Screaming Females Is Done With Taylor Swift Covers

Together for a decade, with six albums and a whole lotta touring under their belt, New Jersey band Screaming Females aren't losing any steam. In fact, they don't seem to stop evolving into a stronger, more abominable force. Featuring Marissa Paternoster on guitar and vocals, King Mike on bass, and Jarrett Dougherty on drums, the band delivers a hyper-charged, rollicking blend of punk, indie-rock, and post-hardcore that never fails to hold your attention, whether you're wading in the melodic lulls or flailing in the wicked explosions. Live, the band's intensity is excitingly palpable.

Paternoster's bold and intricate guitar work is one excellent piece of this dynamic puzzle. Her voice, with its scary-yet-seductive low growl and enviable vibrato is another. Those things combine with the simultaneously smart and chaotic bass and drum work to get you hooked. On Tuesday, August 18, the band stops at downtown's Valley Bar, along with Oklahoma indie rockers Broncho, and pop-tinged punkers Vacation, from Ohio, to let you get an in-person taste of what they've been crafting these past ten years. We got a chance to chat them up a bit, with Jarrett answering our questions, except one we've noted where Marissa chimes in.

You guys are a touring machine. This one going good so far?

This tour has been great. Being able to bring Vacation along to play all the shows has been super exciting. Watching them play every night is inspirational. They have a great mindset which really helps a tour to be enjoyable.  

Got any highlights for us?

We played sold out shows in good sized clubs in San Francisco and Portland. We only get to tour out to the west coast about once a year so it is exciting to see that many people show up. Currently we are in Hawaii for two shows. The only state in the U.S. we have left to play now is Alaska.
In what ways do you think the live show has changed or evolved?

Since the beginning, we have incorporated improvisational elements into our live shows but over the years we've become more comfortable with the drama of that. For example, just letting a guitar ring out for an extended period of time between two songs. Mike and Marissa have been jumping around the stage like crazy for years but in the really early days they both used to just stand there like statues. There are some old videos like that that are pretty funny to watch now.

What should the Phoenix crowd expect?

About 45-60 minutes of music and no Taylor Swift covers. (Editor's note: Earlier this year, the band visited the A.V. Club's "A.V. Undercover" web series, where they performed Swift's "Shake If Off." Sounds like they might not wanna get a request for that one).

You have worked with some great engineers. You did your fifth release Ugly with Steve Albini, and then your most recent full-length Rose Mountain was produced by Matt Bayles. What were those experiences like?

Steve and Matt are both very accomplished and proficient engineers. Matt is also a full-fledged producer while Steve doesn't like to take on as much of that role. Both guys are incredible versatile and where both a pleasure to work with.  

Marissa, people are still talking about you taking 77th place on Spin's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," back in 2012. Did that mean anything to you?

Marissa: I really do not take that list into account in anything that I do in as far as my guitar playing is concerned. Whatever went into making that list was probably pretty arbitrary and I never think about it.

So no Taylor Swift songs, but are you doing any covers on this tour?

Mike has been playing a bunch of Vacation songs on bass while warming up.

Who do Screaming Females find worthy of listening to these days?

As I said earlier, listening to [tour mates] Vacation every night has been very inspirational. Their new album Non Person is one of our favorites of the year.

Have anything else for us? What's the Screaming Females' mission?

We hope people like our music and appreciate the facets of a band that can only develop with time and hard work. We've been a band for 10 years and I feel like we got at least another 10 in us! 

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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young