Interview :: Rebecca Bortman of My First Earthquake [2.3.10]

Rebecca Bortman, lead singer and cheerleader of My First Earthquake, looks exactly like she does in her band's videos. This, probably, shouldn't be surprising, but it is. She's chatting with a fan at the merch table before the San Francisco group's pre-Noise Off show, all dyed hair, bubbly, and happy. Minutes later in what passes for Du Nord's Café's green room, she answers our questions in exactly the same manner. We are not being filmed, but nothing would change if we were.

In one band photo you're wearing soccer cleats. Is that a fashion statement or a practical choice?

I have passion for bargains and I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where people don't know about fashion the way I like to know about fashion. All these big companies send their excess products to the suburbs of Pittsburgh. They can liquidate their stock without diluting the brand because no one knows about their brand there. So companies like Nike send their really cool gold soccer shoes to places like Gabriel's outside of Pittsburgh. I go visit my parents and spend hours digging for $5 Nike shoes and I'm like, "Fuck yeah, gold shoes." But cleats. I'm like Jackie Joyner-Kersee."

Does that get dangerous?

It gets a little clicky-clacky. They aren't metal. It spices up my step.

Does San Francisco have a sound?

San Francisco has a sound, and it sounds like people living the good life. I think that's why you see more bands come out of little small podunk towns because there's nothing else to do. I think San Franciscans have this general laid-back nature that things will just come to them. I'm guilty of it too, but you have to fight against the laidbackness.

Are you succeeding?

I hope so. Our second album is a fight. It wants to be mellow and low key. It wants to just hang out in Dolores Park on the weekends, but we have to be like, "Fuck no, you have to start the party, album." That's been our fight. I think we were successful in our first in bringing the energy, but we've gotta keep the volume high.

Describe the band in a haiku.

Ruckus jamming, yeah.
We make you sweat puddles.
And you like it, lots.

I was a poetry minor in school.

That's pretty good for on the spot.

You know, all of our lyrics are on the spot. That's how they are written. I will improvise some of the lyrics tonight.

For any specific songs?

Well, once they make it to an album they are kind of set in stone, but until they do they're all kind of flexible. Everything we haven't recorded yet is still up in the air. Some of them I have a rough idea. I know I'm going to sing about in this verse, but a lot of it is off the top, which was the name of my improv group in college.

(A day later, Bortman emails us: Like any good poetry minor, I've done a revision to my haiku:

Enter our electro

Chasm of spasm. We spice

Songs: racy, tasty.)

Band name. True story? I was thinking it would be a great metaphor of sex.

Yeah, I think my mom thinks it's about sex. Or she actually thinks it about childbirth. She likes to refer to me as her first earthquake. Her first and only earthquake. Let that be an indication of my birth order. But I will tell you -- and you may not believe me -- the first time Chad and I got together to make some music was my first earthquake. I didn't come up with the name until several months later, and then I had to convince him that it wasn't a preschool toy.

Did you feel the earthquake?

Yeah, it was substantial. Probably the biggest one I've felt since I've been here.

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