Oakland’s pastel peppered punks, Horrible/Adorable, bridge pinball enthusiasm with slice-of-life musings. The band – Kristin “Kiki” Petiford and Candice Kuter – rock out with malted milkshake harmonies and uncompromising, teeth gritting guitar riffs. On songs like “Hail Sk8tn'” and “DMV Dream”, the duo cavalierly and confidently kick flips between styles with buzz saw-like abandon. In wanting to get some hot takes from Horrible/Adorable on songwriting, pizza life, and the raddest of enamel pins, we caught up with the bay area’s finest Neapolitan rockers.
Rob Patrick: In an interview with SF Weekly, you were quoted as saying that Horrible/Adorable was initially formed as a “fake band” during a barbecue. Similarly, Seattle’s Chastity Belt was originally assembled in a like-minded way. Modernly, do you think that great artists are appearing from humility, humor and honesty more than in previous decades?
Horrible/Adorable: I don’t know about other bands, but we don’t like to be too serious about things. We think it’s good to have a sense of humor because, ultimately, being in a band is all about having fun! At least the way we see it. But you can still have fun and have a voice. You can say a lot with your tongue in yer cheek 🙂
Culturally and musically, how has Oakland influenced the band’s compass when it comes to performing, writing tracks, and living the pinkest of punk life?
Oakland is the best. The music scene in Oakland is super diverse and really supportive. We’ve been able to play with such a wide variety of bands which has influenced the way that we write music–not having to fit into a music mold. When we first started as a band, we were not good at all, but we were really enthusiastic and if you’re excited about music and playing and being involved in the community then people are excited about it too. And that’s what Oakland is all about…community and inclusiveness.
Lyrically, Horrible/Adorable is carbonated, fun, and confessional. What sort of lines, words, and phrases resonate with the band when writing a song?
We really like to put a more light-hearted spin on things that might be affecting us personally. So for instance, the song “You suck!” is about a vacuum that just doesn’t cut it. I (Kiki) was going through a breakup when I wrote it and at the same time was having issues with my little Oreck vacuum. So it was a way to deal with the emotions of breaking up and having a vacuum that totally sucked! I did fix the vacuum, though. We also just love to write songs about inanimate objects…we have a new one about a pink bowling ball named Caprice that’ll be on our upcoming record!
What three songs changed the way you look at music?
That’s a big question! Songs? Fuck there’s more than three and…it changes so much! Ahh!!
How has the reemergence of tapes and vinyl changed things for bands, in a climate that was increasingly digital?
For us personally, we love tapes and vinyl because they are tangible things that you can collect. It’s fun to go to a show and leave with something in your hand that you can then go home and listen to. We DIY’d the Looking’ Healthy 7″ inserts and drew donuts on each record, which was so much work, but it feels really special and personal when someone wants to buy it! We have a lot of tapes and records from other local bands that they put together themselves and it just makes it like a piece of art.
Speaking of tangible merch, I absolutely adore the Horrible/Adorable enamel pins. Please come to San Diego with them. And play with Soft Lions.
Over the past few years, Pitchfork and various other publications have been a polarizing force with bands. As a musician, what are some things that media outlets and members of the press can better do to improve their interactions with artists?
Go to shows and talk to bands locally, if there is an opportunity to do so. It’s always good to have a conversation with the band if possible. Over beers, preferably!
If someone makes a film about the band, who plays Kiki and who plays Candice? What’s the movie called?
Candice is Pauly Shore circa 1994 and Kiki is the mom from “Back to the Future”. The movie is called “forNever your girl”.
“DMV Dream” is the perfect deconstruction of a 1950s pop song. What sort of sound is important to the band from both a sonic and aesthetic standpoint?
We like to play with the “horrible/adorable” in terms of sound…sometimes a little heavy and sometimes light and twinkly. We don’t like to pin down any one aesthetic across the board, which is fun because it allows us to play around with different sounds…like the 50’s style of “DMV Dream” or the surfy style of our new song, “Surf Rock Beach Party UFO”. Some of our other songs we pretend to think sound like Black Sabbath which of course totally don’t in real life so they become sounds that are unique to us.
Finally, how much pizza is too much pizza? Is there such a thing?
Pizza is our drug of choice…there’s never enough pizza! Mmm let’s get pizza right now!