In the mid-aughts, there wasn’t a more furiously fun live band in Portland than the Clorox Girls. Comprised of three Oakland expats—none of whom were females, by the way—the group played ebullient, blink-and-miss-it pop-punk with roots in the Buzzcocks and Red Kross, a song by whom the band took its name. The Girls seemed poise for a breakthrough after the release of 2007’s J’aime Les Filles on seminal L.A. label BYO Records, but after years of international touring, singer-guitarist and, at that point, lone original member Justin Maurer found himself deep in debt. He put the band on hold and relocated to Spain.
Last year, however, Maurer returned to the states and started recording under the Clorox Girls name again. He didn’t forget about Portland, though. And earlier this month, he reconvened the band’s original lineup—himself, bassist Colin Grigson and drummer Clay Silva—for a one-off reunion gig at the proudly divey Southeast Portland punk club East End. Although he now lives in Los Angeles, Maurer remembers his time in the Rose City fondly. We asked him for memories of playing shows around town in the early days. He offered several.
“We had things happen, like, people would end up cutting their hands open and rub blood on my face like warpaint. One time, we were driving to a show, and we were in this phase where we were mooning everybody. So we were sticking our asses out the window and someone threw a cinder block at our van. It almost hit me, and it actually hit the van. We opened for that band Total Chaos one time at the Paris Theater, and we all wore short jean shorts that were so short the pockets were longer than the shorts. I had a Black Flag T-shirt that says ‘Make Me Cum,’ and I made it into a cutaway shirt, and we’re opening for these tough guy punks in Total Chaos. Lots of times we threw flour into the crowd. We played Beulahland and threw a bag of flour, and it got into the ceiling fan, and it just completely fucked up the sound equipment and the microphones. The bartenders were seriously going to kick our ass. We had to clean up the mess ourselves to avoid getting beat up by the Beulahland staff. We were young and stupid, but we always tried to have a good time. Lots of alcohol, some drugs, and a lot of soaking wet Converse All-Stars.”