Matt Korvette of Pissed Jeans is used to hearing noises like static and feedback, but our phone conversation started off with too much of what is normally a good thing to the band's lead singer. The Allentown, Pennsylvania, noisy punk(ish) band makes its first trip to Phoenix on Friday, November 7, and according to Korvette, "we're pretty stoked" about their show with local power house Gay Kiss and Tucson mind-blowers, Lenguas Largas.
Up on the Sun caught up with Matt as he prepared for the early tour dates, and he talked about the band, influences, and life as a part-time noise rock superstar.
Up on the Sun: Hey...apologies for the bad connection, but you must be used to some feedback at the volume you guys typically play at.
Matt Korvette: (Laughs) Haha, yes. I'm finally in my element.
So tell us about Pissed Jeans.
Matt Korvette: Hmmm, I don't know. I guess we are just kind of a representation of all the things we tend to gravitate towards in the last 30 years of loud guitar music. Just kind of fun. There is a pretty wide range of things we're interested in and we're not trying to recreate any one particular thing. Pissed Jeans are all about just trying to be in the vein of bands we really enjoy.
So what are some of the bands you were interested in when you all got together?
When we first got together, it was very much let's do something in the vein of Flipper, the Crucifucks, Stickmen with Rayguns. Bands who were kind of in the slower vein of punk music. Fang, for sure. We have definitely branched out a bit but we've stayed under the blanket of different loud rock music. From mainstream shit to super obscure stuff.
Is being loud important to you?
Matt Korvette: It is. It is fun to really feel it. I guess we're just used to being loud. I don't know how important loud is, but we're just always that. I don't know if we've gotten quieter over the years, but we've gotten maybe a little smarter over the years. When we first started our guitar player Brad [Fry] would have multiple stacks, but it was such a pain to bring those into basements or halls. We'll borrow gear here and there, and it's not like we have to have some certain amps or anything. We usually crank it pretty loud.
(Author's note: So bands looking to play with Pissed Jeans, be forewarned. They may borrow your gear and melt people's faces with it.)
We definitely understand and appreciate the idea of "let's bludgeon the audience tonight."
Well, it is just fun and makes everything more physical.
From the video I've seen, you guys seem to put it all into your performances.
Yeah, I try to.
How do you feel after two or three weeks on the road?
We never really go out for that long ... probably for that very reason that we'd just be fucking exhausted if we did. We go for like, nine days. We did three weeks once when we went to Europe. We have to take off work and such.
Do you all have day jobs? I think I read you all just recently became dads.
Yeah. We all actually became dads in the same year. We're all on the same wavelength...same orgasmic wavelength, actually. (laughs) It's fun and there's no odd man out. There is no, like, "single guy." It's kind of nice and I think it will help the longevity of the band. It's pretty nice. It kind of deepens the bond of the band.
Did you find parenthood working its way into your lyrics?
Uh, yeah. I think so. There is a lot of grief to be had as a parent.
How old are your kids now?
Very cool. So you're re-releasing your first record (2005's ass kicker of a debut, "Shallow")?
Yeah, yeah. We just thought, 'why not.' Subpop was up for it and a lot of people didn't know it existed. We play those songs a bunch anyway and we're all proud of it, so it might as well be available. We're not a band that is pumping out songs and albums right and left.
Any plans for album number five?
Yeah, we are working on new songs all the time. We get sidetracked with a lot of random stuff. Not songwriting-related. It's tricky to all get in the same room for an extended period of time. We usually do that when we are playing shows, so it's not conducive, always, to songwriting. A lot of the band time is not sitting around being creative, but going out and performing. Which is great, but it would be great to do both.
A lot of folks we've talked to about you guys bring up the Jesus Lizard comparison. Does that ever bother you guys?
Well, we've been getting that since, not day one, but day two probably. That's fine. I mean, I can see it. It's interesting because none of us, well, maybe our drummer Sean [McGuiness] has listened to them, but the rest of us don't own any Jesus Lizard records. They never really clicked with me. I'm probably breaking people's heart by saying that. ... I mean, they're cool, but I think we probably just listened to the same records that Jesus Lizard listened to. You know? We're both kind of reaching similar conclusions in different decades.
We can definitely see the comparison in terms of live performance.
Matt Korvette: They're an active and very crazy live band, and we strive to do that too. I Neflixed the Jesus Lizard live DVD [Show], and I thought they were totally great ... and this is really a similar vibe. I try to make every show its own unique thing, you know, things happen spontaneously. We don't play the same set list ever.
How did you guys end up working with Alex Newport (who recorded their last two releases, 2009's King of Jeans and 2013's Honeys)?
A buddy of mine recommended him because his band had recorded with him so we wanted to check him out. We wanted to work with someone new. The guy we worked with previously was great, but we'd worked with since we were like 18 and it was time to just mix it up a little bit. Alex was super cool...he was just a great person to work with. Hopefully we'll keep working with him. The only reason we wouldn't would be to mix it up a little bit again. We've done two records with him now, but both of them have been so much fun. He's been super great.
What else, Matt?
I would think they should come to have a good time. I think we're an entertaining live act and that's all I want to see when I go see a live band is to just be entertained. I think we can do that for like, just about anyone who's into guitars and drums and stuff. We have fun with it. It's a great thing to be able to do, to try to entertain.
That sums it up nicely. Pissed Jeans, undoubtedly, will entertain our collective faces off and the Crescent Ballroom, quite likely, will never be the same.
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