The Science of Ficcion


If there’s anything more exciting than a band with a lady drummer, it’s a band with two lady drummers. In the Portland shoe-gaze/dream pop band FICCION (pronounced “fiction”) Angela McIlvain and Tauna Leonardo switch off, playing a sort of drummer version of musical chairs. They are both brand new to drums, falling into the role out of necessity. Leonardo was attracted to the more physical nature of drumming, while McIlvain approached drumming out of a “standing goal to be musically self sufficient,” trading Lisa Schoenberg (of Explode into Colors and Kickball) for drum lessons after McIlvain cut Schoenberg’s hair. Both Leonardo and McIlvain play other instruments but began sitting in on drums as needed. Along with Robbie Pankow, they played their 3rd show as FICCION July 13th at Portland’s industrial Southeast warehouse venue Rotture. For their opening song “Photograph,” Leonardo provided lead vocals and played a hollow bodied guitar, while McIlvain took a seat behind the drum kit. Some songs, Leonardo explains, are better suited for McIlvain’s softer, more basic drumming style (preferring brushes and minimal fills and flourishes). Other songs benefit from Leonardo’s heavy-hitting, more dynamic style of drumming. For her songs on drums, Leonardo moves the high hat aside, using just the ride cymbal, snare, bass drum, and floor tom. On, “Staying Home,” Leonardo stands, using only the snare and floor tom. She says she likes “simple kits and simple drumming,” “with a gated reverb on the snare like an Eighties pop song.” She names Ali Koehler of Best Coast (formally of Vivian Girls) and former Coolies’ drummer Fiona Campbell as her major influences. She also names the drummers for Jesus and the Mary Chain and The Field Mice as influencing her love of simple, scaled down kits. McIlvain provides the strongest vocals in the group, while playing keyboards or drumming, or all three.

On FICCION’s facebook page, they describe themselves as “basement goth” (in the vein of Joy Division and The Cure).

On “Sleep,” McIlvain’s sings and plays drums, with Leonardo on guitar:

“Ships” showcases McIlvain on keyboards and vocals, with Leonardo on drums:

Photos and text by Elisabeth Wilson

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