Pinkwash |photo by Amy June Breesman | courtesy of the artist

West Philly drum and guitar duo Pinkwash have spent the past three years crafting hypnotic punk ragers with muscular guitar parts wrapped in oddly-timed rhythms. Their first release, the magnificently tense yet explosive Your Cure Your Soil EP (Sister Polygon) was a brutal, outraged set of songs dealing with the death of singer / guitarist Joey Doubek’s mother from breast cancer.

After releasing the Cancer Money 7” and going on tour, the band returned to Philly to work on their first full length, Collective Sigh out this month on Don Giovanni Records.

We sat down with Joey and drummer Ashley Arwine to talk about touring, their new album and West Philly’s emerging post-punk scene.

The Key: For starters, Listening to a few of the tunes you’ve released from Collective Sigh, the first thing I noticed is how catchy the songs are. It’s funny because I’ve seen writers describe your sound as proggy. But “Metastatic” and “Longer Now” are riff-heavy, hooky rock songs. Was that intentional?

Joey Doubek: Eh, sort of? I think I was just feeling a little distant from a lot of the more aggressive music I’ve written for the Your Cure Your Soil EP and Cancer Money 7″. I just wanted to sing more, too, rather than yell and scream!

TK: Can you speak to why you were feeling distant? Did you get it all out of your system before y’all started on the new record?

JD: To me, the first two releases are quite angry, whereas Collective Sigh is the “coping process.” So yes, gotten some of it out of my system!

TK: You’ve been touring a lot since the EP and 7″ came out. How and when did you find time to make Collective Sigh, and what was the process like?

Ashley Arwine: The way that we typically write our music is Joey brings some mostly-complete instrumental arrangements and he shows them to me and we add drums to them. Or we just jam out a part and add stuff onto it. Or a combination of both those things. Then Joey adds lyrics after the songs are instrumentally complete. That’s how Collective Sigh was pretty much written.

Don Giovanni approached us about releasing a full length in June of 2014, but because of our busy schedules and me touring in another band, it took us about a year to really have it done. We already knew we wanted to work with our friend Kyle Johnson (of Fancy Time Studio) who is an amazing engineer who had a spot in North Philly; he also recorded our Cancer Money 7″, so we knew we were in good hands. We demoed the entire record ourselves beforehand also so going into the studio we were fully prepared, and Kyle helped us smooth out the last bits that needed it.


TK: Awesome. Ashley, you were also playing with Waxahatchee during the time of the tour?

AA: Yes! We did about four months of touring in 2015, and some of that was with Pinkwash.

TK: Nice! About how long do you think it took to put together the album, writing and recording?

JD: Pretty much one year flat.

TK: Word. I wanted to ask you about the release party. When I saw the lineup for the release party, I got excited – “Oh! I know all of these bands.” There seems to be this really diverse and fertile post punk scene that is emerging out of West Philly: the bands Swarm and Andromeda Sky that you have supporting you for the release party are right in the thick of it.

AA: And King Azaz!

TK: Yup! I love them and worked on their first tape (DISCLOSURE: John Morrison contributed some postproduction to King Azaz’s debut EP Tunnels. -ed. ). They’re in South Philly though right?

AA: Yeah King Azaz is in South Philly I guess, but they always are playing in West Philly.

JD: We thought it would be cool to have our release show be in West Philly with all locals and friends.

AA: There totally is a surge of postpunky rock bands popping up in West Philly, which rules. It’s just like a lot of really talented people making really raw, heavy music that is emotionally charged and kind of intentional. The show is meant to be a showcase of that.

TK: And once the record comes out, you’re going back out on tour?

JD: Yeah! We’ll be posting all the dates pretty soon, but we’re doing three weeks starting May 13th, and that we’ll be going back out again in July.

Pinkwash celebrates the release of Collective Sigh at the Girls Rock Philly benefit on Friday, May 13th at LAVA Space, 4134 Lancaster Avenue. Also on the bill are Swarm, King Azaz and Andromeda Sky. Tickets to the all ages show are $5 at the door, more information can be found at Facebook. Collective Sigh will be released May 13th 2016 on Don Giovanni Records.