Naomi Punk’s music is simple but crazy, it’s both light and heavy on your ears, and it represents what the Seattle and Olympia areas are morphing into. As they prepare to release their second studio album Television Man, I had the chance to speak to them about their new work, their hometown, their art, and of course, pizza.

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ANON: When you were recording The Feeling you didn’t have a lot of recording time or space. How did recording Television Man differ, and did it change the sound of the final product?

Naomi Punk: Well actually, we did have a lot of time to work on The Feeling, we worked on it for like, 15 months! We went really slow and did everything ourselves. It was really therapeutic. I think that’s why it ended kind of having an Enya kinda attitude. I’m sure most people don’t really pick up on that, but we were really deep into Enya when we were recording that, so we were doing like, 50 vocal tracks layered over each other and stuff like that, to make it super heavenly sounding. For Television Man, we kinda did it the same way, but it turned out a lot different. We still did it all ourselves, so the recording techniques were kind of unorthodox and made it sound pretty far-out, but that ended up being really cool. I’m really into the idea that recordings can be really imaginative and weird and not necessarily like a documentation of the live sound. So we did it pretty weird!

 

A: What were the major influences and/or drive behind the new album?

NP: It’s about a lot. It’s about turning yourself inside out and crawling around on the ground and watching the world drown in trash, and crawling through trash, and finding freedom and sensuality, and a lot. I feel like it’s not really trying to be inspirational. It sounds heavier because the feelings are heavier. I love the Meat Puppets. They speak the truth to me. I cry when I lie on the floor and listen to their music. And Captain Beefheart. All three of us got super deep into Trout Mask Replica and the whole Don Van Vliet man and myth when we were teenagers, and it’s still such a source of wonder for me, I can’t even express it without sounding like a nerd. Some people think Captain Beefheart is kind of highfalutin satire or something, but I feel it down deep in my heart. Not trying to get too deep but those people know art.

 

 

A: A lot of bands have one person who is the leading creative force behind the music. How collaborative is your dynamic?

NP: The philosophical direction of this band is highly collaborative, but we all talk about it a lot, how some bands that are committed to total anarchic consensus in their songwriting end up sounding like they’re all compromising their main idea of how the song should go. That music sounds wacky to me. No focus. I like shit that is super stupid and minimal and dictatorial. We decided back when we were new to playing music together that we had to have a dictator so that there was some kind of sense of focus. Nico is the dictator, but I think we can all override each other on anything.

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A: You all live in or near Seattle but grew up in a very small town. How do the two places influence your music?

NP: We actually all live in Olympia. I lived in Seattle for a long time, and we still play there a lot, but it’s being taken over by software programmers and urban yuppies or something. There’s a huge punk scene in Olympia that’s been steady but also evolving for a long time. People reference Beat Happening and the Melvins and K Records to us, but obviously those aren’t the people who are doing shows in Olympia anymore, haha. I think that it totally influences how we make music and how we present it, like, how we think about “the perfect show,” and the perfect settings. Olympia is really small. There aren’t really any “official” venues in Olympia, so big shows happen after hours at the Pizzeria, or at a gallery called the Northern, or at this store called Dumpster Values, or at house shows, or a couple bars I guess. We’re hoping to organize a show at the bowling alley later this year. Would be huge.

 

A: It seems like bands that come out of the Seattle area have this real sense of community. What do you think it is that makes it this way?

NP: There are a lot of different scenes in Seattle and Olympia. We play in Seattle a lot and there’s so much cool stuff going on that we’ve gotten to be a part of… Dreamdecay, FF, the Numbs, Freak Vibe. There’s lots of cool people doing different inspiring things. Olympia is awesome and totally different than any other place I’ve been. There’s so many weird freaks doing crazy shit. It feels so different than the way music is in other places. Like, I feel like no one is trying to get signed to a record label or something. I go to shows and people are just getting free. So much good music going on right now. I guess in that sense it kind of fosters a different attitude than would exist in a lot of other places.

 

 

A: When people find out a band is from Seattle, the initial thought is grunge. How do you separate your music from that? Or do you embrace it?

NP: I’m glad you asked this question. One time I said we were a grunge band because I thought it was funny, now it’s stuck I guess. My understanding is that grunge was a marketing gimmick for bad rock bands in the early 90’s, and then it got to be a super mainstream way of talking about slow loud rock music with holes in your jeans or something, right? Whatever, I have holes in my jeans, and I play in a punk band, but we’re not interested in reviving some kind of aesthetic movement as hero worship or 90’s nostalgia. That’s really boring. We’re making new punk music. We kind of look punk, but we kind of look like hicks. Haha. Or hippies? Who knows? I wear a chain wallet. I look stupid, but I’m into it. Never really embraced grunge as a way to sell our music because to me it’s a totally vapid concept. It doesn’t represent a movement or an idea you know? It was marketing.

Like, no disrespect at all to any of these people or fans, but like I hate TAD and Mudhoney. That shit is dumb!  Their music doesn’t speak to me at all. I’d rather talk about NIN or Skinny Puppy, but we’re not an industrial band, so I don’t want to confuse people. Punk is like, the opposite of that. It represents so much even though it’s also corroded and hollow… it has a history that matters and changed us. So we tell people we’re a punk band that plays slow. Nico tells people we’re a pop band, but it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day it doesn’t bother us when people describe us as grunge, and it doesn’t really matter how you try to represent yourself to the public because your music and your art and your image will always be misrepresented in some minor way. That’s just how it goes. It’s kind of awesome actually to see how people interpret your life. When people describe us as grunge I’m like, “At least they didn’t call us garage.”

 

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A: When I listened to Television Man the term “controlled chaos” came to mind. How would you describe your particular sound?

NP: Yeah, I like chaotic music, but also I like simple dumb repetitive music that puts you in a trance. I guess that means it’s controlled, which is cool. I wanna enter into a trance when I’m playing. Trance music?

 

A: What’s your favorite and least favorite part of touring?

NP: Playing shows every night rules. Driving through every corner of America rules. I highly recommend it. Getting very sick is the worst thing that can happen, and it has happened. Getting food poisoning at a random person’s house while they’re trying to party with you is actually the worst thing ever. It was like, “Whoa I died and went to hell.”

 

A: What are some artists more people should be listening to right now?

NP: Gun Outfit, GAG

 

A: You’re all artists beyond music. What is your medium of choice?

NP: We’re all into visual art stuff. Nico and I are specifically really into collage and drawing. Neil does insane organic synth music composition work, like all day every day. He’s a virtuoso composer, man! He’s like retired from visual art haha.

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A: Lastly, I always like to ask what toppings you get on your pizza/what styles of pizza are your favorite

NP: NY style. Nick and I love olive and mushroom. Neil really hates olives.

 

Make sure to listen to Naomi Punk’s first album The Feeling on repeat in preparation of their new LP, which you can binge listen to on August 5th.