Burn it down and start again.
That’s the ethos that guides Jessica Boudreaux, the leader of the Portland, Oregon, punk outfit Summer Cannibals. Their latest album, titled Can’t Tell Me No, features a new lineup and was released on a new label, but this isn’t Boudreaux’s first rodeo in either category. Change and adversity don’t scare her one bit.
“We didn’t totally have a choice,” Boudreaux says to Phoenix New Times, describing the scrapped record. “Someone that was involved in the record was lying about that involvement, and they turned out to be a really manipulative and abusive person. We could go along with it and potentially benefit that person, but that would have kept me tied to them, which was the last thing that I wanted. It just seemed like there wasn’t a better choice to me — just put it to bed and pick up the process right away.”
Luckily, the band’s long-time drummer Devon Shirley and their latest additions, guitarist Cassi Blum and bassist Ethan Butman, helped Boudreaux start things over. With a clean slate, the quartet got the chance to collaborate in real-time.
“Cassi and Ethan were playing with us for a year before we wrote this record,” Boudreaux says. “We were about to be promoting a record they didn’t even play on, so it ended up being a blessing in disguise. Doing the record together actually ended up pushing our relationship forward accidentally.”
Can’t Tell Me No is the band’s most immediate work yet. Every track pops and hisses with conviction. The world is on fire, but each song finds light, hope, and love in the ashes.
“It just kinda happened, just dealing with all this stuff,” Boudreaux says. “Instead of having all these events in your life and then reflecting on them, it was all just happening at one time. I wanted the narrative to be clear and I wanted it to be immediate.”
With a relentless touring schedule, Summer Cannibals have had plenty of time to bond since leaving the studio. There’s no doubt that this latest iteration of the group represents the fullest realization of Boudreaux’s vision.
“We’re probably on show 90 just this year together,” Boudreaux laughs. “We’ve toured nonstop since January. We’re all for touring something that we all made together, and that’s been a very bonding experience. We love each other very much.”
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Over the years, Summer Cannibals have been asked on tour by a pretty impressive spread of people, from grunge legends L7, emo stalwarts Cursive, and the Americana perfection of The War on Drugs. Boudreaux’s talent for showmanship translates across the musical spectrum.
“We did a run with CHVRCHES like five years ago, and I realized on that tour that it was more about the energy than the kind of music that we were playing,” Boudreaux says. “Generally, we ride a pretty pure rock line. We don’t fall too far into one category. We keep a fun balance, and that has made it so that we can play with a bunch of types of bands. We bring a really positive and fun energy to the shows and I think that seems to translate to everyone.”
Newly invigorated and armed with unflinching resolve, Summer Cannibals’ latest opus shows that they will never stop evolving and shaking the rafters.
Summer Cannibals are scheduled to perform Saturday, August 31, at Valley Bar. Tickets are $12 via Ticketfly.