Many influences inform Ex Hex
Although Mary Timony experienced huge success in 2011 with the acclaimed indie-rock supergroup Wild Flag, she’s ready to move on to new projects.
“I’ve never really been in a band that there was that much attention paid to,” Timony says. “It was fun while it lasted.”
The Washington, D.C.-based singer and guitarist plays PJ’s Lager House Sunday with her new band, Ex Hex. Following Wild Flag’s amicable split, Timony was interested in continuing to play with the fuzzy, danceable guitar hooks that characterized Wild Flag’s self-titled sole release. Forming a trio with drummer Laura Harris and bassist Betsy Wright, she says she set out to write songs that sounded like the radio hits of her childhood, emulating artists like the dBs, the Dwight Twilley Band and Jonathan Richman.
Timony, who wrote all but two of the songs on Ex Hex’s debut album “Rips,” says she embraced the artistry of writing tight, economical power pop.
“Sometimes making something simple takes a lot more effort than making something that’s jammy and complicated,” she says. “You’ve got to weed out all the bad ideas or the ideas that aren’t interesting, and that takes a lot of work.”
Timony’s earlier work certainly came from a less poppy place. Growing up in D.C., she recalls going to shows while she was in high school in the mid-’80s, the heyday of the city’s legendary hardcore punk scene. Although she enjoyed more melodic bands like Fugazi and Rites of Spring, Timony says she never considered herself a fan of hardcore music, which she describes as “really loud and noisy.”
“It wasn’t really the sound that was an influence,” she says. “It was more just like the community of kids that were doing stuff that was really exciting.”
She became an active participant in that scene in 1990 when she formed her first band, Autoclave. The band’s music — moody and challenging, emphasizing complex time signatures — was distinctly different from what Timony calls the “teenage-boy style” of hardcore. Like Wild Flag and Ex Hex, all of Autoclave’s members were women. Although Autoclave’s run coincided with the inception of the riot grrrl movement, Timony says there’s never been an ideological statement behind her all-female lineups.
“It’s just worked out that way,” she says. “I just like playing with musicians that I respect, and I don’t really think about the gender. I just go for people who have great energy.”
Musical energy certainly has never been a problem for Timony, who’s released a slew of albums under various band names and side projects since the ’90s. When she’s not in the studio or on the road, she makes her living giving private guitar lessons in her D.C. basement to upwards of 20 youngsters.
“I will do music even if I’m doing it for my cat,” Timony says. “I just have to do it, so I’m going to keep doing it no matter what.”
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
with Speedy Ortiz and Pity Sex
9 p.m. Sunday
PJ’s Lager House
1254 Michigan, Detroit