An interview with Ménage À Twang


Confession: I’m not a fan of country, nor am I a fan of comedy. Yes, I have a few beloved Dolly Parton tracks hanging around my iTunes, and I’ve busted a gut watching Margaret Cho do stand up. But otherwise, the two aren’t how I’d ever choose to spend a Saturday night.

Then I met Ménage À Twang.

An all-girl country camp trio, Ménage À Twang blends beautiful three part harmonies with biting wit, singing songs about everything from loathed temp jobs to railroad apartments to awful public transit to the perils of dating an artist. These girls are downright hilarious, with lyrics that leave the audience laughing long after the song’s ended. What’s more, out lesbian poet and teacher Emily Moore (recently named one of Flavorwire’s fave writers turned musicians) holds down the homo side of things among the cheeky trio, adding an awesome dollop of queer to their already beloved performances.

For anyone who’s spent their twenties (and, let’s be honest, their thirties) navigating the pitfalls and disappointments of love and life in an urban landscape, Ménage À Twang know how it’s been. In the ballad “Never Again,” in which a litany of last-night’s-regrets and early twenties habits comprise the chorus, Moore and company shout:

No more sleeping with straight girls!

No more drinking my age!

I want a standard of living and a real coffee table and I’m starting today!

And the track “Secret Conservative Side” pays homage to friends who begin as “lesbian feminist vegans who wanted to save Tibet,” then later get married to a dude and have a huge, expensive wedding. (“You made your butch friend wear a feminine gown,” Moore sings, “it was a heteronormative haze.”)

There’s even more homo love on Ménage À Twang’s new album, We Don’t Judge, with tracks like “It Takes Two”, which shames the possible reversing of Iowa’s gay marriage legislation (and other conservative nimwits) by reminding them that some things take two women to do (“It takes two women to clip a cats nails, it takes two women to perfect vegan stew.”); and “Pantsuit”, an ode to that power outfit of female politicians, academic women and Ellen DeGeneres. Their songs, and their super fun live shows, guarantee belly laughter and lots of nodding along.

The trio, which also includes Jessica Del Vecchio and Rachel Levy, made time to chat with us about their songs, their attractive lesbian fan base, and their unabashed love of Destiny’s Child. So Ménage À Twang was formed in a Brooklyn bar in 2006. How did that come about?

Jess, who had released a solo album a few years prior, had been imagining a new musical project. But the real reason we got together that night was that I wanted to introduce Jess and Rachel as friends. We went to dinner and then out for a drink, where we quickly, and at first ironically, came up with the concept of a girl trio that sings country-style songs about the gritty realities of finding love and real estate in NYC. “Yeah,” we said, sipping our cosmos, “we could write songs like ‘The Key to Your Apartment is the Key to My Heart.'” A week later, we found ourselves rehearsing.

Jessica: I was tired of being in a “seriously-trying-to-make-it-big” band. I wanted to do something fun, something without pressure, and something with friends. The formation of the band was so organic and the momentum has felt really natural this whole time—it is really remarkable.

Rachel: I don’t remember it like this at all. The way I remember it, we were at the [now defunct lesbian bar] Cattyshack, trying to play wingman for Emily, and in the meantime making jokes like “Wouldn’t it be funny if there was this band that played songs like ‘The Key to Your Apartment Is the Key to My Heart?” Then a week later, they’re both planning our first rehearsal and I thought, “I’m in a band now? Cool. That was so easy.”

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