When alternative rock became a contradiction in terms and began its slide toward the mainstream in the early ’90s, its purveyors were a host of angst-ridden males whose loud and driving music inspired a generation of teens to throw away their parents’ music and grasp at something a little more relevant and meaningful. That momentum is long gone, replaced by a disturbingly familiar pop sensationalism (Ashlee Simpson? Jesus.), but there are still some really solid, heavy and catchy alt-rock bands carrying the torch, even if it doesn’t burn so brightly on MTV anymore.
Louisville’s Waterproof Blonde is one of the bands again trying to break the Britney-Christina stranglehold on popular music. With an EP already under its belt, the Louisville quartet is set to release The Morning After the Night Before, a debut full-length suffused with a pertinent mix of pounding alt-rock riffs that reek of female-fronted riot grrl movement bands like L7 and Hole (Waterproof Blonde’s lead singer is the fiery Rachel Hagan) and slow-dirge balladry, like Live with a woman singing.
A celebration of the official release is set for Friday night at Headliners, where the band will also debut a music video for “Hold Me Down,” the radio-friendly first single from the new album. The first 300 people to arrive will get a free copy of the record, and $1 of each ticket sold goes to Home of the Innocents.
The album was recorded in Louisville at Downtown Recording, and the band is ecstatic about how it turned out. That energy, plus the momentum of playing more than 175 shows in the past year and a half, plus the true belief that Waterproof Blonde’s brand of rock will soon be accepted by a massive mainstream audience, is fueling the band’s expectations at the moment.
“I’d love to be, like, where we’re the rage on the radio and everyone in the world could hear me,” singer Hagan says. The 29-year-old spends her days as a receptionist at Blades Salon and Spa. “I (play music) for the love of it, but I want to make money doing what I love to do, you know.”
Hagan and bassist Jeffrey Smith crossed paths a couple years ago and quickly shared a profound interest in starting a band. While watching a French film called “The Girl on the Bridge” — in which a desperate man describes his lost lover as “waterproof blonde” — the concept for the band began to emerge.
Filled out by Adam Dennison on guitar and Richard Vier on drums (both joined about four months ago, following the departure of previous members), the band writes songs together: equal parts in, equal output.
The album is on the Crash Avenue imprint, which is actually the band’s management company and owned by the 34-year-old Smith. The band was formerly on Louisville’s Label X, of which Smith is part owner, although he recently relinquished his duties there, saying it no longer represented his vision of an independent label. Waterproof Blonde severed its contract shortly thereafter.
It’s not likely a band this infectious and accessible will be homeless for long.
“We’re hoping to find a home that understands that what it takes is to get a band out there and get in front of people,” Smith says.
That process begins again Friday. My Finest Hour opens, followed by And Andy. Waterproof Blonde is up after that, followed by The Holiday (nee All Access).Waterproof BlondeHeadliners Music Hall
1386 Lexington Road
18+, $7; 8:30 p.m.