Lauren Eddy. Photo: Hanna Gonzales
Twenty years ago in this town, you wouldn’t have seen too many people champion the efforts of women in the music industry. It’s pretty vile when you think about it, but that’s just the way things were, unfortunately. However, unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, it’s pretty hard not to notice all that women have been doing for the music scene in Houston and throughout the country. You also wouldn’t have given much thought to Galveston having much of a thriving music community twenty years ago, either. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have given it much thought a decade ago. While Lauren Eddy isn’t the only person booking shows on the island, her efforts through Wake The Zine shouldn’t go unnoticed. The monthly zine, which can be found at various shops like Deep End Records, Insomnia, and Wired Up, is a calling card to DIY culture and making the most of wherever you live. Through the zine and her band EL LAGO, she’s proving that she can not only write about music, but make some of the most intriguing music coming out of our area today. On the heels of finishing their debut album, Free Press Houston caught up with one of the strongest scene builders and artists you ought to get acquainted with.
Free Press Houston: Where are you from? You weren’t born in Galveston, correct?
Lauren Eddy: I’m originally from Texas City, right across the Bay, but the Irish side of my family has old roots in Galveston. I’ve lived here for five years now.
FPH: You co-produce the DIY zine, Wake The Zine for the Galveston area. What made you decide to start doing the zine and how long have you been making it for?
Eddy: It was a solo project at first, but a small team coalesced around it. My good friend Jorja Montgomery became the co-editor and did layout for a solid year, but she is currently on break. Grant Loomis and Lisa Gulesserian will be working on layout and editorial duties with me now.
I started making the zine because the shows here felt so underground. Only this small social circle knew or cared, and I was hoping to broaden that circle and bring people out to shows. I made the first issue in October 2015. That was before I met Dan Schmahl, who runs Super Hit Press in Galveston. It’s more fun now with the Risograph printing process.
FPH: You’ve gotten to land some pretty strong interviews, especially for the zine world. Have there ever been times when you couldn’t get someone you wanted to interview, or has there ever been a time when you landed an interview that you didn’t think you would?
Eddy: We did have an interview declined for the first time! Julian Jimenez, who is a longtime contributor, is a go-getter and tried to interview Clem Burke, the drummer from Blondie. We were hosting the Split Squad and Dressy Bessy at the local VFW Hall, but Julian said he just couldn’t seem to engage Burke in a conversation. Honestly, I can only begin to imagine how that rewires your brain socially — you know, to have that level of celebrity. I don’t blame him one bit. I think it could happen to anyone. Or maybe he isn’t supposed to do interviews unless they go through certain channels. I have no idea! I didn’t assign that one though. I think I’m really most interested in up-and-coming bands and local bands.
FPH: The zine also produces shows in Galveston. What was the catalyst in putting shows together and about how many have you done now?
Eddy: The collective has hosted about 20 shows now, the majority of which I’ve had the pleasure of booking. I love putting lineups together! There’s a lot of room for intuition and imagining how things might go together. And I tend to book gender diverse lineups because it feels so much more natural to me.
Before the zine, I was trying to bring in bands through EL LAGO. Starting out, Galveston was the only scene we felt like we had access to, although Houston feels like such a welcoming place now! It means so much to be included. I never thought that anyone in Houston would care about the zine or the band at all, you know?
FPH: Is there ever a time when it feels like people on the island don’t get what you’re trying to do down there with the zine and the shows, or have they been pretty receptive?
Eddy: The first year blew me away! I was shocked to move 300 copies every month, even if they are free. People don’t have to pick it up, but they do. And I’d never had a sparsely attended show until very, very recently — which is pretty wild!
It’s been a little more trying for me personally this year. With any project, it’s all about the chemistry and momentum, and that will kind of ebb and flow. I had to discuss a values issue with one guy who I was working with, and that wasn’t fun. He couldn’t really dialogue about it. Sometimes people don’t understand why things like that are so important to me.
I still appreciate Galveston so much. I’m muscling through for now with the amazing friends who still give a lot of their time and energy to make the zine and the shows happen. Every single person who comes out, I appreciate so much. I try not to “expect” anything or take it for granted.
FPH: For people who don’t know, where can people grab a copy of Wake The Zine, and how often does it come out?
Eddy: We’re trying to get back on schedule with a combined June/July issue, so we hope to get it out the first week of each month for the rest of 2017. Most of the zines stay in Galveston at MOD Coffeehouse, but I also take some over to Deep End Records and I send some to the Miss Champagne online distro. I also need to upload some past issues to our website soon.
EL LAGO. Photo: Jordan Asinas
FPH: You also front the band EL LAGO, who has had quite the year since this time last year. Is it hard coming up for shows so frequently when you have to make the drive back to Galveston each time?
Eddy: It can be pretty brutal! The roads do feel dangerous late at night. One time we pulled up to our building in Galveston, and Charlie and I heard this truck come screeching down Market Street. There was some kind of drunken fight at Buckshot. We heard this sound like a gunshot, so we dropped our gear on the sidewalk, left the car door wide open into the street, and ran inside to duck for cover like it was a drive-by. I heard afterward that it was the sound of a rock being thrown at the man’s windshield. That will make more sense if you’ve seen some of the crumbling sidewalks here! He hit a pole and left his bumper on our curb, so I’m glad we dropped everything and ran.
Funny, there was a similar place my grandpa told us about. When he was growing up, there was this place downtown called the Imperial Club, and it was modeled after a saloon. They called it “The Blood Bucket.” Thankfully, there are cops outside Buckshot just waiting for it now.
FPH: El Lago has been in the studio working with Austin Sepulvado of Buxton and Dollie Barnes, as well as with Steve Christensen. How did that come about and was it difficult working with two seasoned veterans as them?
Eddy: I met Austin at one of our early Houston shows. I believe you had told him to check us out, so thank you! I had fallen out-of-touch with Houston music, so I was so happy to discover this new wave of incredible artists like Dollie Barnes, VODI, Rose Ette, Ruiners, Black Kite and so many more! Austin has worked with Steve a lot and we talked about working together on our first release. He did production and added perfect, subtle synth parts.
Steve and Austin are both a total pleasure to work with! I’ve only been playing electric guitar for about three years now, and some guitarists will try to pick holes in your playing or push their ego at you, but I never have to be defensive with Austin. I ask him lots of questions, and he recommended a guitar tech, James Love, who set up the tremolo piece on my Mustang. I’ve really enjoyed that.
Steve is the best imaginable person to work with, and I also adore his cats, Black Cat and Other Cat, even though I am allergic and was on meds the whole time! He’s such an ace! And he has his workflow down so smoothly! It’s to the point where you might not know how much of the weight he is carrying because it’s so seamless.
FPH: I know that the album is pretty much done already, do you guys have a release date and a title or are you still working that out?
Eddy: It’s our first time to go through this process, so I really need to do my homework. We’re talking with Jessica at Miss Champagne about doing the tape release, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather go through! We love Jessica, and it would be really special to us to be on the same label as so many local bands we love. We’re not sure about the title yet. Maybe Colors?
Lauren Eddy. Photo: Hanna Gonzales
FPH: As a woman in the music industry, who fronts a band, who writes music, who produces shows and your own publication, do you ever feel like it’s tougher to get respect than it is for a guy to get it who maybe does less than you do?
Eddy: There was some initial skepticism toward me, but it got better from there. I got the most skepticism as an electric guitarist, because there weren’t any women doing that in Galveston at the time, that I knew of. It really hasn’t been an issue since. No one has asked me if I’m a roadie or a girlfriend lately.
The same with the shows I managed. There was some concern early on that I should have a man work the door instead. I was assumed to be “too nice.” Now people are used to seeing me around, and I do have peers like Melanie Stone (India Tigers In Texas) and Sara Sims (Kink Shame) and Catherine Stroud.
I’m still trying to push for change beyond myself. I’ve had a few tough conversations with male friends and peers in my scene regarding language used on stage or in conversations, and some of them have been really understanding and willing to hear a different perspective. I appreciate that so much. Others have been maybe too fragile or too proud to dialogue. I guess it’s a good way to tell who your real friends are! They may not be the most cosmopolitan and they may not always choose the right words… but that they can handle an honest conversation about it and not resent you for challenging them in a heartfelt way.
FPH: You’ve kind of created your own world down in Galveston with everything that you do. Do you ever get overwhelmed with it all or is it just what you do?
Eddy: Oh, for sure! Charlie knows how overwhelmed I get. I think I am a little too private, and my friends don’t always know what I’m feeling or thinking. I strongly need an outside perspective sometimes though! I also want to tell you that you are doing such an essential thing, David, by connecting the Houston area music scene. You work so hard and I think it inspires all of us to keep pushing it forward. Thank you so much for this interview.
It’s definitely inspiring to see one person push so hard for their city to be considered part of the Texas music landscape. Through EL LAGO, Wake, and the shows Eddy is hosting on the island, she’s definitely helping to cement Galveston as a spot for people to catch touring and local bands on the regular. You can read the latest issues of Wake The Zine, here, you can listen to EL LAGO here, and you can see EL LAGO June 30 at the Birthday Club Tour Kickoff show. The all ages event has sets from Holly Halls and Ether Wave as well, with doors at 9 pm and a pay what you want cover, with more information here.