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Miss Christine’s "Bittersweet" purple dream world

Andrew Teutsch sits at a red keyboard wearing a black t-shirt and hat, next to Dustin Duwa on lead guitar, Jon Wilson on drums and Christine Moad on bass and lead vocals. The band poses for a photo after a recording session in IPR's wood floored recording studio. Moad is wearing a pastel purple suit.
Lucius Pham
/
IPR
Miss Christine's new album Bittersweet is out now for purchase on cd and vinyl from Bandcamp!

Before we get any further, let’s set the record rainbow about one thing. Miss Christine is the name of the band, not a stage name for lead singer and bass player Christine Moad. “Miss” is a double entendre.

“A lot of people think it is my stage name, but I am gender queer. I use they/them pronouns, so Miss in Christine means like a longing to break free from societal expectations,” they said.

Miss Christine consists of Moad, Dustin Duwa on lead guitar, Jon Wilson on drums and Andrew Teutsch on keys. The band has a punk sound that’s laced with hints of pop and heavy bass lines. And as they've grown together, the challenge of expectations and the color purple - a mix of blue and red, or better yet, a mix of blue and pink - has continued to slowly creep into every part of their look. Moad sings into a purple mic; Wilson’s drums are a shade of pastel purple. Duwa arrived to Studio One for the recording session rocking purple converse sneakers.

The Purple Suit

The most visible ode to Miss Christine’s gender bending purple dream world might be Moad’s pastel purple suit. “I worked at Fanny’s House of Music in Nashville when I was living there. It’s a music store dedicated to female musicians that also sells vintage clothing,” Moad explained. “When I was recording the vocals for Bittersweet, I stopped in. I saw this pastel purple suit, and I had to have it.”

Turns out, the suit once belonged to Susan Alamo. Now, there’s a documentary aboutSusan and Tony Alamo. If you’re interested in stage style and the crazy ways people come to power when they’re near celebrity, watch it. Susan and her husband Tony were cult leaders. After Susan died, Tony made a fortune selling bedazzled and ornate jackets. (On the cover of Bad, Michael Jackson is wearing an Alamo jacket. Dolly Parton is also photographed wearing one.)

“The flower embroidery on the sleeves and the pant legs adds some flair and flavor,” says Moad. “I always wonder who wore it before me. It’s got to have a story.”

Bittersweet

The bittersweet nature of a pretty rad thrift find with a gnarly back story might be another double entendre - perhaps one about reclaiming hard history as your own and giving it a new frame. Miss Christine's recorded Bittersweet, their newest record (out now!), during one of the hardest times to be recording an album - the pandemic. But they say it’s musically a more fun and free album than their previous record Conversion.

I struggle with an inner perfectionist, and the last three years I’ve really befriended my inner perfectionist. I think that really comes through on this album,” Moad explained. “I was able to take my time and really compose these parts that are musically a lot more fun and free because I allowed myself that space. It’s different from Conversion in that sense because we were in the studio for five days. This album, I drank a lot of tea and took deep breaths and it really went to a new place musically.”

It shows. The first track on the album is a defiant pop-punk track about self-worth called "Can't See," and the fourth track on the album, "Google University," boasts an award-winning music video filmed at the legendary Surf Ballroom.

“The other big theme of my album is self worth – just coming to terms with my identity and sticking up for myself. This song is really an anthem to be proud of who you are and to break free from societal expectations.”

Singing and playing bass

Speaking of societal expectations, most of us are impressed by singing drummers, but singing bass players should also get some cred. Leading a band while also being a vital part of the rhythm section isn’t the easiest thing to do. That’s what Moad does for Miss Christine.

“I went to college for electric bass, and I did a presentation about electric bassists. Sting used to say that he liked playing bass and being a part of the rhythm section because he had control. And I agree with him on that. It’s a lot of responsibility. But it’s my favorite thing to do and I don’t really think about it much,” Moad says. “I just really love the low notes. There’s something about the low notes with my high vocal range that I think it’s really interesting. As soon as I picked up the bass for the first time, I just felt like I was home.”

Miss Christine is Studio One’s Artist of the Month for June. We’re playing their music all month long on Studio One Tracks. Their new album is out on vinyl and CD. Order through Bandcamp.

Upcoming Miss Christine live show dates:

  • 6/3 - Ottumwa Pride Block Party, Ottumwa, IA
  • 6/9 - Capital City PrideFest, Des Moines
  • 6/10 - All About That Bass Invitational, Ideal Theater & Bar, Cedar Rapids
  • 6/11 - Virtual Album Listening Party
  • 6/20 - Music on the Move, North Liberty
  • 6/24 - Roe Fell, But We're Still Fighting Benefit, Cedar Rapids
  • 6/25 - Twin Cities Pride, Minneapolis
Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.