Audrey Campbell, Vocals, Pleasure Venom
Audrey Campbell is a black woman who fronts a punk band, something you don’t see very often in Austin. Though she loves the scene and being a part of it, she also feels that she constantly has to work much harder to be noticed and taken seriously.
“To deny my blackness is to deny me,” she said. “Colorblindness is a thing for the privileged. I don’t have that. It’s something I stare in the face at every show whether playing or as a spectator just watching. People act like the scene is super supportive, but it’s not. I feel like as a black woman, making music in Austin, I’ve had to punch my way through to get heard and be a 100-times better as my white counterparts.”
As a performer, Campbell can be described as inhibition-less, like she’s letting it all out through her microphone and movements – which are always wild and vigorous. She’s not shy when on stage, undergarments visible to the audience — but it’s obvious it’s because she’s lost in her performance — not that she’s trying to be specifically vulgar.
Pleasure Venom just released their first EP on Feb. 4 and already working on new material for another one.
Lauren Hemphill, Drums, Popper Burns
When Lauren Hemphill is not playing drums for Popper Burns, she is running her own company called Ink It Labs, which is a charm manufacturing business. While small trinkets and charms are the business’ largest sellers, she also designs toys and jewelry – which are her favorite pieces to do. A company will come to her with a design or idea, and she will manufacture it from there, with her own equipment that she has in-house. This business is her passion, and what she has been working on for almost five years.
“The fact of the matter is, the band can’t be as important because it doesn’t pay the bills,” she said. “Labs is my main source of income.”
But the band is important to her too. Playing drums for Popper Burns can sometimes be challenging, yes – in the role itself, but even just in the way that audiences and other musicians may not take her seriously because of the fact that she’s a petite woman on drums.
She recounted a story from a time she was about to play Hotel Vegas: A man from the crowd loudly asked her if she was any good. Her response: “Well we’ll fucking see, won’t we?”
“I think the assumption is because I’m small in stature that I’m not going to hit them hard,” she said. “And that might be a safe assumption, but I try my damnedest.”
The band is working on a tour to the west coast in November.