Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Interview: Priests

Hailing from Washington DC, are you a fan of the Riot Grrrl movement and are there any other artists in the area that you're excited about right now?
We do like a lot of music that is generally categorized as "riot grrrl", yes. But we also like a lot of jazz, lo-fi bedroom pop, noise music, "77 punk",  doo-wop, old "surf" style guitar instrumental music, lots of different styles of hardcore, old and new hip-hop. We like a lot of stuff, we are big fans of a lot of disparate kinds of music. And we always wonder, why is it no one asks us about this music? Why do they always ask us about Riot Grrrl? We have a few ideas, but don't want to make assumptions. A lot of bands we're into around DC these days. Some of them are Give, Protect-U, Teen Liver, The Deads, Dudes, Foul Swoops, Cigarette, Big Hush, there are a bunch, a lot of them aren't even new. 

You've just announced you're working with Don Giovanni, how does it feel and what made you go with them?
We are working with Don Giovanni and are very excited about this. We have our own record label, Sister Polygon Records, which is how we released our first single and first two cassettes. We became friends with Joe over the summer, he asked if we'd ever be interested in releasing some music on his label. We said well, maybe we'd like to do that but we'd like to get to know each other first. So we played a show together in New Brunswick with his solo project Modern Hut and lo and behold, we all became friends. So Don Giovanni and Sister Polygon will be co-releasing the next Priests record, and we're all really excited about this.  

Don Giovanni has a lot of other great female-fronted bands and female artists on the roster, was this something that you considered when deciding to work with them or was it just because you liked the label?
We just like Joe, we like how he does business, Don Giovanni just seemed like the "right" choice. Have you ever seen When Harry Met Sally? There is a part when one of the older couples are talking and the woman is like, "You just know, the way you know about a good melon", it was sort of like that. We published something in The Media last spring about our upcoming tour, about how we think accessible community space and playing all-ages shows are important. And Joe wrote to us and said hey, I thought that was cool. I just wanted to write and say hi.
You call yourself a "real life non internet band", what is it about being an internet band that disinterests you? Do you feel any disconnect with technology?
I think that is part of the description on our tumblr, yeah. All we mean by that is our band isn't just a website. We make records and play shows "IRL" (internet speak for "in real life", for the uninitiated) and it just goes beyond the internet. Uh, but sometimes for me personally the internet does accelerate communication and human relationships in a way I haven't become totally accustomed to yet, I feel like I don't always translate myself the way I'd like to, but I have a feeling a lot of people have this problem.    

You recently released Tape Two, a cassette-only tour release, what is it that attracted you to releasing music on cassette? Are you very involved in DIY culture?
Cassettes can be produced quickly, they are inexpensive, and cassette players are also very inexpensive at most thrift stores. A lot of people don't necessarily have cassettes or their players lying around, but if you'd like to be a part of that it isn't difficult. You don't need a lot of money and really, you might find a lot of cool music on tape for not a lot of money. The problem really is that you might find some bad stuff, too. One time Gideon found this tape that had 4 faces on the cover made out of clouds, it looked like it could've been a lost Earth, Wind & Fire record or something? Or maybe it was an Earth, Wind & Fire record? Anyway, it was a real let down for us because the tape was actually boring, there were no hits on it. No "Getaway" or "Shining Star" or anything like that. So yeah, I guess tapes are still a roll of the dice but we like them. We like them better than CDs but really, I'm even coming around to those. I mean, however you want to listen to music. We live in the future, the world and the music are truly at your fingertips. You can do whatever you want.    

Are you currently working on any new music or are you focusing on playing shows in NY and DC?
We're working on new stuff! Always working on new stuff! We get bored otherwise. Washington DC is our hometown though.

You wrote a song about author and playwright Lillian Hellman,  has her writing inspired your music in any way? 
She's so cool! I mean it's like the lyrics I wrote in the song, I literally read a biography about Lillian Hellman and thought, wow. Cool lady. Deserves a song. I'd encourage anyone to read about her life or read some of her plays or other works, she was a real character.

Lillian Hellman was very politically involved and you also mention some of early American politics in 'USA (Incantations)', are you a very political person?
Isn't everyone a political person? Even when we don't realize it, our actions and our values and opinions, the way we live our lives, all this stuff has meaning and impact.  

Do you have any other inspirations that influence the way you make music? 
Pretty much anything I surround myself with is an inspiration, I'm a real sponge. I think all of us are, we're all very impressionable and sensitive.  

Aurora Mitchell

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