Countrified Comedy with Reformed Whores
They’ve been described as, “If Tenacious D and Dolly Parton got drunk and had a baby.” Female comedy duo Reformed Whores sings about the things you want to say but don’t have the guts to. Wrapped in country music, Katy Frame and Marie Cecile Anderson bring beautiful looks and voices to audiences across the nation.
With the upcoming self-release of their album, I spoke to Katy and Marie about recording in Nashville, gathering inspiration, and having their band name brought up in the Washington Redskins legal battle.
How are you doing getting ready to release the album?
Marie Cecile Anderson: Good!
Katy Frame: Great! We’re doing really well. Self-releasing our album, there is definitely a lot of stuff going on every day.
MCA: Since we kind of lean towards the type A in both of us, it’s fun to figure out every side of it all. It can be a little frustrating like, wait you’re supposed to have barcodes to go along with the albums? Stuff like that.
Let’s start in the beginning, how did you two connect?
KF: We met at a mutual friend’s party in Brooklyn and we bonded over bacon-wrapped scallops and boys.
MCA: It was one of those parties.
KF: I mentioned something about playing the accordion and Marie said she played the ukulele and was like, “We should start a band!” and I was like, “Okay!” I told her before I left that we’re really gonna do this. So a week later I rolled my accordion over and we had a rehearsal. That was it, it was very easy.
MCA: Katy started singing and it was like, “Cha-ching!” cause she has the most beautiful Disney princess voice. My voice is a little raspier and when we harmonized the first time it was just meant to be — which is crazy because we were complete strangers. Then I booked us (very quickly, a month after we started) at the original Upright Citizens Brigade theatre in Chelsea. It was a packed house and from that show we did another and another.
KF: What’s crazy about that first show, is that it was our first show and also “Doppleganger” too which is Sasheer Zamata, Nicole Byer, and Keisha Zollar, which is fun cause we all started together the same night.
How did you come up with the material?
MCA: When we met at the party we were both pounding the pavement as actors in New York City; Katy was doing more musical theatre and I was doing more film and TV. We were talking that night about boys, relationships, dating, love, and loss. When we started writing together a lot of material was pulled from our own love lives and really morphed into this country style. We both love country music and the best way to tell a story is through country music. It just kinda opened up this way of talking about love in a silly way. It made us laugh and when we played for others we realized we had something really special.
Did the name of the group come from that too?
KF: We knew we needed a name and the concept of trying to write serious songs about love was not for us. We definitely think it’s more interesting and fun to do it through comedy. We were looking around for a name and my roommate had a playlist on Spotify that she titled ‘Reformed Whores.’ I had never heard that term before and I just loved that concept, it resonated. I brought it to Marie, still barely knowing her but once I said it she was like, “Okay, done. That’s it, we did it.” It reflected so much of how we felt and what direction we wanted to go in. The name itself has actually dictated so much of what the act is.
MCA: And it’s trademarked too. We were included in the [Washington] Redskins lawsuit that just happened and in the newspaper too. In the lawsuit our band name was named as a more offensive name that was registered in the US trademark office. It’s more offensive than the Redskins…according to the Redskins.
KF: The Redskins have that offensive name and their trademark isn’t going to be renewed because of the racial connotation. My favorite joke: It was their ‘hail mary pass’ to make a list of all these other companies that trademarked offensive names so why can’t they keep theirs.
MCA: We were interviewed by the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated too. I don’t think either of us thought we’d ever be in Sports Illustrated.
I love the idea that it was probably some assistant’s job to look through all the trademarked names for offensive words.
MCA: Some intern had a fun summer! It was the funniest publicity that came from it, so bizarre.
How do you create and develop your songs? Do you gather ideas from politics and news then mix it with real life experience?
KF: Both, we’ve also been doing these videos for Internet Action Force which is this comedy website and those tend to be more political or topical. We just had one about the militia men in Oregon. Mostly things that are on the album are from our lives.
MCA: I think the material we write about always go back to being modern women. When we’re writing a song like “Women Poop Too” it’s just equality. On this new album we have one about online dating and our single is called “Eating Out.”
KF: The song was actually a direct response to Garfunkel and Oates’ song “College Try.” It’s super funny but the message was kind of self-hating. It talks about trying to eat out a lesbian in college but “ew it’s too gross” or “ew it smells.” At the end of the song they say, “I can’t believe I have one!” That’s fucked up. I’m very happy to be a woman, I’m proud of my body and its parts. Our response to that concept had an alternative message and meaning.
MCA: It definitely got our wheels turning.
Do you have role models in country music that have that comedic sensibility?
MCA: We both loved hee-haw and Minnie Pearl. Growing up in Nashville the Grand Ole Opry was all around me, I was so into that world.
KF: The Grand Ole Opry lends itself very well to comedy. June Carter is so funny and underrated as a performer and funny gal. She did really, really silly bits that were hugely inspirational for us in the set-up of our show. We drew a lot of inspiration from that old school set-up — Smothers Brothers is right up our alley. Country music itself is funny.
MCA: Modern country has a different type of comedy and sound to it. We’re both fans of Kacey Musgraves who also recorded her most recent album at the same studio we did. When we were in Nashville recording, she had these big neon cactus and when we were recording they were like, “Oh yeah those are Kacey’s cacti.” She just likes having them around when she records or something!
KF: Where we recorded the album was really, really cool. We were lucky to record at the historic RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee right on music row. The history of this place was that RCA built it for Chet Atkins in the sixties. Everyone you can imagine has recorded there from Dolly Parton to Elvis Presley and through the years it has hosted some of the most talented people in the biz. Two years ago they were going to tear it down and build condos and Ben Folds who leased the property got people involved and rallied to save it in October 2014. We were there in December and everyone we worked with was really grateful to still have it around. You could feel the energy in the room. We got to work with some of Nashville’s greatest musicians; Johnny Cash’s bass player, Reba’s guitar player and more. We did it in two days, working really quickly and it was one of the best experiences of our lives.
MCA: The day of we had these studio session players who looked at us and assumed we were doing another Christian country rock album… um, nope! The very first song the engineer was like, “Oh my God, I’ve never heard the word weiner harmonized that beautifully!” It broke the ice and we worked so well together, they had never worked on a country comedy album before and they could joke and cuss which they probably wouldn’t do if there was a lady in the studio.
Have you ever encountered any backlash against the subject matter or your name?
KF: It’s actually amazing, we have had people of all backgrounds and ages from biker dudes to older ladies, mothers, fathers, grandparents say that we’re singing about the things they think about but would never say out loud. We don’t really get offended people who aren’t on board. We’ve hit on something special and unifying, and maybe a bit educational too.