Interview – Potty Mouth
– by Shawn Conner
The weekend of May 23-24 is going to be a crazy one in Vancouver. With the Sasquatch! Music Festival (May 23-25) just over the border, dozens of acts will be crossing the line into Vancouver. One of the bands that might get lost in the crush, but shouldn’t, is Potty Mouth.
The young Massachusetts band, who open for Waxahatchee at the Biltmore Cabaret May 23, have one EP and a recently released full-length to their name. That album, Hell Bent, is 10 tracks of fizzy two-guitar pop-punk abandon, and has earned Potty Mouth praise and band-to-watch type notices.
A couple of days before the start of the tour bringing the quartet to town, we caught up with a few of ‘Mouths, including Abby Weems (guitar, vocals) and Victoria Mandanas (drums), who were sitting on the front porch of bassist Ally Einbinder‘s Northampton house. Einbinder called in too, from a bus.
Shawn Conner: I hear a lot of ’90s influences on the album but also ’80s influences. You’re obviously too young to have experienced that decade firsthand so where do those influences come from?
Abby Weems: Most of the music I listen to is from the ’90s, but I’m definitely influenced by what other people in the band listen to. Like when we go on long trips everyone plugs in the iPhone at some point or puts in a CD or mixtape. I’ve discovered a lot of things because of that.
SC: Abby, you’re the chief songwriter, right? When did you start writing songs?
AW: When I started playing guitar with Potty Mouth, so that was about three years ago.
SC: Why were you the one to write the songs?
AW: Probably because I had the most time. Everybody else was in college or had jobs. I was just a high school kid learning guitar and feeling really inspired all the time. I ended up getting really into it.
Video – Potty Mouth, “Black and Studs”:
SC: The band has had a lot of cool experiences in the last year or so.
Victoria Mandanas: Definitely. We’ve had some really cool opportunities. We opened for Kate Nash, that was really cool. That’s still the biggest show we’ve ever played. It felt like a concert, you looked out into the crowd – it was more people than we’re used to!
SC: I saw on your Twitter feed you’re trying to open for Veruca Salt in Boston. How’s that going?
VM: No progress yet. But we all plan on going regardless. We’re Veruca Salt fans, so if they’re playing this reunion tour and playing Boston we’re definitely going to be there. It still makes me wonder, Okay, so what’s the band they have opening?
SC: So do you have any downtime before the start of the tour?
AW: Ally doesn’t have any downtime.
Ally Einbinder: Yeah, I don’t have any down time. I haven’t had downtime in a year, it feels like. The reason I’m calling from a bus station is because I’m meeting our other guitarist Ali [Donohue; former lead guitarist Phoebe Harris quit to pursue illustration] in Boston and she and I are driving to New Jersey tomorrow morning to pick up our rental van. I’m the one renting it because I’m the only one who’s 25 and you need to be 25 to rent a vehicle. It’s stupid logistical stuff. The reason we’re going to New Jersey is because the company rents specifically to bands. I feel a little stressed. But I’ve already packed.
SC: Who’s the most organized Potty Mouth person?
VM: Definitely Ally.
AE: I’m not going to toot my own horn. But I work in an office so I have to be organized.
SC: Having recorded an EP and a demo, was it a struggle to get 10 songs for a full-length album?
AW: We definitely planned to have 10 songs. But it was getting down to the last couple of weeks before we were scheduled to record and we still needed one more song. So we sort of through together “The Better End”. People are usually surprised to hear that, a lot of people like that song and they don’t realize that a lot of it was improvised, a lot of it was thrown together at the last minute. It was definitely a struggle to get to the 10 songs. But I don’t know, I think it came out pretty well.
SC: What was the inspiration for that one?
AW: Phoebe wrote about half of it a long time ago. It’s about an ex-partner. We don’t have to get into it. It’s about breaking up, but how that can be for the best.