When Lili Trifilio studied journalism at DePaul University, she probably didn’t anticipate her then-solo project Beach Bunny would blossom into a fully formed pop-punk outfit playing festival sets or headlining a near sold out national tour in support of their recently released Honeymoon LP. An early tour Texas stretch finds the Chicago-based act leaping into Houston on that day that happens only every few Februaries.
In a recent phone interview with the Houston Press, Trifilio isn’t sure if she remembers any beef blowing up between our cities regarding Houston’s Cloud Column (our Bean look-a-like more closely resembling a foil-wrapped baked potato), but she knows exactly how she feels about Chicago’s Cloud Gate.
“Honestly, The Bean is just a funny concept in general. I feel like it's just amazing when someone was like: ‘Yeah we're going to design something with the intention of it being a popular tourist attraction.’ It works! And if you go over there, it's so many languages at the same time. I don't think there's any natives just checking out The Bean,” says Trifilio.
After releasing two EPs as a solo act in college beginning in 2015, Trifilio later expanded Beach Bunny into a full band to enter a Battle of the Bands she wanted to compete in.
“Naturally, I needed a band,” she says.
“The battle kind of lasted the whole summer and by the end of it we just kind of got close, and I really liked the way they sounded, and we were good friends at that point so we just decided to continue,” says Trifilio of her bandmates Jonathan Alvarado, Matt Henkels, and Anthony Vaccaro.
Trifilio recalls her struggles as a front-woman in Chicago’s male dominated music scene of “mostly Garage Rock,” where she struggled to open for bands, as many of them wanted only other male acts on the bill. That Beach Bunny went from playing house parties to becoming Windy City darlings to landing a Coachella slot this year are plenty signs of tables turned.
“Now that Beach Bunny has some traction, it is funny to see bands from the past reach out and want to work together now and be like: ‘Oh okay, I see you.’ That's been kind of funny to see.”
Beach Bunny’s happy-actually-pretty-sad spirit is on full display on Honeymoon, their first full length effort. Opening track “Promises” is meant for blaring with the car windows rolled down, wind blown hair and all, screaming about an ex more back than forth. Trifilio’s vocals guide the always alternating intensities in the production, set to lyrics less optimistic than their melodies suggest. At the top of the chorus, she sings: “Part of me still wants you.” A few bars later: “Part of me still hates you.” Trifilio embraces the song and its juxtapositions; it’s her favorite from the album; it stemmed from a “brutal breakup.”
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“I don't think anything's ever, as far as emotions go, super straightforward. Breakups are messy. Feelings are always messy. It's easy to write a really sad breakup song but when we go through those emotions there might be some anger or you might romanticize the relationship. I feel like it's usually multi-dimensional.”
Despite covering lyrically grey areas, the songs on Honeymoon are so colorful, energetic, you might find yourself smiling at the melancholy, dancing through it all, and hollering the lyrics (in no particular order).
“I think structurally Beach Bunny songs are kind of similar in style to pop songs. So maybe that has a more lighthearted appeal, and the lyrics obviously can be a Debbie Downer, but I just like playing upbeat music. I think it's really fun to play live. It's great at shows seeing people dance, which is always a highlight for me. As long as I can write something that people can move their feet to then consider it a job well done.”
Beach Bunny plays at Secret Group on Saturday, February 29 with Field Medic and Indigo De Souza. Doors open at 7 p.m., all ages. This show is sold out, but there is a waiting list you can get on. Visit thesecretgrouphtx.com for more information.