“Nepotism,” John Wayne’s Bitches drummer Rhett Jones said.
It was his quick one word answer for a question posed to the quartet’s new bassist Nikki Phillips asking how she’d been recruited into the group.
“Naomi is my sister,” Phillips said, referring to lead vocalist Naomi Loughridge.
“People think we’re all sisters actually,” guitarist Katie Khaos said.
Phillips joined the Norman punk rock outfit less than a year ago but she’s had a rousing experience to date.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “Six months after joining the band we were making an album.”
That would be her band’s new 7-inch platter titled “Bitched Out.”
John Wayne’s Bitches will be hosting what’s sure to be a rowdy release party for "Bitched Out" at Opolis Saturday night. It’s their first recording since being signed to Modern Peasant Records (“Trans Oklahoma-Washington gas money rock 'n' roll”) earlier this year. Robert Scafe of Oklahoma’s Zombie vs. Shark is one of Modern Peasant’s executives and gets credit for putting the recording bug in John Wayne’s Bitches’ collective ears.
“He’s a good friend of ours and came up to me one day and asked why we’d never recorded,” Khaos said. “I told him we’re broke and didn’t have the money but he said they’d front it.”
Other bands on the Oklahoma City and Seattle, Wash., based label include Putters, The 667s and Red Cities. Putters is basically defunct except for an annual reunion show but the members congregate around the Modern Peasant banner in new projects.
“They’ve been super supportive and artistically they’ve let us take our own direction,” Khaos said. “We’re really grateful to Robert for stepping up to the plate and taking a chance with us. It’s an example of someone in the community reaching out, helping others and making a difference.”
“Bitched Out” was born in one 13-hour whirlwind recording session at Norman’s Bell Labs.
“Trent Bell is amazing,” Loughridge said. “He knows what he’s doing and held our hands through the whole thing.”
The work was fueled by an economy size bag of gummy bears and plenty of beer.
“It’s really hard to wake up and go do screamy punk rock music at 11 a.m.” Loughridge said. “Trent was really cool and let me do my stuff toward the end of the day.”
The master technician demonstrated to John Wayne’s Bitches that he shared their desire to make the record the best it could be. Sometimes he’d gently indicate 50 takes were necessary for a single bass note.
“He was OK with not using a click track to keep it loose,” Jones said. The senior and most experienced musician of the group was referring to the series of audio cues used to synchronize sound recordings in professional studios.
“Trent made a four piece band sound like an angry mob,” Loughridge said. “We recorded a couple of songs awhile back but these new ones make us sound like a completely different band.”
There’s a remarkable difference between the old and new recordings. It’s revealed that Loughridge’s vocals bear an extraordinary resemblance to The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde. “Bitched Out” most saliently conveys a sense of the excitement generated during John Wayne’s Bitches' live performances. That’s no little feat for a punk rock band and they’re visibly energized by the results.
“I feel like we’ve grown so much as a band,” Loughridge said. “We want it bad.”
Khaos suggested that it’s the personal rapport within John Wayne’s Bitches that’s contributed to their rejuvenation. They’ve applied to play at both upcoming South by Southwest and Norman Music Festival.
John Wayne’s Bitches will be debuting new material at their Opolis show Saturday.
“They’re face-melters,” lead vocalist Loughridge said. “One’s called ‘Fire in the Sky’ about an alien abduction and others are ‘Ride or Die’ and ‘Forget Me Not.’”
This is a band whose lyrics are less demure and more rough and tumble. That punk ethos comes across strong from John Wayne’s Bitches' front person who whole heartedly embraces the genre’s no holds-barred culture. Her sibling revealed that it’s in Loughridge’s nature and has been for years.
“My childhood is a blur because she used to beat the s--- out of me,” Phillips said of her five-year older sister.
If You Go
What: John Wayne’s Bitches vinyl release party with Skating Polly, Your Mom, Red Cities and Kick Nancy Down
When: 9 p.m. Dec. 7
Where: Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave.
Cost $7 (21 or older to enter).
John Wayne's Bitches are cruising for a bruising with new record "Bitched Out."