New York punk experimenters Perfect Pussy discuss their new album and tour schedule

“People should take it for what it is.” That’s the advice Perfect Pussy guitarist Ray McAndrew gives us when we ask him about how exactly we should be interpreting his band’s music. It’s good counsel. On the strength of their 2013 demo I have lost all desire for feeling the band became one of the most heavily hyped heavily analyzed bands on the planet. And despite their NSFW moniker they rode that buzz to extensive touring a deal with Brooklyn tastemaker Captured Tracks and of course kilometres of message-board shit talk.

For the voracious chatter that surrounded the band though they hadn’t even released an LP — until last week that is when Say Yes to Love dropped. So did the band expect things to ignite this quickly? “Absolutely not” McAndrew says. “People absolutely loved or absolutely hated our demo. I never thought our songs would cause so much controversy.

“Some people were bummed about how short our sets were. We were like ‘Maybe you should go see more hardcore punk bands.”

That’s another thing that’s been lost on Perfect Pussy’s ascent: For all their accolades among the Pitchfork set the Syracuse band has evident hardcore roots. (Which should be obvious anytime you listen to their bared-teeth take on D.I.Y. punk.) While plenty has been said about singer Meredith Graves’ firebrand feminism — she doesn’t write songs for men and really why should she? — their furious work situates them neatly in the continuum of their hometown’s music. Syracuse lest we forget has birthed plenty of ultra-political hardcore. Remember Earth Crisis?

“Those Earth Crisis guys are still around” adds McAndrew. “One of those guys plays in a band with Shaun’s [Sutkus Perfect Pussy’s keyboardist] roommate called Freya.”

Of course Perfect Pussy aren’t direct descendents of Earth Crisis but says McAndrew they’re also not a band that deserves Tiny Mix Tapes -esque critical analysis. In fact he says Perfect Pussy took strides to ensure that the LP wasn’t overthought — an effort that responded to their commercial success by crafting songs that were rawer more violent and more unhinged.

“It was definitely haphazard. We recorded it in two weeks. We saw an opportunity to record it and we jumped on it. We had a deadline to get the masters out so me and our drummer [Garrett Koloski] worked four hours every day for two weeks.

We’d write songs then pass them along to Meredith who wrote lyrics. It went through an editing phase where everyone got together and added their parts. But we didn’t overthink things. It wouldn’t feel as natural.”

And natural it was: Graves for her part typically recorded her vocals in a single take all while chugging a bottle of whisky. The songs are mixed unevenly giving the LP a distinctly chaotic flavour — at times feedback squalls overpower Graves’ singing while other moments see her domineering snarl in the focus. And as for McAndrew he says he hasn’t even learned Perfect Pussy’s lyrics.

“I’ve seen them but I don’t know every single word” he says. “I have a pretty good understanding of what most of the songs are about but I couldn’t sing along with most of them.”

McAndrew though isn’t being a negligent band member. It’s just that Perfect Pussy’s lyrics are often very personal to Graves — she says that Say Yes To Love was about her coming to terms with a failed relationship — and often the emotional gravitas of their music far outweighs their lyrical content. Besides it’s half impossible to make out what’s she’s singing and that we suspect is by design.

So if heavy handed critical analysis won’t work how should we interpret Perfect Pussy’s music? “We’re not necessarily trying to change the world but we try to spread a message of positivity equality and open-mindedness to people” McAndrew says.

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