It’s hard not to idolize Mermaid Book Club. Like a childhood friend’s cool older sibling, their wisdom is witty. Their music shrugs off bad relationships in stride, whether sad, happy, or hungry. “Relatable Content,” the band’s debut album out July 19, is an impressionable timestamp on Missoula.
I sat down with the Mermaids for their last gathering at the Dram Shop this past December. By morning, bassist Katelynde Curey would be off to Cambodia to teach at a nursery. The band had no intention of replacing her. Even if they could, drummer Johannah Kohorst said, “it’s just not the same feeling as when Katelynde sings … “You popped my tire what the (expletive) dude?”
“I always felt like I had this huge amount of anxiety and pent up emotion … as soon as I started playing it was a place for that to go,” Curey said. (She has returned to Missoula to play with the band at their album release show).
It was not the beer or the goodbyes that brought the girlfriends nearly to tears that night in December, but the laughter, reminiscing on their friendship since starting the band in 2017.
Their origin story harkens back to that of '90s punk band Sasshole: local women, sick of sitting back and watching their male friends play music, teaching themselves instruments and joining the fun.
Mermaid Book Club began writing “Dandelion,” a simple serenade to an overlooked flower, a precursor to the things they deal with in their other songs, guitarist Emily Johnson said. It marks their coyish beginnings, as they held the hands of musician friends who guided them in the creative process.
“I don’t think we would have continued without the support we have had,” said Kohorst. Ultimately, their support of each other has driven them.
“Being that vulnerable is really scary and it’s nice to be with each other playing, kind of freaking out,” keyboardist Cassie Smith said.
The group is quick to gush over one anther, complimenting everything from Johnson’s stage presence to Smith’s positivity, to Curey and Kohorst’s backbone compatibility as bassist and drummer.
“At the end of every song we all say to each other, 'That sounded so good.’ We are always lifting each other up,” Johnson said.
They recorded with the nudge of Lukas Phelan, a friend and fellow musician who invited them to record at his family cabin at Flathead Lake. The recording session started with nerves but ended in a fun slumber party, eating snacks and watching "Mulan" on VHS.
From their song “Tacos,” which dismantles the idea of a “dream guy” to “Skateboard,” an imposter-syndrome anthem with friends singing along in encouragement, they found a sound that is fully their own.
“It is nice to have a physical copy of this time, for the more personal level of it, we have gone through a lot and grown a lot,” Curey said.