Can I just say it’s too loud? I’m too fucking loud!”
Annele Spector, one half of semi-fictitious hardcore rockers the Methane Sisters, is onstage at the Jump-Start theater for a Thursday-night rehearsal with fellow Sister Monessa Esquivel. Two members of the backing band have stripped off their shirts in response to Director Steve Bailey’s decision to add male dancers for a climatic song about booty and fisting. They’re milling about in the background with petite, tattooed bassist Cecelia Loessin, who radiates a calm gravity. “I feel like Whitney Houston,” says Esquivel, who glows like a teenager without the drag-queen layers of makeup endemic to her character, May Joon.
“This song is dedicated to my favorite part of the male anatomy,” Spector’s character Ann July announces before hollering, “I wanna play with your balls, but you get all ticklish.” Like pretty much all Methane songs, it’s accompanied by plenty of self-flagellation plus some extreme oral simulation involving the microphone. After conferring with the band and the sound tech, Bailey reassures the performers, “The vocals are hot, but we’ve got to understand the words. It’s gonna be loud, it’s just what it is. It’s why my dad’s not coming.” That last bit cracks us all up.
Anyone’s parents who do show up for the Methane Sisters’ reunion tour will get a manifold return on the title, As Filthy as It Gets. And, more brutally, a crash course in the main reason it can be difficult to be related to an artist. “My mother heard ‘Bleeding in the Suburbs,’” — a song about a traumatic first period featuring X-rated Mommie Dearest dialogue — “and she said, ‘I never said that to you,’” Spector recalls. “But it needed a death-metal song. There must be a death-metal song about bleeding once a month. That’s important to me as an artist.” The Sisters’ growling is a pretty good approximation of PMS’s inchoate misanthropy. At the end of the song, a red piñata comes flying onto the stage.
The Sisters’ return, four years after their loud and trashy debut, marks a turning point for this mini punk musical. It’s still a story about a friendship that endures flash-in-the-pan fame, jail time, ill-considered hookups, and Blow-quantity drug consumption, but they’re not playing at the limelight anymore.
“The music is good this time,” says Bailey, who appears to be having even more fun than Esquivel and Spector. “We were just driving around Southside San Antonio, blaring the CD, and I thought, oh my God, this is good.” Thursday’s premiere doubles as a CD-release party for the eponymous record, which was recorded at SA’s Tunesmith Studios. Onstage, the Sisters’ vocals and antics are backed by drummer Kurt Solmundson, guitarist Dave Currie, and Loessin, longtime bassist for all-girl punk band So Unloved. “This is their dream come true. They always wanted to be rock stars, and now they have a real band.”
Fame is built on rarer things than talent, of course, and the Methane Sisters’ greatest assets are a lack of inhibition that verbally outstrips the current crop of burlesque shows, and a raucous enthusiasm that makes HBO’s adult programming feel dour and clinical. A telenovela story arc never hurts, either.
“It’s about Judy `Garland` and cocaine, and coming to terms with those addictions,” Spector says, handing me a ragged album cover from Garland’s famous Carnegie Hall concert.
“It’s the basic human story,” Esquivel adds. “We’re selling the rights to the Lifetime channel.” •
As Filthy As It GetsJun 10-26
opening-night orgy: $20 (includes “erotic foods” and tequila)
Jump-Start Theatre Co
a href="http://jump-start.org" target="_blank">jump-start.org