Monday, March 13, 2023

An Interview with Perennial

Photo by Omari Spears

I stumbled upon Perennial in late 2021 and instantly became a die hard fan. The trio play this highly energetic and fun version of noise punk that connected with me within the first few seconds of hearing them, and that has increased more and more each time I've listened. I ended up chatting with the members briefly after their set at Firehouse back in January, which led to getting to send them a handful of questions I was dying to know the answers to. We got to ask Chad Jewett (vocals, electric guitar, etc.) about the band's style (musical and clothing), oldies influences, Halloween, and their upcoming album!

So many of your songs seem to have a bit of a spooky/Halloween theme to their titles ("Perennial In a Haunted House," "In the Midnight Hour," "The Skeleton Dance"). Is this on purpose, and if so, are you big Halloween people?We all love Halloween; in particular we really enjoy the campier “pop art” version of Halloween: It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes, all of those eccentric 60s horror-themed pop songs like “Monster Mash” or the way that the Universal Monster movies from the 1930s would sort of get remixed in pop culture of the 60s and 70s. So I think that particular aesthetic plays into the way we fold Halloween imagery/moods into our work. A title like “Perennial In A Haunted House” has this sort of Scooby-Doo energy; or “The Skeleton Dance” as a sort of make-believe early 60s dance craze themed around drive-in horror movies, etc…


Most loud and heavy noise punk is filled with anger and rage, but your music seems to be more joyous. How did you come to that sound?I think part of it is a lot of our most central influences are bands and artists that also convey a lot of joy or even just enthusiasm, at their loudest or most energetic: The Clash, Otis Redding, Small Faces, Wilson Pickett, The Hives.Added to that, we just love playing music together; we love making records; we love what we’ve crafted as the Perennial live set. We’re thrilled to be doing this. I suppose that can’t help but make its way into how we approach making what we do.


Last month you were hyped to play with Jon Spencer + The HITmakers. How did that show go? Any other dream bands to play with?The show was amazing! Jon and the HITmakers were incredible and so kind and fun to share the evening with. My “dream bands to play with” list is endless: Refused, Unwound, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Be Your Own Pet, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Stereolab, The Make-Up, Blur, These Arms Are Snakes, Osees; the list goes on and on and on


Probably the dumbest and most obvious question, but I feel obligated to ask: How did you decide to have all three of you always wear matching striped shirts?So many of our aesthetic decisions come down to wanting to be the band we’d want to see: I’ve always loved bands that have a sort of all-encompassing style; matching clothes, similar album art from release to release, recognizable flyer design, etc… I like when an artist presents their work as a world you can enter with all these layers and details. So when we formed Perennial, we all agreed that matching outfits would be a cool element to include.


You are obviously having an absolute blast when you're playing live. What makes the experience so much fun for you?I suppose that connects to my previous answer: we love bands that treat the live setting as something special, as a space for energy and dynamics and fun. The Hives for instance, made/make great records, but they also had absolutely thrilling live shows. We love recording and experimenting in the studio, but our raison d'ĂȘtre is to give our absolute all when we play live – to never stop moving, to always be thinking of how we can make these songs new and interesting, how the whole show can be as compelling as possible; we want you to remember a Perennial live set. And that is a fun challenge for us.


Inside of all of the noise, I hear some callbacks to oldies music in a lot of your songs. What are your favorite oldies bands?I’ll define “oldies” here as anything from the early 70s and earlier:The Beatles, The Kinks, The Chiffons, Wilson Pickett, The Supremes, MC5, The Small Faces, Otis Redding, The Who (1965-1969 in particular), Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Sonics, Martha & The Vandellas, mid-60s Bob Dylan, The Remains.


If you were going to introduce Perennial to a new listener, what is the ideal first song to play for them?I think “Perennial In A Haunted House” or “Food For Hornets” are pretty ideal introductions. You get both Chelsey and I singing on both, lots of dynamics, that mix of heaviness but with something you can dance to underlining it.


From your social media, it looks like you're working on new music. What should we expect from your upcoming songs?Without giving away too much, I think the album we’re crafting will work quite well as a follow-up to ‘In The Midnight Hour’: the same “sonic collage” approach, the same 90s post-hardcore + 60s soul + garage rock ingredients. But I also think the choruses are even catchier. The heavier parts are heavier. The grooves are groovier. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done.

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