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Screaming Females

Screaming Females

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 2nd April, 2012 8:31PM

New Jersey punk band Screaming Females have just released their fifth studio album, Ugly, on Don Giovanni Records. UTR caught up with drummer Jarrett Dougherty to discuss the album, the scene they exist within and how they've changed and developed since forming back in 2005.

Explain the Screaming Females journey until now - there's been line-up changes and the like?

We formed in summer 2005. Almost seven years is a long time to try to sum up. We are about to release our fifth album. We've played somewhere around 700 shows around the world. We have stayed as independent as possible by trying to work with a small group of friends and limit our involvement in the "music industry." This has enabled us to operate on a small, sustainable level and do exactly what we want to be doing for many more years than the average band.

How has your sound or direction changed over this time?

We never set out with a sound in mind when we started the band. We don't constrain ourselves. Whatever we feel is right musically is what we do. We really believe in the ability of the cooperation between the three of us to produce more than just the sum of its parts.

How would you describe your sound now?

Rock 'n' Roll!

Tell us a little bit about being a band in New Jersey. Is there a supportive community there? Is that where you guys are based still?

After 26 years of living in NJ I moved to Philadelphia, PA about two years ago. Mike and Marissa (Paternoster) still live in NJ. I feel like New Jersey suburbs might be the world epicenter for societal pressure to conform. It seems that everyone is convinced that the only path to a fulfilling life is via wealth, cars, houses, lawns, etc. Arts aren't really a priority. New Brunswick, NJ, the town the band formed in, has an amazing punk scene built around artists, weirdos, queers, and all the rest trying to discover and experimenting with creating a community based on other measures of fulfillment. No matter where we end up, growing up in the NJ suburban environment and finding the New Brunswick punk community will have lasting effects on us as a band and individuals.

You're about to release your fifth album, Ugly. Tell us about writing and recording the record. Are there any intentional influences / directions / themes across the album?

For the most part the writing for the record was the same as we have always done. The three of us get into a room together and jam until something interesting happens. Then we work on that and try to form it into a song. We did experiment with that process a bit. A few songs came to the band from Marissa almost completely formed. But then we did the collective job of taking them back apart and rebuilding them. What we did for this record that we haven't done before was to demo the songs multiple times. We had a lot of time to listen to early versions of the songs and rework them. I think we wanted to have the songs totally worked out before entering the studio because we were going to work with Steve Albini and spending four or five times more money than we ever have on a record. Recording and mixing took place over 10 straight days at Electrical Audio in Chicago, IL. We worked from when Steve got up until pretty much bedtime everyday. It was intense.

How would you describe this album as a progression from your earlier work?

I feel as though the songs on this album are more distinct and stand on their own better than any of our previous albums. We took a lot of care to make sure that each song had very different rhythmical, melodic, and arrangement attributes.

The artwork for the album that's across your website and various other spaces, is really awesome. Tell me a little bit about developing that.

Marissa takes care of almost all of our artwork. The general feel of this record seems to reflect the atmosphere surrounding the world currently. There is this dark, looming feel across our lifetimes that seems to be becoming more and more unavoidable. I think Marissa wanted to capture that feel with the artwork. The title 'Ugly' deals with that feeling as well. I think as the artwork progressed Marissa noticed the similarities of style it was having to Nick Blinko of Rudimentary Peni. I don't think she set out to copy his style but once she noticed the similar feel I think she let his general esthetic inform her direction for the 'Ugly' artwork. Also, I mentioned that I thought it would be cool to have a border around the cover art and Marissa went nuts with it and put the border on everything. I'm glad I could help.

The video clip for 'It All Means Nothing' is pretty fucked up. Tell us a little bit about coming up with that.

It was all Marissa's idea. She has wanted to do a video where Mike and I kill her for a long time. The special effects were done by an amazing dude named Mr. Dead. He worked on Toxic Avenger 3: The Last Temptation of Toxic.

Tell us some of the other bands that you're into at the moment. Are there any little pockets of bands / artists that you think are doing particularly interesting things?

We've always loved the town Carbondale, IL. It is a tiny, TINY town in southern IL which has this amazing, longstanding punk rock community. They have the country's oldest punk house, Lost Cross. There is a band from there called Parlor that we love.

What are your plans for 2012? Touring? More releases?

New record comes out in April. Then we go on tour forever.

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