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Screaming Females

Screaming Females

Interviewed by
Danielle Street
Wednesday 17th August, 2016 10:29AM

American punk act Screaming Females are playing their first ever New Zealand shows this week, with stops lined up for Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Raglan. The three-piece, made up of Marissa Paternoster (guitar/vocals), Michael Abbate (bass) and Jarrett Dougherty (drums), have tucked six albums under their belts and gained a strong international following over the last decade, but they still hold steadfast to the DIY ethos that saw them come up through New Jersey's underground scene. Part of that means they intentionally booked shows off the beaten track during their debut Australian and New Zealand tour. Read our chat with the band below...

UTR: Hey how you doing? Where are you at the moment?

Marissa: We're in Mike's basement drinking Seltzer.

Oh that's apt.. you started off in the basement scene right? So it's a convenient place for you to be...

Marissa: Yeah, we like to be underground.

Yeah, that's good because your going to be playing some pretty dingy basement-type venues here in New Zealand...

Marissa: Are they underground?

At least one of them is, yeah.

Marissa: Perfect. The guy that we just talked to in Wellington said Wellington is the best, and not to let the people in Auckland tells us that they are the best, coz it's not true.

Haha, we'll see. You're playing Whammy in Auckland which is an underground dive bar. Do you still play many venues like that... coz you guys are do a lot of big festivals and whatnot these days...

Marissa: Oh yeah yeah. For sure. I'm drawing a blank. But we've played a million different venues that are dingy and underground.

Mike: We play all sorts of venues everywhere. I mean, we were just looking at routing for a tour we have coming up in the fall and it runs the gamut of everything from 100 person DIY places, to record stores, to 1000 person clubs. Just depends where we are, what's going on and what the most fun option is.

That's cool, it must keep you well connected with the people who really enjoy your music...

Mike: Yeah, I mean even with coming to Australia and New Zealand a lot of bands seem to play four shows where they fly in between each show. And we distinctly didn't want to do that so we are playing a lot of different towns outside of Brisbane and Melbourne and stuff. And then when we got the opportunity to come to New Zealand we booked four shows. We don't like to do one big show in one city. We want to see a place while we are there and meet different people.

Cool! I think there will be lots of people who appreciate that too, people often hate on Auckland because we get the big shows and then the bands leave.

Marissa: I think someone from Wellington was talking a bit of nonsense today about Auckland...

Ha, I'm from Wellington originally, so I don't really mind.

Marissa: Oh you can be like the peacekeeper.

Haha.. um these will be your first shows here in New Zealand in your 10 years as a band, what do you know about the country?

Jarrett: Ummm, I know it's very beautiful. Has lots of nature.

Marissa: Biodiversity!! That's it.

You guys are coming here off-the-back of releasing Rose Mountain, your latest album. Will you be playing mostly from that album, or do you play from across your back catalogue??

Marissa: We've always kind of played songs from all records. And we always play a different setlist every night. When Rose Mountain came out we probably made a concerted effort to play a lot of that album, but lately we just draw from all the records. And there's a lot of them.

Yeah, six! And I find it interested because it seems like Rose Mountain really pushed you guys into the spotlight a lot more than any of your other releases. Did you find that?

Marissa: Maybe. I don't really know.

Jarrett: I feel like we've had a really steady uh, increase in our exposure and the number of people who come to see our band and buy our albums and stuff. Part of what's enabled us to have a longevity that most bands do not have is that we didn't have one moment that was our "big break". Everything is just a natural progression from what happened before it. We've had some setbacks and things. I feel like if we had one moment where it was like : "Pitchfork best new music!!" and it was our second album and we went out and did a big tour and we had been a band for three years, but then we recorded our next album, and it wasn't as popular and didn't get acclaim, then I think it would be a lot harder to imagine still being a band 11 years in. As opposed to having gotten zero media attention for our first two albums but travelled across the United States and selling them ourselves and stuff, which is what we did.

You mentioned something about setbacks, what are some of the setbacks you've had in the 11 years you've been together?

Marissa: Um, a van broke down. I got really sick. We've got in like 5 million fights over the past 11 years. Uhhh, just things in general break.

Jarrett: Just things that don't seem that big of a deal now, but at the time they were devastating. Like when our first van broke down in the middle of a tour, we lost all the money we made and we were basically living off the band at that point, but just barely. We had zero dollars and no vehicle - that was a big one. One time we sent this huge shipment of records to Europe for our European tour and they didn't get delivered, so UPS destroyed them. So that was thousands of dollars worth of merchandise that we lost.

Marissa: I wanna know how they destroy stuff.

Jarrett: Yeah do they crush it, or incinerate it?

Marissa: They probably burn it.

Jarrett: But we had to put on a benefit show for ourselves to make up for all the money we lost.

Mike: I straight up don't remember that.

Umm.. well, hopefully you'll have no disasters on the way over here! We are looking forward to seeing you!

UnderTheRadar Proudly Presents...

Screaming Females

Wednesday 17th August, Whammy Bar, Auckland
Thursday 18th August, Totara Street, Tauranga
Friday 19th August, Valhalla, Wellington w/ Street Chant
Saturday 20th August, Yot Club, Raglan

Tickets on sale HERE at UTR and in store at Flying Out (Auckland), Slow Boat and RPM (Wellington)


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