Meet BRAT, the NOLA Face-Rippers Who Aren’t Afraid of a Britney Spears Sample
Of the many bands I saw at this year’s Mutants of the Monster festival, BRAT were one of the acts I’ll never forget. There they were, a quartet in bright colors, led by a bouncy blonde rocking pigtails and a Prodigy shirt, with Britney and Cascada samples kicking off their songs. Of course, none of that would’ve mattered if they didn’t make utterly merciless grindcore, but as a matter of fact they did just that, unleashing short-form blasts of galloping sonic terror onto the eager crowd at White Water Tavern. Later, as I bought a Mean Girls-themed shirt from their merch table, I thought, I gotta know what’s going on here.
When I reached out to BRAT, vocalist Liz Selfish answered the call, and filled me in on where the band’s self-described “bimboviolence” comes from, and how it feels to look like how we imagine Barbie and sound like how we imagine Satan.
Tell me how BRAT came together.
Brenner (Moate, guitars) and I were doing karaoke with some friends at a party right before the pandemic hit, and I selected an A Day to Remember song out of nostalgia. That’s when I realized I could do somewhat-decent harsh vocals. Brenner and I had always wanted to do a project together and with everything going into lockdown right after, we had plenty of time to start writing and practicing. We recruited Dustin Eagan on drums and Ian Hennessey on bass to round out our lineup.
Out of personal curiosity — is the name spelled WITH the halo? Like with an Å?
It’s spelled BRAT in all caps. The halo is just on our logo.
How has being from NOLA influenced what BRAT is?
We’re lucky to be from a city with a lot of musical diversity and a very supportive local community. We’ve had support not just at the local level but also from bigger New Orleans bands like Thou, Goatwhore, Exhorder, and Eyehategod. When people think of New Orleans’ heavy music, traditionally doom and sludge come to mind, but it’s kind of a melting pot of a lot of genres, which reflects in our music.
What makes an excellent grindcore song, in your mind?
We’re not grindcore purists per se, so we blend in a lot of other elements like hardcore, thrash, and death metal. We just want to make music that’s short, sweet, and hits hard.
Have you guys always courted the bubbly girl-centric image — the Mean Girls shirts, Britney samples, et cetera? How’d that come about?
It was never something we discussed initially, it just naturally evolved to become that over time. We knew we wanted to use pop samples before we picked a band name, and once we chose BRAT, those two factors combined perfectly to create our image. It’s been really fun for me to be able to showcase both sides of myself in our performances.
Does that subversion of typical themes bother anyone? Or do people dig it for the most part?
We find most people enjoy it as the kind of lighthearted fun that it is, but it can be kind of a mixed bag sometimes. There are definitely some people that are too punk for pink, and we understand it’s not for everyone. It’s definitely for people that don’t take themselves too seriously.
Do you take shit for not looking like a typical grindcore singer, whatever that is? Do folks talk down to you, or assume you don’t know the music?
I’ve had nothing but support in person, but online I’ve had some negative comments on platforms like Reddit or Tiktok, where people have more of a sense of anonymity. Comments like “Get back in the kitchen” or people saying they don’t like when women do vocals. It just goes back to to an antiquated mentality of what heavy music should be or look like. We’re fortunate enough to run in circles where we don’t face that as much, but it creeps in on occasion.
What’s a city that gets BRAT?
One of our favorite places to play aside from New Orleans is Little Rock, AR. Our second show we ever played was Mutants of the Monster fest in 2021, and we felt so welcomed by their community. We’ve played Little Rock several times since, and it’s become almost a second home to us.
If you had to play a new fan one BRAT song to win them over, what would it be, and why?
“Chain Pain,” because it encompasses a little bit of everything. It melds a lot of hardcore and thrash with a nice grindy outro. However the most bratty song may not be released yet *wink*