LIKE most punks, Vashti Windish, frontwoman of L.A. duo Warm Drag, started out as a misfit. “I was always an outcast,” she tells Penthouse. “My name was weird, my clothes were cheap, and I didn’t eat meat.”
But things changed when this Florida native became a teenager.
“There was this girl who rode the bus with me, she was scary yet magnetic,” Windish recalls. “Her head was shaved, her lip was pierced, and she wore a flannel with cut sleeves and combat boots.” Intrigued, the shy Windish eyed her up and down, and the girl introduced herself. “My life was never the same after that.”
The two became friends, and Windish was inducted into the world of punk rock. She fell hard for bands like Crass, the Misfits, Ministry, Nitzer Ebb, and Bikini Kill, and found inspiration in their free-spirited, fuck-you attitudes. “These core bands were a gateway drug for other obscure music I’m still finding today,” she says.
Windish has since spent her life inspired by music and the powerful aesthetic of rock ’n’ roll. When she finally migrated from Florida to New York City, she played in two bands, Golden Triangle and the K-Holes. While in the K-Holes, she met saxophone player Sara Villard, and the two women started a business based on their shared love of costume, stage wear, and designer and vintage clothing. They opened their first store, Worship, in Brooklyn in 2013; another shop followed in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2015.
Though her businesses have been a success, Windish says she could never abandon music. Since moving to L.A., she started her indie-punk duo Warm Drag with drummer Paul Quattrone. The band signed to In the Red Records, and their releases have garnered attention for Windish’s powerful, sexy vocals and Quattrone’s spacey synth.
Even now, at age 40, Windish still feels the same fearless exhilaration she first experienced with music when she performs onstage with Warm Drag. “I just lose myself,” she says. “It’s almost like a trance. I don’t think. I just feel. It’s the best.”
All photography by Lindsey Byrnes