With a gig at Canadian Music Week this week and a full-length debut CD, Heartbreakers/Homewreckers, to be released in April, the members of local scream-punk trio Cougar Party are busy polishing their knuckles and their vocal chords. Drummer Shannon Goodwin (ex-Mach Tiver), bassist Shannon Mitchell (formerly of queercore favourite The Plath) and guitarist Amanda Caskie have already got a host of shows under their belts, a four-song demo and an appearance on last year’s Shameless/Permafrost compilation CD, Good Grooming For Girls.
Mitchell explains the origins of the name. “Shannon G was on tour with Mach Tiver and she was having a slut-core time with guys younger than her. Her brother, Adam, proclaimed that she was having a cougar party. Later he suggested we adopt it as our name. It stuck.”
Founded in August 2003 as a foursome, Mary Romas, who played in The Plath with Mitchell, left the band in December 2004. “Mary just wasn’t happy and decided she needed to leave,” says Mitchell. “We decided not to replace her because it would have been really weird. We dropped a couple of songs from our set, rearranged a few and adjusted our levels.”
But they never adjusted their unapologetic musical and lyrical approach. “Some of our songs are about relationships – sexual, platonic or otherwise. They’re about smashing stereotypes of how women are supposed to act. In ‘Going Down With Cougar Party’ we sing, ‘If you don’t go down, get out.’ Women shouldn’t be ashamed of having sex or being called a slut. It’s also about being honest and telling the person you’re having sex with what you want.
“Other songs are about playing in and going to shows in very male-dominated spaces. In ‘1 2 3 Go! Circle Pit,’ we say, “Add some ladies to your lineup.” This is a tricky one because we don’t want to be added to any lineup as the token girl band, but we don’t want to be excluded just because we’re girls.
“Certain communities still have some work to do. We almost didn’t play one of our first shows because we were told, ‘Bros before hos.’ We ended up playing at the last minute because one of the all-male bands couldn’t get over the border. Instead of boycotting it, we wanted to prove that their initial choice was obviously wrong and that we could play just as loud and hard as they could.”