The politics of nail polish colours in Texas

GIRLS with NOBUNNY and PAPA at Mod Club (722 College), Tuesday (September 27), 8 pm. $16.50. HS, RT, SS, TM. See listing.

Chris Owens is getting looks while eating breakfast at his hotel. The effeminate, skeletal frontman for the melancholy indie rock clan Girls is three days into a tour and taking advantage of the complimentary meal at an overnight stop between Atlanta and North Carolina.

Suddenly, the red nail polish he applied at home in San Francisco before leaving seems like a bad choice.

“I’ve noticed a dramatic difference [in public reaction] to, say, green, blue or orange nail polish compared to red,” says Owens over the phone. “Red changes the game. Maybe people think orange means ‘skater’ or ‘alternative,’ but red is clearly ‘he’s a sex freak, pervert or prostitute.’

“I lived in Amarillo, Texas, for nine years. I’m very familiar with all of this. I used to do it for fun.”

If you’re aware of Owens’s incredible backstory, you know where Amarillo fits into the legend. Raised in a now-defunct cult called the Children of God, he was shuffled around the world before escaping as a teenager. He joined his refugee sister in Texas and was later taken in by an eccentric, wealthy artist named Stanley Marsh III.

Owens left for San Francisco and fell into the local music scene, where he met bassist Chet “JR” White and formed Girls in 2008. It took the duo almost a year to write and record their debut, Album, but it was time well spent. The lead single and NSFW video for Lust For Life set critical websites ablaze.

And while their just-released Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther) is more of a slow burn, it’s already garnering similar adoration. As opposed to their self-produced and long-gestated debut, Father was cut in three weeks with veteran producer Doug Boehm.

“To me, the experience was fine, but it was radically different for JR because he had somebody to share ideas,” explains Owens. “[Working with Boehm] was his idea, and I think he walked away having learned a lot. It was a way for him to see how much he knew.”

Interview Clip

Girls frontman Chris Owens feels he was misrepresented in a recent GQ article regarding his relationship with Ariel Pink. Owens tries to clarify that it is friend and former bandmate Matt Fishbeck who he looks up to not, Pink.

Download associated audio clip.


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