Formed in 2004, Santa Cruz’s Formaldebrides were the brainchild of Fiona Walker and Sandi Feddema. Alisha Barker would shop at the store Walker worked at, catching the drummer’s eye with her underground style.
“She asked me if I sang, so I lied and said, ‘yes,’” Barker remembers with a laugh.
From there, Barker found guitarist Mercy Vasseur on Myspace, and the four began playing in one of the Bay Area’s—indeed, the entire country’s—only all-female psychobilly bands.
But they quickly began blending their various influences from punk, horror, doo-wop, surf and straight-up rock ’n’ roll into a sound that was familiar, but unlike anything else in the subculture. They embodied the Bride of Frankenstein and Vampira on a Thelma & Louise bender cranked to 11.
Throughout the years, the band would see several lineup changes, with Celia Renteria joining on bass in 2005, Barker’s departure in 2006 and Alexis Coulson jumping on drums after Walker left in 2007.
Despite the changes, the band managed to release two recordings, a self-titled demo and the EP Till Death Do Us Part, and even appeared in the 2010 local film The Jesus Factor. However, by the time of the film’s release, life had caught up with them.
“We were tired,” explains Coulson.
“I think we just lost direction,” Renteria recalls.
“But we never used the term, ‘break-up,’” Vasseur slyly states. “More like an extended hiatus.”
Fast-forward to this Saturday, Dec. 20, in the Catalyst Atrium. Not only will Anchorheart Presents bring the Second Annual “Christmas With the Misfits”—an eight-band extravaganza featuring local acts all performing Misfits covers, with proceeds going to Grind Out Hunger—this year features the return of the Formaldebrides, with a twist.
“We’ve never all played a show together,” Coulson explains.
“This time around, we’re here to have a good time,” declares Barker. “And that’s really it.”
INFO: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20. Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $10/door. Benefits Grind Out Hunger. 429-4135.