Bryan Funck referred to Candice as “one of the hardest working punks in New Orleans.” Perry calls her “the regional branch manager of DIY punk.” And both my old man and Perry are right on the money. Below is a list of Candice’s artistic contributions while living in New Orleans. Keep in mind that in the midst of all this Candice was also booking shows under the auspices of Look Ma No Bra! as well as hosting the late-night punk show Atomic Lawn on WTUL. I know Candice was probably in at least three bands I’m forgetting. So let me just state here: Forgive me any misrepresentations, revisionist whitewashing, or factual errors. I am but a journalist!
The first musical journey Candice embarked upon after moving to NOLA, and which gained some traction, was Necro Hippies, with her Urban Outfitters co-worker Phil and two other dudes, Josh and Chris. This one was definitely her baby. All the old punks loved this band. Jeff Gerhart. Matt Russell. Brice Nice even put out their record on his label, Raw Sugar! Necro Hippies played like a hundred shows at the Saturn Bar—and I went to almost none of them. In between, however, they played a few cool ones. Like one of my favorites ever at Nowe Miasto, with Masshysteri (ex members of The Vicious). Or their final show at Darin and Nathan’s house on Magazine Street.
The year’s 2009. As Candice is expanding her circles beyond her NH bandmates and one insufferable boy from Chalmette, she meets a skateboarder named Perry, a masseuse named Asher, and a public defender named Grainne—who all join forces to start a short-lived grindy-crust band with occasional black metal riffs. This band is Forest. They play only a handful of shows, all local, including an Earth First! benefit that is shut down by NOPD (twice—two separate locations). They record nothing. Like Titanic’s pauper hero Jack Dawson, Forest exists only in our memories…
(THE ORDER OF THE) TIDBITS
Like most of my bands, this one lived more in the mythology of my own head than in the 3D. Comprised of Candice on drums, Jessica Roberts on bass, and yours truly on guitar. After a year amounting to something like two practices, I told Bryan to put us on the Lemuria show he was doing at Nowe, so we’d have to “publish or perish,” as they say in academia. Following which the Order conferred in Jessica’s basement and called off the performance so as to avert disaster, ultimately sounding the band’s death knell. My feelings are summed up best in the words of John Greenleaf Whittier: “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” Jessica moved with Small Bones’ bassist Dominic to Graduate School, never to be heard from again.
Candice’s debut on drums for this awesome band with Osa Atoe on bass (and violin). For many of us, it would also be the first time we would ever hear Candice’s chirpy voice rise through the PA speakers. Minimal but loud. This was right as No More Fiction was in full swing, and I look back fondly on those shows.
“Art punk”—that’s what Candice’s description on NOLADIY says. I don’t remember ever seeing them. And no one can reach consensus on who the members actually were. Osa? Jonah? Rachel Speck—were you in this band?! I suspect someone out there once glimpsed the elusive snow leopard that was VHS, leaving that individual enthralled and forever altered. But for the rest of us, this band’s legacy will be relegated to the annals of obscurity, swallowed by the great VCR of History. Such is the fate of even the greatest New Orleans bands. I mean, look at Better Than Ezra—that band gets no respect.
Candice rotated back to guitar for another band with Osa (now on drums), and Takaiya on sax. I think Candice was influenced by the bands Quix*o*tic and Grass Widow around this time—or in any case, she liked these bands, and this is kind of what Deny It’s guitar parts felt reminiscent of to me. Very moody. Very “post punk.” And Takaiya added an even more eerie layer with the sax. I remember, after maybe a week of experimenting in Candice’s room, Candice and Takaiya just set up and played a spontaneous set at the end of the Lemuria show at Nowe. Bryan was pissed. But I loved it. I have to say, my favorite of all Candice’s bands. Can someone— Osa? Candice?—please get me a tape or something?
Then along came Curved Dog—the chaotic brainchild of the ineffable Clayton St. Germain, straight from that UPT, plus Nico doing some funky- freaky-fresh shit on drums. Perhaps it’s safe to say, Curved D was the most experimental of Candice’s bands. (Oh, and let’s not forget this band’s transformation into THE SMITHS for a few shows, with Bay Area Natalie joining on as Morrissey.) I once saw them play a generator show on the banks of the beautiful Industrial Canal, at the End of the World (as the punks call it), and another time, I think, under the 1-10 overpass by the biomedical wasteland. These are the perfect backdrops to see this band. Because Curved D was, is, and always will be a kind of marginal life form, not just adapting to its poetically tragic surroundings but re-appropriating them, convulsing through polluted waters and emitting sonic shrieks like a pod of deranged dolphins.
It’s not totally accurate to chronologize this band so far down on the list because, in fact, they had an earlier incarnation dating back something like a year before they became the thing that skyrocketed into the atmosphere, spewing chemtrails and fuselage in its wake. And that line-up was Mr. Andy-to-the-Contrary Gibbs, Drew, Eaton, and Phil. I know Mama Candice struggled for a while to get this band off the ground. Then, as legend has it, on the eve of what was to be a landmark show, Hurricane Isaac blew in with a wrath tantamount to that of god’s upon Gomorrah. Teetering perilously in the ferocious seas, mast splitting with a sickening crack, the SS Mystic Inane—if I may mix metaphors here—turned belly up and plummeted into oblivion… or did it? Andy escaped with his life to Oakland. But the rest of the crew were not so lucky: some succumbing to the elements, others to graduate school. Alone and clawing through the sand, vultures hovering to pick at the remains, with her last remaining strength Candice reached the refuge of a small cave, where she nursed her dream back to health. As fate would have it, Perry from Forest would resurface for percussive onslaught of Candice’s final cry into the New Orleans wilderness. Then Jonah. Then Nathan from Sycamore. Fittingly for Candice, this band represented a return to roots, so to speak—punk so noxious that you go into your garage, close all the doors, start the record, and you asphyxiate.