Meet the Parents: Annie (Chastity Belt) and Cheryl Truscott
Chastity Belt bassist Annie Truscott’s mother Cheryl Hanna-Truscott lives quite a different life from her daughter. She’s a midwife and a trained specialist for victims of child abuse, plus she she volunteers at a prison nursery in Washington, and has turned her time there into a compelling photo series. Still, Cheryl can relate to her daughter’s lifestyle, and definitely helped inspire it. We chatted with Annie and Cheryl about what it’s like to have a daughter in a band, plus what Annie’s mother taught her.
Do you have a musical background?
Cheryl: My mother sang around the house most days. If there were a lyric in a song that spoke to what we were talking about, she would break out in a tune. She and my sister used to harmonize – think Everly Brothers, Patience and Prudence. My father played classical guitar. I started playing the violin in fourth grade. That lasted for a few years until practicing became too difficult with doing scales over and over and over. After I quit violin lessons, I played around with different instruments: acoustic guitar, banjo, autoharp.
What is like having a musician as a daughter?
Cheryl: I always thought having musical instruments around for our three kids was important. We bought a piano for our son to play and around the same time, Annie’s older sister started Suzuki violin lessons. For a family Christmas gift, I would typically buy some kind of instrument – so now we have an African thumb piano, an electric keyboard, a Native American drum, various flutes, tambourines, a pentatonic xylophone, rattles, shakers, canastas, several guitars and a cowbell.
Annie demanded violin lessons when she was five years old. She played beautifully, performing without stage fright in recitals since that early age. When we would go to the local music store, there wasn’t an instrument that she didn’t want to try out. When she turned fourteen, she wanted a bass guitar for her present. We went to a pawn shop and got her one.
The last week of her freshman year in high school, there was a talent show. Annie played a duet with her friend: Annie playing fiddle and her friend playing guitar. The song was “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” They knocked it out of the park! They won first prize, which was traditionally given to a senior student’s performance. Annie transferred in her sophomore year to the Tacoma School of the Arts for high school – playing in an innovative orchestra and an amazing quartet.
So, the short answer is that her dad and I are not really surprised that she has taken music so seriously. We’re happy that she is doing something she loves with people she loves – and Annie is talented. Our only concern is that being a musician has an unpredictable trajectory, but Annie seems to roll with the unknown.
What do you tell the other parents when they ask about your daughter?
Cheryl: I tell them that Annie is in an all-women rock band playing bass, that she is happy, that the band has had some remarkable experiences touring all over the U.S. and Europe, and that they have released three original CDs. I also add that each of the band members needs to supplement her income with other jobs, although they can cover their touring expenses through their music earnings.
Do you like your daughter’s music?
Cheryl: Yes. Both Annie’s dad and I really think Chastity Belt comes up with unique songs that speak to their generation. We like playing their music and sometimes, a song will get stuck in my head. We have admired the way their music has changed and expanded as they also have grown.
What advice would you give to parents of aspiring musicians?
Cheryl: I’m not sure I have any good advice for parents of aspiring musicians. I am glad that all players of Chastity Belt are sharp, have other skills and have a grip on where they want to go with this. Playing in a rock band has no guarantees unlike traditional careers. But at this point, these women need to see where their talents will take them.
How did your mother contribute to your career as a musician?
Annie: I started sitting in on my sister’s violin lessons when my mom was pregnant with me and by the time I was three, I was holding my own cardboard violin and carefully mimicking the movements I watched my sister make. My mom thought three was too young to start actually playing so she waited two years to sign me up for lessons.
Growing up, music was always playing in my house—I was born and raised in the woods without nearby neighbors so my parents were not afraid to crank it at all hours of the day. And I mean literally all hours. I often woke up to Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young belting out their hits at full volume. My mom kept me on track with my violin practicing and signed me up for fiddle camps and took me to folk festivals and musical theater productions, while my dad would blast ten different versions of one U2 song on repeat for hours.
Needless to say, my childhood was saturated with music — my mom encouraging me in the classical/folk direction and my dad introducing me to the rock classics (and also Madonna). They took me to my first concert, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, when I was seven, and throughout my tween and teenage years, attended many a Bumbershoot festival so I could stand in the pit and ogle over all the indie rock bands my sister turned me onto.
I am forever grateful to my mom for pushing me into attending an arts high school. Not only did I get to play in a rad classical string quartet, but I also got to take pretty special classes like jazz improv, songwriting and music theory. It was my mom who followed through on my fourteenth birthday wish and bought me a cheap pawn shop bass — I taught myself Blink-182, Coldplay and U2 bass lines from the Internet until violin got so intense and took up all of my free time.
When Chastity Belt formed many years later, I mentioned I had that bass at my parents’ house and that pretty much determined my role in the band. Even though my mom is sometimes confused about what exactly my band is up to, I know I’m doing okay by her when I get a text that reads, “I am really enjoying listening to your new album!”
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