Interview: Mike Huguenor of Hard Girls

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Hard Girls is a California punk trio comprised of Mike Huguenor (guitar, vocals), Morgan Herrell (bass, vocals), and Max Feshbach (drums). The passionate rock band just wrapped up a tour with Jeff Rosenstock and Katie Ellen. Now, they’re working on an album that will be released in early 2017. Over the years, Hard Girls has opened for the likes of Say Anything, Modern Baseball, and Cymbals Eat Guitars, which speaks to their talent and dedication.

Recently, we had the chance to catch up with Mike Huguenor to ask him a few questions about the band’s latest activity. Read on to hear his thoughts about songwriting, today’s punk rock scene, and Donald Trump.

TYF: Let’s start off by talking about your recent cross-country tour with Jeff Rosenstock and Katie Ellen. What was that experience like?

Mike Huguenor: Well, we drove cross country twice—once with the three of us and two shows to patch the gaps, and then once just me and Morgan with no shows at all, just taking 80 from New Jersey to Fairfield, California. So that bookended the tour. But the tour itself was great. I (Mike) play with Jeff [Rosenstock] too, so I was doing double-duty every night. Jeff, Christine, Kevin, John, they’re all like family now, so it was great playing with them consistently. And Katie Ellen are great. I had met Drew and Anika before, but I got to know them a lot better on this tour, and the whole band is talented, driven, funny. Good peeps.

TYF: Any funny or interesting stories from the road you’d like to share?

Huguenor: After the election we were all miserable. I kinda got in trouble with Jeff’s band for wanting to burn an American flag onstage the next day, which, realistically, I can see why they wouldn’t want me to do that. I fucking hate fascists, mostly just because they don’t seem to understand logic. But we were in Madison, Wisconsin that night, and during both sets I was chanting “Fuck Paul Ryan.” Paul Ryan described some of Trump’s comments as “the textbook definition of racism” but he still supported Trump. That right there is some cowardly bullshit. Anyway, after the set, one of the guys who worked maintenance at the university came up to me and said, “Were you the guy saying ‘Fuck Paul Ryan?’” I said yeah, and he stuck out his hand to shake, and said “Seriously, fuck Paul Ryan.”

TYF: On several of your tour dates, you sold buttons to raise money for local charities. How did you come up with this idea?

Huguenor: It was all Katie Ellen. As I understand it, the idea came together between Anika and Cody, the sort of fifth Beatle of the band. By the end we had raised over $2,500 for local organizations like Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, the Boston Rape Crisis Center, various organizations for homeless LGBT youth, and all the people who would be negatively affected by having a certifiable dipshit in the White House.

TYF: Your band’s tour posters feature silly doodles of things like ghosts and cats. Who drew these doodles?

Huguenor: That was Morgan. We all divvied up social media on the tour. I took Twitter, Max took Instagram, and Morgan took Facebook. So every day we were just all putting some of our personal takes on those fun forms of mass surveillance, and Morgan was making daily flyers, just drawing while we were driving between cities every day.

TYF: In September, you played Riot Fest in Illinois. Congrats; that’s a major accomplishment! What was it like to perform at such a big festival?

Huguenor: It was an honor. It was definitely fun, but I sprained my ankle mid-set so I had to adjust how I was moving on the fly. All in all though, I think it went over really well. It was cool to see so many people singing along and psyched. We don’t have inflated egos by any means, so it was affirming to feel like we still could connect with people at an event with so many exponentially bigger bands.

TYF: Now, let’s talk about the music on your most recent EP, Dulcet Tones. What was the inspiration behind the title track?

Huguenor: I like to write story songs when possible—whenever I have the germ of one to work on. To me, that song is the story of two people who don’t really know each other very well yet, walking around a lake together at dusk.

TYF: What are the “dulcet tones” that you mention in the lyrics?

Huguenor: They are the promise of connection, love, a sense of home, comfort, an end to wanderlust, etc. They are the sounds heard from the threshold of a place that the narrator has never been to before.

TYF: In your song “Flying Dream,” you talk about soaring “out into nothing, out over everything” and feeling like you own the world. Was the song based on a real dream or just an interesting scenario you imagined?

Huguenor: That song was all Morgan. I’ve never asked him, and I’d hate to speak for him when I don’t know the answer… but I’ll do it anyway. 100% a real dream.

TYF: In the spirit of punk rock legends like The Clash, you use your platform as a band to speak out about social justice issues. Do you think today’s punk rock world has the same spirit of activism that the punk rock world of the 1980s had?

Huguenor: Generally, no. There are some exceptions, but largely, and for years, it seems like it has been just about fun—having it, singing about it, friends, whiskey, touring, etc.… which is probably why less people were paying attention to punk. But I think now that we are entering a demonstrably dystopian state (one where we’re seriously talking about keeping a registry of Muslim Americans, looking at internment camps as inspiration for policy, and a White House full of bigots, climate change deniers, propagandists, gay conversion therapy believers, and a president who is endorsed by both the KKK and the American Nazi Party), hopefully more people will start being vocal. And I mean, like, can’t-shut-them-up vocal. We need that now.

TYF: Since it was a few days ago, here’s a question about Thanksgiving. If you had the chance to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, what kind of float would you want to ride on?

Huguenor: I’d like it to be a float in the shape of America with a leash on it, William Gibson at the front of the float holding the leash and walking it out of the parade route and off a cliff.

Hard Girls’ latest EP Dulcet Tones can be purchased from their Bandcamp page.

Brittany Menjivar is a seventeen-year-old music enthusiast who listens to everything from Britpop to EDM to up-and-coming Warped Tour bands. She is passionate about many things in life, including (but not limited to) flower crowns, Foster the People, S. E. Hinton novels, scimitar-horned oryxes, The Great Gatsby (both the book and the 2013 film), theatre, the music of Damon Albarn, blue raspberry ICEEs, and thought-provoking films. Brittany loves spreading the word about interesting ideas, which is why she writes for TYF and serves as the editor of her school newspaper and literary magazine. She also loves metaphors and similes, which explains why she enjoys reviewing music so much. In addition to being a member of the TYF staff, Brittany is a poet who has been published in KaPow! Creative Writing Zine, The Noisy Island, Crashtest, and YARN. If you're reading this, she hopes your day is full of good art and good vibes.