Can’t Tell Them No: An Interview with Summer Cannibal’s Jessica Boudreaux

With 2019 winding down, Portland punk-rockers Summer Cannibals celebrate not just the release of Can’t Tell Me No, their first album via Tiny Engines and with their current lineup, but are also on pace to play nearly 130 shows after almost nonstop touring.

Currently on tour with Remo Drive, the Summer Cannibals have already played dates all across the United States after starting the year with dates with the band Cursive.

In an interview via email, the band’s own Jessica Boudreaux talked about the long tours in 2019, the making of the newest album, the obstacles that led to Can’t Tell Me No, and more.

Summer Cannibals are Jessica Boudreaux, Cassi Blum, Devon Shirley, and Ethan Butman.

1. This is your second stop in El Paso this year, your first being a show you did with Cursive; how did that tour go and are you excited for another show in El Paso? 

Ah the Cursive tour was incredible. We are huge fans and it was such a treat to get to know them as people AND see them play every night. It was really inspiring and the El Paso show was awesome. I’ve been stoked to get back down.  

2. This has been a really busy year for the band, pretty much non stop touring starting with Cursive in January and February, then a variety of shows like some dates at Hop Along then dates with Slothrust until November, recording a session at Audiotree, and releasing an album. Are you tired? How have all of the shows been going? 

We’re a little tired 😉 Looking forward to a break this winter but it’s been a really awesome year. The busiest and most productive year this band has had, for sure. We’ll be clocking in around 130 shows this year and we’ve seen growth in ourselves as musicians but also in our fan base across the country. That’s been really cool. We feel really lucky that this band is still moving forward. 

3. “Can’t Tell Me No” came out in June. How have the shows specifically since then been? What’s been the reaction? 

We’ve had such a positive reaction to the new record which means a lot. I can’t say it’s like…a massive difference in the crowds since the record came out vs. before but it’s awesome to see people responding well to the album, telling us their favorite songs, etc. 

4. There were a couple of big changes between the previous album and Can’t Tell Me No; first, since 2015/2016 there has been some more lineup changes. How did this impact the album?

It impacted the album in an entirely positive and exciting way. Devon (drums) has been playing with me in this project since the release of our second album Show Us Your Mind but the lineup other than us two hasn’t been completely stable. A lot of it just has to do with us having a hard time finding folks who were dedicated to touring and really making this grow. When we found Cassi (guitar) and Ethan (bass) it was like a light came on in the band that hadn’t been there maybe ever. They brought their energy and love to the new album and I appreciate that so much. We’re very excited to get to work on the next one so they can have an even bigger impact. 

5. This new album also took slightly longer and I saw on Tiny Engines that you scrapped another album entirely to not let someone abusive and manipulative profit from it; can you talk a bit about that yet?

I don’t have any plans to talk about it any more than I already have but the gist is just that we had an album that I didn’t feel comfortable releasing because of who had been involved so we scrapped it and moved onto something new. 

6. Was it a difficult decision to throw out an album and what did it feel like to have something the band as a whole worked on and invested in scrapped because of one person?

Cassi Blum playing during the Summer Cannibals’ set in El Paso, TX at the Lowbrow Palace on October 25th. Photo by Antonio Villasenor-Baca.

It honestly just felt like the only decision to be honest. And Cassi and Ethan weren’t a part of that record, it was the previous lineup, so it felt good to be able to have them be a part of something new. Otherwise they’d be touring non stop on an album that they weren’t a part of. 

7. With this in mind about the album, I definitely heard this struggle between confronting these themes and feelings but also of wanting to start over and let go and move on. Is this something intentional in the album, if you agree at all that is there?

Yes, it’s totally there. It’s a reflection of me confronting this stuff and then making a decision to move forward and grow from it. 

8. The eponymous track seems to have a personal first-person perspective. How did that track come to be and why name the album from it?

I wanted to keep the title something positive lighthearted because the subject matter of the record can be a little heavy. Cassi and I wrote that song together, probably the first song we’ve ever collaborated on. 

9. And, where did the album cover concept come from?

Can’t Tell Me No, album cover, from Tiny Engines.

I just thought that photo of me as a kid was hilarious and totally summed up the balance I wanted to strike on the record. 

10. Lastly, the band also changed labels, this album being the first out via Tiny Engines. How was that transition and why? 

The transition was great. I’m a big fan of Tiny Engines. We were on a search to find a label that had a lot of currently active touring bands. Bands we could connect with and relate to and we totally found that in TE. 

11. Any other comments about tour dates, the album, or life in general?

Thanks for talkin! xo

By Antonio Villasenor-Baca

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