Girlyman fights against huge obstacles

Atlanta’s Girlyman is a multi-ethnic/gendered-bending band who perform, in their words, “leading edge three-part harmony folk-pop.” The quartet have fought through serious challenges over the past decade, including the dissolution of inter-band romantic relationships and last year’s diagnosis of singer/guitarist Doris Muramatsu’s leukemia.
Having released five albums to date, the band is between releases, but is touring now because this is what they do: play music full-time. Their lone male member explains it to LEO.

Nate Borofsky: We’re pretty much always “on the road.” We usually tour a week or two per month. Early on, we found we didn’t like big, long, cover-the-entire-country tours, so we do it this way. We love to tour and play, so we keep it up, regardless of our album schedule. This time, we’ll be practicing some of the new songs for the next album, too.

LEO: Do you anticipate the next record being funded by fans again, or through more conventional means?
NB: We’ve always relied on our fans to help us cover the costs of recording. We’ve taken pre-orders for every CD we’ve made so far — and we’ll probably do it again this fall for the next CD.

LEO: With all that the group has been through in the past two years, do you think the direction of the music will change as a result? Does this feel like a new era for
the group?
NB: With every CD, we dive in and try to make the music sound as best we can, the way that we want it. We’re currently doing that for the next CD, so we’ll see if the sound changes radically. My guess is it will sound a little different with (new full-time member) JJ (Jones) playing drums throughout, but it will still sound pretty much like a Girlyman CD.

Their trademark is their rich vocal harmonies, a sound increasingly employed by slightly more macho groups, like My Morning Jacket, Fleet Foxes and Band of Horses. Girlyman isn’t threatened by the competition.

NB: I love that there are more harmonies out there! Harmonies are something we loved to make long before we were doing this professionally. If harmony bands never came back into style, we’d still be doing it. We’re junkies.

LEO: Another subject where Girlyman has been ahead of the mainstream has been in gender and sexuality issues. Do you agree that things are getting better for LGBT folks across the country?
NB: Similarly to the harmonies, our expressions of gender and sexuality are just who we are. We’ve always tried to be true to that, onstage and off. I think things could still improve for LGBT folks in this country, but things have definitely gotten a lot better in the last 20 years.

LEO: How’s Doris doing on the road, health, happiness and energy-wise?
NB: Doris has been through a lot since she was diagnosed with leukemia last fall, but her health has improved exponentially. Touring can be tiring, and we’re all very conscious of her happiness and energy levels. We’ve toured a lot this year, and so far, so good!

Saturday, July 30
Phoenix Hill Tavern
644 Baxter Ave.
$12, 8 p.m.