The Beauty Supply are a little bit deranged. At a recent shit-hot show at Sin-é, the trio’s frontman, Josh Taggart, introduced the band’s final song by dedicating it to bass player Karen Correa, who was celebrating her birthday. “You may recognize this next one,” the former Candy Darlings guitar player said. “It’s a traditional birthday song [pause] called ‘Sideways Pussy Eyes.’ ” Suffice it to say the song, a tightly coiled punk number with a serpentine guitar riff and mesmerizing beat, had nothing to do with birthdays and everything to do with a lesbian with a lazy eye.
Though he’s sober, Taggart comes at you with the mania of someone who’s got a ruptured balloon full of drugs coursing through his system. If you were sitting next to him on the subway, you’d have no choice but to yell at him. Wanna know what you’d yell? “OMIGOD, STOP FIDGETING!”
“I’m really shy and nervous and insecure,” he offers. “I may seem like an extrovert, but basically I just get in people’s faces and act like a nervous wreck. Do you know what I mean?” he asks, crouching down next to you and rocking back and forth. Yes, actually.
Onstage, he manages to harness his twitchy energy and coax it into short, electrifying blasts of angular garage punk. Think Cramps meets MC5 with a fraggle-haired singer leading hiccupy, snot-nosed, yelp-along choruses. On certain songs, Taggart and Correa sing together and/or trade vocals à la John and Exene. Inspiration still seems to come from the life Taggart no longer leads. “You know when you’re drunk and fucked up and you never want to go home again and you could fall off a cliff and not get hurt? Where you’re completely alone and vulnerable but you don’t care? That feeling is actually really important to me, though I don’t need to experience it anymore.” By all accounts, even his own, he was something of a madman when he was hitting the hooch.
“He would have died,” says drummer Sivan Harlap matter-of-factly. In addition to playing drums in both the Beauty Supply and the Hissyfits, Harlap recently opened up the East Village bar B-side with a partner. As zany as Taggart is, that’s how rock-hard, buckled down, and steadfast Harlap is. She’s obscenely young, too. Taggart describes the band as a seesaw with Harlap and himself on the ends, representing the extremes, and Correa (who also plays in the Hissyfits) in the middle.
Or you could think of the Beauty Supply as the inverse Yeah Yeah Yeahs: two women who are phenomenal musicians nailing down the sound while a craaaaaazy front dude works the crowd into a lather. Taggart may not douse himself with beer like Ms. O, but he does share her passion for fashion. Of late, this has meant tight and white. Such sartorial finesse comes at a cost, though. “I wear the dumbest clothes imaginable. Polyester pants, leather, stuff that doesn’t breathe. After shows, I’m totally hot and sweaty and exhausted, so I have to go lie down.”
It’s hard to imagine him holding still for that long.