I love interviewing drummers. They are the engine of any band, the heart and the driving force. Drummers approach playing and composing differently than virtuosos on any other instrument, and whether their style is defined by frantic blast beats, punishing force, martial precision or emotive throbbing, they give heavy music its anchor. Jessica Reuter of L.A.-based post-No Wave band Bestial Mouths unquestionably plays a major role in the sound and the spirit that the band creates. It’s an honour to have another tough and driven skinswoman as part of Girls Don’t Like Metal.
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How did you first become drawn to aggressive and dark music? What is your musical love story?
I have no idea when I first started listening to ‘dark’ stuff, but heavy/loud music has always been cathartic for me.
When did you begin to play music and pursue it as a career?
I’ve played music most of my life, having picked up the violin when I was eight. I eventually switched to the drums when I was fourteen, though I didn’t start playing in bands until three years ago. Being creative with other people is so exciting to me. I’m always amazed at what we can come up with. You can sometimes feel as though there’s a psychic connection present when playing with your band mates.
What led you to perform with Bestial Mouths?
Our mutual friend, James Powell (who does all of the recording/producing for the band), introduced me to Chris and Lynette a few years ago. After their previous drummer left, they enlisted Gus to play additional synths and drum machine, but decided they wanted to keep the live, acoustic drums as well, so they asked me to join.
What about this band, and especially the new LP Hissing Veil, will appeal to fans of aggressive music?
We really put a lot into the music, and I think that shows, not only on our live performances, but in the studio as well. Hissing Veil came out in 2011, and sounds a lot different than the current line-up. With the addition of Gus and myself, the sound has gotten so much louder and harsher. I feel like the split release we have coming out on Desire Records next month sounds exponentially different than Hissing Veil, if only that it has evolved into a wall of sound. We want our music to hit people full-force and make them feel something: discomfort, sympathy, repulsion… a change in their normal topography.
Bestial Mouths employs a lot of disturbing, difficult imagery and very deep, challenging music. What draws you to both the experimental and the sinister?
I respond to music emotionally, so anything that evokes imagery to me is very beautiful. I always feel a bit funny speaking about music in terms of genre, as it’s all so subjective.
How is Bestial Mouths influenced by art movements like the Dadaists and surrealism?
I love Surrealism, particularly the works of Max Ernst and Hannah Höch. I’m not sure if I could draw parallels from Dadaists to my band, though. I admire artists who have vision and passion, and can convey that through the medium they choose.
As a female drummer who makes difficult music, have you ever found that your gender identity has presented particular challenges for you in your career?
No, but I don’t define the music I make by my gender.
Why do you think aggressive music scenes and music journalism in particular struggle with how to represent female artists?
I don’t feel I can comment on this. I’ve never experienced any sort of separation between men and women in regards to music.
What advice would you have for someone who wanted to follow a similar career path?