New Music: Born Again Virgins
Words by Morgan Gage
To start from the beginning, Born Again Virgins is a newly developed band based out of Austin, Texas, and is fondly recognized by our community as one of the supporting bands who performed at the Venus Launch Party last March and helped us raise money for Mama Sana. Front-woman Anna Roenigk formed the band with drummer Paul Pinon after meeting at the UT Butler School of Music and they were later joined by Joseph Ovalle (bass, also a member of Manifest Electric) and Bill Gryta (guitar, also a member of Quiet Company). Born Again Virgins is a moniker created by Roenigk as a name to separate her personal identity from the music and create a collaborative working space to remake her songs.
The self-titled album, which contains 5 songs and hosts album art by Valerie Fowler (wife of producer Brian Beattie), is accurately described by the band as "moody alt rock". Roenigk's vocals drawl through the EP with a smooth eerie sound that goes to echo its own lyrics, which speak of fear and self rationalization in a way that any young adult could relate to strongly. Roenigk sets an intense mood in each song that easily flows into the next- creating an ambient space of relatable gloom.
The EP is set to drop this Friday, May 19th accompanied by a release party hosted by the band at Hole in the Wall in Austin, Texas. Until then, you can also check out Born Again Virgins at their website here and find two of their EP’s pre-released singles “Texas Heat” and “No Alibi” here. Before the official EP release this Friday, Venus received a first look at the album's contents as well as a sit-down interview with Anna Roenigk to talk about how her new album came to be.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Anna: Most of the time I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Most of my songs are- I wouldn’t say confessional because they’re not really. They’re- I don't know- a coping mechanism in a way. Some songs I wrote in relation to dealing with just like the typical shitty times that we all have as a twenty something and also like dealing with trying out a lot of different medication and not finding (the right ones). Most of these songs just arose from me writing a bunch of shit in a journal and picking out lines that I liked and somehow they came together to make something that made sense. I minored in poetry in college, and I wrote a poem called Waiting Room and then I ended up writing a song called Texas Heat, which is the third song on my EP. I think basically that was about getting diagnosed with good ol’ bipolar type two disorder. I went through this period of time, a long period of time, trying to find meds. That is a terrible, terrible, experience if you’ve ever dealt with that. And so a lot of my songs are about how to deal with depression, anxiety, all that stuff. I guess you could say some of my songs are just sort of cathartic. A way for me to deal with shit, a typical cliche.
How does it feel to be releasing your first album?
It feels good, and also I just feel like we worked on it for so long on and off that I'm just ready to fucking get it out there and do it. It’s exciting to finally have something you’re proud of and put time into that accurately represents you to the general public, or whoever might listen.
What are your hopes for this EP?
I don’t want the lyrics to be trite or cliche. So I hope that they mean something to someone. I guess, the ultimate thing would be, and I don't know if I've ever written a song like this but, a song you can listen to when you really feel like shit. There’s a song by the Helio Sequence, this band out of Portland, and it’s called Broken Afternoon and I listened to it all throughout high school. It was just a song that would come on and you would stop for a moment and be like- wow. It was an ‘everything's going to be alright’ kind of thing. I don't know what people would get out of my music- I can't be the one to answer that question- but mostly I just hope they enjoy it.
How do you try to represent and support girls through your public presence and do you have any advice to girl trying to start musical careers?
I’ve been lucky and mostly haven't had to deal with a lot of bullshit (in the music industry). But instruments can be gendered and it’s weird. Hopefully it’s becoming less that way. But if you’re a woman and you want to play guitar then I feel it’s kind of like when you join high school band and they say ‘Oh! So you want to play the flute!’ and I said ‘no I want to play the saxophone actually’, it’s that type of thing. Don’t let people tell you can’t do it, or that you’re any less of a good player just because you’re female, because I hear it all the time about female guitarists. I heard it about St. Vincent: ‘oh she’s not even that good of a guitar player’ and I heard this from a dude. And I was like, ‘okay, Kurt Cobain was not that good of a guitar player’. And I am a cliche and love the shit out of Nirvana, but he wasn’t the best. But St. Vincent is a fucking shredder and no one would say that about Kurt Cobain- but they say it about women and it’s just because people make a big deal out of a female playing guitar. They have to be exceptional... women are basically erased from the history of jazz, and the ones that aren’t were exceptional- incredible. And so it’s like you have to be better, a thing we have to deal with in every aspect of life, you have to be better than your male counterpart because otherwise you’re just another person. You don’t really get paid attention to. But if you want to pick up an electric guitar then fucking do it. If you want to play the flute- fuck yeah.