Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.
Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

Rachel Flotard, frontwoman for punk-rock throwback Visqueen, sat down with City on a Hill Press to discuss her influences, background, and affinity for Wonder bread with barbecue sauce. Thanks in part to her longtime love of the “Lost Boys” film, Flotard’s trip to Santa Cruz won’t just be business, but pleasure as well. Accompanied by drummer Ben Hooker and bassist Cristina Bautista, Flotard says Visqueen is ready to just be “hilarious, fun, economy-friendly rock.”

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City on a Hill Press: The last time you were in Santa Cruz, you were performing with Neko Case. Do you have any sort of connection with Santa Cruz besides playing shows here?

Rachel Flotard: Well, the fact that I can recite the entire script to ‘Lost Boys’ on command makes me feel pretty connected. The times I’ve been there with Case were akin to visiting Wonderland. Santa Cruz might very well be the most beautiful place on Planet Earth. I’m making a point to drive there from our Portland show a day early, just to have the pleasure of being in town.

CHP: What are you looking forward to about coming back to Santa Cruz?

RF: That feeling of magic that only coastal Northern California towns can deliver. And … we were summoned! I got an email from Santa Cruz band the Fainting Goats asking us to come play. It was kismet. And the fact that 311 is in the main room of the Catalyst for 42 bucks, and we’re in the atrium for $5, is simply the best thing ever.

CHP: Where were you born and raised, and how has it influenced you?

RF: I was born and raised in New Jersey, moved to Seattle about 1995. Jersey is a big influence on my hair, specifically. We were just talking about spraying a wall of bangs back in the day. My hair is really very wavy, so I could never quite achieve that Lita Ford-Joan Jett bang situation I craved. It just looked like Orphan Annie trying too hard to be metal. I’ve come a long way since then. I’m au natural. Throw Seattle in there and its grunge roots and well, you’ve got me.

CHP: What is the most exciting thing about the success of your newest album?

RF: The fact that you called it a success is pretty exciting. To me, the success part has been simply booking this tour, which I do myself. Up until 19 months ago, I was taking care of my dad, who was the toughest prostate cancer patient this side of the Rio Grande. He was a huge motivating influence for me, and basically my secret source of determination. We lived together for over six years as I toured with Visqueen and Neko, and I tried to make some sense of my double life as a caregiver and daughter. Now, I think the success part is the fact that we finished what we started. We put the record out ourselves, pressed it, wrote it, and are now supporting it by playing town-to-town. Now if I can just get us all health insurance…

CHP: Tell us how you named your album. Was it difficult?

RF: Not difficult at all. “Message To Garcia” is an essay written by Elbert Hubbard about determination and getting the job done. It was published in 1899, but my dad photocopied it at the library and gave it to me around 1989. … My parents did a great job of making sure I was loved and cared for. So, to teach me how the world works, Dad gave me a message hoping I could use it in my own life. He would ask me every time when I would complain about some crappy problem, or a project that was daunting or looming in front of me, “Are you delivering it?” Basically saying, ‘Suck it up. And get to it. It can be done.’

CHP: How do you feel about all of the NPR recognition and making their ‘Top 10 Best Music in 2009’ list?

RF: I feel pretty damn awesome.

CHP: In December, Visqueen performed at the Deck the Hall Ball in Seattle. How did it feel to play with groups like Muse?

RF: Surreal and hilarious. We were like the dudes that brought the zucchinis to the White House barbecue wearing cut-offs.

CHP: Is it true that Visqueen is headed to the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas this March? What are you most looking forward to about that?

RF: I am mostly excited to mop up some barbecue sauce with some Wonder bread. Feels like [Austin] is the place to get away with that. And we are playing some incredible shows throughout the week.

CHP: Is there anything else in particular that you would like to add?

RF: That this show will be hilarious, fun, economy-friendly rock. I have some local friends celebrating their birthdays with me that night, and we plan on making it a night to remember. I hope folks make the trek out. And we can toilet-paper 311’s bus.