Glassetonbury, Vol. 7 ended with a back-and-forth Championship Round, but Lincoln, Nebraska’s Distressed Damsels was able to defeat Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Martyr For Madison with their song “Midwest Dreams.” Guitarist Gage Shiveley and vocalist C.J. Guenter write most of the music for Distressed Damsels, while recording engineer/lead guitarist/Shallot Records owner Hunter Arias uses his knowledge and musicianship to help bring the songs to life. Since the release of “Midwest Dreams,” the band has also added Simon Nabb on bass guitar, Liz Rathe on keys, and Canyon Skare on drums. We caught up with them to learn more about their experience in the tournament, their formation, the effects of the pandemic on them, and the creation of their bracket-winning song.
GLASSE FACTORY: How long have you been playing music? When did you start, and how did you get interested?
DISTRESSED DAMSELS: All of the members of Distressed Damsels have been interested in and playing music most of their lives. [Singer] C.J. took choir for seven years, and after graduating decided she wanted to be the vocalist in a band. [Guitarist] Gage has been playing music from a young age, teaching himself guitar at thirteen. Since then he has been in multiple bands throughout the midwest scene and here in Lincoln.
Who were some of your early influences, and what are you listening to these days?
Cherry Glazerr is definitely a huge one for us. IDLES, Girlpool, Peach Pit, and King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard are bands always on our queue.
How did Distressed Damsels come together, and how long has this project existed?
In January of 2020, C.J. posted to Instagram saying “Who wants to start a band?” Gage along with some others reached out, and we formed about a week later under the name “Distressed Damsels.” So we’ve been together a year and a half now.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect you both personally and professionally, and what do you think you learned from the past year and a half?
The COVID-19 pandemic started about a month after we did, so we were feeling pretty stagnant for a while there. There are pros and cons to it though, because while we weren’t able to play shows, we were able to spend a lot of time sorting ourselves out and learning in a lot of aspects, like our sound, band members, schedules, equipment, and goals. We’re feeling a lot more confident than in the beginning because of the time we’ve been allowed to take, so while it was pretty shitty in the moment, we are really happy with where we are at the moment, just on the brink of everything [and] gaining momentum.
Let’s talk about your tournament-winning song “Midwest Dreams.” What was the inspiration for the song, and how did it come together in the studio?
The inspiration for this song was just the love that we have for each other. The first lines “tripping off the midwest skies, my friends are forming alien eyes” came from an experience C.J. had, and we just went from there. In the studio, it came together pretty quickly. It was one of the first songs Gage and C.J. wrote together, so it was just a matter of getting everyone to the studio. This was hard at the time, but once everyone was there and working on it, it came together pretty dang well.
What was your experience like participating in Glassetonbury, Vol. 7? What do you think made “Midwest Dreams” resonate so much with our voters?
This experience has been absolutely amazing. We originally did not know what to expect from our first competition, but after the first few rounds we got really serious, and we are so happy with the turnout. In all honesty, we were up against some really killer songs and artists. We don’t know exactly what resonated with the voters about “Midwest Dreams,” but we are psyched that people seem to like it so much!
What projects are you working on now? What are some of your goals for the rest of the year?
We are currently working on getting an album recorded to (hopefully) release during the winter. Our goal for the year is definitely to get as many shows as we can, release a killer album, and collaborate with some cool local artists.
Where can our readers follow you for more information?
The readers can follow us on our Instagram and Facebook, though, we are much more active on Instagram than any other platform. Our handle is @distresseddamsels!
Is there anything else you would like to talk about or to tell our readers?
Keep an eye out for any noise coming out of our label and production team, Shallot Records. (@shallotrecords on IG)
Thank you for your time and for this interview.
Listen to “Midwest Dreams” on Spotify below!