Halloween is approaching quickly, and there’s one city that has a little-known obsession with the holiday: Portland, Oregon! We asked Portland’s Sallie Ford and the ladies of her new, all-girl rock band for some tips and tricks for the season of the witch. Weighing in are Sallie Ford (vocals/guitar), Anita Lee Elliot (bass), Amanda Spring (drums), and Cristina Cano (keyboards). Check out the interview below to find out who had an exorcism in her garage, who’s found multiple uses for her gorilla suit, and what is the one TV show they can (almost) all agree on? And be sure to pick up their record Slap Back, out today on Vanguard Records!
What does Halloween look like in Portland? Why do you think people go all out for it?
SALLIE: Halloween is a great excuse to have a house party, and those are very popular in Portland. If Halloween doesn't fall on the weekend, people will throw parties all weekend anyway to celebrate. I think it's so popular because there are so many creative people in Portland and they get excited about dressing up in fun costumes
AMANDA: Portland people love an excuse to put on a costume. I usually hit 2-3 Halloween parties in different get-ups. You could easily wear costumes year-round here without people giving you much of a hard time about it.
CRISTINA: Being in a performance-based community, someone will often throw an annual costume contest party/burlesque show or something ridiculous to go to. I think, like anywhere, it's an opportunity to let some of that inner wild character out under the premise that everyone is doing it so now you can ,too. And it's way more fun to get wastey-faced when you have a mask on.
Do you have any spooky or scary Halloween stories?
SALLIE: I love hearing about spooky ghost stories, but I haven't really experienced anything first hand. Maybe I will suggest a séance on the next tour I go on.
AMANDA: I had a spirit exorcised from my garage. Everyone felt a really creepy vibe in there until I had him removed. I didn't see any visuals, but I trusted my clairvoyant friend who did the exorcising. When your co-worker of seven years is clairvoyant, you witness a lot of crazy stuff!
What was your best costume of all time? Your worst?
SALLIE: Last year I was Diego Rivera and my best friend was Frida Kahlo. That was my best costume by far. My worst was when I was lazy and just wore a pink polka dress and said I was "polka dots".
CRISTINA: Best/worst was in middle school in Miami, Florida when my mom and I thought it would be a good idea to be "barefoot and pregnant". I wore a bathrobe and a pillow under it with my hair in curlers and a shower cap. My candy bucket was a mop bucket with a mop in it. When the neighbors asked what I was, I said I was a pregnant teenager. Needless to say, nobody found this as amusing as I did.
AMANDA: Best costume: last year I was Koko the signing gorilla, of PBS fame, with my little stuffed kitten. Worst costume: I was a bum in fifth grade. My dad and I went all out: I smudged ash on my face and carried around a cigar butt. A boy I admired was a millionaire, so that was awkward...
What is your most embarrassing Halloween memory?
SALLIE: Probably just getting too drunk and hitting on boys. I remember a few Halloweens being like that. Haha.
CRISTINA: One year I was a “sexy” Dorothy. I bought the costume at a fantasy shop thinking that meant I was a real grown up. My boyfriend and I broke up that night. Ugh.
What song is a must-have on your Halloween party playlist?
SALLIE: "Teenage werewolf" by The Cramps!
CRISTINA: The Shaggs, “It's Halloween.”
ANITA: “Night of the Vampire” by Roky Erickson.
What's your favorite candy?
AMANDA: Chick-O-Stick, they're accidentally vegan!
ANITA: The little fruity Tootsie Rolls you only see on Halloween.
SALLIE: I don't eat much candy, but every blue moon I like to indulge in Pop Rocks.
CRISTINA: Swedish Fish and anything gummy!
What's a great feminist Halloween costume for 2014?
SALLIE: Elaine from Seinfeld.
AMANDA: I'd like to reuse my gorilla costume, so this year I will be an MGRA: a Male Gorilla Rights Activist. Like a Men's Rights Activist, the MGRA will be wearing a trilby and handing out pamphlets about how feminism has ruined gorilla society and caused male gorillas to be persecuted. He will kiss every pretty girl on the hand.
CRISTINA: Feminist male celebrities.
You guys have an exciting fall ahead of you with your tour & album release! What are you most looking forward to?
SALLIE: Going back to Canada, especially Montreal. I also can't wait for folks to finally hear my new record that I've been working hard on.
AMANDA: I'm super excited about our fall tour. Also looking forward to matching stage wear possibilities!
CRISTINA: Collecting fall leaves from each place [on tour]!
What feels special about being in an all-female band? Or is it no different from performing/touring with guys?
ANITA: Better snacks.
SALLIE: I really enjoy getting ready before our shows. It's nice to be in a band with people who get excited about getting dressed up for a show!
AMANDA: Touring with men = poop jokes. Touring with women = sex jokes
CRISTINA: I don’t consider gender too much when it comes to who I work with artistically. I’ve worked with exceptional men, and inspiring women. That being said, I’ve definitely had the experience of being undermined or spoken down to by men in the music world, and that is an undeniable reality. I am grateful that we haven’t been in a position where our artistic integrity has been challenged due to gender stereotypes in this band. We are also really chill on tour, and are all really intuitive of each others’ needs.
Is there a TV show you can all agree on watching when you're staying in hotels?
AMANDA: We all like comedy shows (Louie, Maron, etc). The rest of the gals are heavy into Nashville.
SALLIE: So far we have watched some strange movies. Cristina, Anita and I really like Nashville. Maybe we can convince Amanda to get into it! Haha.
Sallie Ford’s new album Slap Back is out NOW on Vanguard Records! You can pick it up on iTunes here. Sallie Ford will also be heading out for a North American tour in November and December; see when they’re playing your town here.
LIZ GALVAO is the Music Editor at BUST Magazine. Her writing focuses on humor, feminism, and pop culture.