By pairing loud instruments with haunting harmonies, Pool Boys (Emma Rose Browne, Caroline Jackson, Annie Dillon and Monica Metzler) explore dualities of all forms in spaces often overlooked. They don’t fit into any one genre—they use elements of grunge, punk, pop and alt rock, demonstrating skillfulness and fearlessness.
“We formed just after the 2016 election,” says guitarist and songwriter Browne. “At the time, I was just thinking about feminism a lot, joining with women. I was also thinking about music and creativity and what art can contribute to society, especially in the face of a political regime that none of us agreed with.”
She adds that “at the time, I had only been in a band with one other female. It kind of came from wanting to have the experience of what it would be like to be in a creative collaboration with other femmes.”
While away in Argentina, Browne went out on a limb and texted three musicians she knew and respected back home in Portland about starting a band. Immediately, all three responded that they were on board.
One was Jackson (songwriter, bass). “For me, part of my impetus was at the time I had been in a couple of other bands, but I was not the songwriter in any of them,” Jackson says. “I had a lot that I wanted to say and was sort of looking for a project where I could write, but also collaborate with writing, because I love that process.”
While it is a rarity to have more than one musician in a band sing, Pool Boys have multiple singers on most of their songs. The result? Unique three- and sometimes four-part harmonies.
It’s no wonder that when thinking about their band, the first two words that come to singer and guitarist Annie Dillon’s mind are camaraderie and creativity.
“It’s rare to get to create music with your friends and even rarer to be regularly blown away by the sheer talent of what they’re bringing each week,” Dillon says. “I feel grateful to be in a band that challenges me regularly and pushes me to be a better musician.”
Pool Boys were getting ready to release their first EP before the pandemic hit. Instead of pumping the brakes, they continued with their steadfast weekly practices and wrote more songs, ensuring they’d be prepared to release both their EP and record a full-length album shortly after.
“There’s a lot of variety,” Browne says. “I always like to joke that one thing you can’t say about Pool Boys is that all our songs sound the same. Each is different, but there’s some common threads and themes. We are super-addicted to harmonies and wandering guitar lines.”
Drummer Monica Metzler agrees: “I believe we’re trying to express the more innovative and unexpected side of music, whether that’s being an all-femme band in a male-dominated industry or playing around with the form and structure of music and melodies.”
Pool Boys will release their four-song EP Obviously, Doctor on June 21 (more at poolboysband.bandcamp.com). Like all their music, it speaks hard truths, but manages to do so in a fun and approachable way.
“Pool Boys is not basic,” Metzler says. “When I started playing drums with them, I was constantly surprised at the form and dynamics of the tunes. We like to keep it interesting.”