As frameworks go, it’s one that’s been shaped by the title of Bleached’s third album, and then built upon in nearly every interview siblings Jennifer and Jessica Clavin have done since the record’s release. That’s understandable, because the story behind Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? is a good one.
For years the Los Angeles–based sisters were of the opinion there was no such thing as too much partying. With that in mind, it was perhaps no accident the band’s first two full-lengths—Ride Your Heart and Welcome the Worms—were loose, scrappy, and often chaotic affairs.
When the Clavins weren’t raging on the stage, they were doing their best to escape reality—until things started spiralling out of control. Bleached’s singer, Jennifer, was the first to realize she had a problem and—more importantly—needed to do something about it. For her guitar-playing sister Jessica, getting some clarity took a while longer.
“It was like I had a bar in my bag,” Jessica says candidly, speaking on her cellphone from a tour van headed across Illinois. “I was secretly drinking on the side because I didn’t want anyone to see what I was doing. I felt like I had a lot of people worrying and I didn’t want anyone worrying, so my solution was to hide it. It was like, ‘I’m not going to stop doing this, so how can I make people think that I’m okay?’ I was hiding it from my boyfriend—who’s now my husband—and even hiding it from Jen, always making an excuse to go to the bathroom so I could drink more.”
At some point, it hit her that she wasn’t just hurting herself.
“When it became clear was when it started affecting the band,” she says.
A self-described people-pleaser, Jessica acknowledges that this mindset helped when friends and family staged what amounted to an intervention. The reward after rehab—besides the clear-headedness that comes with sobriety—was getting together with her sister and seriously committing to writing what’s been hailed as the best record of Bleached’s career.
That there have been some rough patches in the Clavins’ lives is made clear by lyrics like “We used to be the same/Now I’m losing sight of you” in “Silly Girl”. Or “Yeah, once I start, I don’t know how to stop” in the album closer, “Shitty Ballet”. But as pretty much every glowing review has noted, Bleached’s great trick on Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? is managing to reinvent itself. Over the course of 12 tracks the Clavins roll out everything from sugar-spun glam (“Heartbeat Away”) to disco-strafed new wave (“Hard to Kill”) and dance-floor-friendly jungle pop (“Kiss You Goodbye”).
Changing one’s sound isn’t always easy—and sometimes it’s impossible, as the Ramones learned over the course of their entire career. That Bleached pulled it off has made the Clavins grateful not only for where they are today, but also for the past. As painful and awkward as some memories are, they can make you stronger.
“Jen and I love talking about things like ‘What makes you who you are today?’ ” Jessica says. “If you shut the door on the past, you can easily go back into old habits. But if you can talk about things like the bar in the bag, that’s when you keep moving forward.”
Bleached plays the Biltmore Cabaret on Tuesday (October 8).