Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Warthog

Tenement – Live at The Acheron – 6/25/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)

Tenement III

Toys That Kill played an invigorating set at The Acheron on June 23. Two days later, Tenement did the same on a bill where they weren’t even technically the headliner (that distinction went to Warthog, whose set I didn’t manage to catch). Nancy kicked the show off with a costumed, attitude-heavy set. Really, the night seemed to belong to the middle three bands: two of the best acts in hardcore and, of course, Tenement– a band that’s been written about on here with alarming- but entirely justified- regularity.

A night defined by aggression, tension, cathartic release, and genuine surprise (perhaps best summarized by a brief, impromptu cover of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff”) was highlighted by Ivy, Big Zit, and Tenement. Ivy played as ferociously as possible and Big Zit took that manic energy and injected their own brand of frenetic weirdness. Tenement (with Tyler Ditter filling  in on bass for Jesse Ponkamo) delivered a bruising set- that can be seen in full below- that served as a powerful reminder of why Tenement’s one of the best bands currently operating.

A gallery of photos of Ivy, Big Zit, and Tenement can be seen below. A pair of performances from Ivy can be seen beneath the gallery as well as the full Tenement set. Enjoy.

INTERVIEW: Meredith Graves (Perfect Pussy)

Photograph by Ben Cleeton

Perfect Pussy’s I have lost all desire for feeling is a release that feels genuinely important. When a band breaks through as early on as Perfect Pussy did, especially on their respective circuit, it’s a rarity. One of Heartbreaking Bravery’s first posts was on the demo (technically an EP), so it made sense to catch up with band leader Meredith Graves for Heartbreaking Bravery’s first interview piece.

After a few cancellations and some rescheduling on both ends, we finally found time to sit down for a chat. What followed was a conversation with a lot of revealing information, a lot of laughter, and a sense of strange elation. Graves proved to be an excitable motor-mouth, formulating her ideas internally and then taking off with her explanations, frequently cutting ideas off at the head head to add in new information. With this constant circling her ideas managed to be fleshed out in full, even if they were presented in a fragmented fashion.

Graves was in high spirits throughout, endlessly gracious and absolutely charming. Whenever her answers turned more personal she would clutch her outer lay of clothing just a little tighter. When she talked about her bandmates, even if she was upset with them, it was with a great sense of pride and companionship. Graves uses words like bad and bitch as terms of endearment. She frequently emphasizes words and turns statements into questions. She’s proud of her friends and despises her shortcomings. She thinks literally everyone is cute and that everyone is her friend. She self-identifies as both a reformed “bad boyfriend” and a “grown-ass man.” She’s exceedingly winsome and personable. Just don’t fall in love with her after knowing her for four days.

For all of this conversation, important Perfect Pussy release news, a small window into the things the vocalist enjoys and has to confront, take some time out and read the full interview below.

HB: Has the recent attention Perfect Pussy’s been receiving caught you off guard?
MG: (Confident) Yes. (Pauses, laughter) Oh, did you want more of an answer? Yes, it’s the weirdest fucking thing in the world. It’s so fucking weird. I, most of the time, can’t keep track of the fact that it’s real. I frequently forget. My day-to-day life is already really strange and I have kind of had a really interesting and peculiar. I’m perpetually entertained, like, whatever I’m doing I’m really doing it all the time. I’m a really intense person and I do a lot of weird shit.  So, for me, my life was like “Oh my God, I have this weird job and I have all these weird friends and I do all this weird shit all the time and I’m constantly doing all this…” I’m really involved all the time, so my life was really intense already.
Then, all of a sudden, people care about my band and it’s really weird. So, a lot of the time, it’s just like another weird thing, you know? But this time, it’s particularly weird because I’ll be doing one weird thing, like, there was one day a few weeks ago where I had the day off from work but I ran into work to pick up a bunch of gowns that I had to sew zippers into because I’m a seamstress. I had to go pick up these dresses that I had to put these zippers into and I ended up at this thrift store and I got this couch and I was on my way to a restaurant opening  for a restaurant that I was helping open and then I got the call that my Pitchfork interview went up and I was just like (jaw drops, expression turns stunned) “this is real life.” Every once in a while, I just have to look at myself and what I’m doing and be like (pauses, expression turns stunned again) “how?!”, you know? So, yes, it’s fucking weird. I don’t trust it, I don’t trust it all. It happened so suddenly that it could easily go away just as fast. Yes, it’s really fun and I haven’t said that yet. It’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m so grateful because it’s just one of those experiences that I’m going to have that a lot of other people are never going to get to have so I’m trying to really appreciate it in a very full and true sense… but it is fucking weird (laughter).  I hope that’s the right answer? It’s weird!
HB: Perfect Pussy seems to fall in line nicely with where Shoppers left off. Where do the two bands differ in approach?
MG: They are totally different. None of the same people except me are in either band. Shoppers was the first band I wasn’t playing drums in. I played drums when I was in high school, like, a little. So, I was drumming in surf rock bands and then I was playing music for myself for a really long time, making and recording sort of folk-jazz music a lot when I was in college and when I was travelling. Then I was in Shoppers because I was dating someone that was in bands and was really, really, really involved in the hardcore scene and he met me and he hated the acoustic music I was making- but then he found out about all the music that I listened to and was like, “Wait, why aren’t you in hardcore bands?” and I never really felt like I could.So, Shoppers was the band that actually got me to realize that I could play the music I listened to. I had loved hardcore and grown up listening to punk and hardcore and I’d been going to shows since I was 13 and playing in bands since high school and whatever- but I had never done a real hardcore band where I was writing music. So I said to myself “Yeah, I’m gonna try” for this guy and for our friends, even if we just do it for fun.  So that band, since I had never played hardcore before, was me taking a guitar and trying to write hardcore songs and what came out wasn’t what I had really originally intended but that band was still really interesting to be in.

The thing about that band is that it ended up being an extremely unhealthy emotional situation for me. I was in a relationship with the drummer of that band and he was… I was really fucked up. I was smoking a lot of pot and I was drinking a lot and I was kind of a bitch but he’s insane and a real trashy dude and we ended up having a really bad relationship.When our relationship broke up, thank Christ, the band broke up. So, the biggest difference for me, between the two bands that I’ve done, is that this band is an extremely healthy emotional environment for me. This is a band that I’m in with four very, very, very good friends of mine. One of the people in my band is my best friend, my best best friend. So, I’m in a band  right now with my best friend and three other really close friends of mine. It’s a very supportive and healthy environment where they encourage- they’ve never told me not to do something- where, as in Shoppers, there was this very restrictive quality. It was like: We need to be a hardcore band and we need to be perceived as a hardcore band and we can only play with other hardcore bands and if you do this or if you wear this or if you act this way or if you continue doing this then that’s fucked up and no one’s gonna think we’re punk. So it was like, Okay, well, that’s nice, whatever, that’s nice, dear.

So doing this band it was really this exercise in ‘how free can we be?’ A bunch of people who came from other scenes and who were coming from- well, okay, so there’s this idea that I really like that I heard a few years ago and ever since then, I’ve really been taking it to heart and keeping it in mind as sort of a practice, and that is that you are the composite image of the five people you spend the most time with. The five people you spend the most time with? That’s who you are. If you take the five people you’re around most, and it doesn’t matter if it’s your fucking boss, if it’s your friends, if it’s your mom, no matter who it is, whether you like them or not, you’re a composite of the five people you spend the most time with. It’s always true, at least for me, I mean, when I do the math and average it out, that’s true. There have been times in my life where I’ve been surrounded by some extremely unhealthy people and that was what made me who I was then. Right now, being in this band, I’m surrounded by some extremely secure, happy, excellent, upright, moral, talented, fucking creative, dope dudes (laughter).

So, when I go to practice- like I just got a call- we’re having practice at three o’clock! And I’m like, this is my first day off in a week and I was really into this folding laundry thing that I was doing but now I’m like “I get to go to practice! Do you know what that means? That means I get to scream and that means I get to eat tacos with my friends.” So, that’s the difference between that band and this band. That band we would get home from tour and I would stay in bed for a fucking week because I would be so depressed and this band I’m like “I’m gonna ride my bike to practice and eat fucking tacos! It’s gonna be awesome!” I’m constantly excited about being in this band, everything I do with this band is really fun. It’s an emotional difference between the two bands, it’s not like a visceral, physical, palpable difference because it’s still me and I only know how to be one way. I’m not different. This band is fun, that’s what’s different.

HB: Both Shoppers and Perfect Pussy both utilized very lo-fi recordings. Was that decision an aesthetic one or was it something born out of necessity?
MG: Cheap recordings, sludgy guitar tones, you know? We’re all from the same city and sometimes cities get a sound. There’s something to be said for exhibiting the aesthetic and audio qualities that come from where you are. There’s something about sounding like home that you can’t really avoid. The story of Syracuse hardcore for the last X amount of years has been this really grimy unintelligible crapfest. Some people took it to that mysterious guy hardcore thing and that was just not for me. The thing with me is that I don’t like my voice. I like singing in bands because it’s fun and it feels good but I don’t really like the way I sound. So, the burying of my voice on both records is a really- I am the worst bitch when I’m in a mixing situation because I’m always like “drop me, drop me, drop me, drop me, drop me, I don’t want to hear me in the mix, I don’t want to hear me, bury me in the mix, bury it, bury it, bury it.” So the only reason is sounds anything alike is because I’m the HBIC and I’m at the soundboard saying “turn it down, turn it down, make me sound worse, make me sound like shit, bury me, bury me” because I don’t want to hear myself. So, that’s that.
HB: Over the past few years, your songs have been titled with Roman Numerals. What’s the reason behind that?
MG: It’s not intentional, everybody asks me that, I just don’t like coming up with titles for songs. Plus, especially in this band- so, all the Perfect Pussy songs have names. Greg was rushing to get the tapes out because we hadn’t done shit as a band, like, we hadn’t done anything. So he’s like “Okay, we’ve been sitting on this tape forever and we need to just put it out.” So, he kind of just went ahead and did it when I hadn’t come up with all the titles for the songs yet and automatically everyone associated it with Shoppers. With Shoppers it was actually conscious, in Shoppers I didn’t want to fuck with it- but most of the songs have names and on the record we’re about to start recording all the songs have names.

But, get this, so I go so far as to come up with names for all the songs and at practice we’ll work on a new song, I’ll show up, I’ll have my lyrics, everything will be cool, we’ll do it and I’ll be like “this song is called this“, like we have a song called “Bells” and I’ll be like, okay, this song is going to be on the setlist as “Bells”, don’t forget that, this is what the song is about, this is what it’s like. We’ll be at practice and I’ll say “What are we going to do next? Wanna play Bells?” Ten seconds of- I’ll look around the room and all of the boys are like (expression goes blank), just frozen with panic. Then someone will be like “Oh, is that the one that starts with the really thrashy part? Oh, that’s the third song. Okay.” Then I’ll just be like “I go to these lengths for you and you do nothing for me”, like, c’mon, I’m naming the fucking songs so we don’t play these games all the time and you guys can’t even remember what the fucking songs are called. So, whatever, that’s what I’m up against. That’s why I do the roman numeral things because everyone in the band’s a fucking idiot (laughter). We know what we’re playing maybe a third of the time, like, maybe a third of the time we do.

HB: Do you have any plans for an LP?
MG: Yeah. We’re gonna start recording on Tuesday. Everything is written now, so… Yeah, I’m really nervous (laughter). I’m really excited but I’m really scared too. It’s weird… it’s different. I’m really proud of it, though. I’m proud of just being- I would be proud of any band I was in with my friends. I’m just happy we’re doing it, you know? It’s going to be good to me no matter if it sounds like shit or not. I’m not worried- but I am- but I’m not (laughter). …but I am. I don’t get worried, I don’t get worried anymore and I don’t get sad. I used to be really emotionally erratic and then I realized a few months ago that usually when that happens I’m just hungry (laughter). So, I just need to eat a lot  and then I don’t get depressed, ever.

HB: Do you think part of the reason you tend to bury your vocals in the mix is the extremely personal nature of the lyrics?

MG: No, not at all. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve constantly gotten in trouble for talking too much and for not ever saying the thing that I’m supposed to say. Oh, hold on, you’re not going to believe this… (pauses to take a brief call from her father, checking up on a license plate registration issue). So, okay, you asked about personal. It’s funny that we were talking about that and my dad just called. Ever since I was a kid, like I said, I’ve gotten in trouble for being a loud-mouthed bitch and being willing- not willing to say the thing’s that no one else wants to say, because that makes me sound like I’m a rebel and it’s conscious- it’s more like shit just comes out of my mouth and I have no filter because I’m usually so over-excited. If I didn’t know better I’d think I had ADD and I don’t because I’m actually capable of this incredible clarity of mind and focus when it comes down to like- I could work really, really well in a factory on an assembly line because if you ask me to put my mind to one task that’s like sorting out the blue M&M’s from the red M&M’s, I will do it for 18 fucking hours. I will not sleep. Like sewing, that’s why I’m such a good seamstress is because you rip a foot of sequins off a dress and I sit there and I just do it for hours. I’m capable of this incredible focus- but most of the time, especially when I’m talking to people, shit just comes out of my mouth. I have no idea, no idea what I’m saying.

So, I’ve been doing these interviews lately because the band has been getting bigger and, of course, just because people are paying attention to my band doesn’t mean that I’m any different than I was three months ago. So, people will ask me shit, they’ll ask me pretty open-ended questions about “What’s the scene like in Syracuse?” and I’ll be like “FUCK EVERYBODY! THEY’RE ALL BALL SACKS! Fuck this guy, fuck that guy, fuck you, this guy sucks, fuck him, she’s a cunt, fuck YOU.” and I probably shouldn’t be saying shit like that anymore but at the same time I’m no different than I was.

So, when I get up on stage and I’m singing about personal stuff and really, what it amounts to, is a big flowery dance around “fuck that guy”, I don’t care. What are you gonna do, punch me? I will say whatever I want.So, now I’m having this problem in interviews where I will say “fuck you, you’re a cunt- that guy, this guy” and my dad called me (laughter). He was like, “Yo, can you do me a favor?” and my dad’s an old punk, he’s the smartest guy you’ll ever meet in your life, so there’s nothing in the world that I can say that will actually piss my dad off but he read my Pitchfork interview and he’s like “just to save me from your mother, can you not say ‘blowjob’ in an interview ever again?” I thought about it for a minute, then I’m like, “Dad, I am a grown-ass man and if I want to say blowjob in an interview, I’m going to say blowjob. I’m sorry, I’m gonna say a lot of nice things too, I’m gonna say some mean things, and maybe I’m gonna say some rude words, but this is what I’m doing right now so you just don’t read them, okay?” He was just like “Oh my God, blowjob, who says that?” So, no, I don’t have any interest in burying my voice because of what I’m saying. I am perfectly willing to say whatever. I’m not very easily embarrassed and I don’t get stage fright… ever. Any sort of nervousness I have is a deep inner personal nervousness, it doesn’t have to do with performing and it doesn’t have to do with what I’m saying and if I write it, then I must be okay with saying it. It’s actually like the quality of my voice, like, the sound of my own voice drives me nuts. Have you ever listened to your own voicemail on your fucking cell phone? It’s the same thing! If you played me this video back after you recorded it, I’d  be like “Oh my God, I have to turn this off.” I can’t stand the sound of my own voice. I think most people are like that, you know? It’s like how you don’t like seeing pictures of yourself. To a point you just have to get over it.

HB: So it’s easier for you to draw from personal experience for your lyrics rather than just creating something?

Yeah, with Shoppers I was a little more creative and a lot of what I wrote was more scene-based. I think a lot in terms of films because I’ve always really been into movies and shit, so I think about setting a scene and what the characters are doing and how they’d interact and I used to be able to use that to tell a message but with this band it’s really mantra-based and it’s really personal and it’s very derivative from my personal experience because I want to sing about politics. I want to keep being a politically-minded person and I want to engage with my sense of personal politics in what I’m doing creatively, especially if people are actually paying attention, and give voice to some ideas people may not have considered previously- but this band? I try to refuse to speak to other people’s personal experiences, so, yeah, it is kind of me singing about everyone I think is a dick.

That’s kind of what it is- or stuff I think is a dick also falls under that umbrella, like, stuff that sucks and is dumb, yeah. And happy things, sometimes I sing about nice things so there’s a couple songs on the new record that are about nice things.There’s a song that’s about fucking and I hadn’t done that yet.There’s a song about my ex-boyfriend, who I really like. I have this ex-boyfriend who I recently, recently broke up with just a few months ago and I have never had a good relationship in my life. I’ve dated a lot of extremely shitty people and I’ve been extremely shitty to a lot of people. I was a fucking bad boyfriend for a long time. I was shitty. I cheated on people. I would cheat on everyone I was ever with and I was a fucking liar and I was just insane for a really long time.

I almost didn’t trust myself to have normal relationships because people had been shitty to me for so long.  So, this is the first relationship where I was just like “Oh my God, I’ve gotta man up and be cool and then maybe I’ll learn something” and I had this really intense relationship with this really cool guy for like a year and by the time we broke up we were both pretty bummed out about the way things were going but we felt so strongly about each other that we almost stayed together and we broke up for a good few months. We just started talking again, like, trying to hang out as friends so it’s a weird situation, but I wrote this song and it’s gonna be on the record, about- well, it’s basically just a really nice break-up song. Kind of like, “thank you for breaking up with me”, you know, “thank you for breaking up with me when I started to be shitty instead of waiting until things started getting really bad and awful like other shitty relationships”, you know? It’s a really grateful song. So, some things are good… sometimes things are good.Then there’s a song about not judging people for the ways that they want to have sex, that’s cool. That’s a cool song that we’re working on. Then there is a song about stuff that sucks that’s already done, for the record. There’s a song about why dating really sucks and how if you’re kind of weird, if you’re not- how do you put this without sounding like an asshole? It’s the idea that if you’re weird or you’re kind of crazy and you bounce off the walls and you don’t really care what people think of you and you’re willing to live in a way that kind of goes against the grain of what people want you to do, that you will be a target for certain types of people whose lives were very boring and are just like “Oh, you beautiful incredible flower, please fix my boring life!” and how people will fall in love with you after like a week. They’ll just be like “you changed my life, why don’t you wanna fuck me?!” You just have to be like “Because I’m… busy! Clipping my toenails! In the other room! Gotta go!” I’m a really unstable person, like, I’m happier right now than I’ve ever been but I am extremely unstable and I have only been good for a year and a half and I don’t know how long it’s gonna hold. I’m constantly waiting for the next thing to happen that’s going to send me spiraling back into bed.

Every day of my life is this constant push against the big bullshit sadness. So, when people come to me and they’re like, “you’re wonderful!” It’s like “No! No, I suck!” and fundamentally I’m extremely depressed and a really not nice person and I fuck with people and I’m mean. I yelled at my managed at work last night and I called her a ball sack and I told her that she was a joke… I don’t want to be that person anymore because sometimes I can be a total bitch and when people fall in love with you and try to tell you you’re so great and you’re this, and you’re that, and you’re that flower, it’s like “No man, you’ve never seen me without makeup on and I just called someone a ball sack! You don’t even know!” So I wrote a song about that, about how lame it is that over the course of my life so many people have vilified me for not wanting to fuck them when they feel like they’ve been so generous by falling in love with me after knowing them for four days. I’ve always had that frustration, that I can’t date normal people because the only people that are attracted to me are those people.

So, finally, after 27 years, wrote a song about that. It’s only been happening to me since I was fucking 12 and now comes this outpouring of feelings.So I think it’s a ratio, I think it’s a ratio of personal stuff that’s good and personal stuff that sucks. I’m never going to run out of stuff to talk about because people are always going to be crazy and, more important, I’m always going to be crazy. So, I’m never going to run out of stuff. Never… never.

HB: It seems like a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. 
MG: Yeah, I’m like a leech. I’m like a leech on a dog’s back. Everyone is the dog. I’m just there.
HB: Do you have any sort of timetable for the upcoming LP? Have you received any interest from labels for its release?

MG: We’re talking to a few labels, which is really weird and I’m not really so sure how I feel about it- but the record’s gonna be recorded in just a couple weeks.  Then, I guess if we don’t wanna go through a label, we can just give it to whoever the fuck we want in whatever format we want. I mean, we have friends that will go in on the record. We had this plan to put this record out as a collective entity. We’re like, you know, if the label’s interested in putting out the record, they can put in money. They can say “Okay, we believe in this record for- ten dollars!” and we’re like “thank you for your ten dollars, for your ten dollar gift you can be ten dollars worth of this record” and then we put in whatever we have and our friends who have labels.  We’d basically be putting it out ourselves, not under a label, and if you gave us money towards the record, it bought you a certain percentage of the record to turn on your own and you can  say “I helped release this.” If you owned a record store and you wanted to put in however much money, you get a certain amount of copies. You just basically bought the record in advance and what you get is copies of it if you somehow believe in it and what to distribute it or whatever. That seemed like the most logical thing to do and then… the maelstrom began.

We started to get coverage and labels started offering us money and that money- Okay, so there’s a ten year age gap in the band and I am smack-ass in the middle. There’s two people who are older than me and two people younger than me and they’re about five years older and five years younger on either end, so I’m the middle. I’m Malcom in the fucking middle here. So, most of us on the older end have been doing this for a minimum of ten years and we’ve been doing it like it’s our fucking life. Then us on the younger end- I’m definitely in both groups, I feel myself bouncing back and forth all the time- the younger kids still have a lot of energy and they’re still new enough to it that they just kinda wanna go, go, go all the time. The happy medium for us is that the labels that are interested- It’s not fucking Island Def Jam, I’m not gonna do an album with Timbaland anytime soon- the money is not Pimp My Crib money, it’s not that. It’s money that will help us fix our van and it’s money that means that we can put out 2,000 of this record instead of 500. It’s money that will let us do things on a scale that’s just big enough that we can take our younger members and whisk them off to see California, which is our plan, and we can take our older members and say “Okay, you’ve been working your ass off for fifteen years and this money means we can go on tour for the next six months.”

If you’re in your late twenties to early thirties and you’re still playing hardcore and you’re playing it with any sort of devotion, the likelihood is that you work a minimum wage job that is below your level of intellect because those are the only jobs that A) you can eventually quit and find another one if you have to and B) will afford you the time off, because a lot of people in those situations are creative and crazy.Every single person in our band works for a local small business in our hometown of Syracuse. Three of us work within eye-line of each other. My store is directly across the street from the restaurant where Ray works and directly across the street from the restaurant where Greg works.

At any point during the day, the three of us can walk to the sidewalk and yell to each other from across the street. We see each other- our community is this big- and we see each other all day, every day. Our bosses can call each other and be like “Hey, how do you feel about the fact that they’re going on tour?” It is so weird and so small. So, for us to actually have labels  approaching us, it’s an honor because for Greg and for Shaun and I-  Shaun is a little different because he’s a professional tour manager and sound guy, so he actually tours most of the year. Which is why so many people think we’re a four piece. It’s because Shaun’s never around, he’s always on tour with these other bands that he’s working with but he also records our records. He actually recorded the last Shoppers 7″. He’s recorded most of Greg’s bands. I believed he recorded the Sswampzz tape, which was Ray and Garrett’s band prior to this one. He’s a little different because he tours year round but for Greg and I, who have been doing this for upwards of ten years, for us it’s like “Oh my God, if people care about this band  enough to give us money, it means that we can, for the first time ever, actually be in a band.” It’s amazing. It’s amazing the idea that I can just- okay, so I love my job but I hate it right now, like, I’m just exhausted and some of the people I work with are just really mean to me, so for me, it’s like I really, really, really just need a break from my job because I work so much. This band is going to be a fucking vacation. It’s going to be like going to DisneyWorld for me.

So, if someone wants to give us a little bit of money to help us put out more records and go on tour so we can actually do what we like, then yeah. At the same time, it’s this big stupid game and it’s really not fun to deal with the industry stuff and it’s not fun to have to think about press releases or working with people who are all industry-minded and shit. It’s a very new world for me. It’s a constant battle. I never know what’s right. I’m kind of just going with my gut. It’s a weird feeling. It’s a very weird feeling.

HB: Does all of this attention meant that Sswampzz is done?
MG: One of the guys in Sswampzz lives in Brooklyn now. We sleep in his apartment when we’re in New York. He’s awesome. If you look at the Pitchfork video– Pitchfork put up a really awful video of us. It’s a cool video, it looks beautiful, but we sound like shit. In that shitty shitty video, you can see him in the crowd. He looks like a supermodel. He has long black hair, his name is Ricky. He’s the other guy in Sswampzz. I don’t think they’re done because that band could never really be done. Ray, Ricky, and Garrett are all best friends, so there’s no point to having that band be done or gone. Once in a while I know they still play. I think for now- because I’m taking Garrett and Ray and I’m taking them to California for Christmas, come hell or high water- yeah, they’re done for now- but I want Ricky to come to Syracuse and play some shows because when Sswampzz were around, they were the most interesting band in Syracuse. Nobody gave a shit about them because they weren’t part of that dominant hardcore scene that I was talking about, they were from the fringes of the college community so nobody gave a shit about them and they were fucking awesome. They put out a tape called “Sleeper” and it’s fucking good. It is really good.
HB: On their bandcamp page, the tapes for “Sleeper” are almost sold out…

That’s another thing we want to do when we get our shit together as a band is start putting out music. Just in our group of the people that do Pussy, we have people that do print-making, we have people that do graphic designing, we have recording engineers, we have people who have put out records for years. So, if we have our friends bands and we wanted to start releasing their music, that’s something we could realistically do. One thing I would be interested in doing is putting out the Sswampzz tape on a 7″ or something like that because I think that’s a band that’s definitely worth hearing and I’m hoping that if we even get a tiny little bit of press, that people will find Sswampzz through us because that tape kicks ass. It kicks much ass.

HB: What are the current tour plans?

MG: We’re touring all of December, we’re gonna be gone.  We’re actually finishing editing a music video right now. We had friends who were like “We wanna make a music video!” We were like “That’s so weird, let’s do it, whatever.” So, we made this music video a few weeks ago and a very good new friend of mine- I have this new friend, who’s amazing, he’s so rad, he lives in New York- he’s editing it right now. It’s been complicated. It’s been weird because I’m super picky and I’m kind of being a bitch but, you know, we just want what we want. Why would you ever put something out into the world that you weren’t satisfied with, you know? So, we’re finishing the editing process and we’re going to put that online with the finalized tour dates and maybe an announcement about the label that we might be working with. If everything comes to pass, then all three of those things will be coming out at the same time- but we’re finalizing the tour dates today, that, at least, will be available soon.

Then, hopefully, if that tour goes well, which it will. Definitely will! Then when we get back in January, we’ll be going to the Midwest because we’re not really hitting the Midwest the first go, we’re gonna go South and then through Texas then up through Southern California and then back down the other way. I don’t know if you know anything about Syracuse but it is BALLS cold. It’s already, like, fucking negative 19 out there. So, I want to go to Texas! I want to go to California! I don’t want to be here so we are leaving. Then we’ll do the Midwest in January after the maelstrom of snow hits up here and then in the spring the plan is to maybe go overseas, which is already being talked about, so, I’m really excited because that’s cool.

HB: While I have you here are there are any other bands you’ve been really into lately and want to mention?

MG: I have a lot of other bands that I really like and if you’re going to let me name drop a lot of bands that I like then this is really cool. Greg, our bass player, who is also my best friend, is in a band called SoreXcuse and they are awesome. Jess, the singer of that band, is a bad bitch, she is so cool. So, I think SoreXcuse is another really cool band and they’re nothing like us, they’re super grindcore, super violent power violence. They are rad and they are really great and that’s really important. Then Greg is doing, and I promise I’m not going to just talk about bands that we’re doing, but Greg is doing a rock n’ roll band called (laughing) Beer Headquarters, which is a really long story. There’s this store over by Greg’s house that has a big sign out front that says “You’re Beer Headquarters”, with the o-u-apostrophe-r-e spelling, so it’s “you’re beer headquarters!” “No, you’re beer headquarters!” So he started this band called Beer Headquarters and Greg doesn’t drink, is the thing, so he’s got this empty beer and he’s Motley Crue-ing and grabbing his crotch and being disgusting (still laughing). So, that’s a new band with a couple friends of ours. I’m crying, I’m laughing so hard, I haven’t heard them yet but watch out for Beer Headquarters in 2014.

I’m actually doing another band. I have a couple of bands that I’m working on. One, if it comes to pass, and I don’t want it to be a thing because it’s not even a thing yet- but I think I’m doing another band with Kerry, who played bass in Shoppers. I think she’s moving back to Syracuse from Brooklyn and I think we’re gonna do a shoegaze band, so I’m really excited about that. Then, my little brother is a musician, I have a younger brother who is a shut-in, he never leaves his house because of a host of different conditions. He’s the smartest, coolest guy you will ever meet in your entire life and we are thinking about doing a pop record together. He makes beats, he DJ’s in his room. So, I think I’m going to let him make some beats for me and then we’re going to make some pop music because he can sing. So, that might be really fun.

Other bands that I really like right now- and I can kind of guess how you’re going to feel about this- but I think Tenement is the best band that has ever existed. I am obsessed with Tenement. I have said this to a million people. I think they are the best band ever. I know both of their big records by heart. Shoppers has played with them, now Pussy has played with them once, and every time I see them, I know I completely overwhelm them by trying to engulf them with hugs and praise. I’m pretty sure everyone in that band thinks I’m insane and doesn’t want me anywhere around them but I think they are the coolest band in America. I love Tenement. I really love Merchandise. Merchandise is an amazing band and very nice people as well, but mostly an amazing band. I like Big Eyes and I didn’t for a long time. When I heard them for the first time I thought they were piss-ass obnoxious and it really took that Back from the Moon 7″– and I heard that- it blew my mind. I was just, totally into it. I just got a copy of their record, their full-length from a couple years ago and I think it’s great, I think it’s great. I’m really into Big Eyes right now.

My problem is, I listen to a lot of very old music. Most of the music I listen to was made a very long time ago so I don’t really have reference points. So, in terms of what I’m listening to right now, I’m really listening to a lot of Sugarcubes. I really like Sugarcubes, which is that band that Bjork was in, in the early 80’s and I really like them. I really like, this is another current band that I can talk about, I love Joanna Gruesome. Have you heard Joanna Gruesome? They are fucking awesome, we played shows with them at CMJ and (gets excited, gasps) It’s on the books, I can say this now, I forgot! We are doing a split 7″ with Joanna Gruesome. Yes. We Are. I’m really excited about it because, you should’ve seen it, we were all in the same room and we were just like (gives a quizzical glance and point gesture). You have to admit, I mean, I wish I was as pretty as she was but we look a lot alike. We have short black hair and nose rings and we are the same height and we dress the same and we’re in the same room. So, it’s us and four boys and we’re just like (mimes hair, mimes nose ring, laughs), like, it’s weird! And we sound nothing alike, which is the best part but you can see how it gets a little funny at times. So, I love that band and I think when they come to the US next summer, we’re going to try to book a tour for them and do some shows. I think when we go to the UK next year, which is one of the places we’re planning on going, that we are going to do shows with them there. Hopefully. Hopefully, if they like us. For right now, it is like meeting a girl on the internet. It’s like “Yeah, we’ll definitely meet someday..” then, I don’t know. We are doing a split. I will say that much. I’ll say that because I want it to happen so bad. So, I really love Joanna Gruesome. I give so much of a fuck about Joanna Gruesome.

What else do I like right now? Actually, after our first show of CMJ at The Flat, which we played with Tweens, who is another band worth mentioning, talking about. Like I said, I’m really into pop stuff right now which isn’t usually how I am. Tweens is bitchin’ and LODRO, from Brooklyn, LODRO is very good. The lead singer of LODRO, Leslie, is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in my entire life and I talked to her outside a show. I was sober and it seemed like she may have had a couple beers and she was just complaining stuff, like expounding, and she is SO smart and the whole time I was just staring at her, I felt really stupid. The whole time I was just like “Oh my God, there’s a girl talking to me, g’duh.” After our first show of CMJ, which we played with Tweens and LODRO- and Total Slacker, who are amazing, also. Total Slacker’s really fucking good and Tassy’s such a nice guy. He’s fucking cool. He’s loaned me a lot of equipment when mine’s been broken. He is a nice fucking guy.

We played an afterparty, we didn’t play an afterparty we went to DJ an afterparty- so I’m very small town. I’m from a little city and I’ve lived on farms when I was in college and shit- so the Brooklyn thing, it’s not for me, it’s very not me- but I know what I think Brooklyn is. So, to be taken to a warehouse where there’s a lot of people doing hard drugs and DJ’s and shit and there’s a secret party, that’s what I imagine Brooklyn to be like. So it was surreal to actually go to that place that I’d never been to and there was a rapper who performed at this party who goes by Weekend Money. Weekend Money. He just did a single with that guy, Heems, who used to be in Das Racist, called “Yellow”.  He didn’t premiere the song at that party, they’d been doing it for a while, but he was talking about how the video was just about to come out and now there’s a video on YouTube. It’s really fun. He’s extremely attractive, he’s a ridiculously good-looking man. He just got up on a chair, at this party, so he was just slightly above the crowd and he had his DJ playing behind him and he just went for 20-25 minutes. Everyone at the party was on drugs and they were dancing and shit and I think I’d had two beers and I was standing there, in awe, the entire time. It was so fucking cool. So, Weekend Money, he is from Brooklyn too, he is so great and a fucking babe. He’s a fucking super babe. Will that make it into print? Maybe he will let me look at him from a distance again sometime. Because… he hot. He’s hot. I’m like a big pervert but he’s hot, he’s really hot, so… I’m mostly concerned about how many people in a band I like are attractive. You have to be really cute- but the secret is that I think literally everyone is cute, so, I have a crush on everyone. Most people are cute.

Other bands I like? I could talk forever and ever. Permanent Ruin is great. Jail Solidarity is great, from DC. Sarongs was really great, they’re not really doing so much anymore. Sarongs was a band from Syracuse that, again, no one gave a fuck about and then someone in Greece just re-released their tape. I don’t even have a copy yet but Lindsey, who is one of the greatest people on the planet, writes for Vice now. She did a big interview with us that hasn’t gone up to print yet but she was the only person so far that’s gotten me to talk about extremely vulnerable and personal stuff. Having a friend that is on that level with me, who can talk about politics in the same way that I can because we have a similar frame of mind, and sing in this amazing band? So, there’s gonna be a reissue of the Sarongs tape on a label from Greece and that is very cool. That is very, very cool.

I like a lot of bands. Warthog is good! I like Warthog. Warthog is really good, I’m going to go see them tomorrow. Warthog is good, they’re very tough. They’re a tough band. They are tough guys, mean guys.  I could go on literally forever. All I ever think about is bands and music and music and bands and bands and music. You would seriously have to get me talking about food in order to derail me from that because I fucking love food. I will talk about food, I will talk about cats, I will talk about people I have a crush on, I will talk about Magic: The Gathering, I will talk about paintings and outfits and those are all the things I like. Those are things I can talk about- but mostly bands. A lot of those bands I was introduced to when Shoppers were touring. Of course, it’s one thing to be like “I know people in this and this and this band and therefore I am cool.” In this case, it’s more like “I got to meet this person and they’re in the best band ever and I just really like them!”

So, functionally speaking- and I say this all the time and people really don’t believe me- just because I talk a lot, just because… I’m whatever- people don’t get that I’m actually really, really, really shy. I can talk forever about bands, about paintings, about food, about whatever, stuff I feel like people already know about myself? I can talk forever. When it comes down to my real feelings and how I am as a person, I am extremely shy. So, when it comes down to meeting people that I really admire or meeting people that make art that I really art and I really respect, I’m paralyzed. Paralyzed with fear, constantly. Paralyzed. Talking to people one-on-one? Scariest thing in the world to me. I can get on stage in front of 500 people and grab my crotch and scream until I puke and I literally don’t think. It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t affect me. I just do what I do and then I get offstage. If I was good at welding, I wouldn’t get nervous about welding. I don’t get nervous when I’m sewing. I don’t get nervous when I’m on the phone at work- so why would I get nervous on stage in front of 500 people? It’s just another thing I do. That doesn’t freak me out at all. Like in interviews, if people want to ask me a question, I’d be happy to answer your question. If anybody wants to talk to me, that’s a really nice thing. If somebody cares enough about that, of course I’ll sit here and talk to you for… 50 minutes and three seconds. That’s not hard for me, I can talk, I can talk just fine. Talking is one thing. Conversation? Getting to know someone? Developing a sense of intimacy? That’s totally different. That, to me, is balls terrifying.

So, when people are in good bands, I’m just like “l’guh, I can’t make sense of you, sorry.” It’s scary. It’s super scary. Oh well. You can’t be scared forever, eventually you have to start making friends or else you’re going to be bored. I just try to be friendly. I’m only one way. I’m only this way and I know there’s a good percentage of people that really like me and a lot of people that really think I suck. I’m just going to continue being who I am and trying my hardest to relate to people. I try to be a good friend and to be honest all the time and that’s what I’m gonna do and hopefully it works for me. That’s the best you can do, you know? That is the best you can do.