CHASTITY BELT (From left) Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, Julia Shapiro, raw steak, Annie Truscott.
Chastity Belt are a real band. But before they were a real band, they were a chant, a scribble—a joke taking wry ownership of an almost unbelievable concept. The lore of the literal chastity belt seems to begin at the Crusades, when people assumed husbands kept their wives locked up in metal underwear to assure fidelity while they were away fighting dragons for Jesus. Though the internet claims the devices didn't actually come into physical existence until much later (only the metaphorical concept was there, in medieval poetry I never want to read), the idea is no less horrifying, or hilarious. I'm glad we can all laugh about it now.
Which brings us to the other, much better Chastity Belt, a local four-piece whose songs of male ponytails and nip slips are delivered with swoony, intricate guitar and subdued/raw vocals. The band is Julia Shapiro on guitar and vocals, Annie Truscott on bass, Lydia Lund on guitar, and Gretchen Grimm behind the drums. I met up with Shapiro and Truscott to learn about how they got started, what the fuck they thought they were doing (young lady), and how they got so good at it.
It started freshman year at Whitman College in Walla Walla (a place Shapiro and Truscott tell me is "filled with wheat fields—the thing to do was buy a bottle of wine and sit in a wheat field"). "Annie, Gretchen, and I played in this band called Combo Pack," Shapiro begins. "We strictly did covers of songs like 'Kiss Me Through the Phone' and 'Buy You a Drank.' We found this chord progression that matched every pop song ever, we just had to change the key." The following school year, "Lydia and I came up with just the name Chastity Belt—we would go to frat parties and flip over tables, like 'We're punks, chastity belt!' We'd start chastity belt chants, break bottles," Shapiro says. "But then feel bad and sweep it up," adds Truscott.