Brillobox / 08.01.2012 / Doors 9:00 / $7
Words by Brendan
This job can be super easy sometimes. For instance, you might hear about a band on the web, start listening to their tunes a bunch, and shortly thereafter get an email from that *very band* out of the blue asking you to help them set up a show in your town. That’s exactly what happened with Speedy Ortiz recently, and my answer to them was a resounding, “Hell yeah!”
A date was open at the Brillobox, and two of my favorite Pittsburgh bands—Pet Clinic and Legs Like Tree Trunks—were available to play, so it all fell together perfectly. We even brought in the artistic hand of one Michael Artman to make that pretty-looking poster you see up there. In short, the stars are aligned for this show, and we hope you’ll join all of us this Wednesday evening for three awesome bands.
We had an email chat with Speedy Ortiz‘ guitarist & singer, Sadie Dupuis, a few days ago, so read on for some more about her and the band, and grab a tune from their new EP right here, too!
DUL: What’s your band history tale? How did you all end up playing instruments, and how did you all end up playing together?
Sadie Dupuis (SD): following a year of unemployment, early 20s identity crisis, deaths of some close friends, and a breakup with a long term boyfriend, i moved from brooklyn to northampton, ma in september for grad school and a teaching job. i was reasonably depressed considering the aforementioned and playing music was (cliché) one of the few things i liked. i was still playing in a new york-based rock called quilty trio, unfortunately featuring my ex-boyfriend, and those shows were sporadic and toxic, frequently ending with us knocking over each other’s equipment. i wanted to work on new material but it would have been painful for us to work together, so i home-recorded an album and EP on which i played all of the instruments. the first few “speedy ortiz” shows were essentially me filling in for shows quilty trio had to back out of due to breaking up. i called my friend mike falcone, who played in two of my favorite bands, ovlov and dead wives, and he came over to my mom’s basement the night before the first show and learned a bunch of my songs and a sebadoh cover and we played as a duo for a handful of sets. then another pal, matt robidoux, who i’d been casually playing with, started playing guitar with us. he’d been in a northampton band called graph and also plays in some noise projects so his playing added a really different angle to it. i remember a “guitar solo” at an early show at bard college that essentially involved him breaking a practice amp with feedback from a pzo mic, smashing the thing, and then wrapping it in toilet paper. different people filled in on bass. darl ferm, who i had met at a party in north carolina when quilty played with his old band day sleeper on tour, learned all the songs the night before a january boston show he was filling in for, and then played permanently with us after that. we like a lot of music in common—failure, swirlies, slint—so it was a good fit right away.
DUL: What were early Speedy Ortiz gigs like? What were your goals for the band?
SD: all of our old bands had recently broken up so we took all of those show offers and used them for speedy ortiz. between the four of us we have a solid network of friends in the boston and new york scenes and were able to set up good lineups with bands we liked right from the start. like i said, i was pretty depressed from all of the shit that had gone down in the previous calendar year, so i was manically prolific in terms of output as a way of coping. since last summer i think i’ve written ~75 songs, which is weird since i used to write sorta slowly, never more than 5-10 a year. we were lucky enough to record two of those (“taylor swift” and “swim fan”) with paul kolderie, a boston engineer who has worked with some of my favorite bands (pixies, come, morphine, radiohead) and put them out as an online single.
DUL: Tell us about the making of the Sports EP: the songwriting, the recording, the production. How do you feel about the end result? From an outsider’s perspective, it feels like a “mature” recording, something you’ve been building towards. Is that fair to say? Are you proud of the record? Where do you hope to go from here?
SD: ‘sports EP’ was 5 songs i had written and recorded demos of in january. i don’t think we ever actually even rehearsed them, just learned them independently and started playing them at shows… there were about 30 of those in february and march, at which point we went to a warehouse in philly called the sex dungeon and recorded the album in a couple of days. we picked that spot because our friends who run it, dan and james, let us stay there one time after an early show and got drunk with us and synced up the failure album fantastic planet with the french cartoon of the same name… plus they have all these weird sculptures and a fat cat named moomers… i’m not doing it justice, the space is surreal. recording there was an impulsive decision fueled mostly by a desire to hang out with and support our friends, which is characteristic of most of what the band does, i think. we like playing with and for our friends and working with our friends. justin pizzoferrato in northampton mixed it with us and made it sound really amazing, imho. my friend keith freund from the boston band ribs mastered it. exploding in sound records was nice enough to offer to press it to 10″. they also release two of our favorite bands and best friends, grass is green and pile, so (based on previously stated ethos) we obviously went for it. i made the artwork the day we sent it out (like i said, super impulsive band). matt’s girlfriend olivia is a great artist and made a layout for the tape. they co-released it on their label, hidden temple, along with mike’s label, t-scene. and now it’s out and we’re very happy with it. but we’re also excited to do some new stuff. on tour we’ve been getting songs for a new album tight, so hopefully we’ll have a chance to record that soon.
DUL: What’s it like being on the road with Speedy Ortiz? What do yinz do for fun? To stay sane?
SD: we’ve all been doing different things to stay sane on the road (not an easy thing to do on a 7 week tour, i’m realizing). i do 100 jumping jacks a day when we stop for gas, and whenever i have alone time i hit up comic shops. darl, who went to film school, has been getting footage of many of the bands we’ve seen. i think he’s putting that towards either a documentary about the boston basement scene or maybe just punk shows in general. matt picks up postcards in every state we go through and sends them home to friends. like i said, he and mike both run tape labels, and they’ve been collecting a bunch of cassettes from bands along the way. mike is, as it turns out, a nachos expert, and has been starring in a video segment we are filming on the subject, titled “is it nachos?” plus the usual sleeping on floors, painting our faces to look like clowns, playing baseball with full beer bottles, etc.
Photo by Andrew McFarland for Boston Phoenix
DUL: Any places/venues you’ve loved playing at/visiting? Any bands you love playing with?
SD: we’ve played with some excellent bands we already knew on this tour—LA font from LA, roomrunner from baltimore, pitch and bark from santa fe, to name a few. plus met some other awesome bands like sundials from richmond, dirt from omaha, daikaiju from alabama, duck little brother duck from portland, wild moth from SF, spray paint from austin… i could go on for a really long time about this shit. we booked it ourselves and really made an effort to find bands we were passionate about playing with in every city, so there’ve been almost no duds.
DUL: Any thoughts/experiences with Pittsburgh? What are you looking forward to?
SD: the last time i went to pittsburgh was five years ago with a band i was then “managing,” ava luna. i was underage and snuck into this bar they were playing and drank a milky way-flavored martini, which was totally novel to me as an 18 y/o (and also completely nasty). i also picked up on “yinz” which i readily adopted (much to the confusion of all of my friends who have never been to pittsburgh). really excited for this show so i can say it again and not get a lot of weird looks. also pet clinic and legs like tree trunks are both really good.
We totally agree, Pet Clinic and Legs Like Tree Trunks are outstanding, and Speedy Ortiz has been coursing through my speakers for weeks on end. We hope you’ll make it to this one, and we also hope the Brillobox doesn’t explode due to too much awesomeness in too little space.