Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh – Taking Over!Wednesday, 14th October 2020
Not too many bands out there can claim that they are composed solely of three teenage sisters. But Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh can even do one better and also state that they also came up with their genre of music: beautycore. With extremities that tap into the heavier side of things with metalcore influences, they are contrasted with some soaring pop melodies with equal flair. It’s an intriguing concept, and the band’s newest EP, Operation Takeover, is a five track smattering of all the band has to offer, from super heavy to sweetly melodic – painting a wide brushstroke of influences and soundscapes. We spoke with bassist/vocalist Maggie English (with some light accompaniment from her sisters CJ and Lulu) about the band’s sound and goals, their new EP, and what it’s like to be in a band with your sisters.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel you’ve improved upon with Operation Takeover?
Maggie English: With Operation Takeover we really tried to push ourselves to the extreme, on every level. So with the heavy songs, we wanted to go as heavy as we could possibly go. We experimented with new screams that were lower or longer, more difficult guitar parts and lower tunings. When we did more pop/punk songs, we wanted to really make the lightest one a very ‘90s pop/punk kind of feel. It was very cheerful and cheesy, and we had never done anything like that before. We pushed ourselves to make it as cheesy as possible [laughs]. For the punk rock type songs, we had never really done a song that was specifically punk rock. Finding an avenue that we could explore that we hadn’t done before helped us develop our talents on our instruments as well as the vocals – as well as how we approach things on stage.
Dead Rhetoric: So you were able to experiment a bit more, like you were saying, with the pop/punk songs and different avenues?
English: We love trying new things and seeing what we love to play and what the fans love. We always want to be sure that both sides are enjoying things. Everyone loves it! None of the songs are the same, and that’s something we strive for. You don’t want to listen to the same song over and over again. We wanted to make sure that each song felt like you were putting in a different cd.
Dead Rhetoric: With all of these avenues and experiments, what do you feel the essence of your sound is?
English: I feel that even though we take all of these different aspects of different genres and throw them into our own music, we call ourselves ‘beautycore.’ It gives us the liberty to add whatever elements we want. There will always been some heavy guitar, driving vocals, and we love having the screaming aspect but we also love having the melody and making it in your face, even if it’s a slower song. It’s a very energetic sound. Even though we push a bunch of different genres, it has a cohesiveness to it at the end of the day.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you discuss the very bright cover for Operation Takeover? You don’t see a lot of that with heavier music. Was this something you were trying to go for?
English: With beautycore, we love bright colors and anything energetic. The usual for metal is black and gray, so we wanted something totally opposite and have a bunch of crazy things on there. There’s a Barbie doll house and three cheerleader Barbies. There’s so much on the cover if you take a closer look at it. Having all of these crazy, energetic colors really represents what the EP is.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel the music is accessible to a wide audience of people? Perhaps some who may not dig into heavier music?
English: That’s something we really like to achieve with each release. A song like “I Don’t Want to Lose My Friends” is very much in that pop/punk aspect. If you don’t like heavy music, you might love this song because it’s not heavy at all. But if you want heavy music, there’s a really heavy song on there. If you are more in the middle, there’s some songs like that too. We want to be able to give a little bit of something for everyone to make ourselves more accessible. To allow more people to be able to listen to us, instead of consolidating it to one group of people.
Dead Rhetoric: How important is your relationship as sisters?
English: I feel like it’s one of the core things that has made us so successful. Being in this industry has actually even made us grow closer. You have to be able to be humble and open with each other. If you don’t, the little and petty things are going to grow and you aren’t going to want to be around each other. We had to learn, especially in the past year, we grew from the experience of learning how to function with each other. We are sisters, and people think it should be really easy to work together. It’s actually kind of harder because we all want to go our own ways. But the band has forced us to be humble and grow closer to each other.
Dead Rhetoric: What does the term beautycore embody to you?
English: Originally, it was just a joke because we didn’t know what to call our sound. People told us that we weren’t metalcore and that we weren’t metal, or weren’t rock. So we didn’t know what we were. We got tired of being told that we weren’t a certain thing, so we came up with our own genre so that people would stop saying what we weren’t. This is something that we make, it’s a place to call our own. In pushing it through the years, people have started to jump on it. We have had a lot of bands that we have grown up playing with, that had either female lead singers or female members in the band, and they have started to use the term too. It’s empowering to see people, especially women, joining together and saying that they can do this – we can be in rock music and roll just as hard as the boys.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s funny you mention that. With heavier genres, there’s a lot of elitism and people saying that you aren’t a type of music. It’s tough for bands that try things differently to fit into a predetermined box.
English: Yeah, and there definitely is some gatekeeping that has happened through the years in certain genres. We have heard things like, “I don’t like this, because this is a girl,” but we don’t want it to be like, ‘women are better than men’ either. We want it to be [equal], we can do this as well as the men. Honestly, music is for everyone: no matter your age, weight, or gender. Music is music. There’s no label in terms of who is allowed to listen to it.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve experimented a lot with different things to engage the fanbase during this pandemic. Anything you are particularly proud of doing?
English: We actually did an e-tour, where we contacted some of the places shut down from the pandemic, as well as some of our sponsors, to have us play on their Instagram/Facebook/other platform that they wanted us to play on, and we promoted them. We played an acoustic set, and interacted with our fans, as well as the people who support these companies. That was really cool that we could do that in March/April.
Dead Rhetoric: How important is it to keep up the interactions during a period like this?
English: Definitely. This is a team. Teams have meetings and practice, and they go out on field trips and have fun together. We always want to be communicating with our GFM team. We are able to do that on social media, but even having these live streams where we can play sets or just chat and play video games. Being able to just sit and talk with them. Having those meetings and hearing from them helps you to reconnect – there’s faces on the other end of the social media.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that you’ve had to overcome some challenges in having a band centered around sisters?
English: It’s been very easy for us – we don’t have the issue of being homesick on tour because we can bring our family with us. Our mom is our manager and bus driver, and our dad can fly out to most of our shows if we are on tour. We do get to have most of our family on the road with us. Like you said, if there’s an issue, we all have to deal with it. We can’t just let it go. It has helped us to be more open and communicate with each other. We always tell people that we don’t know how these bands do it who aren’t related because it’s so comfortable having sisters in a band.
Plus we all live together. Making decisions, filming videos, doing interviews like right now, it’s accessible because we don’t have to go somewhere. We are all here 24/7. If someone gets a music idea, they can run into a room and we can discuss it and sit down and start writing. That’s the joy of being in this band together and being homeschooled. We have the ability to do these things, and enjoy the off days and bond, which is also important. If you are just in a band, that relationship is not as much as it could be if you only have the music part. So we have the music as well as our sisterly bond. It comes in as a strong force – nothing can come against us.
Dead Rhetoric: So is it tougher or easier to draw the line when dividing time between family and band time?
English: It’s kind of just an ongoing thing. It’s something that we have learned to deal with better. GFM was taking over the majority of our lives. But we have been able to find a bit of balance. While we might still work on GFM throughout the day, we have times where there are no cameras. Times for just the family, or not talking about some things in interviews because it’s just for us. We have found a good balance with that. We are able to do school, and our dad is able to work. We are still able to come back at the end of the day, and if we don’t want to do anything with GFM, we figured out how to do that.
Dead Rhetoric: I’m a teacher myself, and in viewing the pandemic, at least if you are homeschooled you don’t have to deal with the stress that has become this year in doing school differently than normal since you have been doing it your own way from the start.
English: That’s something that was kind of crazy in how it worked out. We did go to an actual school for the majority of our schooling. About five years ago, Lulu was in 7th grade, I was in 10th grade, and [CJ]was in 11th grade, we pulled out of actual school and started home schooling online. We were missing show dates, and missing so many school days that we were going to be kicked out of school. So we switched to online so we could continue with GFM and have more opportunities. Now with the pandemic, nothing has changed. We did everything online anyways. Our hearts go out to those kids who are having to learn everything for the first time because it was difficult to figure out how to have that responsibility and time management. But it is possible. For anyone having those struggles, it will get better and you’ll get used to it. It’s possible.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you like to achieve with GFM?
English: We have lots of goals. Our parents have taught us to have goals from next week all the way to twenty years from now. You just have to be always striving for something, or you won’t be striving for anything at all. If it’s not written down, it might not happen. As for GFM, we want to tour with our music, and meet more fans who haven’t been able to meet us. Especially overseas. We have a bunch of people all around the world who want to see us, and we really want to visit them. Being able to tour next year would be really cool.
On top of that, we want to be that positive outlook for people. The world is getting pretty dark now, and we want to be light in a genre that can sometimes dwell on negative things. To have that ability to make someone feel better after listening to our music is what we strive to do. We are open about our struggles and we also write about where we come from. We want to let people know that they aren’t alone. We can do this together, and you have the strength to overcome this.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you taken advantage of this time to get ahead with any writing?
English: We always try to be writing something. We just put out the EP in September, and that was written way in advance. We have been writing stuff but we are running with the EP right now. But we are trying to take advantage of the free time we have. Whether it’s downtime after school or whatever, we are trying to push GFM and have something up our sleeves.
Dead Rhetoric: What plans are there for GFM for the rest of the year?
English: We have a bunch of stuff coming out very soon, as well as some stuff planned for further down the road. We are working on a show in Florida. We are waiting to see what is allowed and what is going on with that. Then we are making sure that we are interacting with our fans. Even if we can get a few shows booked, not everyone can come to them. We are trying to find ways to make sure we are live streaming and streaming shows so that fans who can’t come to an actual show can see them.