Pink Parts: Heavy Rock, Pissed-off and Proud

Photo by Kelly O

“Anger is a great motivator,” says Nicki Danger, lead singer for Pink Parts. The band was formed several months prior to the 2016 election, and even then, being a woman, being queer, being anyone outside the modern patriarchal construct was already annoying/horrifying enough. The first Pink Parts single, “Bandana,” includes the applause-worthy lyrics, “I’m wearing this bandana/’Cause you’re staring at my tits/I don’t wanna be around ya/Just the thought makes me sick!”—derived from Danger’s experience bartending at a local dance night crawling with entitled, handsy patrons.

The band recorded their eponymous album late last year and released it in January amid the shifting political climate. “Everyone around us was going through it, and there were so many negative feelings, it was such a fucking heavy time. It was just a snowball of shitty things men say and do,” Danger says. With heavy (but not too heavy) riffs, pop-leaning (but not cutesy) hooks and well-channeled anger, Pink Parts’ forthright punk rock ’n’ roll is just what the dystopian hangover calls for.

The five members of Pink Parts have long resumes in Seattle’s music and nightlife scenes. Miki Sodos, co-owner of Bang Bang Café and Café Pettirosso, and Michael Stubz played together in Absolute Monarchs. Stubz wanted to start a new project; his only two requirements were that it be fun, and with friends. Jodi Ecklund, former booker of Chop Suey and co-owner of new Beacon Hill venue Clock-Out Lounge, hadn’t played guitar in 16 years when she received his voicemail: Hey Jodi, it’s Stubz, let’s play some music together.

At first she thought he’d called the wrong Jodi. But a similar message from Sodos convinced her, and the three started practicing together. They recruited bassist Denise Burnside, co-owner of Clock-Out and former CFO of KEXP, who also played in the Delusions and Heavy Hearts. “Then we brought in the ace,” Ecklund says. That was Danger, who currently plays guitar in SSDD, plays drums in The What For and formerly sang and played both guitar and keyboard in Glitterbang. Ecklund told her they were hoping for a singer with something to say.

“I was like, OK, I’ve got some things to say,” Danger says.

The album seethes with artful sarcasm—the music is tough but emotional and thoughtful. The repeated chorus of “Prettier”—“Hey, you’d be a pretty girl if you tried/You’d be a pretty girl if you smiled”—isn’t sung with a sneer, it’s wailed beautifully like a melancholic Pat Benatar. As aggressive as it is fun, balancing style and substance, opener “D.A.D” builds into a chorus of group vocals: “Let me show you/What it’s like to be treated like a bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch, yeah,” and crescendos at the bridge: “2-4-6-8 you love to manipulate/8-6-4-2 now I am deleting you!” The high-energy “Girlie Girl” is a cheeky invitation to a sleepover—“We’ll braid each other’s hair/I see your underwear!” One of my favorites is the slow-burning “Try Anything,” an anthem dedicated to new romance and possibilities.

Driving dual guitars and tight-fast rhythms pull its nine songs into the decidedly punk zone, but pop influences show in memorable hooks, referencing the heavier end of ’90s rock. The band nods to riot grrrl and queercore of the same era, but Pink Parts is defining what being a predominantly female band means to themselves, no age limit or dress code required.

“A lot of female bands that get attention are still fairly feminine and fit into society’s sense of what a woman is supposed to be,” Sodos says. “Most of us [in the band] are over 40. We don’t fit into that ‘what every man wants’ box, and that, for me, has kept it interesting.”

So far Stubz, Ecklund and Danger split songwriting duties. Sodos is shy about her first lead-guitar role, but her 15 years of Suzuki violin training helps her pick up on riffs that complement Ecklund’s steady rhythm guitar. Live, Pink Parts are a blast of energy. Danger commands the stage; Burnside’s long hair often flies with such abandon that Ecklund fears what’ll happen if it gets tangled in her guitar.

“The great thing about this band is that we’re all so close, and it’s not intimidating to try new things,” Ecklund says. “We can push ourselves out into other areas and not be embarrassed because we’re such close friends. We’re all really patient, we all want each other to grow.”

With their longstanding experience in the local music and nightlife scenes comes mutual support from their peers and each other. With that support comes confidence. Pink Parts is not worried about “fitting in” with other bands or a specific genre. They’re not interested in proving to others what they already know about themselves. It’s an inspiring move for anyone who’s experienced the “girl band” or “queer band” paradox—wanting to celebrate those marginalized identities while simultaneously not wanting to be defined by them.

This article has been updated.

Read the rest of City Arts’ Best New Music 2018 issue.