Interview: Power punk four-piece Potty Mouth on their breakout year and their trip to Boot and Saddle
“Visibility as a band made up of women is very important to us,” says Victoria Mandanas. “There is great value, for girls and young women, especially, in seeing bands made up of women or with female members.”
The drummer of the all-women power-punk quartet Potty Mouth, currently touring with her bandmates in support of its new record (and playing Boot & Saddle on Thursday), adds “I think about my band and our music in the same way, and I hope that others will try to do the same.”
And it seems others are. The Northampton, Massachusetts group’s first LP, Hell Bent(released on Old Flame Records last September) was previewed as an NPR ‘First Listen.’ The group was named one of Spin Magazine’s ‘Best New Artists,’ as well as a Nylon Magazine ‘Band Crush’ and countless other word combinations that all pretty much mean the same thing — Potty Mouth is on the rise, going places, and right now the group’s heading up and down the East Coast in support of 10-tracks of linear, bass-driven power punk that seems split from some combination of late 70’s punk and the roaring womanly intellect made popular by the 90’s Riot grrrl movement.
The tour around this record — which follows 2012’s Sun Damage EP — was defined in part by the national DIY sub-scene that Potty Mouth finds comfort and companionship within. The women write their own songs and have experience booking their own shows. Half of the members even taught themselves how to play their instruments so that they could be in this band, together. This month, the group will be sharing bills with like-minded punks including Nothing, Waxahatchee and Radiator Hospital (to name a few).
“It’s cool to go to faraway cities and feel like we have friends there,” reasons Ally Einbinder, bassist. “It’s cool to know that we have friends all over the place who would book a show for us if we ever needed one or who would put us up the night if we’re in town. And then when they pass through our neck of the woods, we always reciprocate the favor.”
Aside from vocalist/guitarist Abby Weems — who’s responsible for the bulk of the songwriting on Hell Bent — the rest of the group came together through attending Smith College, an all-women’s liberal arts school in Amherst. Phoebe Harris (lead guitar), says it was “a deliberate and conscious decision” to build the group as a female unit, a choice she believes was influenced by the ladies’ feminist ideals. “I specifically wanted to play music with other women. It was a supportive and empowering environment that I was seeking,” she admits.
Still, Mandanas says, she considers herself first and foremost a musician, rather than “a female musician.”
“So while there are times when it’s completely appropriate to highlight gender, there are also times when it seems lazy, ridiculous, or even insulting.”
Opening for Brit-pop princess Kate Nash and performing at the Rookie Yearbook 2 Party at the New Yorker Festival are only two ways Potty Mouth spent last year bending the ‘gender genre’ in a powerful, influential, positive way. The ladies note both experiences on their ‘Best of 2013’ list — which also includes the Hell Bent NYC record release party, the group’s success with NPR and “Einar and Lori’s wedding.”
Congratulations are definitely in order.
Potty Mouth headline Boot and Saddle, South Broad and Ellsworth Streets, on Thursday the 9th of January with Radiator Hospital and Le Yikes Surf Club opening. Tickets and info on the 21+ show can be found here.