Charly Bliss’ Eva Hendricks talks getting happy, new album ahead of Florida shows

Too bad the band’s tour with Death Cab for Cutie is skipping Tampa.

click to enlarge Charly Bliss, which plays Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida on October 23, 2018. - Beth Eisgrau-Heller/KEXP
Beth Eisgrau-Heller/KEXP
Charly Bliss, which plays Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida on October 23, 2018.

Eva Hendricks has a lot to be happy about.

Last year — after recording, re-recording and then watching her band's debut album sit in limbo for years — Charly Bliss finally got to release Guppy, and the feedback has been tremendous. So much so that she's even given her address out to fans who've really connected with the band's upbeat, oft-grungy and distorted guitar-driven songs which carry lyrics that talk about anxiety and depression while also giving listeners choruses that are near power-pop perfection.

"I'm a huge, huge music fan, and ultimately, growing up I feel like there were so few women," Hendricks told CL. Despite supportive parents and her growing up in a household with brothers who played drums and guitar, the fact that she could, in fact, play guitar and front a band never occurred to her.

Charly Bliss needs Orlando fans to help get into Disney World

"I think it's so important, so anytime that I meet people, especially young women who I really connect with, I think it's so important to offer that support."

Charly Bliss' new album is well on its way, and when CL caught up with Hendricks, news headlines belonged to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who was testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about her accusation that Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the early 1980s.

Charly Bliss's song "DQ" is about peeing on a trampoline, but it's also about being in high school and "all of the weird predatory moments of being in a car with a boy, feeling pressure to do something," according to Hendricks.

"I think, too, you know you were just talking about it, everything going on in the news. Our whole next album is about that, and all of the songs, pretty much all of it is about my experience with sexual assault, and trust and stuff," she added.

"I don't think setting out to write the album, that I was intending to write a record like that, but looking back it's like how could you not have that be at the forefront of your consciousness."

Read our full interview — and get more information on the band's show with Death Cab For Cutie — below.

Death Cab For Cutie w/Charly Bliss. Tues. Oct. 23, 8 p.m. $39 & up. Hard Rock Live, 6050 Universal Blvd. Orlando.

Are you expecting any more cheese curds to be thrown at the band through the rest of the Death Cab tour?

Oh, I wish. I honestly feel like we missed our chance last night because we were back in Wisconsin, but we forgot to ask people to bring us cheese curds. You know, if that only happens even once in a tour, I feel really lucky, that it happens at all.

I feel like it's be cool if you played Tampa, well obviously you're not playing Tampa on this swing, but someone could throw a loaf of Cuban break at you guy as well, then it could all be complete.

Oh my God, I love that idea. We just need to ask people to throw whatever the local cuisine is at us. I like that.

I wanted to ask, and I don't know if you can even speak to this but I know that he is a big influence on your life. Is Spencer OK now? How have the shows with Andrew been?

Oh, yeah. Spencer had to go home for a family emergency, and he's OK. We're just really lucky that we have a friend who could come and step up. Basically, the lineup has Sam, who plays bass in the band is playing all of Spencer's part, and has moved to guitar, and our friend Andrew to play bass. Both of them, we're just so lucky to them for using all of their free time over the past four days to learn all these parts and get it together — they've been doing a really great job, and we really appreciate it.

Awesome. Sucks for Spencer, but it's cool for Andrew to come join the tour as you end it in Orlando, which is right before a month off. Are you gonna spend time in Florida or are you going right back to working on the new record?

Oh my God. Well, the plan is to go to Disney World the day after our show in Orlando. We've been having a tip jar out at the merch table at all these shows trying to raise money to go to Disney World because it's expensive, really expensive.

Dude, it's crazy.

We don't really have much wiggle room in the budget, so we're hoping that we can get there with the kindness of strangers at our show.

I feel like, usually, and I don't know if you're the kind of band that does this, but in Orlando everybody knows somebody that has comp tickets, right?

That's what we're hoping for, and I feel like, so far we've had a few people be like, "Oh I might know someone who could get you in," so we're trying. Maybe if you put this in your article.

Yeah, I'm just gonna lead with that.

Yes, fuck yes. So if anything comes through we'll be eternally grateful to you. So hopefully something will come through.

I'm really happy to talk to you just because you're a famously happy person, and it's kind of nice to hear your voice on the phone. I was wondering: Why are you happier than these than before when you thought that songwriting was just a coping mechanism? Just being less hard on yourself? What do you think changed?

That's funny, I definitely do feel happier. I don't know how you know that, but I definitely do feel happier now than when we were writing Guppy. I think so much of getting Guppy out was just such a challenge, and we talked about how we recorded it twice. It was a really, really long road to getting it out and to getting people to believe in the record, to be honest, was hard. It was just a difficult process, and it kept feeling like everytime we would get a little bit closer to getting it out in the world, like 10 things would happen that would make it feel like it would never come out. So that was really tough, but I think that it was so exciting once it finally came out. Having people connect with it, we'd feel shocked by the way it received — just really happy. The shows have all been so fun and really gratifying to just see people connect with the record so much. And then also — and I'm not allowed to talk about this too much...

Yeah, please don't talk about anything you're not comfortable with.

Oh no, no, no. I don't think it's any secret that we're working on whatever the next album is gonna be. Oh my God... hold on one second. I think we're gonna go to Cracker Barrel.

That's awesome.

What I was gonna say was that writing this next album that we're working on has just been so fun. I feel like I've developed a new appreciation for writing and how much I love writing. We've had a lot of fun making the next record. It feels totally different. It feels like, obviously, we have more of a support system in place with our label and everything. It just feels so exciting; this year has just been really, really run for us for the most part. It just feels like we worked really, really hard and now it's kind of shifting off. So yeah, all really good stuff.

Are all the songs the same as Guppy in the sense that the band is getting to this point in writing where you feel like you are playing at your best ability. I think you're really hard on yourselves, and I know you're exploring a new sound.

I think we all feel like we pushed ourselves crazy hard. I mean, the first time we recorded Guppy, we basically wrote 10 songs and were like, "We wrote 10 songs, it's time to make an album," and that may be why we recorded the album again. For this album we wrote so many songs, and it really felt, by the time we recorded, that we were positive that they were the best songs that we could write — and we felt so excited by it. And yeah, I definitely feel, as you said, that I am extremely hard on myself. We're all really tough on ourselves. Listening back to what we've made, I feel like it's the best thing we've ever done, and the best thing that I've ever had a hand in creating, so I feel really excited.

And you probably can't speak to whether Barsuk will put it out, but you can probably say that we won't have to wait three years to hear it, right? 

We definitely won't have to wait as long to put it out. That will be really nice. I wish I could say more. It's been nice. We took five, or four, years to make Guppy, so it's been exciting to have the process be really different this time and have it take a year-and-a-half or whatever.

Right on, and I know we're on a high right now, but going back to some of the darkness on Guppy. You’ve known your bandmates since you were little kids, and presumably hung out with each other a lot in high school? I ask because there’s been a lot of talk about what kids do in high school, and the kind of crappy things that can happen to women behind closed doors. Your songs create empowerment from vulnerable situations, and the band posted about Dr. Ford and other instances of being sexually harassed online —and please forgive me or tell me if I am overstepping my position here — you have a “no serious music” mantra but some of the lyrics are dark and, I think, but does watching any of the happenings with this supreme court nomination inspire you to write from a perspective that isn't specifically your own or maybe more direct than “Black Hole” was?

Yes. You know what's really funny? The "no serious songs" thing, I think...

That's not real.

Yeah, I don't know how that ended up in that article. I don't think I've ever said that.

I was wondering about that.

I don't know. Maybe I was joking? I'm not sure, I might've said something stupid, and I take that back. I definitely don't feel that way at all. In fact, I feel like my lyrics are all really serious on the record. I mean, outside of "DQ" being about peeing on a trampoline, but even that song is honestly about, mostly it's about, being in high school and all of the weird predatory moments of being in a car with a boy, feeling pressure to do something. Yeah, that song in particular, actually, totally speaks to that, and I think most of the songs on Guppy are all about anxiety and depression. I think the contrast in our band is that a lot of the songs sound really happy, but "Gatorade" is about the death my best friend.I think, too, you know you were just talking about it, everything going on in the news.

Our whole next album is about that, and all of the songs, pretty much all of it is about my experience with sexual assault, and trust and stuff. You can't help but have what's going on politically, especially right now with a country that feels so divided, and it feels, like almost to the point... I feel like what's going on in the world feels like the same, gravity, as like, Star Wars. I don't know.

Nah, I'm with you.

It's so, good versus evil, but almost to comic proportions. I don't think setting out to write the album, that I was intending to write a record like that, but looking back it's like how could you not have that be at the forefront of your consciousness, so yeah. And I'm glad you asked me about that, too, because I definitely read that.

Yeah, it caught me off guard, too, because your music feels serious.

I think maybe what we were talking about...

The sound, maybe?

Yeah, he was asking, like, I was saying that the sound on our new album is really different, and I think he was like, "It's not like a prog record," or whatever. And I was like, "No." We're not making a Radiohead-sounding album or something, taking ourselves super seriously. I think it's really fun-sounding, it has way more variations in mood, I will have to say that, too. So thanks for asking about that.

Of course. I think it's so exciting. It's nice to hear you shed light on that. I mean, I'm assuming there were some labels that passed on Guppy, and now they're kicking themselves in the ass.

Thank you.

Your music obviously reaches people, and you gave your address to fans in Buffalo, you have Pen Pals. It’s like the early 90s all over again.

Haha. Oh my God, you've done so much research.

I just think it's not fair to just talk to a band and then ask them, you, know...whatever.

No, I so appreciate that. You're awesome at your job.

Nah, you're awesome at yours, so I am just trying to reciprocate.

Thank you, well yeah. It's really important. Obviously, you know, I gave my address to people in Buffalo. I'm a huge, huge music fan, and ultimately, growing up I feel like there was so few women making music and for that reason I think it took... I grew up in a household, obviously my brother is in the band, plays drums, and our other brother also plays guitar. It never occured to me, for song long, that I could also learn how to play guitar or drums or whatever. Not because of our parents, our parents were super into music — they are too supportive — but partly because, I really believe, you don't see yourself or someone you could see yourself in making music, so it never occured to you to do it. I think it's so important, so anytime that I meet people, especially young women who I really connect with, I think it's so important to offer that support.I think it's just cool that anyone likes our music, so it's really exciting to meet and just connect with our fans as much as possible.

Has that connection affected your ability or drive to be a songwriter? Anything ever come out of left field and totally floor you, change your approach...

Yeah. So much of Guppy, and what was frustrating about Guppy, was, before it came out, it felt like we just working, working, working. It felt so isolated, like...[speaking in the distance, "No you guys can go in."]

Uh oh, Cracker Barrel time.

It's Cracker Barrel time. Nah, it just felt like we were working really hard, and the music was never happening. There was no connection there. Then having it come out and feel, to meet the people who respond to our music and hear about how its affected and inspired them — I can't think of anything more inspiring than that, so that's been really cool.

Right on, and I don't want to keep you from Cracker Barrel too long, so...

Oh no, it's totally cool.

I like that you mentioned specially wanting to connect with young women just because of presumptions and expectations. Sometimes the world doesn't look the way it really is, and they end up not doing things that they could potentially do. You kind of managed Charly Bliss for the first four years, partly because of your training at the Davis Institute. What’d it feel like to finally be able to not be the manager? And when did that happen?

Yeah, that's a really good question. Honestly, it felt so good. I feel so grateful for all of the work that I put into our band before we had a team behind us because now I know so much about what goes into people's jobs that I have such an appreciation for the people we work with. I never, ever be in a position in our career where I'm just sitting back and letting whatever's happening happen. I feel tremendously connected, and I'm not afraid to ask for what I want because I know what's reasonable, and I know what's unreasonable. So, I think both, it felt really powerful, and I'm really proud of myself, looking back, that I managed our band, I booked our first tours on the west coast. I mean, I don't know why we didn't tour the east coast where we lived.


Because my college professor was like, you should tour the west coast just to see if you can do it, and we did it. Now, I have experience doing that, and also, I directed and wrote the treatments for a lot of our music videos, and I know everything about what goes into renting cameras, and getting them back on time, and managing a set, and making things happen. As much as I'm really excited about have some help there, so I can enjoy the creative side of this, I'm really grateful for the time I spent doing it, too, because I know a lot now. I'm happy to have some control there.

Right on, and that was the last question before you head off to the land of delicious biscuits. I hope you get into Disney World.

Thank you so much.