The She's are Sami Perez, Hannah Valente, Eva Treadway, and Sinclair Riley -- four ladies in their early 20s who've been at it as a band since the seventh grade and have since been an integral part of the San Francisco scene, putting out a steady stream of shimmery surf pop with darker undertones.

These days, they're still as busy as ever: They just put out a brilliant single "Cherry Red" on the local label Empty Cellar, who they were just signed to, and are playing a release show this week. We chatted with Sami and Hannah about finding inspiration in Marilyn Monroe documentaries, playing a Halloween show on a mostly hardcore bill, and advice for young people who want to start a band.

The Bay Bridged: You've self-released all your previous albums and EPs, and your new single "Cherry Red" is your first on Empty Cellar. How has the transition been to a label?

Sami Perez: It’s been so good. We went six or seven years without any help, so obviously we were going to be picky about who was going to help us. Not that, from a business standpoint, I recommend waiting around for someone to come to you, but...[laughs] It was really obvious that Arvel and Empty Cellar was like the best thing that could possibly approach us. He just wants to help.

Hannah Valente: I think in regards to putting out a release, I think it was really good that we got a chance to put out vinyl and CDs on our own first, because it kind of gave us, you know, that background, the knowledge. But it is really nice to have someone doing it all for you.

SP: Our influences to me, I guess like you were saying, we like 60s girl group pop a lot, we like surf rock, but we also grew up with a ton of influences from some bands like the Buzzcocks and other punk to stuff like Simon and Garfunkel.

HV: I think we like to put music we’re listening to now into our music as well. And I think we’ve all been listening to more 90s music, like Hole or something, trying to mix that in there. With this one in particular, I think when I wrote part of it I was mimicking the Dum Dum Girls a little actually. But the song I think is really aware of itself in a way, like the lyrics, don’t you think?

SP: Yeah, when I was writing some of the lyrics, I was really obsessed with watching Marilyn Monroe documentaries at the time, so I was like, “Dude, we should write a song glorifying dying young!” [laughs]

TBB: I was curious, what’s your songwriting approach, like do you all collaborate or does one person write lyrics and other people write the music?

SP: I mean, the song is an awesome example of how we collaborate. Like, Hannah wrote the one riff that’s throughout the whole song—the catchy part. Like Sinclair will write their own beat, and I’ll write my own bassline, so it’s just super collaborative.

HV: Yeah, no one comes to practice like, “Okay, I wrote this song, and your part goes like this and your part goes like that and...” It’s never like that. I don’t even think I could come up with that on my own.

TBB: I saw you guys just played a Halloween show with Ceremony. How did that show come to be and how was it?

HV: Ceremony actually asked us to share the bill at the last minute. Our other bandmates Sinclair and Eva play in another band called Plush and they played with Ceremony this summer, so they kind of made that connection. It was a really fun show. One of the more interesting lineups because we’re so much poppier. It was cool to get a new audience to hear us.

SP: They were very respectful. They were like hardcore fans and that’s super hard. We were psyched out too, but we did not fit in.

TBB: You all are San Francisco natives (right?), so what's your take on the city's ever-shifting landscape for artists and musicians?

SP: San Francisco’s landscape for artists is pretty cool. Like, it’s really cool to be on Empty Cellar because I feel like there’s a root  of a scene that’s kind of evolved. [John Dwyer] started working with Arvel [on his free-jazz group Swords + Sandals]. It feels really cool to be part of the scene in that way. I think, I was just talking to Arvel about this, and I think that community is more important than trying to make it big, so it’s really cool that San Francisco thrives on that. I’d rather play a small show full of people that care than a huge venue that’s empty.

TBB: And on a lighter note, where are your favorite places in the city to grab a bite or hang out?

HV: Well, we all live in the Sunset, so I think that’s where we kind of spend most of our time. It’s kind of easy to forget there’s the rest of the city when we live out here. We hang out in the Mission.

SP: Growing up, I guess my favorite spot was going to Sutro Park in the Richmond. Also, one of our bandmates works at the Balboa Theatre in the Richmond, so that’s a stomping ground too.

HV: The beach!

SP: Yeah, we definitely go to the beach too.

TBB: Since you started playing music together in middle school, I notice that you're often asked questions about your young age in interviews. But now that you're kind of out of the phase of "adolescence," do you have any advice for younger musicians who want to start their own bands?

HV: Yeah, like don’t listen to people who tell you you’re too young. Yeah I would say to try to rely on yourself as much as you can. We had so many rude encounters when we were younger. I think just not listening to the haters.

SP: There’s so much more support than there are haters!

HV: You just have to open to looking for it.

SP: You’re also never going to be ready for anything. We were never. Even if you’re not ready to take that next step, just do it anyway because if you keep waiting, it’s never going to happen.

HV: I think I need to take that advice. [laughs]

TBB: Are you guys active in any other projects in music or art other than The She’s?

SP: Yeah, like we were saying, Plush is a band Eva and Sinclair are in. And Eva is also in a band called Partner (?) And I’m in a band called Doe Eye and another called White Knuckle. None of us are visual artists. [laughs] I like to write.

TBB: What kind of stuff do you write?

SP: I like to write essays. I really like math but as a philosophy.

TBB: So you have your single release show coming up at the Hemlock! Can we look forward to any surprises?

SP: We should probably come up with a surprise.

HV: Yeah, with like 3D glasses. Make them look at the album artwork. And half of them are blue and half of them are red. Yeah, I don’t know if there’s going to be any surprises but we’re just really excited to have a physical release coming.

The She's, TÜLIPS, Razz
The Hemlock Tavern
November 20, 2015
9pm, $8 (21+)

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