Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"My Shorts, They're So Short" - interview #2 w/ the Pity Party

My first interview for the Long Beach District Weekly (thanks Chris!):

My Shorts, They're So Short


The Pity Party is an eco-friendly rock duo from Los Angeles comprising fiery redheaded exhibitionist Heisenflei and whiskey-loving M. They just released their second EP with packaging made from recycled trash, and are currently recording their first full-length album and anxiously awaiting their first SXSW experience.

The Pity Party is playing SXSW for the first time this year.
M (guitar): We’re playing two parties. For one of them we’re opening for the Raveonettes.

Do you have anything special planned?
Heisenflei (drums/vocals/keys): My plans are to get up with the sun rising, and I’m going to meditate for seven hours, and then I’m going to pick wildflowers in the area and make bundles and leave them on everyone’s doorstep, and then I’m gonna shake everyone’s hand that I come across. And then maybe I’ll go to some rock shows. And I’ll play a little bit.
M: I’ll be shitfaced the whole time.

What do you expect the SXSW experience to be like?
H: Lots of free shit, lots of drinking, a lot of fucking. Rock ‘n’ roll.
M: Last year we watched a TV show about SXSW and it was totally like Times Square where all the reporters were inside and you saw all these drunken people stumbling past. We were like, “We wanna be there!”
H: I hate how everyone who already went to SXSW wants to tell you about how it’s going to be. It’s like, no it’s not. Shut your mouth, I’m gonna experience SXSW my way.

You just released a new EP, Orgy Porgy.
H: We made it from a billboard for Smirnoff.
M: It was a Smirnoff ad for a sexual, grape-flavored vodka drink.

How did you acquire a huge discarded billboard?
M: Heisenflei got it donated from Clear Channel. She called saying she had an art project.
H: My friend Stephanie told me about how you could buy billboard vinyl—$15 for a 4×4 sheet—and she was like, “You could probably just call a billboard place and they’ll give it to you.” So I called the dude and I hounded him for three months and he finally let me have it.

Your first EP was also handmade from discarded cereal boxes.
M: We always try to use trash. In terms of trash, the billboard was the largest.
H: It was 43 feet by 20 feet.
M: It didn’t even fit in my apartment so we had to roll a little bit out at a time and cut out all these pieces.

You’re halfway done with a Monday-night residency at Spaceland. How’s that going?
H: Last night after I played, this weird old guy asked me if I learned my moves stripping. He bought me a big drink. And then I let him stuff money in my panties.
M: What, were you like pole-dancing around your keyboard?
H: It’s my shorts, they’re so short. When I lean over—to think about what they’re looking at, I don’t even want to think about it. But I still wanna give it to them. I’ve thought about playing nude many, many times. I’m a fucking exhibitionist and I need attention.

You could play nude at SXSW.
H: We would be remembered forever. I was watching this new band MGMT on Letterman and they were all wearing black capes. I was like, “I see, they’re trying to find a way to make people remember.”
M: But it can’t be an obvious choice.
H: Yes, it needs to be. We’re talking about America here.

What makes people remember you?
M: I think our recycling concept. I mean, it’s not an original idea, but it’s that thing for us. It’s capes. But it’s way more sneaky.
H: We could just put trash all over ourselves and trash on the stage.
M: The future of our shows is we’re only gonna perform at dumpsters. Or in a junkyard or a landfill.
H: Playing in the giant floating trash mass that’s in the ocean.
M: That spot where all those plastic bottles get dumped in the middle of the Pacific—the sun beats down on them and breaks them into small little pieces and all the fish think it’s plankton and eat it and then we eat the fish.

Last year you started recording your debut full-legth in Glassell Park at the now-defunct Wetandry Studios, which was known for using recycled analog tape. What’s up with that now?
H: Manny’s totally awesome, but honestly we don’t have the chops to record to tape in that fashion. If we’re just humble about where we’re at, we need a click track, we need ProTools, and we need to be able to fix some shit and get it where we want it. With tape it’s a lot harder. But I think someday we’ll go back to those tracks.

Who’s producing your record now?
H: Stevehimself. I didn’t know him until I moved my store [The Little Knittery, now in Atwater Village] and his studio was right next to it. He was all opinionated, like, “I hate local bands, I hate this, I hate that,” and that’s how we are, too. We’re basically all just sourpusses together.
M: Somebody recently referred to us as a New York-sounding band in L.A. But I think that’s part of it. It’s the ugly thing. People think ugly things come from New York, like that’s where ugly sound comes from.

Los Angeles is known as the land of sunshine pop.
H: It’s the fucking Mamas and the Papas. They ruined it for everyone.

Do you enjoy living on L.A.’s Eastside?
H: We’re all these weirdlings. We don’t bathe that much, everyone looks a little bit scruffy—it’s kind of creepy for some people to come over here. Just like it’s scary to go to West Hollywood and see all those crazy actresses with their perfect bodies and fashion-y outfits and their fucking pedicures and facials.
M: Somehow I think it was good that I got evicted because where we live—that is scary. There is violence breeding in there.
H: It’s hot.
M: There’s a lot of foot traffic, there’s a lot of kids, there’s a lot of adults. There’s the gangsters and the taggers. And it’s all mixing together so it feels very alive. But it also has an element of danger there.

Why did you get evicted?
M: I kept asking for heat and finally I was like, “I’m not gonna pay.” As soon as I didn’t pay she gave me an eviction notice. And she didn’t even fix my heat first.
H: He would like to see harm come to her.
M: I would like to see harm come to that woman. Like, actual harm.

You now live two doors down from each other. That’s convenient. Or maybe inconvenient.
M: There’s no drop-ins.
H: We respect each other’s social life. The thing about that is, we’re always going to have to date musicians because that’s all we’re going to encounter. You just tour all the time, and then you’re in clubs drinking alcohol night after night after night. It’s bound to happen.

So you say with a smile.
M: I suppose eventually if you have a team of people who tour with you, they’ll bring their people—so the potential exists to expand the circle if you get big enough.
H: Oh, dream on. It’s all about isolation and alienation. And the question is, can you continue to process it in a way that you enjoy it? Art is like the digestion system for emotions. You put emotions in, and then they go around, and you take a big crap and that’s the art.

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