Tuning In with Betsy Wright

Posted on August 7, 2014 by


Betsy Wright has spent most of the summer in a van with her Ex Hex bandmates and their equipment, driving from city to city to play shows in support of their 7” single, “Hot and Cold,” and upcoming album.

The back cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" album.

The back cover of Madonna’s Like a Virgin album.

It’s what she’s wanted to do for years.

Wright knew she wanted to play music, she said in an email, around the time Madonna’s Like A Virgin album came out.

“I’ve played music and loved rock and rock and pop music for as long as I can remember,” she says. “There was something about Madonna back then—she was so electrifying. That was the first time I ever thought, ‘I wanna do that.’ I mean, just look at her.” Her email included a shot of the album cover.

When Wright dons one of her denim jumpsuits, slings her Gibson SG bass over her shoulder, and joins guitarist/singer Mary Timony (of Helium, Autoclave, and Wild Flag) and drummer Laura Harris on stage, she creates something electrifying, playing kick-ass rock n’ roll tunes with a punk edge.

Betsy Wright plays with Ex  Hex at Boot & Saddle Photo by Scott Troyan

Betsy Wright of Ex Hex plays at Boot & Saddle | Photo by Scott Troyan

Before joining forces with Timony and Harris in Washington, D.C., Wright played with the Fire Tapes here in Charlottesville and played honky-tonk piano with fiddle player Alex Caton.

Wright was planning to move back to D.C. when Timony, a longtime acquaintance of Wright’s, told Wright that she was looking for a bass player for her new band. Timony asked if Wright was interested in the gig. “I told her that I never had played a lot of bass, only guitar, but I would try.”

“Once I heard some of the songs they were working on, I wanted to play with them really bad, so I started practicing a little. I played with them one day, and I think we all agreed right away that it was a good fit both musically and personality-wise.”

Ex Hex recently recorded its debut album, Rips, to be released on Merge Records this October. According to Pitchfork, recording took place over two weeks in Timony’s basement in D.C., and in North Carolina with former R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter. “Recording took a lot of work,” says Wright. “That’s all I remember. It was like the Army.”

The trio will hit the road again this fall, playing more shows in the U.S. and Canada. When Wright isn’t on stage or in the van, she can be found going for a run or enjoying a bit of mischief. “The other night after [playing] Merge Fest,” she says, “we went swimming in the hotel pool really late at night. I still get a thrill out of hopping fences and doing things you’re not supposed to do.”

Wright’s song selections reflect that attitude —she’s put together what she calls “a fun, glammy, playlist… good driving music, uptempo.” Most of the songs are from the 70s and early 80s, perfect for driving, hopping fences, or gearing up for a rock n’ roll show.


A few of Wright’s picks aren’t available on Spotify, but you should hear them anyway:

Posted in: music, Tuning in