Arts Desk

What Priests Thinks About Screaming, Politics, and Smartphones at Punk Shows

photo_jaguar_550x825For my cover story this week on Priests, I spent a lot of time observing and talking with the members of the D.C. punk band and people in the world—but I couldn’t touch on every topic I wanted to include, like vocalist Katie Alice Greer's insightful interview style for online fanzine The Media or Black Eyes' listening parties in the back of vans. Here are some choice quotes from the cutting-room floor.

Katie Alice Greer on screaming

There is potentially a male and female scream in anybody. I'm an aggressive person, I don't remember not being aware of this. But tackling and coming to terms with, and presenting my own femaleness is something I'm always working on. I love that part of me, but I don't always find myself in a world where there is room for a female scream or a female anything.

Guitarist G.L. Jaguar on the night Barack Obama was elected

I actually remember the moment. There was a show at the Girl Cave during election night, and the entire city—there was just a complete tonal shift, and it kind of went from everybody rallying behind this one thing, to this kind of DayGlo, fuck-art-let's-dance kind of mentality. It's like, "Oh, well we don't really have to—there's nothing to really be upset about," when the reality is, there's a lot of things to be upset about. There's always something. Even more so.

Drummer Daniele Daniele on anger

But it's kind of funny, especially my dad when he listens to the band, he's like, "Why do you always yell so much?" I do think a lot of people associate our band with anger, and that's the emotion that's coming up a lot, and I think it's because a lot things that people aren't talking about are things that we do talk about that make you angry, but I think that that idea of things not being talked about is more of the defining aspect of our band.

Bassist Taylor M on apathy

I really don't think people are apathetic. I don't think anyone that we've met or that we're involved with is apathetic. It's not necessarily anger. It's frustration.

Downtown Boys' Victoria Ruiz on Katie Alice Greer's interview style

It would take me days and a lot of time to think about her questions. She really had to support me, call me, text me, send me emoji, but we got it done. People have been so supportive of that interview. How did Katie know that was going to happen? She resonates with me so much because she and I find these wavelengths to both be on, but our superficial personalities are quite different. I am like a rambunctious butterfly—sometimes I get crazy, drink, and get kinda loud all the time. Katie is a refined athlete—she breathes, eats right, sleeps, reads everything and thinks about it, remembers everything, and is mad disciplined.

Hugh McElroy (Black Eyes) on outside influences in punk

I don't feel like we were evangelists for D.C. punk, but I do think, to some extent, one of things that was cool was the interesting bands were the bands that just didn't listen to punk rock. People were into all kinds of different stuff and trying to figure out different ways to incorporate it into their music. I felt like that was more what we were about with an element of hometown pride.

We'd also have these listening parties in the van before shows. We played this very sweaty basement in Athens [Chi-House]. There was parking lot out back. There was all of this hang time and we were playing records out of the van. "Oh, you should hear this record by The Ex." I think our proselytizing was not solely D.C. evangelism, but here are some awesome records you might not have heard.

On phones at shows

G.L. Jaguar: Our third show what we ever played, we were playing at Death By Audio. I remember there was someone on their phone, and while I was playing, I got up in their face like, "Retweet this," and then just walked away.

Taylor M: That doesn't even make sense.

Ruiz on touring with Priests

I am consistently inspired by the friendships they have with each other, their honesty with each other, and how they interact with people they meet and the cities they are in! Everyone in Priests is so easy to talk to and they are very supportive of the different show spaces we play in. We go to Savers, get coffee, talk about world politics and local organizing campaigns—it's always like seeing family members.

McElroy on Priests' undeniability

I'm gonna steal another [Ian] MacKaye-ism—there's just something profoundly kind of undeniable about what [Priests is] doing. Even if Gideon starts on the wrong note in a song, the intensity—the music that speaks to me tends to have some degree of spiritual intensity. It's gotta be expressing something simultaneously physical and emotional. A lot of the punk groups that speak to me have some degree of that kind of intensity and fervor. Then again, you can have a band be terribly earnest and fall flat and seem hokey and lame. I think it's some kind of combination of commitment to the project or commitment to the expression.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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