When Screaming Females say “limited edition,” they mean Limited Edition.
Very. Like, 24.
That’s how many physical copies of their new single Black Moon they made available for purchase in the local record store in their New Jersey hometown of New Brunswick.
“Yes, well, I think a large portion of the population is just getting their music from Spotify these days,” drummer Jarrett Dougherty says from a rest stop just outside of St. Louis, before adding with a laugh: “We made 24 copies for all 24 people who still collect physical records.”
Well, not surprisingly, all of those copies were snapped up within seconds of going on sale this past September. But luckily the tune is readily available digitally for download or play all over the Internets. Thankfully.
It is another punked-up, pounded-out, guttural solar-plexus punch from the veteran trio, which also features bassist King Mike and frontwoman-shredder Marissa Paternoster.
It’s also the first new material they’ve released since their crit list-topping February 2015 release Rose Mountain.
As to whether or not it heralds the release of something larger, something more substantial, well, perhaps yes, but not any time in the near future.
“We’re always in the throes of writing something new or working on something new,” Paternoster says.
“So at any given point you can probably expect something from us unless we break up. In which case, then don’t expect anything.”
She laughs. “It’s an ‘either/or’ situation.”
So fans will have to be happy with catching them live on their seemingly endless tour, which brings them back to Calgary for a Wednesday, Oct. 11 show at the Palomino, or that tasty treat that is Black Moon.
The song reunited them with Seattle-based producer Matt Bayles, who helmed that last full length, their sixth studio album.
It fits into Screaming Females M.O. of what Dougherty describes as entering into “extended long-term relationships with people,” including with Chicago noisemeister Steve Albini who worked with them for a number of their previous releases — they recently played a show to mark the 20th anniversary of his famed Illinois studio Electrical Audio.
The decision to switch it up with Bayles was in keeping with the threesome’s desire to continue moving forward, trying new things to expand on the Females sound. Dougherty notes that even from the album to the single, they mixed it up by recording in a different studio using different equipment.
The result with both was something that pleased longtime fans who’ve followed them for the past 12 years — those drawn to their raw, primal rock sound — while at the same time casting a wider net thanks to a bigger, slightly more refined delivery courtesy Bayles’s broad pedigree, which includes working with notable other acts, from Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to Murder City Devils, Mastodon and The Sword. It actually has been one of those rare occasions of pleasing both sides, alienating none.
“Matt was very adamant about that right from the get-go …,” Dougherty says of the producer wanting to build from and up, not totally raze and remake their sound.
“He was like, ‘I don’t want this to be the record that sits outside of the catalogue, I want it to really feel like just another further extension of Screaming Females.’ I give a lot of credit to him for being very, very aware of that from the get-go.”
And although it did raise their profile, bring them greater acclaim, Paternoster insists that’s all that’s different in the Screaming Females camp. They remain fiercely independent — they’re still self-managed, their albums are still released on Don Giovanni Records with zero label input, and even interview requests are fielded directly from the band — and they have no intention of changing things up, on a business or artistic level.
Nor, she says, is there any pressure for them to raise the bar or take a greater leap with whatever they do next, whenever they do it.
“I think that there’s a general misconception that something changed in our band after Rose Mountain,” she says.
“For us it’s just kind of like, ‘OK, we’re making a new album so we want to make something that we value, that makes us happy when hear the playback or playing the songs live. We’re still in a band, we still travel with our friends, we still load our own gear. Not that much has changed, you know what I mean? We’re still out here doing the same thing. So on my end, to make another record is just to contribute an addendum to our catalogue, make more songs that we like to play when we’re out of the road, and make more songs that people enjoy listening to. That’s our ultimate goal.”
Dougherty agrees. “We always hope that there’s going to be more people that are excited about the next record, rather than the last record being the high water mark or something,” he says. “But I think we’re also prepared for that, you know, at some point. We’re not under some capitalist delusion of infinite growth model or something. Eventually there’s going to be a high water mark for Screaming Females — who knows when it’s going to be?”
He continues. “Ultimately I don’t think our goal is for the next record to be bigger than the last. Our ultimate goal is always to do something that we feel excited about and that we think is pushing ourselves and we’re not just repeating ourselves.
“I really am adamant about the fact that I think that when I feel that the well has run dry we’re not going to just keep at it.”
Which brings us back to that previous “either/or” comment from Paternoster: Are we anywhere near discussing that particular “or,” the end of Screaming Females?
Her response is immediate and blunt.
(Photo by Farrah Skeiky.)
Screaming Females perform Wednesday, Oct. 11 at the Palomino.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.