9/02/2014

Perfect Pussy Interview



PERFECT PUSSY INTERVIEW
Meredith Graves speaks

By Alexander Laurence

In the beginning there was the word, and also noise, punk rock, feminism, misogyny, and attacks on the patriarchy. From this world of injustice comes the band Perfect Pussy from Syracuse, New York, who exploded on the international scene so fast that we were all lining up to see them. After the release of their defiant debut album, Say Yes To Love, and numerous angry American tours, now people in Europe can join in the shouting. Here Meredith Graves talks about the band and their short life, and promises to break up the band before any acceptance into the male dominated culture.


AL: Are there a lot of music venues in Syracuse?

Meredith: Syracuse is a small city. There are about a hundred thousand people here. Most of us grew up here. Most of the venues are DIY. There are a couple of bigger venues. Syracuse University has a few big shows every year. Syracuse has historically had a very strong punk scene. Rochester and Buffalo are pretty close cities.

AL: Your shows are brief.

Meredith: We usually play for 15 or 30 minutes. We are a punk band. That is what we are used to. If you go to a house show and bands play longer than that, people will get bored, because it’s just wanking. In punk, if you can’t do everything you need to do in twenty minutes, you need to reconsider what you are doing as a band. There are some bands who have longer songs. If that is what you do, that is fine. But this is what we do.

AL: There was a show a few weeks ago in Dallas where there was a sexually explicit flyer for the show. What happened?

Meredith: I got upset. We played our full set that night. At the end of our set, Sean and I will continue. We have another project which is electronic noise and performance. We usually play last. So we will make some noise at the end of the set, while the other members are packing up the gear. We had a negative experience with the show. Not the show itself. The venue and the crowd were wonderful. There was some artwork that was created by some by some unknown person. They made a sexually violent flyer without our permission. I still don’t know who created it. People who don’t know our band, and make flyers for our gigs, tend to make sexually graphic flyers. But if you know anything about our band, you would know that our band talks about sexual violence and sexual abuse. We are a feminist band and we were on tour with another band who are all women. Anyone who thought that it was a good idea to make that flyer, wasn’t thinking. Nobody stopped it. It’s hard enough to be women in a scene that is profoundly unfriendly to women. That is not cool. Hardcore is supposed to be different. It is supposed to be a place where people can feel safe, and it never has been. People who are not actively making that change, don’t have a right to participate.

AL: You were touring on the west coast when this school shooting happened in Santa Barbara with Elliot Rodger. What did you think of that?

Meredith: The act was misogynistic. He has a history of violence against women that was ignored by the police. The misogyny involved in the crime is the crux of his mental illness. We do a disservice to women separating misogyny from mental illness. How his mental illness manifested itself was misogyny and absolutely hatred of women. People are unwilling to talk about it. It’s a fact: men’s entitlement to women’s bodies is a source of the majority of violent crime. Women’s stories get erased and the dead are forgotten, and that’s not okay.

AL: On the internet there is a lot of abuse against women.

Meredith: Everyone lives under the threat of crime. Women live under the constant threat of rape. I had this conversation with the band Potty Mouth when we were on tour. Women in music experience a whole other level of threat. When articles come out on the internet about your band, people will write in the comments: “I hope the bitch gets raped.” Men don’t get those comments. I am afraid of walking around in neighborhoods. I am more afraid of drunk dudes at shows.

AL: Female fronted bands are odd for some people. I guess you would see that more in the punk rock era with Siouxsie Sioux and The Slits?

Meredith: There have been women in music as long as there has been music. Because of male domination and the patriarchal culture, we haven’t gotten as much attention. It’s historically more difficult for women to get recognition. Women have been sexualized first, and musicians second.

AL: As far as lyrics go, you like Wire?

Meredith: You can make lyrics out of anything. I admire Wire for their use of language and their literary-ness. It’s beautiful. The concision and industrial nature of their lyrics matches well with the music they were making.

AL: You have a lyric sheet with your CD.

Meredith: There are a few ways to access our band. You can listen to it. You can watch it. You can read it as it goes. People can choose to access it at whatever level they choose.


AL: Do you think Perfect Pussy will do 5 or 10 albums?

Meredith: No. We will probably only do this one. I have been in a few bands. This is the one that got the most attention. Music is really just a hobby for me. I am a seamstress. I alter wedding dresses for a living. I have published my writing on some interesting websites. I help people put out records. I love photography. There are a lot of things that I want to do with my life. I have high hopes. I have done a lot of cool stuff. I have been lucky. This band is cool and interesting, but if there is one thing in 26 years, is there will always be another cool thing.



Unauthorized Flyer


from Ex-Berliner



PART TWO

AL: You were talking about being in the right place at the right time and being lucky? Can you expand on that?

Meredith: I am the kind of person that things just happen to. For instance I went out to lunch with my dad for father’s day a few years ago. It’s a place that I go once a week, and it’s across the street where I work. I was having coffee and I ended up meeting the guy who I ended up getting engaged to. Things happen to me. One day I woke up and I got a call that our band’s demo was on Pitchfork. It happened overnight. We played three shows. It feels like there are secret cameras around waiting for my reaction. I attract really interesting people and I find myself in super insane situations. I feel this constant sense of gratitude being in this band.

AL: In a few interviews you mentioned “Nirvana Goth.” Is that like mopey music?

Meredith: It’s not even mopey. I listen to a lot of mopey ass music. I like depressing and slow music. I think that is fine. When I say “Nirvana Goth” I mean people who are in bands to party, and don’t think about the politics of what they are doing. They just want to use some cool imagery and have no forethought about what they do. It’s a genre dominated by young white men. They do fucked up things because they have never been marginalized. It could be guys who use Native American art in their name, because maybe that will make them more tribal. There is no self editing or thinking in Nirvana Goth. It’s just song about drugs and the beach.

AL: You are touring in Europe for the first time this summer?

Meredith: Yes. It will be our first time as band there. My best friend lives in Berlin and he did some art for us recently. His name is Dru Brennan and he has a show up right now. He is a calligrapher and graffiti artist from LA who lives in Berlin. He’s also a professional photographer and teaches pottery. He hand painted text in the windows in a church in Berlin. He is amazing. He designed a tote bag for us.

AL: If you go to some of these European cities where they don’t speak English as much: do you think will be a problem for the band?


Meredith: Yeah. I am excited to see what happens. I don’t care what people think of this band. If they like or hate it: that’s fine. I hope they engage with it in some way. I am curious to see the results. I am committed to the art we are making. I would feel very uncomfortable being a tourist. The band is a good reason to visit all these other cities. I am looking forward to going to Paris. I studied film in school. I have always been into French culture, and French music, and French films. I am going to take a lot of photos there. We are coming back again in October for a festival. 


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