Girls is a beautiful band as girls are
Images: Christopher's collage gallery for Buffalozine.com
Girls are two boys: Christopher Owens and JR. They actually knew each other three years before playing together...
Christopher Owens: I met a girl in a park, she was over there, like far away, and was like “come over here!”. She forced me to go over there and then I started to go out with her. And like, JR was a friend of hers, so like for three years I was hanging out all of the time around him and we were just like drinking and going to shows.
Buffalo: We have been chatting to Christopher Owens before their concert in Madrid, I feel that any of his answers were like one of his songs. Beautiful but “common people”.
I mostly write about “loneliness, or being bored, or frustration. And other times I have written about feeling cool, or I even write songs about writing songs, because I am so into it. Mostly just about how I am feeling, you know?
This album makes me feel nostalgic and want to go and close the door of my bedroom. It's beautiful to listen to it in your own loneliness...
If I spend enough time alone then I will start writing songs, it doesn’t matter where. Usually I will be in my bedroom. Or sometimes if I have to walk back from a party to my house and it’s like an hour walk, by the time I get home then I will be starting to write a song. It’s kind just whenever I can be alone, you know? But I like writing songs while walking down the street because you can do a rhythm. And then you just keep going over it so you don’t forget it, and then by the time you are home you can finish it.
[I bring our magazine to seduce him. He seems interesed...]
Who are they? Are they models? [Refering to the photos of the kids in our Girls against boys photo shoot].
No, these are my friends’ kids.
Oh, awesome... Sometimes men want to look beautiful too.
Christopher looks really cool and so 90’s. Long blonde hair, ripped jeans. He reminds me of someone...
Where were you and what was your experience when you found out Kurt Cobain was dead?
I was in a special program for bad kids... [I have to mention that Christopher grew up in a religious cult called Children of God; that's scary]. I was made to stand up in a meeting and pointed out by an adult. He said I probably thought I was pretty cool for having long hair and wearing a flannel shirt and ripped blue jeans, and I giggled, and then he said that I probably wouldn’t think I was so cool when I was dying like Kurt Cobain. I was shocked, then he told me to sit down. He went on to explain that Kurt Cobain had killed himself because he was an atheist and a drug user and that the same thing would happen to us if we didn’t clean up our acts. I was very sad that Kurt was dead, I was also sad about the things he said about Kurt. But I was very proud to be the one that was made to stand up as an example of a Nirvana fan. Afterwards the girl I had a crush on came and talked to me about grunge music... She never talked to me before, later she was my first girlfriend.
Which was your worst aesthetic moment in your life?
I have them all the time! Probably when I got all of these tattoos. I understand why they are cool, but I got them when I was eighteen and I am thirty now, and there are just times when I wish… Like maybe I would have them back, but it would be nice if you could decided one day, today I am not going to have them.
Which one do you regret the most?
I don’t know. Like... this one is pretty stupid. I mean, they are all cool but like... why do I need them? I feel like I got them to fit in. I was trying to fit in with a group of people.
What is your latest obsession or addiction?
Well, um, I think those are two totally separate things; obsession and addiction. I constantly struggle with an addiction to opiate, and I think I should just be honest about that, because I think it’s pretty interesting. It is something that people know its bad for them, and it makes you feel in such a way that you have to do it. Like I turned thirty this summer, and I was like, time to start taking care of yourself! I had all these ideas. I was going to get a haircut, quit smoking, stop taking drugs, and like do the skip-rope and eat vegetables and, like run around you know? I could see it in my mind… and its not going to happen. I just think its fascinating, like I know I’m killing myself basically, and I don’t care. And maybe for others who have that figured out it’s not that fascinating, but for me its really bizarre still. I don’t think it’s bad at all, I think its kind of beautiful. But, um, I can be alone and take downers and go into my head, I can’t describe it, that’s how I write a lot of my songs, its just a place I can be in by myself and I am happy. But obsession is a totally different story. I become obsessed with a fan, or like a guy I think is cool. People always assume I am going to say ‘girls’, but I don’t really get obsessed with girls, I get more obsessed with guys. Like that guy Ryan Lynch from Dominant Legs, I’m pretty obsessed with him. I always want to be like them myself so that’s a stronger obsession than wanting them to like you. I understand being obsessed with a girl, I think it’s much darker to be obsessed with... there is this song called ‘Oh Boy’, and its about this guy. He’s so young, like seventeen years old, and his hair is really thick, and longer than mine, and more blond, and it’s just cool, everything he says is just like too cool. And then at the end of the song he says “I love you so much I wish I was you.” And I think that is a really dangerous, dark thing to feel like but its also pretty sweet. I like intense feelings so I’m fine with it.
Which bands do you think are close to Girls?
In San Francisco? There is nobody that sounds like us, because we try not to sound like anybody, but there are a lot of bands that do, like, garage rock. They are really good, I like them. Its just they sound different. Like the OCs, and the Traditional Fools. My favorite is this guy Ryan Lynch, and his band is called Dominant Legs. But he has like two songs recorded or something. But he’s just really, really… he’s the best! He’s really good! And then like Matt Fishbeck from Holy Shit. He kind of lives in that area now, he’s followed me through, because he used to live in LA, but when I started to play with this band all the time instead of Holy Shit he kind of just came to San Francisco and has been hanging out. And we still record together so Holy Shit is still around. And then there is this girl, Tamarind, she is kind of goth, but plays pop music...
But you are very classic, you sound very sixties, is this intentional?
No, its not on purpose, no. I don’t think it is always like that. Some of the songs sound a little bit nineties, or even like very, now. But I don’t know, its just like coincidentally that was kind of the first pop music I heard, was that old music, and I liked it a lot. I like music from movies and stuff. Well, I love all musicals, but that’s different, I don’t really write… Yeah, I love them all, I know most musicals.
Christopher is one of the most special people I ever met. He has something. You know he is different, HE is huge. He is an artist.
What do you think you would be if you weren’t a musician?I don’t know. For a long time I was a visual artist. But I never felt anything like what I feel now. I felt like I was really good at it, like I could impress people, but I never felt like I was saying anything. I was always waiting. Like one day I’ll know what to paint where I get something out of it, but I never could. Because I wanted to paint abstract and I couldn’t copy the abstract painters that I already liked, I feel like the abstract painters from the thirties to the sixties made like, they were all saying the exact same thing, which was like you
don’t have to paint people... you can communicate through color and movement, size and shapes, and I was like, yeah that’s cool! And just in that idea there are like a hundred people doing something totally different, but it’s all exactly the same thing. Like Rothko, who blends boring colors, and Jackson Pollock throwing paint, it’s all exactly the same idea but speaking a different language, but they're still both talking. And I thought one day I was going to find my abstract style, and I would be like: Aaah that’s fucking genius! So I just kept painting, and never… I just hated it.
Are you religious, spiritual...?
No, I’m not religious, I don’t know what spiritual is, it’s a big mystery to me... It sounds nice enough though. I’m really funny because I love Jesus but I hate religion, nobody understands Jesus, especially not christians. I think Jesus was just like Kurt Cobain, and just like me, in that way, Jesus is in my heart.
Why do you call the band ‘Girls’?
I don’t know. I imagine it just made sense to me, in such a basic way that I never really questioned it. But my band was called ‘Curls’. It was me and my ex-girlfriend, but then she left and quit the band so then I started to work with JR. And it was the same songs but totally different. And I was singing instead of her, so we wanted to change it a little bit, but still have it sound the same, still have the reference to the old name, so ‘Girls’ sounds like ‘Curls’, which is kind of why. At the same time we just thought it was a nice name. There are all these people... I don’t know. Like James Brown has that song, “It’s a man’s world and it wouldn’t be nothing without a warm hearted girl”. And its true. That’s basically what the name’s about, it’s just like, about the natural fact that girls are so important, like even every fag has his hag, you know?
If you were to look into a crystal ball, what do you think you would see?
I don’t know. I don’t think it is a good idea to look into the future, I think it’s bad. I don’t know. But maybe I would think about that friend that I lost track of, and miss the most, and see what they’re doing, see what they’re like now. Because there are a lot of kids that I grew up with, because I would move a lot. I would get close to certain kids and I have no idea if they’re even alive, or where in the world they are. That would be cool.
Girls have two albums: Album (2009) and Broken Dreams Club (2010) www.truepanther.com
Interview Iria Domínguez
Photography Christopher Owens