judgment from them. Or maybe they’re just smart and keep their mouths shut. Just kidding, just kidding!! They’re solid guys and really, if it wasn’t for them, Ursula wouldn’t exist!
You recently released debut, Meet Is Murder; which song on it means the most to you and why?
W: all of the songs on there are pretty important to me, personally. Hmm… but the one song that means the most to me would have to be “Todd Darsh” or maybe “Clutter”. Todd Darsh touches on the importance of living a vegan lifestyle but there are still so many people walking round with their ‘blinders’ on which makes it frustrating for me (or anyone else with similar ethics) being vegan. Clutter slightly touches on that as well and about dealing with terribly stubborn folks in my life.
Do you find being in a band/making music cathartic?
W: Oh, absolutely! I think it’s one of the main reasons people sing/play music. It’s the best form of therapy in my opinion and you can be creative with it. It’s beautiful, really.
What’s your fondest memory from recording MIM?
W: Getting to know Ursula! When I was invited to joined the band, the ball not only immediately started rolling… we somehow hit the ground running. So basically, I started a band with strangers and within a month we were recording! Socially, I am the outsider in the Apple Valley (where Ursula is from), so everybody was new to me. During the recording process, which can be intimate, tiring and stressful, you’re as raw as you can get and I think it helped me figure out who my new friends and bandmates were… and needless to say, they’re the types of humans I prefer to surround myself around. So making fast, new friends in Ursula is my fondest memory.
What’s the story behind the cover art? Eva from Rats In The Walls created it, right?
WM: Yes, she did! Eva is a badass. I hit up Eva asking if she could come up with something for us. I believe all I asked for was something that screamed “hopelessness” or felt somewhat ominous or doom & gloomy, which is the feel most the songs give off. I think that with both our cynical personas, and her amazing artistic skills, the illustration was easy for her to knock out and she definitely hit the nail on the head!
How do you deal with haters?
W: Ah yes… human garbage! It’s almost inevitable in this day and age to not get shit on by others, but I try my best to just avoid haters. Someone once told me “the only way to kill a troll is by starving it” or else I end up writing some nasty lyrics about them; ironically, I guess they’re doing me a favor by fueling my fire.
You’re vegan and deeply care about animal rights; why is this important to you?
W: Really, how isn’t this important to everyone! It’s really not that hard to not be an asshole—especially to the animals. they’re the most innocent beings on this planet… asking for nothing from humans, yet we take everything from them!
Part of me wants to get heated and go on a rant about why living a vegan lifestyle is important… but we’d be here very long time. I feel that if I have to convince someone that killing another being for straight up selfish reasons isn’t necessary, how are they validating other decisions they’re making in their life? One of my favorite quotes lately is: “Everybody wants to hear good news about their bad habits”.
Can you share one of your favourite vegan recipes please?
W: One of my favorites & maybe the easiest is spicy Thai peanut sauce with tofu & veggies! Even though I am a huge foodie and take pride in my food prep & presentation, I also love delicious shit you can just throw together and gobble up, and to me that is what this meal is about. ugh, I love food… I am sure if you asked me this same question tomorrow, my recipe choice would be different! haha.
Any tips for those interested in becoming vegan?
W: Don’t jump into it blindly!!! I’ve met people who said they tried to go vegan but threw in the towel because they said it was too hard; mainly because they didn’t know how to properly balance their diet and probably just ate lots of potato chips or something. Switching from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet can be drastic if you don’t know how to replace the vitamins & nutrients you were getting before that was filtered through animals flesh. It’s important to do some research on eating a plant-based diet and the supplements you’ll need. It’s not that hard once you know where to go to get products and what to eat to have a properly balanced diet without all the cruelty! i am not a health professional, so I’d suggest checking out documentaries such as Forks Over Knives (which is the film that helped me most!), Vegucated is a good one on challenging 3 non-vegans to live vegan for some weeks, and of course, What the Health seems to be the most popular documentary that got the majority to switch over as of late. also, just to clear up any misconceptions: there is protein in everything & CARBS ARE NOT BAD!
Tell us about your awesome dog Smokey! How did he come to being in your life?
W: Smokeyyy! My sweet old man. I adopted him a few years back through a colleague when his previous owner passed away and the family was looking to re-home him. Which is crazy to me because he is such a good dog, why would anyone give him up?! I love his personality, even when he tends to pick up on my moods, which I think might stress him out and then I feel bad. Or if he acts like me, that stresses me out; we might both be a little neurotic, ha! We mean well though. He is also vegan! A great traveling companion, super smart, handsome and just all-around the best dog and my best friend.
I know you love mermaids! I remember the pic of your mermaid hair come up in my feed; where’s this obsession come from?
W: Splash!!! If you know me, you know my infinite love for Tom Hanks and Splash has been my favorite movie since I was four and mermaids have always been intriguing to me. I can’t pinpoint exactly why it’s appealing to me… maybe because I am not elegant like a mermaid tends to be? I guess when I was little, they’re that perfect being you wanted to be… beautiful, colorful, flowing, free & magical. They’re just my little girl dreams I carried into my adulthood.
What’s something else that you’re really passionate about?
W: The general welfare of others, which would probably mean my job! I work with students with special needs and I love it. Yes, it’s challenging and tiring and anything and everything else you’d imagine it would be, but at the end of the day it is rewarding knowing you are part of the reason why a particular individual had a successful day. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.