The PA thunders, shaking the very foundation of the floor you’re standing on. A blonde girl, silhouette by red, seizure-inducing strobe lights, jumps on stage. Her face is smudged with clown makeup and blood, though she doesn’t seem to notice either. When the drums come in, the entire crowd pulsates with the bass. In a moment, as if by some unseen queue, the entire crowd screams “I’m so fat, I’m so ugly” at the top of their lungs, in unison with the clown-faced femme. Though she commands the stage, the drummer commands the room, banging drums with hands covered in blood blisters, with the full intention of creating more. Self destructive masochists in a sea of self destructive masochists, what could be better?
Gabby Guiliano and Jarrod Hine have made this a lifestyle, but they never intended on the techno punk band becoming anything more than another homie side project. After a mutual friend had taken too much Xanax and ditched plans to hang out, Guiliano and Hine sat down on New Year’s 2015 and put forth the foundation of the band now known as Girl Pusher. Giuliano broke straight edge, had her first beer, and the two sat down and wrote the entire JAN. 1 EP in a single night.
“We recorded that free album on Bandcamp that night and busted it. Two weeks later somebody book us and we’ve been playing shows ever since,” Hine says.
After initially acquainting with each other through mutual friends on Tumblr, circa 2012, the two met up in the flesh while Hine was on a way to an Odd Future concert in San Francisco. Though Guiliano had to opt out of going due to parental restraints and her school schedule, they shared pancakes with white chocolate chips at a local Denny’s with another mutual friend.
Ever since the meeting, the two have been best friends and confidants. “I think Jarrod is my longest lasting friend,” Guiliano says, but this meeting never alluded to anything more than continued shit-talking Skype calls, which were already the norm.
Though they were mildly involved in other creative endeavors at the time, and attended rap and hardcore shows together in Bakersfield, they never anticipated that they’d be driving to their own shows together in a couple years time. Flash forward to Guiliano and Hine banging the Suicideyears Remix of Hard in the Paint by Wakka Flocka Flame, hyping themselves up for a performance.
“Because holy shit, if there’s a song that gets you ready to play a show, it’s that song,” Hine proclaims.
The two cannot stress enough how accidental the creation and eventual rise of the Girl Pusher was. Giuliano, a self proclaimed “marching band stoner” never had the desire to be in a band. Born and raised in Bakersfield, California, Guiliano graduated with her degree fromCal State Bakersfield with a degree in English language and literature with a minor in studio art in 2016.
The only allusion to her future involvement in any sort of band was her consistent fascination with noise music.
“I’ve always listened to a lot of noise. I’ve been that bitch,” Guiliano says.
Hine, on the other hand, had an itch to join a band ever since high school, if for no other reason than for the opportunity to drum. He received his first drum set when he was 13 years old, but problematic neighbors prevented him from playing for months at a time. After receiving an electric drum set as a gift from his family, his dry spell ended.
“[Receiving the electric drum set] is definitely the reason I make electronic music at all. Once you learn what you can do with one of those things, it’s like, ‘Oh shit.’”
He drummed in Witch King, a hardcore band, for three years post-high school. Raised on industrial music, his upbringing and parents’ music influence affected the band in more ways than one.
“There’s a band called ‘My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult’ and they’re from the early 90’s, 80’s. It’s super sexually charged dark dance music,” Hine says. “In one of the songs, it’s called ‘A Daisy Chain for Satan,” it’s just over and over a lady saying, “I live for drugs, it’s great.’”
The familiar line, sampled in “A Lot of Boys Like Me Though,” is a clip from an audio interview with a young runaway who speaks about her experience with drugs, abortions, and her life disillusioned from society. Characteristically, she’s high and disoriented for the entire interview, making the audio both depressing and intriguing. It took Hine years of scouring through search pages, forums, and multiple Woodstock documentaries to finally find the clip.
As for how it contributes to Girl Pusher, Hine states, “I just take all the darkest parts from it and anything that will make people feel shitty or feel anything and throw that in the song.”
The pair are no strangers to sampling. The runaway may as well be the third member of the band, as she is featured in about a third of all Girl Pusher songs. Other features include audio tapes from Decline, which Hine proclaims is, “One of the most horrible Youtube videos you can ever watch.” The creators of Decline were also involved in thecreation of Bum Fights, a prank show centered around abusing disoriented homeless people, if that gives any context to the genre of video. The audio from “Thanks Bitch” features a homeless woman manically screaming from an audio piece of Decline. She takes her place as one of the many characters that stand center stage in some of Girl Pusher’s most demented clips.
Guiliano and Jarrod try to parallel this absurd and manic energy in their own sets.
“I only drum when I play a show,” Hine says. “Even with some of our mellow songs, I try to drum as hard as I can, just to scare people. I just want you to be like, ‘Why the fuck are you hitting them that hard?’”
Despite this impression, Girl Pusher sets don’t consist solely of blood, sweat, and screaming like some would otherwise believe. One song, or rather cover, that stands out amongst the rest is Guiliano’s rendition of “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay.
“I think it’s important that we play that cover, just because it’s fun,” Guiliano says. “A lot of people go to shows to make an appearance and be a piece of shit and like, that song gets everyone to let go for a moment and be a fucking idiot and sing along.”
The song, which always bursts from the PA with an uncharacteristic array of high electronic notes, never fails to turn heads, pique interests, and reveal who amongst the crowd have secretly never stopped listening to 2000s electronic music.
“There’s power in doing that, in making everyone happy,” Guiliano says.
Despite fan requests for more covers, including a personal Fun Nihilist request for a cover of “Believe” by Cher, it took months for Guiliano to convince Jarrod to cover the iconic Alice Deejay club kid anthem. Giuliano states that the first time they ever played the song was during a last-minute show, promptly after Hine had been bit in the face by Guiliano’s dog while Guiliano was singing the song in her living room. Sometimes things just work out.
But this dog bite was not the first, and is certainly not the last example of Girl Pusher-related bloodshed.
The violence seems to increase proportionally with the lifespan of the band.
“I would say if anything it gets angrier and sadder, because the world is just going downhill and it’s this domino effect of shitty things happening to both me and Jarrod,” Guiliano explains.
“A lot of shit happens because of the band and then goes wrong,” Hine elaborates. “So we just sit there and get pissed about it while we play, which is tight. When I play the drums I fucking freak out. I’m not even mad that day and then I’m just pissed off after the show. People are like, ‘You did good,” and I’m like, “AHH fuck you I don’t give a fuck!’”
This high energy enthusiasm for violence and anger promotes, in the best and worst ways, a sufficient, if not sustainable, level of self destruction at the shows. On more than one occasion Guiliano has walked off the stage dripping with blood.
Whether it be from a rowdy mosh, repeatedly hitting her head on the mic, or just exterior forces of nature willing her to be injured, her clown paint usually transforms into a concoction of red blood cells, smeared face makeup, and sweat. (And we like it that way.)
“It’s on purpose. I’m going to beat myself up,” Hine admits.
“I’m a masochist, I’ll admit to that,” Guiliano adds. “I can go to a really good show and it can leave me shocked and awed and in a really good mental place, and that’ll inspire me. I’ll be like, ‘I want to go fucking apeshit.’”
Even the band name “Girl Pusher” came to fruition through a mild and unintentional act of violence. At the time, Guiliano was straightedge, hanging out with friends in downtown Bakersfield.
“I was with my friend Val and he’s like two times bigger than Jarrod, and for the record Jarrod is 6’3. Almost 6’4. But Jarrod is lanky, Val is thick and a little bit taller,” Guiliano explains.
“Anyways, he cracked a joke and is a little drunk and I’m straightedge. He punches my arm like the laugh kind of way, and he did it way too hard because I’m tiny. I fell into the street, almost get hit by a car, and I cuss him out. In the slew of all the shit I’m calling him, I call him a “Girl Pusher” and he starts laughing at me.”
“I always carry a pen and paper and he’s like, ‘Don’t fucking write that down on your list of band names, I know you’re going to write it,’ and I did, especially since he said not to,” Guiliano explains.
Later, when Hine and Giuliano wrote the first EP on New Year’s 2015 and decided to share it online, it was obvious to the two of them that “Girl Pusher” was the most appropriate misnomer for their project.
The infamous clown makeup, how ever, didn’t come into the picture until much later. The makeup made its debut at a show at Table 87, after Guiliano had recently gone through a breakup and was feeling particularly uncomfortable at the venue.
“I like the anonymity of clown makeup. [People] are going to be laughing or snickering, I’m going to give them something to laugh at,” Guiliano says.
“A lot of people think we’re juggalos and we’re like, ‘No, we’re just clowns,’” Jarrod explains.
The two aren’t dressing up to serve any branding purpose, they’re just in it for the ride. If they’re going to go crazy on stage, they might as well go fucking insane.
“I’m a fucking clown, straight up. I’m an idiot. I almost got arrested at the hospital with my clown makeup on. I’ve gone through the TacoBell drive-through with the clown makeup on and had the workers taking pictures of my face. I just forget,” Guiliano says.
Fans of the band love the makeup so much that they wear their own renditions of clownface to Girl Pusher shows. Forget beating their faces with foundation and bronzer, juggalo chic is full force ahead.
Though not all patrons of their shows don full costumes and theatrical makeup, there is absolutely no lack of crowd at Girl Pusher shows. If anything, the band has experienced a rapid increase in fans, especially after Guiliano’s move to Los Angeles this past November, 2016.
“It’s weird. I use headphones when I play and I’ll hear the vocals all crazy and I’ll look up and realize that it’s because the whole fucking crowd is screaming the lyrics,” Hine explains. “That was not a thing a year ago.”
Despite this popularity, the duo don’t plan on taking their music mainstream anytime soon. If anything, they’re trying to do the exact opposite. Jarrod is confident in their ability to maintain anonymity, remain mysterious, and avoid becoming another contrived Los Angeles punk band.
Things like making shows inclusive and staying genuine to themselves are a part of this goal.
“I want every show to be a safe space. If you’re giving me the time of day, I’m going to give you the time of day,” Guiliano says. “We’ve had someone call into the radio station and ask Jarrod if they could come to a show, but they were uncomfortable because they called themselves a crossdresser. They were like, ‘Is it okay? Am I like okay to come to this environment?”
Jarrod’s response was simple, “We’re the perfect show for you to come to. We’ve got your back.”
In the present political climate, safe spaces are an invaluable resource, whether or not citizens opt utilize them or acknowledge their purpose.
As for how Guiliano and Hine have reacted to their unassuming Bandcamp project taking off, they have mixed feelings.
“This shit has ruined my life dude. It’s made it really good. I’ve met some of the most important people in my fucking life because of this. I tell everyone that the only celebrities I want to know are my friends,” Guiliano says. “It’s ruined my life and fixed my life for the better.”
As for any anti-Girl Pusher rhetoric, the two are are indifferent.
“If what I do makes you mad and you don’t like it, I’m still igniting a reaction,” Guiliano says.
The long-term plan for Girl Pusher is short, sweet, and to the point.
“I’m going to die, and Jarrod will use all of the voicemails I’ve ever left him of me getting dumped, crying, being high on drugs,” Gabby begins.
“And I’ll just chop up her existing songs and make the vocals different. I’ll continue it, and no one will know she’s dead. We just won’t play shows. Everyone will think she’s alive.”
If that plan doesn’t seem viable, they have a backup.
Guiliano sums up an alternate ending to the Girl Pusher saga.
“If we could stay in the underground and play in alleyways and piss gutters forever, I would be down.”