(Photos swiped from White Denim)
Pissed Jeans are quite possibly the best band in America right now. There, we said it. Their debut album, Shallow, has been blasting out of our respective home and office stereos on continuous loop since it was released last year on CD, and having finally been able to catch these four hombres in live action recently with Pearls and Brass, we gotta say, they smoke. But they don’t need smoke to make themselves disappear, dig? Swingset’s Joel Hunt conversed with PJ singer and man-about-town Matt Korvette via email in the days leading up to the November, 2006 mid-term elections, and they talked about Mark Foley a little bit, but as you’ll read below, Mick Foley is a much bigger influence (literally and figuratively) on their amazing brand of sweaty, manly rock.
Swingset: Okay, so now that Pissed Jeans has signed to Sub-Pop and Pearls and Brass have put out a record on Drag City, has the Lehigh Valley scene finally jumped the shark? Is whatever the fuck you guys do now ready for “mass consumption?” Is Air Conditioning the Mudhoney to your Nirvana to P&B’s Soundgarden? Am I lame for even making these comparisons? My answer: you bet, but what do you think?
MK: I don’t know, it would be cool, but honestly I think we’re all gonna defeat ourselves before anyone else really starts to care. I don’t think any of us have the right attitude to become popular personalities or whatever, we’re all just concerned with doing our own thing and making each other laugh, really. If anyone wants to watch, that’s cool, but really I don’t think I’d want to sit around and watch Randy (of Pearls & Brass) eat an entire onion or Franco (of Air Conditioning) spray-paint his face unless I was their friend. The music is definitely cool, but I have little faith that cool music is what matters to most people.
Swingset: What’s the deal with how Pissed Jeans came together? What are the material differences between PJ and Gate Crashers? What’s the deal with Unrequited Hard-on? What are your origins, man?
MK: The original four of us played together in the Gate Crashers, different lineup on the instruments, though. We switched around and started Unrequited Hard-on, just doing a slow, dirgy punk thing that became Pissed Jeans — same songs and everything. The Gate Crashers just kinda ran their course, fun band, but we existed for like five years, did a bunch of records, and wanted to try something different. Both bands existed simultaneously for a while, and then the Jeans kinda took over. There’s an Unrequited Hard-on demo floating around, but some guy in Scotland bought most of them. We changed the name to Pissed Jeans, somehow thinking it would be a more respectful name. I couldn’t write every song about my wiener — just most of them, so we needed to branch out a bit.
Swingset: When the revolution comes, what role will Pissed Jeans play in service of it?
MK: Hopefully we can act as a pertinent example as to why a revolution was necessary in the first place.
Swingset: What’s the deal with your most recent tour [fall, 2006]? Any funny stories to relate so far? Lots of boredom?
MK: Boredom in the van, but all the shows have been pretty good. Pittsburgh’s always a great town. I nearly choked on some Skittles during our set. I bought some expensive soap at Lush in Boston, and someone blew up a smoke bomb at Wesleyan right after we played. Ate at plenty of diners and had a full-band game of hacky-sack. We’ve been attracting a lot of brutish dudes at these shows — I guess that’s cool, but it’s keeping the girls in the back which bums me out. I kinda want to institute a girls-up-front Bikini Kill thing from now on, if possible. Then again, some girl got her nose smashed at our show in New York, so maybe that’s a bad idea. Maybe we should just make sure the girls have bats.
Swingset: What happened with the girl who got her nose smashed? Which New York show was that? Do you feel any responsibility a la Axl Rose inciting riot-style, or is it just water under the bridge?
MK: She went to the hospital, which sadly delayed our payment for playing. I only heard this second-hand, really. I don’t really feel any responsibility towards anything when we’re playing. I’m not looking to govern people or anything. There should be more vigilante justice at shows, as far as I’m concerned.
Swingset: Girls with bats sounds like a good idea – what if girls brought rottweilers and/or pit bulls to shows? How can you better attract the single-girl-with-big-dog demographic?
MK: I’d be down with that, so long as the dogs aren’t exposed to the loud music. That makes my heart hurt, to see that, and I’ve seen it. Maybe if we can attract girls who wear Big Dogs brand clothing, that’d be enough for me.
Swingset: What’s the plan for the new record [Hope for Men]? You’re recording it in a few weeks, right? Where and who with? Any faux-boogie piano or helium voices on it like on Shallow? Probably not, right?
MK: [We’re] recording it right now, actually. It’s [being recorded] in Quakertown, by Dan McKinney, who’s done all our stuff so far. They’ll probably be a few tricks, at least I hope so. Dan has an instrument called the Gooseharp that I’m teaching myself to play, hopefully that works out.
Swingset: Tell us more about this Gooseharp – the sexual implications are limitless! Also, have you ever heard of a medieval instrument called the Sackbut? It’s a precursor to the trombone.
MK: I’d rather you just hear it, and keep the mystery going. I never heard or heard of a sackbut. Who invented that, Beavis?
Swingset: What do you make of this whole [Rep. Mark] Foley thing?
MK: If you’re talking about the Congressman, I think it’s pretty creepy. I read those instant messages and he’s pretty good with emoticons. I’d rather talk about Mick Foley, although I don’t really know what he’s up to these days.
Swingset: I’d rather talk about Mick Foley than Mark Foley, too. What did you think about his support of John Kerry? Do you think that doomed the junior senator from Massachusetts? Or was it his Sam the Eagle-style delivery?
MK: I don’t recall his John Kerry support, but generally I support Mick Foley. I wish he’d just tell me who to vote for, honestly.
Swingset: Who, other than Mick Foley, are your favorite wrestlers, past and present?
MK: I am a huge fan of professional wrestling. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for guys like Ric Flair, Brian Pillman, Steve Austin, La Parka, Bret Hart, Vader… the proper mix of strength, humor, and charisma is what I find most important. I’m really bummed that the WWE recently let go of the Boogeyman. That guy had something.
Swingset: What other bands would Pissed Jeans feel confident in challenging to a four-man tag-team match?
Pissed Jeans: I don’t really want to challenge anyone. I’m no wrestler myself, and if I’m gonna be doing some wrestling, it’s going to be in the privacy of my own home and certainly not with some other dude.
PISSED JEANS DISCOGRAPHY:
• “Throbbing Organ”/”Night Minutes” 7” (Parts Unknown), August 2004
• Shallow CD (Parts Unknown), June 2005
• Shallow LP (Parts Unknown), June 2006
• “I Don’t Need Smoke to Make Myself Disappear”/”Love Clown” 7” (Sub Pop), June 2006
• Hope for Men CD/LP (Sub Pop), June 2007
Read another nice interview with Matt at Infernal Racket.