By TODD GRUEL
Julia Shapiro, guitarist and singer for Chastity Belt, considers what feminism means in the 21st century for an all-female band. “To me,” she decides, “it just means being a person with multiple identities, one of them being female, and not having to really think about the fact that I’m a woman constantly.” In some ways, her band has traveled some distance over its eight-year career—to be precise, over 270 miles.
The band, which also features Gretchen Grimm on drums, Lydia Lund on guitar and Annie Truscott on bass, was formed in Walla Walla, Washington, before relocating to Seattle in the early 2010s.
Despite the distance the band has traveled, however, themes persist between its albums. From the very beginning there was humor. Chastity Belt’s first album, a short EP from 2012 unceremoniously titled F— Chastity Belt, was co-recorded by producer Peter Richards.
The band claims Richards is deaf in one ear. Shapiro says the band stays empowered within its art by taking the attitude of people first. “Playing earnest music can feel really vulnerable,” she says, “and I think we all take comfort in humor.”
Also from the very beginning, there was sex. The song “Cool Slut,” off album Time to Go Home, may at first glance seem to celebrate promiscuity as a form of freedom; yet its refrain rings more like a call to party than a call to arms. “To all the girls in the world,” it says, “trying to take off their shirts, ladies, it’s OK to be—It’s OK to be slutty.”
The band’s most recent LP, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, solidifies its Seattleite sound, deepening grooves and widening the lyrics. One gets the sense this group of four was drawn together, not only to make music, but to laugh and even cry together.
Touring in support of the album, Chastity Belt will headline a show at Capitol Theater with guest act Red Ribbons. Jonah Barrett, marketing director for Olympia Film Society and OLY ARTS contributor, helped organize the event. He looks forward to the show, saying, “They’re a super-fun band and embody the fun-loving, OFS spirit.”
Rob Patrick, OFS film programmer, says he idolizes guitarist Lydia Lund because she “holds the record for having the most tabs open on her phone at one time.” When asked if there were challenges organizing the show, Patrick joked it was difficult knowing the band’s favorite performance was that of Jared Leto in the movie Mr. Nobody.
Mid-week audiences should find motivation in the fact that Chastity Belt expect to play new music from an upcoming album alongside older hits. The result is a guaranteed party. “I love Olympia,” Shapiro said. “Great vibe there. Happy to have a reason to visit.”
Chastity Belt with Red Ribbons
206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22