It’s been a while since we last heard from Potty Mouth but today they’re back with their new album SNAFU. The all female punk trio last put out a self-titled EP back in 2015 but have kept busy by touring with bands like Against Me!, The Go-Gos, CHVRCHES, and Skating Polly. The time between releases also allowed them some studio time with some impressive collaborations. With the new album featuring a co-writing credit from Gina Schock of The Go-Gos, Potty Mouth has the stamp of approval from some of the bands who inspired them to start creating their own music in the first place. The Young Folks spoke with Ally Einbinder and Abby Weems of Potty Mouth ahead of the release of SNAFU, check out the full interview below!
TYF: Your last body of work was your EP in 2015, you’ve had a long time to work on your new album SNAFU, how do you think that extended period of time impacted your work?
Ally Einbinder: I think it really helped clarify our own trust within ourselves. I always think about how when we started we didn’t have anyone telling us “oh you should do things this way or that way.” It was very much trusting our own intuition and setting goals for ourselves. I think that it’s easy to forget how much you already know and how much you know in terms of what’s best for yourself when you have more pressure from people on the outside whether it be a label or a manager and all of that noise and advice can kind of get lost. I think if anything, in the past few years since our EP, we’ve really solidified our commitment to one another as bandmates and as a unit. We’re a team and I think that really helped clarify that we know our interests best and we will work hard for ourselves. It’s not that we never want anyone to help us but I think as much as we didn’t want to have that much time between releases, it was ultimately empowering for us because here we are now, releasing this on our own terms and it feels like we have control over our situation.
TYF: You’re releasing the new album through your own label, Get Better Records, what’s it like for you to be on both sides of the production process?
Abby Weems: It’s been a lot. It’s definitely helpful to see how everything gets done from the artwork to distribution and talking to our team about things that we can do to promote the album, it definitely feels like a lot sometimes because we all have jobs and our own lives too so between that and staying on top of everything to promote the record and touring and practicing, it’s like we really are a whole machine.
TYF: Tell me how the name SNAFU happened.
Weems: That happened because I thought that it would be funny, as like a little easter egg, if you hyphenated the album name it would be PMS, and so I wanted to think of something that started with an S and so a friend of mine said the word “SNAFU” and I was just like “yes, that is a sick album name.” I feel like that — Situation Normal: All Fucked Up” — means a lot to us right now because we’ve been a band and there are so many things that feel like they should be normal and feel like they should be a certain way in the music industry and they never are that way and so that’s sort of the story of how our band has gotten through so much.
TYF: Describe how your new album symbolizes where you are as a band right now
Weems: I think that we started the band with such low expectations and have just kept going, like Ally said, we kept setting the bar higher and I feel like this album is a representation of that where we didn’t limit ourselves to just being a hometown, local punk band, we took it outside of the norm and kept going and made it our careers and are doing it as a full-time thing.
Einbinder: I feel like this album represents looking towards the future, for me it’s like a new beginning for us. Maybe that sounds kind of corny but the last few years of not releasing music have felt hard for us, as creatives, as people who love doing this, we love doing this. We love playing music. We love being on tour, so it was hard to feel slowed down, to me what this album represents it looking toward the future rather than dwelling on the past and I’m just so proud that we’ve been a band for as long as we have. We’ve been a band for 8 years, which is longer than some of my favorite bands that have existed in history, and that makes us proud and we’ve had these songs written and recorded for a while now, it was only more recently that they were actually finished, but we’ve had them written for a while and when 22 came out, I was listening to it on Spotify when it came out as a single and I felt so excited for the first time in so long. It had been so long since I had had that feeling of being excited by our own music. Because when you have this music that you want to release into the world but you feel like you can’t because it’s not the right time, it’s hard, just holding on so tightly to something that you don’t even have a sense of what it feels like anymore. I just feel very excited again.
Weems: And you sort of start to resent the music because you can’t put anything else out until you release that stuff and so we have a whole stockpile of songs that we would love to record and release but because we had to take our time with these songs, they’ll come out eventually, but it does feel really strange to be able to release these songs and not feel like we have to report back to a major label or that we’re constrained by anything. So it feels really awesome.
TYF: What was the learning process on kind of just accepting your odds and rolling with it like for you? Was there a moment of clarity?
Weems: There were a few times where there were like check in points for us. One was when I decided not to go to college so that we could tour and that was really huge, and scary. And I think another one was when we decided to go on our first full US tour and to take the time off of work to do that. We got our first booking agent and that was when it started to feel really real.
Einbinder: And then moving to LA together.
TYF: How do you think your move to LA has influenced you as a band in sound, visuals, etc?
Weems: I don’t know if it’s really influenced our sound but it has influenced us in that we have our own practice space now so we have to be a lot more intentional with when we can jam and LA is really spread out so it’s not as convenient to get together and play music and get dinner as it was when we lived in Massachusetts but it’s been a really awesome place to live just because of all of the opportunities that we’ve had out here so it feels like we’ve been able to expand more as a band because of that and that has been really encouraging.
TYF: How did the Gina Schock writing collaboration happen for “Fencewalker”?
Weems: Yeah, she is so badass! It was really cool because I was in on a lot of writing sessions and she was one of the few women I’d done a writing session with, the others were Nina and Louise from Veruca Salt, but the song I did with Gina is on the record and that just felt really cool. They were a really big inspiration for us and it felt really reassuring to have this badass woman just be really into our band and supportive. We wrote a sick song together and I feel like it’s definitely one of the more interesting songs on the record so it’s really exciting. And then because of that we got to open for The Go-Gos for a few shows so that’s been really awesome for us.
TYF: How do you go about choosing songs for music videos?
Weems: We definitely wanted to do the singles first to help promote those and we just picked the songs by what we think represents the spectrum of the album. “22” feels pretty middle of the road pop-rock and then the next single is going to be a little rock but a more on the edgier songs. And the next song is going to be more like the sweet, pop, like romantic side, so that way when people want to get a feel for the album, they know that it’s not just like one sound.
Over your time as a band, how have your musical influences changed?
Einbinder: I would say that for me, when we started this band, all I wanted was to be in a punk band. None of us really had any idea of what we wanted to sound like because we just started it for fun. Abby had just started playing guitar, I was very new to bass, so all I wanted to do was to play punk music so I think now that we’ve gone on and been a band for 8 years, we’ve definitely solidified our sound and we very much have a sound that is very much influenced by 90s bands like Veruca Salt, Hole, Nirvana, stuff like that, so we started out with having a basic idea of okay, this is a punk band but now, we call ourselves pop rock but all of these genre categories are so broad, for us it’s really just about having big, catchy, hooky songs.
Weems: I think for me, my influences for starting out were Green Day and The Ramones because they had such simple songs and it made me feel like I could write a song because I learned Basket Case in 5 minutes and it was like “oh okay, I can do this.” And I felt like I just wanted to keep getting better at music but because we were a punk band, I always felt like I didn’t want to get too cocky or technical. Things like using fancy pedals felt like a crutch to me and I wanted to be like “no, I’m punk I just need my one distortion pedal.” But as we grew and got better and just got a different sound, I think that I realized that our sound was way bigger than just being limited to that kind of mentality. So now we have songs that have synth tracks and harmonies and backup vocals and I think that it does the songs a lot more justice to be able to experiment with those kinds of sounds even if we don’t have those kinds of things live. So, I would say that our influences changed in that I went from wanting to sound like Green Day to now being into more pop sounding music and being more into pop melodies. So it’s been an interesting development.