We talk to Matt Korvette about the Philadelphia band's fifth record.
Pissed Jeans have always found the evil, the sad, the depressing, and the funny in the utter banality of life. Matt Korvette doesn't sing about smashing the system, he sings about the system smashing him and trying to grow old in it, set to droning punk that's an update on the sludgy sounds of Flipper, Kilslug, and The Jesus Lizard.
Why Love Now, their fifth record which Noisey is streaming below, is louder and more frustrated than ever before. "(Won't Tell You) My Sign," "Actavia," and "The Bar Is Low" embrace the dirge, and there's an inverse relationship between how the title "Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst" and how angry it really sounds. "I'm a Man," narrated by author Lindsay Hunter, recounts casual office sexism, from flexing by changing the water jug with one hand to making clear that "I like kids, but I don't like boyfriends, and I don't like husbands." It's damning because it's too normal, too plausible. The second record was called Hope For Men; this record suggests there ain't much of that to go around. Love had two producers at the helm—Arthur Rizk, the rifflord behind Sumerlands who's also worked with Title Fight, Prurient, and Inquisition, and punk/no wave legend Lydia Lunch. Rizk brought the righr combination of heads; Lunch made all the rage come to a head.
Korvette and and I spoke about mostly how dudes are kind of sad, but there's a few words about the music too.
Noisey: What was working with Lydia Lunch like?
Matt Korvette: She was just a great presence in the studio—her attitude was very different from our attitudes, and her experience and her stories, she was a great motivator. I didn't know what to expect, which was the fun of it. It wasn't like we were walking into the studio with someone who you can look at their 12 most famous productions and already know exactly how they like to word. She was kind of just a nut—listening to the songs, kinda yelling about stuff, it gave us a totally different atmosphere than usually, pretty like, pretty subdued, kind of quiet—we've only ever worked with producers who have the beside manner of a psychologist or something, whereas Lydia was an unhinged, awesome force in there. She's the opposite of a passive-aggressive Californian—"oh yeah, whatever you want, that's cool, cool, man" while reserving their actual judgment or maybe not having any. She was very enthusiastic and would say crazy things and would really mean it if she liked something. I feel like any compliments we got from here were 100% sincere.
Where did "Ignorecam " come from? It seems weird that guys would want to be ignored, because we don 't take being ignored well.
That comes from an actual fetish that I think some people must have because services are advertised online where women will just ignore a guy, like a phone line for a minute rate, which I thought was such an awesome idea, and just so bizarre, because it's something you could easily, willingly get for free. The song was also coming from a place where—there's this weird internet culture where you follow someone on Twitter or Facebook but you mute them or block them. It's this weird way of interacting where you can tailor your specific human interactions by blocking.
I can 't imagine someone like GG Allin or Iggy Pop getting off on that.
Maybe that's what they do want because clearly they're constantly getting attention. Often, I think people want what they don't get in real life. It's why there's loser guys who want women choking them out when they really work second shift at Arby's and live in their parents' basement, or high-powered lawyers who want to be put in diapers. It can be an opposite reflection of what their real life is like.
It 's an escape for them, and Pissed Jeans is not an escape.
A couple albums ago, I wrote a song called "Goodbye Hair" about going bald. I'm going through that, and a couple other members are too, by putting it out there it's no longer a thing to worry about. Make a song about it, show that you're feeling bummed, and then suddenly it's not that big of a deal, rather than if I was always trying to wear hats, or pretend or hide, that would be way more stressful.
My favorite song on here is "I 'm a Man. " How did you get writer Lindsay Hunter involved?
We've been friends for a little bit, a couple years. I found out through a friend that she's a fan of Pissed Jeans and I read her books and they were so good, I was blown away. She has almost a similar aesthetic as Pissed Jeans, coming from a fictional short story side rather than music and lyrics. You hear "I'm a Man" and it's so painfully real, it's not a horror story, a ghoul that does sickening, gory things, it's about a plausible, real person. Even when I heard it for the first time I was totally cringing and running down the list of descriptions she had for this character that I'm like "fuck, I've probably done that." Realizing all the things that matched me and feeling so embarrassed and lousy—she just nailed it.
It 's so discomforting because it 's not outlandish—it 's not the shock of Trump grabbing women. It 's so banal, so real.
That's a big pitfall for guys who are trying to be better and be more aware of their behavior. It's easy to see it like "rapists only wear masks and carry a knife and jump out at strangers in the park" when it's really it's coworkers who are friendly guys. You don't have to catcall, you can just loudly talk over your female coworker about a subject without realizing you're doing it, or not including a woman in something because you didn't know she would want to do that too. Just those subtle things that are harder to be aware of, and those are the things you can work on. I'm right there trying to work on it myself, I don't want to come across as the guy who figured everything out and is doling out insults to the rest of guys. I'm just trying to be better myself, and a lot of these songs are directed inward, as well as outward.
Where is "Not Even Married " coming from?
That song was written in response to seeing dudes like me who are ten years younger, like in their mid-20s, who are living a pretty regular life and get dumped by a girlfriend, and they enter their Ian Curtis artist phase. They're so destroyed by it. You don't know real breakup pain until you're negotiating who gets the house and who sees the kids. It just seems funny to me when younger people romanticize their breakups when there wasn't much on the line. It's not written to be taken as a 100 percent well thought out argument, it's pretty kneejerk, but I enjoy writing from a kneejerk perspective sometimes. You don't know what you're talking about till you sell your house and living above a bar trying to see you kids on weekends. I'm entering the decade of friends getting divorced, past the decade of marriages.
Romanticizing depression prevents you from actually dealing with it.
There's people who pretend to be depressed to party and get attention. "I'm ultra-serious" that's a lame style to adopt on purpose. It's funny, we've played a couple of shows with Mudhoney over the years, and we're hanging out backstage and one of them was "Did you see the Sad Cobain tonight?" At their shows, for years, they get teenagers who don a ragged cardigan and a Daniel Johnston shirt and stand up front and mope, trying to inhabit Kurt Cobain's vibe as they understand it to be. It was cracking them up—people idolize him by being sad, I don't think Kurt Cobain wanted people to take away from his art. "Mope around!" That was something he wished he didn't have, and people tried to make it special. Being suicidal isn't a thing to aspire to. If you are doing that, you've never felt any serious depression or suicidal thoughts. Obviously he's like a huge influence for so many people, but no matter what town they're in, someone's emulating Kurt and making it visible, and making sure people are noticing them, and noticing that they're all sad standing around. If you're gonna be Kurt Cobain, jump into a few drumkits.
Follow Andy O'Connor on Twitter.
Photo credit: Ebru Yildiz