MUSIC: THE SHE'S | By Choe Roth


For the last four years, beachy surf-pop outfit The She’s—an acronym for the quartet’s first names—has been San Francisco’s “high school band.” But as bassist Samantha “Sami” Perez, singer Hannah Valente, guitarist Eva Treadway, and drummer Sinclair Riley approach the final semester of their senior year, they are trying to leave behind the “high school” bit.

But, though much of their success they owe to pure pluck—doing all their own booking, approaching big bands at merch tables, and eventually opening for the likes of Morning Benders, La Sera, Tijuana Panthers, and even Girls at The Fillmore—for now, they are very much still teenagers: simultaneously sincere and sarcastic, and funny without meaning to be. We’re not exactly dealing with rebellious Joan Jett dropout-types here.

The She’s have been friends since kindergarten and put the band together in 2007 at a Jewish summer camp. Valente is the team captain of varsity badminton, enjoys painting her nails, and founded her school’s poetry club with Treadway. Riley’s favorite class is biology; she loves dying her hair, doodling, and rock climbing; and as far as long-term goals, she says, “Hannah and I are gonna open a salon in the Sunset where I’m gonna do hair and she’s gonna do nails, and then anything else anyone will pay money for, we’ll also make, like bows and cards, or maybe we can sell them poetry.”

Perez excels at math and physics and when she grows up wants to be either a music engineer or a princess. “It’s a childhood fantasy I never grew out of,” says Perez, who at a recent school talent show used the pink, flower-shaped guitar she got when she was 7. “Did everyone laugh at you?” asks Treadway, a TV lover and pop-music fan who says she’s disappointed by Taylor Swift’s new album.

To a slightly older generation, The She’s are “cool.” They shop for vintage clothes, they listen to The Beach Boys, and they dressed up like characters from Freaks & Geeks for Halloween. But their young peers don’t quite get it. Self-described as “shy, quiet, and antisocial,” they don’t have a lot of other friends at school, and while incredibly precocious, the giggly quartet could still be described as cute, adorable, and wholesome—adjectives they’d like to steer away from as they reinvent their post–high school identity.

Luckily, their (albeit older) musician friends see them as something of equals. “The word high school merely defines their current age,” says A B & The Sea frontman Koley O’Brien, for whom they’ve sung backups both on stage and at Different Fur Studios. “Singing in perfect harmony, they’re one of the tightest local bands to watch live, because they are best friends who love music, and that’s something audiences can feel.”“That’s why we like the music community so much,” Perez says. “They really don’t care what age you are or if you’re an all-girl band; you can always fit in.”“We just happen to be all girls,” Treadway says. “It wasn’t a premeditated thing.” But it was enough to catch the attention of Women’s Audio Mission, a nonprofit that advances women in the audio industry. There they made their first full-length, Then It Starts to Feel Like Summer. “Our album was one of the first albums to be written, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by only women the whole way through,” says Treadway. “That was a really exciting thing to be a part of.” But while their gender has garnered some good opportunities, it comes with disadvantages. Unfortunately, the You’re pretty good… for girls attitude isn’t lost on them. “People aren’t always expecting us to be good,” Valente says of the “backward compliments” that stream in after every performance.

Being in high school means that weekday shows are challenging, the girls can often be found backstage after sound-check doing their homework, and touring is out of the question. But with plans to put off college next year, greener (post–high school) pastures lie within reach. “As we grow older and get new fans, they’re not going to think about us the same way our initial ones did,” Riley says. “We’re just gonna have to rely more on our skill as the stereotypes fade away,” Valente adds. “Like being young, and, well, I guess we’re not gonna ever not be girls.”





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This article was published in:
Music Issue - Released January 2013
Issue 1 / Version 3 | Buy print copy here
Issue 11
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