Post-Punk Band cumgirl8 on Hobby Horses and Signing Sourdough
“Collagen, estrogen, Botox, serotonin, Juvederm, keratin, biotin,” purrs the opening verse to “picture party,” the song that NYC-born post-punk quartet cumgirl8 unanimously declares their favorite to perform. The band, who transported us to neon-goth pastures last month with their new four-track EP phantasea pharm, just kicked off THE European leg of their never-ending tour. Between shitposting online (if they’re not banned) and rocking out AT their notoriously chaotic live shows, the foursome actually finds plenty of time to explore, from scouring Atlas Obscura to shopping for their trademark colorful hyper-styled ensembles. After playing at London’s famous Rough Trade record store, Chase Lombardo, Lida Fox, Avishag Rodrigues, and Veronika Vilim of cumgirl8 took a break to share their spa routines, hobby horse lore, and top tips for those with band ambitions.
MEKALA RAJAGOPAL: What’s up, where are you guys at?
CHASE LOMBARDO: We’re in Berlin and we have some days off, so we’re in the studio trying to make new stuff.
LIDA FOX: Cooking in the lab, it’s a new recipe.
RAJAGOPAL: How long have you been making music together?
VERONIKA VILIM: Since the beginning of time.
RAJAGOPAL: What’s the story behind the name?
LOMBARDO: There’s actually a sex chat called cumgirl, and 1 through 7 was already taken. We made a chat called cumgirl8, and it was an easy way to communicate in the Metaverse.
RAJAGOPAL: You guys have been on the road with no breaks for years. How do you keep it cute?
VILIM: Spas. we’re going to Vabali in Berlin.
LOMBARDO: It’s interesting because it’s in Germany, so everyone’s naked and it’s co-ed.
FOX: It’s textile-free.
LOMBARDO: We look at the Atlas Obscura app and go do weird things together if we have time.
VILIM: We have a mantra: “Cuter and cuter every day.”
LOMBARDO: You know when you wake up like, we went to sleep two hours ago, and we’ve had four croissants and maybe a half a bottle of water in the past 48 hours. So we crawl into the van and we’re like, “Cuter and cuter every day.”
VILIM: Affirmations and spas. And carrying around pillows.
RAJAGOPAL: What’s your go-to spa service?
FOX: I love a sauna or a massage.
LOMBARDO: The cold plunge actually. Or someone to step on me.
VILIM: Also, Vitamin C and throat sprays.
RAJAGOPAL: Wait, do you do the IV?
LOMBARDO: IV is the shit. We haven’t gotten one together yet.
FOX: I’ve never tried one.
LOMBARDO: We also always try to always ride a Ferris wheel if we see one. We haven’t been on The Eye yet, but we’re going to the Paris one.
FOX: We’re actually going to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs tonight too.
RAJAGOPAL: You guys have a lot of fun. Did you go shopping on tour?
LOMBARDO: London’s a little too expensive. We haven’t found the right plug for shopping in London yet.
VILIM: There’s one place that we go to in Paris all the time, Noir Kennedy.
LOMBARDO: Sandrine is very specific about who she allows in. She gets you drunk and then you end up buying—I think she’s actually just grifting all of us, but it’s fine. She’s so fun and the clothes are incredible.
VILIM: It’s insane archive pieces that she either has been collecting or finds.
LOMBARDO: If you pick something up that she doesn’t think you should have, she’ll be like, “No.”
FOX: And sometimes she’s also like, “This would be good on you.” You go there and suddenly it’s six hours later and you’re like, what happened?
RAJAGOPAL: Okay, take me back to London. What was it like playing at Rough Trade?
AVISHAG RODRIGUES: We drove back from Wales? No.
LOMBARDO: We were in Scotland the day before. We drove through the night and we got to our bunks—
FOX: At the 4AD [record label] flat.
VILIM: They’re not bunks, they’re just a bunch of little twin beds.
LOMBARDO: It’s like being at camp.
VILIM: But we went and signed some records at Stranger Than Paradise, and then we went to soundcheck. It was fun because you can see the whole audience from the green room at Rough Trade, and we were playing this SoundCloud playlist that was hard techno. And all of these mainly old dudes were standing there while it was going oontz oontz oontz.
LOMBARDO: Yeah, the crowd at Rough Trade was definitely more boomer than anything else, so it was nice to get them going a little. They were a really fun crowd.
RAJAGOPAL: How do you guys get ready for the show?
RODRIGUES: We have a group vocal warm-up, it’s 13 minutes long.
LOMBARDO: It’s a children’s choir warm-up on YouTube.
FOX: By the Cincinnati Children’s Choir, and my dad was actually an opera singer from Cincinnati so it’s kind of on point.
LOMBARDO: We drink some wine. Do jumping jacks and pushups. Try to get a good pump.
VILIM: Do some stretches. And then we always get dressed and do our makeup together.
LOMBARDO: We pray to Bobby or Madonna.
RODRIGUES: We hold hands and pray.
LOMBARDO: Sometimes we’re really annoying. I think we annoyed Le Tigre.
RODRIGUES: We definitely annoyed Le Tigre.
LOMBARDO: We’re pretty loud when we get ready for a show, that’s for sure.
VILIM: And we usually have Pritney with us too, our pink Pomeranian.
RAJAGOPAL: Aww. What did you guys wear to the show?
VILIM: My friend Cora gave me this pink outfit, and then I wore a pink Agent Provocateur two piece. I love pink, and face tattoos.
LOMBARDO: We put all these garden-themed temporary tattoos all over our bodies and faces, like vegetables and flowers.
RAJAGOPAL: Because it’s Phantasea Pharm, right?
LOMBARDO: The lemons look like shit. It’s this weird yellow that looks like a crust.
RAJAGOPAL: What’s on your rider?
VILIM: Crab legs.
RODRIGUES: Lottery tickets.
LOMBARDO: Tequila and tampons.
VILIM: And arugula.
RAJAGOPAL: You said you would sign anything at the London show, did anyone ask you to sign something crazy?
LOMBARDO: We said that because at another London show we signed some bread.
VILIM: We signed a sourdough loaf.
LOMBARDO: We figured London was really into signing all kinds of shit.
FOX: We also signed this little kid’s notebook. He was asking so many cute questions. He was like, “You guys live in New York? Do you guys hang out in Times Square?” We were like, “No.” He was so wise for being so small.
RAJAGOPAL: That’s cute. What was your favorite song to perform?
VILIM: Probably “picture party.”
LOMBARDO: “picture party” is really fun because it’s almost completely improvised. So we played the whole show and had all this energy and see where that goes.
FOX: We kind of start with the structure of the song, and then it just gets chaotic towards the end.
LOMBARDO: It’s a performance art piece.
RAJAGOPAL: On that note, what’s been your best crowd yet?
FOX: On this trip, the Green Man Festival crowd was good.
VILIM: Honestly, every time we play in Amsterdam or in the Netherlands.
LOMBARDO: The Dutch get so lit. They bring it.
FOX: And earlier this summer we played this festival called Best Kept Secret.
VILIM: We did a contest where whoever could ride the hobby horse for the longest throughout the whole set would win tickets to the festival that we just played at two days ago.
LOMBARDO: Do you know what a hobby horse is?
RAJAGOPAL: Is that like a rodeo?
LOMBARDO: A hobby horse is that stick with a stuffed animal horse head on the front. So in Finland there’s a whole competitive sport where young girls, who I guess can’t afford a horse but want to live the horse girl fantasy, actually compete on a hobby horse. They jump over hurdles and do the fancy dressage steps. It’s a beautiful, weird thing they take super seriously. So we incorporated that into our music video, and we took that hobby horse to the Netherlands.
VILIM: You had to pass it off to the next person if you decided not to ride it.
LOMBARDO: It was kind of like a hobby horse musical chairs.
VILIM: Around the third song, this girl came up and she was riding it the whole time.
LOMBARDO: She rode the fuck out of that horse.
VILIM: She wasn’t letting go of that horse.
LOMBARDO: So she won the tickets, all of them.
FOX: Now the horse is at the 4AD stable in London.
RAJAGOPAL: Let’s do some rapidfire. Who’s someone, dead or alive, that you would love to play alongside?
RAJAGOPAL: Wow, when was the last time I heard that name?
LOMBARDO: And Cicciolina.
RAJAGOPAL: Love it. Okay, on Phantasea Pharm, what farm animal would each of you guys be?
LOMBARDO: Veronika’s a piglet, because it’s so pink.
VILIM: Or a bunny, maybe. I would probably be a pig-bunny.
RODRIGUES: I’ll be a spider.
FOX: I think I’d be a flying fox-cow that can also swim.
LOMBARDO: That’s hot. I’m a deer-shark. She prances, and when she touches the water, she turns amphibious. She’s a peaceful omnivore.
RAJAGOPAL: Amazing. Who’s most likely to get rich on OnlyFans?
LOMBARDO: Probably Veronika. I think I’ve got enough pictures on my phone to make you a lot of money.
RAJAGOPAL: Whose closet would you steal from first?
LOMBARDO: Lida’s got really cool, random pieces.
RAJAGOPAL: And what would your number one tip be for people who want to start a band?
LOMBARDO: Don’t listen to anyone. And put stuff out without thinking. Book a show before you even have all your songs finished.
VILIM: Don’t be too precious.
FOX: And have a lot of ambition and confidence. The hardest part is getting started. Play at a house party. Once you start doing it, there’s always more songs to make.
LOMBARDO: You have to just throw yourself in the water and it’ll work out.
RAJAGOPAL: I love it. Thank you so much guys. Ciao.
LOMBARDO: Thank you so much.
VILIM: Fun talking to you.