Jess of High Waisted Talks Riot Fest Denver, #hwfamilyvacation, and Hair

Meredith Schneider

New York’s four piece surf pop/rock collective High Waisted has been traveling across the fucking world being their badass selves. They made particularly stellar appearances at both Riot Fest events (Denver and Chicago), and we were thrilled to have caught up with them briefly during their Denver stint. But they weren’t just hitting RF this summer. They have been touring all over the country, updating their road shenanigans on social with #hwfamilyvacation.

When you speak with them, you know they aren’t fucking around about the whole “family vacation” thing either. We met up with them in the afternoon on Day 3 of Riot Fest Denver, just hours after their high-energy, adrenaline-inducing performance. (In fact, photographer Allen Dallas listed theirs as one of his top 3 performances of the weekend. And my mother told me they have the best band name she’s heard in a while, if that counts for anything.) Holy White Hounds was just wrapping up on The Nicole Hoffman Stage, and drummer Jono Bernstein texted me about meeting up after they caught the last few songs. We didn’t expect much more than a quick few words and a couple photos, but Jessica Louise Dye (Jess) greeted us with giant hugs and enthusiasm for days. Even with their early set time, they were still as radiant and talkative as ever.

I know we’ve done a lot of work with High Waisted on IMPOSE, but I hadn’t actually had the privilege of meeting up with them. But I was immediately smitten. As we walked, Jono told us about the weekend they had had and the bands they had seen, Jess spoke with me about her chance encounter with Juliette Lewis (below), and we found out that the band was having slight issues keeping each other in the same location.

But can you blame them? Riot Fest is one of those free-for-all music festivals. Anything can happen.

Sadly, we had to part ways too quickly. But we did get a few questions in for the lovely leading lady Jess (and some quirky band portraits of everyone in the throes of this riotous occasion), and a rain check to hang out next time we find ourselves in similar geographical locations.

Let’s just hope that’s sooner than later.

What’s the first song/album you remember listening to, and who introduced it to you?

Steve Miller Band “Keep on Rocking Me Baby”.

We have classified your sound a hundred times. How would you describe it? 

Butt rock. JK! Let’s go with surf pop. 

So you’re on a little trip right now, calling it #hwfamilyvacation. So are you sharing a lot of pubic hair and nipples this time around too? 

We will never censor the wild moments or my lady bits, family vacation or not. Jono our drummer is shooting lots of film, gonna be some xxx wholesome family vacation goodness to develop. 

What was your experience at Riot Fest Denver like? Any fun stories? 

The artist area was open bar and open weed. Like, open weed is a thing in Colorado guys!? Can you believe it? The weekend felt like the best summer camp. I got to catch up with so many band friends while moderately intoxicated and wearing a star spangled sequin cape. Success. 

Jess, you got your moment with Juliette Lewis at Riot Fest. Tell us a little bit about that.

We both had these American themed Evil Knievel costumes on. So of course we were drawn to one another and had to snap a few pics together! She actually approached me when I was ready for our set and it was still early. She was not dressed yet, but she told me that she had a very similar outfit and wanted to make sure we got a photo together. So, of course, we did. It’s Juliette fuckin’ Lewis!

You mentioned that keeping y’all together at Riot Fest was like rounding up kittens. If your band were a kitten, what kind would it be, what kind of personality would it have, and what would its name be? 

First of all, you need to know that we all have band sister kitties and their mommy. They’re the cutest. I threaten to bring mine, Burger, on tour every time and no one will let me. If the band were a kitten, we’d be an alley cat singing for our supper in Chinatown NYC. We’d be all black with big green eyes, and a little snaggle tooth. 

Best performance you saw all weekend?

Sleater fucking Kinney. Period. 

Best food you had all weekend?

There was food? I stuck mostly to beer. 

If you were to have a beer chugging contest, what type of beer would you choose?

PBR. Cuz we have the most practice slurping it down. I think it would be a close fight between myself (Jess) and Jeremy. 

(And we would totally do this.)

Favorite stop on this leg of the tour so far?

Columbus, Ohio. I stole the bartender, had a hot tub party and woke up cuddling a dog. 

Your hair… it’s like a painting. Any plans for your next look?

I wanna dive deeper into the world of neons and other colors that look weird under black lights. 

Any hygiene or styling tips for those luscious, luscious locks?

Don’t over wash! And leave in conditioner! 

Do you braid each other’s hair? 

We don’t braid it nearly enough. Maybe our next album will come with a lock of hair. 

Be honest. Do you want to kill each other after spending such lengths of time in close quarters in the van? 

Honestly, no. Van time is the best time. We listen to tunes. Nap. Eat. Read. Gossip. Play games. Write. Sing songs. It’s sorta awesome. 

Any deep, dark secrets you’ve learned about each other? 

Like I’d tell you 😉

What is one experience you think every human being should have in their life? 

Everyone should lose a possession they really value, to learn the lesson that things are just things and how to cope in a crisis situation. Staying calm and positive are tough skills to maintain when upset. 

Who is the best superhero? Why? 

I know nothing about super heroes. I used to watch that show, Heroes. Does Luke Skywalker count?

What should we look forward to from you guys?

A new record. More sequins. Maybe a tour dog. Fresh graffiti on our van.


Keep up with all things High Waisted here. (Oh, and they have a pretty incredible Instagram. Just sayin’.)

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