The rad members of Potty Mouth drop rock wisdom. They also drop their new video.
It’s been two years since Potty Mouth released their debut album Hell Bent, but the trio has finally broken their silence with the release of their infectious new single, “Cherry Picking”.
HelloGiggles had the incredible opportunity to talk to singer/guitarist Abby Weems and bassist Ally Einbinder to learn more about their forthcoming EP, their views on (the often complicated) role of gender in rock music, and the quirky inspiration behind their latest single, “Cherry Picking” (Spoiler alert: It involves a Chelsea Peretti Netflix special). Already in love, you say? Just wait until you see their new video.
HG: I don’t like using spotlight terms like “female bands,” but I think women in rock have an interesting and unique perspective that needs to be shared. Having said that, what does it mean for you to be a woman in rock music today?
Ally: For me, that question is interesting because it’s a question that’s been asked since women have been playing in rock music — from the 1960s ’til now — and it’s not a question that’s become asked any less frequently. That’s because rock music culture is a culture that’s highly masculinized and dominated by white men. Even as more women play music in bands, it’s still characterized in this hyper masculinized way. For me gender — it’s sort of a paradox — where it is and isn’t important.
Ideally, in a gender free world, we want to say it doesn’t matter whether or not we’re women. That shouldn’t be relevant. And honestly, that’s how we feel. Like, let’s talk about the music! Can we just not foreground our gender for a second? But then at the same time, we don’t live in a post-gender world. Anyone who thinks we live in a post-gender world is ignoring all the explicit and implicit ways gender informs daily life. And so, it needs to be talked about. It’s just hard to strike a balance.
As women in a band, we have experiences that are very much shaped by our gender — sexual harassment, the kind of language that’s used to talk about our music, being asked questions like this — but we also want to be part of social change and move in a direction where gender doesn’t have to be the foregrounded category. It’s a balance between talking about it when it’s relevant and important, but not always privileging it, especially in terms of our politics. Of course we’re all feminists, but we don’t identify with a gender centered style of music.
HG: What kind of inspirations did you use for this forthcoming EP?
Ally: As a band, we’re definitely inspired by other bands with women in them. Specifically, bands like Veruca Salt, Hole, Juliana Hatfield — not just because they have women in them, but because of their sound. That’s something I’ve been happy to see in reviews of “Cherry Picking.” People are really picking up on that. With our previous material, people would say “Oh. Riot grrrl,” but with this, at least with “Cherry Picking” out in the world, people are thinking “Oh yeah, Veruca Salt.” It makes me happy that those are the references people are talking about because those are the references we have for ourselves.
HG: How is this EP different from the work that you’ve done before?
Ally: This was our first time with a producer. We worked in a really nice studio. Our last album, Hell Bent, which came out two years ago was pretty lo-fi in its production. Those songs, at the time we recorded them, were already pretty old. So by the time the album came out, that material was 2-3 years old for us. We spent the last couple years just becoming better all around with songwriting and really honing our sound and our direction. So, hopefully, the new EP will reflect a natural progression of us maturing as a band. It’s not like we were consciously trying to be from a punk aesthetic, we’re growing as musicians — and that’ just what’s happened.
HG: What inspired “Cherry Picking” and what’s the song about?
Abby: Was inspired after watching Chelsea Peretti’s Netflix special, which we’ve watched like a billion times. She has this one bit where she’s talking about Internet stalking people — just going through their Facebook albums, being like “Oh do I want some of that in my life? Would my life be better if I cherry picked it out of these other peoples lives?”
I thought that was a totally on-point just because I do that all the time. I’m always on Instagram looking at people going “Whoa, this person’s so cool. How do I add a little bit of that in my life?”.
It’s so hard these days because I feel like, on top of that, people are always trying to figure out the authenticity of other people, especially bands. They’re expected to have a certain amount of authenticity in how they sell themselves. As a band, we’ve never tried to give ourselves one label or go with “that look.” I think that has sometimes confused people because we’re not trying to fit into some sort of box or image. We’re all just three people who like playing music. We’re just doing music because we love it. It came together in “Cherry Picking” — I just like the idea of being honest with yourself and that you can’t be 100% original and authentic all the time. But that’s totally OK. It’s what everyone does.
Ally: I think that’s the perfect answer because it feels so appropriate for this song. the way people are responding to it — I mean, people are responding very positively — but a lot people have said something like, “This is a new direction for the band,” and I don’t feel that it’s that different. I don’t feel we’ve changed as a band. I don’t know why people have the expectation that bands should stay the same forever and never mature or progress or grow in their development as musicians and songwriters, but it can be confusing, especially with something like punk. As a subculture, punk tends to be very rigid. And people think “Whoa wait, but this band started in a DIY punk scene”. And that was the case for a lot of bands. I mean, look at Nirvana. They were just three kids having fun, playing in basements, very much inspired by punk, and they became the biggest band in the world. Some people call that selling out. . . but when you don’t limit yourself to one particular box, there are more possibilities and there’s more room for growth.
Abby: To add on top of that, I think it’s really weird that people expect bands to be made up of the same image. Like we don’t have to become this “one thing” that is Potty Mouth when we’re three people who have our own experiences. It’s just a weird part of being in a band.
HG: Have you had any surreal moments where you’ve seen your music really touching your fans? How did that feel?
Ally: These two 16 year-old girls came to our show in Louisville, Kentucky, and after we played they were with an adult [who] approached us and said, “I came here with these two girls. They’re big fans and they’re really inspired by you”. . . and we talked to them.
It was really nice to see our music having an impact on these young girls’ lives, to the point where they were inspired to start a band. A month after that, they posted a YouTube video on our Facebook page of their first show. Six months after that, they e-mailed us saying “we’re organizing a Southern Girl’s Rock Section.” Just the fact that they did that is incredible.
There have been other moments like that — e-mails from younger girls, asking “How did you do it?” and it’s nice to be able to tell someone that it’s not that hard.
HG: Is there anything else you want to add about the new EP?
Abby: We’re really excited for people to hear our new stuff. It’s been so long and I’m really proud of everything we’ve done. I’m just excited we got the chance to bring every song to its fullest potential.
Potty Mouth’s self-titled EP will be released on August 21 by the band’s own label, Planet Whatever Records. Until then, check out the exclusive premiere of the brand-spanking-new “Cherry Picking” video—right here, right now!