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PERFECT PUSSY No Niche In Brooklyn

perfect pussy

“When you’ve been touring for a year, you’re like, ‘I can’t bear to travel anymore’. I have so much anxiety and mental health issues that I’m dealing with. And we’re all dealing with being with each other so constantly.”

Perfect Pussy head to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Sunday, February 8, at Fremantle’s Esplanade Reserve & West End. AUGUSTUS WELBY reports.

If you’re wondering why you’d never heard of Perfect Pussy until a little over a year ago, it’s because no one really had. Hailing from Syracuse, in Upstate New York, the band originally convened in 2012, but remained largely inactive until mid-2013.

Prior to coming together, Perfect Pussy’s five members had each spent a number of years toiling in their hometown’s punk, hardcore, indie-rock and noise scenes. The band was something of a novelty interest at first, but it wasn’t long before the individual members’ varying musical persuasions gave rise to a genre-trumping sound.

“It’s just one amongst many things that we have going on right now,” explains bassist Greg Ambler. “Every other band we’re in is kind of a niche band. Me especially – I’ve always been in very anti-music bands, like power violence and grindcore, so it’s really only for one kind of person. With Perfect Pussy, we were going to do what we wanted to do, as opposed to being a niche band.”

Following last year’s debut EP, I’ve Lost All Desire For Feeling, in March, Perfect Pussy unveiled their debut album, Say Yes To Love. It’s easy to describe the record as one 2014’s standout releases. However, thanks to a confluence of hardcore instrumentation, washes of feedback and experimental synths and Meredith Graves’ emotionally urgent lead vocals; it’s not so simple to describe what Say Yes To Love sounds like.

“We’re five very different people from very different backgrounds,” says Ambler. “So there really is five totally different elements brought into it. People come together so often and they’re like, ‘I want to start a band that sounds like this’, or, ‘I want to write a song that sounds like this’. Perfect Pussy is a general un-acceptance of current ideals. No matter how progressive punk is, there’s always room to build.”

While Say Yes To Love is the sound of five individuals working together towards a collective end, the mark of the separate personalities is clearly discernible. However, instead of this resulting in a confounding listen, the record’s frantic 23 minutes contain plenty of memorable song craft.

“There’s a lot of different things that people can take from it,” Ambler agrees, “And at least enough for it to be relatable, for someone to find a personal element. Whether it’s one end of the spectrum or the other. That’s something we noticed, but it’s not anything we honed in on.”

Released via trendsetting Brooklyn indie imprint Captured Tracks, upon its release the album garnered high praise from the likes of Pitchfork and DIY Magazine. As a result, Perfect Pussy have spent the majority of 2014 on the road. Not surprisingly, achieving near-instant notoriety caught the band completely off-guard.
“We were getting so many requests come in that I ended up way over-booking us,” Ambler says. “For two months we were out and we didn’t have transportation lined up or anything. It was snowballing way out of control. So we ended up getting our friend who’s a booking agent to help us out.

“It’s pretty much destroyed my entire life,” he laughs. “So, there’s that. When you’ve been touring for a year, you’re like, ‘I can’t bear to travel anymore’. I have so much anxiety and mental health issues that I’m dealing with. And we’re all dealing with being with each other so constantly.”

Given Perfect Pussy is, in essence, a synthesis of several distinct personalities, Say Yes To Love hints at several possible directions the band could pursue in the future. For instance, there’s elements of technical hardcore (a la early Dillinger Escape Plan), no wave (a la early Sonic Youth) and more accessible post-hardcore (a la latter-day Fugazi). Meanwhile, Ambler says working on a follow-up isn’t a priority just yet.
“What we’re trying to do now is focus on other projects and figure out where our own individual strengths lie. We talk about how we’re going to write another record eventually, but at this time it’s fucking impossible to think about getting together to do something like that and how it would even turn out. It would be so much different than what this band is in a nutshell, which is this beautiful disaster.

“It’s five very different people being led in very different directions by our industry and it’s become harder and harder for us to overlap. We’re all circles, but the coolest thing about this band is where our circles overlap. That’s the tiny space where we all agree. Those have become fewer and farther between as this year’s progressed.”

Perhaps we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves and expect another record of thrilling originals, post-haste. The fact remains Say Yes To Love is a convention-defying punk rock record that stands on its own two feet. Thankfully, after a couple of months away from tour, Perfect Pussy will cruise down to Australia for this Sunday’s Laneway Festival. The mention of this trip sparks genuine enthusiasm in Ambler.

“I’m so excited to go to Australia. After we take a little bit of time off it’ll be cool to come over and maybe have fun playing music again.”

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