Behind Punk is a D.I.Y. punk blog/fanzine/record label based out of Moscow

We need to focus on positive change in the world, and it starts with our scene and the people within it. More hugs, less shrugs!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Interview with Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females

Screaming Females is really good punk/garage that gets stuck in your head for days. Great music with fantastically unique vocals. I could use a lot of other platitudes here and as true as they might be, you should really listen to their music and decide for yourself.
Thanks to Marissa for taking the time out to answer some questions.

Hey! How are you doing? Please, introduce yourself and members of the band:

My name is Marissa Paternoster. Michael Abbate and Jarrett Dougherty play in Screaming Females with me.

First off, I have to say how much I enjoyed listening to Ugly. It’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time. And really, what makes it so enjoyable is your voice. It’s so distinct and unique. How old were you when discovered you could sing?

Michael and I were both in choir in our grade schools. I stopped singing in high school and began to sing a bit again right before going to university. 

 Ugly has been out for just about a two month now. How has the reaction been from fans?

So far so good! People seem to be happy and excited to hear us play new songs, we get a lot of requests, and I've been seeing a lot of old and new faces at shows. 

How would you compare this album to prior releases for fans that have yet to check it out?

Marissa: I'd say that Ugly is a much darker album. Certainly it is our best sounding album, sonically. I think it is our most ambitious record as well.

 How does the band go about writing material?

Mike, Jarrett, and myself will meet up in our practice space and begin playing some riffs. When one sticks, we'll begin arranging it into a song. 

 So, how did shooting your video for “It All Means Nothing” go? Why did you pick that for the first video? Why do you eat cats? It's really rad idea for the video

Haha, well, the video is a joke. I had the idea of having Mike and Jarrett murder and bury me for a long time, I wanted to use that narrative for an older song called, "Buried in the Nude". We didn't have the time or resources back then, but now that we do, we decided to run with it. Mike had just moved into an apartment with his three cats, we wrote the cats into the narrative.  

How has it been working with Don Giovanni Records so far? Do you think working with them has given you a lot more freedom than you might have had otherwise?

Don Giovanni Records is a very, very small operation run by our very close friends. They provide us with a terrific amount of support and they don't boss us around.

 Covers are all the rage these days, granted usually in live setting. You covered Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy. What other songs have you been known to cover or would you like to cover in the future?

We don't do cover songs too often. We've covered the Neil Young song, "Cortez the Killer" for a split 7" with an old New Brunswick, NJ band called Hunchback

Screaming Females cover Sheryl Crow

 If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?

 Tenement from Madison, WI.  

10. Let's talk a little about your art, what came first, your love for music or drawings?

They both go hand in hand, I would never rank one above the other.  

 To give our readers a bit of a background, when did you start writing and drawing, and what got you interested in the medium? 

 I've been drawing for my entire life. My parents got me into sketching, but comic books and cartoons kept me going. I was a big fan of comic strips like Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side, but I also looked at a lot of fine contemporary art at a young age, like Basquiat, Pollock, and Diane Arbus. 

  What is your usual process for any given drawings? How long do they take you?

It depends on the size of the drawing. Sometimes they take a few hours, sometimes they take months. 

What are some of the things you try to communicate through your drawings?

  Oh, well, it depends on the drawing at hand. In college I was very into symbolic subversion. I'd take ubiquitous imagery, symbolic imagery, and deface it or appropriate it in a way that robbed the symbol of its inherent meaning. Since I grew up on contemporary photography, I also tend to steer towards emulating portrait work, like the work of Cindy Sherman or Robert Mapplethorpe.  

 What are your thoughts on the current state of the punk/indie scene? How do you react to the increased coverage and notoriety that many of the artists - including yourselves - are receiving from the press, fans, etc.?

 I'm not sure. That sort of stuff doesn't mean a lot to me, personally. A lot of acts people perceive as "indie" aren't really as such, everything is sort of mainlined into the same machine nowadays. It's a bit disheartening but we just keep trying to plow through doing our own thing, work with our friends, and make our own decisions. It can certainly be challenging but working on our own accord is very satisfying, far more satisfying than any press clip.

 Do you think it's necessary for independent musicians and bands to have a form of ethics?

 I do. Good work ethic and tenacity sets a good example! It also shows your audience and contemporaries that you are dedicated and care very much for your art. There is nothing shameful in sticking your neck out a bit for what you believe in.  

How do you think the New Brunswick DIY punk scene is looking right now? Do you have any local bands that might not get a lot of attention from that area you'd suggest checking out?

Yes! Some of the great New Brunswick bands that are around right now are: Black Wine, Kicking Spit, 3Jane, Lost Weekend, Sparkle Shit, Mattress, Biblethumper, and Eternal Fuzz just to name a few. 

 What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?

 I don't have any gripes.  

 What else does the future hold for Screaming Females?


Thanks so much for your time Marissa, is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nope, thank you!

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