girlpool's guide to los angeles
It's time for soundcheck on a boiling hot afternoon at The Roxy on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker from alt-rock duo Girlpool are outside sat on top of their car, waiting to lug their equipment indoors. They're a self-contained, ride-or-die gang carving out their own identity in an increasingly weird and awkward universe, like Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch in Ghost World. Coming off the back of a successful SXSW festival and a hefty amount of hype towards the latter part of 2014, the Wichita-signed pair are preparing for something of a homecoming this evening. Their families and close LA friends are raring to see the rockers just before the release of their forthcoming debut, Before The World Was Big. Harmony and Cleo met at legendary indie venue The Smell growing up on opposite sides of the city's suburbia (Harmony lived between Hollywood and the Valley; Cleo grew up near Westwood). They now reside in Philadelphia, having moved out of their parents' homes and today's been a rare chance for them to revisit favorite old haunts, including their choice vegan cafe and thrift store.
Shaking their legs under the table like restless school kids, the pair offer up their map of LA, peppering it with unlikely recommendations and diamond finds. Admiring Harmony's tattoos, I ask for her parlor suggestions but she has none. "All of my tattoos are stick-n-pokes done by my friends!" she says with a Cali drawl. Cleo, on the other hand, only has one tattoo. "I went to the epitome of a cheesy tattoo parlour because it was on a whim late at night with a friend. We went to a place right down the street from here on Sunset Strip." She pauses. "It was very Guitar Hero."
With that, here's Girlpool's guide to the more alternative side to Los Angeles…
Top vintage shops…
Cleo: This morning I went to my favorite thrift store south of downtown called St Vincent de Paul. Harmony would wake up early in the morning and go thrifting with her mom all the time.
Harmony: Deseret Industries off Soto Street is my spot. There's a cool store for amazing furniture, jewelry and old trinkets called Revival next to St Vincent de Paul. Super Thrift in the Valley is so good. There's a neon sign outside that says 'Jesus Saves'.
Cleo: There's also the one-dollar sale at Jet Rag every Sunday morning. It's on La Brea Ave. Everything's a buck.
Cleo: Harmony and I would hang in East LA growing up because that was where all the shows were going on. We met at The Smell, going there to see this band Moses Campbell every weekend.
Harmony: We couldn't go anywhere else at night, so we'd just go to all-ages shows. The Smell would put on bands on a label called Big Joy [French Vanilla, Palm Readers, Surf Curse] who we loved. We love Pehrspace on Glendale Boulevard, too. It's an awesome gallery and creative space.
Favorite burrito restaurants...
Cleo: That's tough.
Harmony: It's hard to go wrong in LA with a burrito. After school I would take the bus to Stories, a cafe in Echo Park. Then go to Los Burritos - on Echo Park Avenue.
Cleo: When you're choosing a burrito joint here, it just depends on whether you prefer your burrito crispy or soft style. That makes a huge difference to your burrito experience.
Harmony: You gotta go to the taco trucks, too. TacoZone is great. Also, Gus's Lunch Box on Glendale Boulevard, opposite [bar] The Cha Cha Lounge.
Best vegan joints…
Harmony: Flore cafe on Sunset Boulevard and Sage in Echo Park.
Cleo: Harmony and I spent four hours in Flore today.
Harmony: I got a southwestern seitan quesadilla and a smoothie. That place rules. Urth Caffe is good, too. I'd skip class and ditch school to go there for boba tea all the time.
Cleo: I grew up going to John O'Groats on Pico Boulevard. It's a breakfast place run by a family. It's an original old-school diner with an adorable counter.
Harmony: Cafe 101 in Hollywood is the best.
Cleo: Oh hell yeah. And Swingers is a great diner, too. Also, Brite Spot on the corner of Sunset Boulevard is classic.
Harmony: My favorite cafe is Bourgeois Pig - it's not open 24 hours, but you can go there till 2am every night.
Top destinations for free food…
Cleo: The Big Chill for frozen yogurt. I'd walk there constantly from my parents' house and eat all the frozen yogurt samples.
Harmony: You totally don't need to buy anything.
Cleo: When I was younger I would go to the mall near my house, get in line at See's Candies and wait for the samples. Then proceed to leave the establishment.
Harmony: I'd do that too at the mall next to my old school. I'd skip class, get samples of everything - as much free shit as possible. Dip'n'dots samples, Wetzel's Pretzels, Panda Express… I knew the jams.
Cleo: I dreaded going to the mall when I was younger. The only thing I liked doing there was going to the food court. Then you'd leave and smell of all the different types of cuisines you'd had.
Favorite nature places…
Cleo: We spent a lot of time hanging at Echo Park lake.
Harmony: Silver Lake Reservoir is real nice, too.
Cleo: I grew up 15 minutes from Ocean Park beach. The parking lot is only $1 an hour so I'd drive there with my bike and then ride along for a couple of hours.
Harmony: I hike up Beachwood in Hollywood, Griffith Park and Fryman Canyon in Studio City. There's a place called Whitsett Ave in the Valley that you can climb up to, it's all graffiti'd. So cool.
Cleo: There are a bunch of overlooks in LA called Top Of The World. There are beautiful ones in the Palisades. Some of them - Topanga Canyon and Red Rock - overlook the ocean and swing over the mountain. It's gorgeous - terrifying and over a cliff, but really fun! Going to the desert, too. Camping and climbing rocks in Joshua Tree. Salvation Mountain has these art installations in the middle of the desert. I miss that place.
Text Eve Barlow