Sabrina Ewing, singer of Austin's all-female punk revivalists The Applicators, is a single mom with an attitude. Speaking from her kitchen, Ewing is both peppy and articulate as she discusses the pros and cons of females in punk rock.
"We don't need to rely on being girls or fall for being marketed as a sexual object," says Ewing. "Our music speaks for itself."
Touring in support of their sophomore effort, My Weapon, Sabrina and the other four Applicators are riding a crest of critical kudos and fortunate connections with some of their American punk godfathers. Produced by Bad Religion's Greg Hetson, Weapon is a treasure trove of trashy pop-punk interspersed with some genuine sentiment. Played with a brash enthusiasm and snotty mindset that reflects the band's influences, songs such as "Bad Infection" and "Kiss Off" play out like tributes to Joan Jett, Missing Persons and the Ramones as well as lesser-known outfits such as the Pandoras.
"We're definitely '70s and '80s revivalists," says Ewing. "That's what we all grew up listening to."
The Applicators are unapologetic about their style. Ewing's honesty about the band's sources and presentation is almost as refreshing as her take on the nature of all-female bands in general.
"Girl groups don't have a lot of longevity," she says. "Everyone wants to pigeonhole you as either Madonna or Hole."
Formed in 1999, the Applicators have since been playing any bar that would have them in and around Austin. Drawing the attention of old-school punks such as Henson, the band has been opening up for hard-core legends such as the Circle Jerks and Fear.
"It's been a total learning experience playing with those bands," says Ewing.
Judging by the new effort, Ewing and crew have been paying attention. While there is little new in the basic chords and bitchy swagger of My Weapon, the Applicators succeed by injecting their brand of punk with an emotional edge lacking in some of their male counterparts. Songs such as "I Need You" and "I Know the Truth" feature narratives that might just as easily find their way onto a record by, well, Madonna or Hole.
"We are a punk band," says Ewing, "but we do get vulnerable with our music."
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