Under a new name, Jinksie’s old-school punk flourishes
Putting together any album or EP — especially a debut — can be a tricky maneuver for any band, new or otherwise; most take months if not years of planning because of all the moving parts and endless hurdles. So it must feel truly gratifying to have a debut release come to fruition after years behind the drawing board (or in the basement).
Wendy Norton, guitarist/vocalist of Milwaukee punk-rock trio Jinksie, notes that her main project was a longtime twinkle in the galaxy of her musical eye. But the band didn’t burst into flame until they found their groove after a little recalibration, going from “Fun Bois” to their newest name and honing in on the more powerful sounds that vibe like their very fun live shows.
Norton calls Jinksie “a veritable Old Country Buffet of emotions and nods to familiar early punk rock ethos,” which describes the band to a tee. The group’s sound is definitely cathartic and classic all at once (and totally down with being a little corny). Norton adds, “Whether you're looking for a tender Go-Gos style track to get ready for a Saturday night out or a heavy banger to smash your ex’s stuff to, Jinksie’s gotcha covered!”
Norton, Amelinda Burich (bass/vocals) and Ryan King (drums) pile years of their combined experience in bands of various genres, along with experience as DJs (both radio and records), sound engineers and volunteers for music-centric organizations like Girls Rock MKE to turn out songs that are heartfelt and fun. They recall the punk spirit of the ’70s and ’80s, and echo elements of Milwaukee’s early scene that birthed iconic bands like the Haskels, the Shivvers and Oil Tasters.
Jinksie’s forthcoming self-titled EP was born in the basement and is soon looking to step out into the Bandcamp scene for a digital release. To celebrate its debut, the band will hit up X-Ray Arcade on Friday, Aug. 18, for a 6 p.m. show with The Brokedowns, Chinese Telephones and Jetty Boys.
Before that, Norton got us caught up on Jinksie’s first glimmerings, their most fun show yet, and taking things from stage to tape (to stage again) for their very first record.
The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Before Jinksie, there was Fun Bois, but both bands had you on guitar and vocals, and Amelinda on bass and vocals. How did you and Amelinda initially meet up?
I saw her for the first time performing in Fairweather Friends at one of those Rockerbox festivals, and she just seemed like she was kind of scrambling. I found out later on that she had joined the band, like, 24 hours before, and all of her notes that she had for the first song blew away and shot down the street, and nobody ran after them or anything. So she's looking around, all cute, and I’m like, “Who is this woman?”
Then, a week later, I saw Amelinda playing in a group called IRMA VEP, and "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright started playing in my head (a la Wayne's World), and I knew we would become fast friends. I was doing sound, and we were introduced, and I was like, “Well, we gotta play together sometime.”
We tried a few different incarnations of some bands that never really took off until I ran into her and LUXI at a bar, and I hadn't seen her in a couple of years. I was like, “Well, let's try doing this.” And she was like, “LUXI wants to start playing physical drums because she programs beats” So that's how Fun Bois got started.
Then LUXI’s other music stuff started picking up, and she wanted to open this store, so she found she didn't have time for it anymore. So we brought in my husband and drummer Ryan out of convenience, and he already knew the songs because we practice here at the house.
When bands get new members and it changes the sound and they don't change the name, I always get a little annoyed. I was like, you’ve gotta be the change you want to see in the world, you know? So just change the name and leave some of the “Rough Trade” sound aesthetic to stay with the “Fun Bois.” We’ll keep the more powerful songs for Jinksie.
You’ve played in tons of bands over the years. What makes Jinksie special to you?
Jinksie is me and my BFF Amelinda's project that we had been trying to get off the ground for years but never had time. We started pre-pandemic, but that life hiatus really gave us the time we needed to write songs and work ‘em out.
Describe Jinksie’s sound in three words.
Fun. Femme. Punk.
Who are some artists that are your biggest sonic inspirations?
Coven, KLEENEX, The Wipers.
Do you ever see your sound evolving?
For sure, it already has! We try not to paint ourselves in a corner and certainly aren't afraid to try things out of our comfort zone. I think live recordings are for capturing the energy of the band, but when we go to record, we like to get more experimental with that.
We were ready to leave that post-punky, “Rough Trade,” jangly sound in the dust and reach for more power and energy behind some of the songs. So it's getting a little more assertive, I guess. It’s just more rocking and less dance-y because the drumming is different. Just a different kind of vibe. Ryan has more of a rock ‘n roll background, and LUXI was more of a dance one.
We were inspired to kick out the jams and turn up the energy a little bit, so a lot of new songs came from that. It was more of a feeling of going through your closet and picking out what you're going to donate to Goodwill before you go school shopping for the next year. So it's like, “This one doesn't really fit my vibe anymore, but this one I can work it in,” y’know what I mean? It was just sort of a re-twerk.
What’s your fave show that you've played so far and why? You played with a Japanese band recently, right?
We played in Minneapolis opening for The 220.127.116.11’s this spring, and it was a magical time. Those gals have been a favorite of everyone in Jinksie for a few decades. That was just a love fest. Not to be corny, but I am a cornball. It was Female Love City.
We all hugged each other right away upon meeting — lots of cheek kisses and gassing each other up and s***. It was a gigantic dopamine overdose. The drive home, you feel like you're floating. Like, “Oh, great, I'll be in a good mood for like two weeks now,” you know? [laughs]
What was your recording approach for this first record: Did you get into the studio, or has it been more DIY?
DIY for Jinksie all night and day. The lo-fi, "in the red" approach really captures the rawness of the live sound. If there’s latency issues, it's just easy to be like, “Get your butt back over here, Amelinda [and re-record that part].” Every time I go to record in the studio, it never turns out the way I want it to, and I figure I’ll save like 500 bucks or whatever and just buy a new fancy mic or something. So we've been doing that now.
And now, for our next trick, we got an eight-track tape for next time we record. But for this time, we borrowed Andy Noble's four-track, so it was pretty easy to get a nice, old-punk-sounding, warm analog sound. Then we dumped that in and did all the tricky stuff like doing vocals on the computer. It’s pretty foolproof.
So it's eight tunes total, and they're all going to be on there. There was no reason to scrap any. Some turned out better than others just through the magic of whatever. The one that Amelinda sings on is called “Slide,” and it's definitely standing out as one of the hits. It's more tender. More sweet. She’s got that way of singing, like she's got that lower voice.
So, I understand that you're not pressing this to vinyl and just releasing digitally to Bandcamp. Do you feel like you want to do a release show?
There’s no units, but we set up a listening party and show at X-Ray Arcade for Friday, Aug. 18 (release day). The listening party for the record is at 6 p.m., and we are playing our set at 7 p.m. Jetty Boys, Chinese Telephones and The Brokedowns are also playing.
Aside from a debut EP, what's in store for Jinksie for the rest of the year?
I would like to get around to making some music videos come fall, so stay tuned for that!