RAT BATH is an all trans band that reclaim queer-coded villains from their childhood as heroes and strive for visibility in the music industry. They describe their sound as “Y’allternative” but have also been called Cow Punk, Alternative Emo, Dirt Americana and Murder Country.
Whichever way you slice it; they are fast, loud, and have a unique backwoods edge. Originally formed by long-time friends, Fred Kenyon and Cora Bequeaith in December of 2019, RAT BATH only played a few shows before going into hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When re-emerging into the Milwaukee music scene in July of 2021, the band had a new line-up and a first album written.
Members now include Fred Kenyon (they/them, vocals), Cora Bequeaith (she/her, guitar), Ivy Escobedo (she/her, bass), Róisín Shields (she/they, guitar) and Nikki Nelson (she/they, drums). The band is named RAT BATH because of each member’s shared dream of one day opening a rat grooming salon with intention of reserving the name.
Their freshman album Rat From Hell is considered to be vocalist Fred Kenyon’s autobiography and was named one of The Milwaukee Record’s best albums of 2022. “Rat From Hell” is made up of many different genre influences that don’t seem to work together but, in this case, do. It follows the story of a witch whose powers are rendered useless and is forced to physically fight a demon who was sent to capture them.
The album explores different ways in which trauma manifests in one’s life: fear, anger, romanticization, vengeance, and finally, release. The cathartic ending to the story is told in the track “Sweet Puppet” featuring Johanna Rose. However this is not the final track on the album. The group chose to tack “Slowdown Malacha, Malacha Slowdown” on at the very end to go out in a blaze of thrashy power violence with the first song ever written for RAT BATH.
“Scale of the Fish,” the most recent single, is an account of modern romance via a fish trapped in a bathtub, struggling to breathe as the tub fills with alcohol instead of water. The following sophomore album is also highly conceptual, telling a star-crossed lovers’ tale of a vampire and a time-traveler. Although this album still challenges the definition of genre, there is a more cohesive sound and climactic build.
Having completed three regional and two national tours, RAT BATH continues to take their music on the road and have been included in music festivals such as Stoopfest in Lansing, MI and Compost Heap in Denver, CO. They’ve shared the stage with Vial, Lung, Pony, Apes of The State, Ceschi Ramos, Mightmare, and Pansy Division; as well as other rising Wisconsin acts such as Gold Steps, and Kat and the Hurricane.
2023 Great Madison+ LGBTQ+ Artist Survey