“It’s a little bit sad, a little bit dance, and a little bit party,” says Peter Resendiz, the group’s leader and only full-time member. “We’re about bringing people together, and making people feel whatever they’re hearing.”
Resendiz spent part of his life moving around, including stints in California and Tennessee. But when he relocated to Phoenix a few years back, he found a bit of creative magic.
“The first non-mainstream band I heard was AJJ,” he says. “And I hated it at first. But it sounded like stuff everyone can do, like placing a condenser mic in the middle of a room and screaming. It’s also got sad boy vibes, and that’s cool.”
It was the DIY approach of both AJJ and Diners that inspired Resendiz to form Sad Dance Party in early 2016. While he admits to having “no idea” about getting started, it was the hyper-expressiveness of both bands that laid the ground for 2018’s Spontaneous Human Combustion, both an album and an encapsulation of his group.
“I was getting sober from painkillers and other stuff,” Resendiz says of the debut LP. “I thought it was nice that my art could transfer some of those things.”
Resendiz describes Spontaneous as a concept album, detailing the trials of a man sorting himself out in real time. As such, there’s an immediacy and rawness to these 10 tracks, with Resendiz emoting about depression and breakups and self worth.
Phoenix fans will instantly hear AJJ’s influence in Sad Dance Party’s cutting wit and frantic punk instrumentation, and Resendiz takes that comparison in stride. He says the LP was intended to be similarly “somber but uplifting,” and he’s happy to mine from this rich vein of Phoenix talent. But even so, he recognizes that Phoenix isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, with the constant change in downtown spelling minor doom for the city’s ragtag, DIY spirit.
Resendiz laughs when told that his view of Phoenix, equally celebratory and dismissive, is among the most Phoenix things anyone’s uttered. But that perspective is, in a way, representative of his artistry. Young, restless, and hungry, Resendiz appreciates the city that reared him, but he refuses to let that be an obstacle.
“I’m in the best mental place I’ve ever been,” he says. “I’m spending this whole next year writing our next album, and trying to shop it to a label. I want to take as much time as possible and experiment with song structures and recording.”
When asked if such maturity and forethought might alter the band’s inherent, gleefully depressive sound, he responds, “I’m in a great place, but I still have more story to be told.”
The project’s future begins with a new single, “Sadder Older,” set for release at their June 7 show at The Lunchbox. Resendiz describes the tune as “about getting older and figuring shit out, but still being sad.”
From there, Sad Dance Party embark on a Midwest tour through the end of June, followed by the Planet Pleasure fest, a celebration of local artists and vendors who “put the pedal to the metal,” later this year. Then, a Southwest tour in December.
Toward the end of the phone call, the subject turns once again to the irony at hand, that Resendiz is perpetuating the local scene even as he contemplates darting back across the state line.
”There’s a certain unevenness,” he says. “Phoenix is a great place to figure it out, to start up any creative work, but I feel like I’ve done my time here.” He adds, “I don’t like Phoenix, but I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Sad Dance Party. 7 p.m. Friday, June 7 at The Lunchbox, 4132 East McDowell Road, 602-293-3893; lunchboxphx.com. Tickets are $8 to 10 via The Lunchbox.