Screaming Females are a three-piece punk band from New Brunswick, New Jersey and easily one of the most explosive bands on the touring circuit today. They appeared at Sled Island Music Festival in Calgary at the hand of guest curator Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin, etc) and although Hanna was unable to attend the festival because of a medical condition, Screaming Females upheld their punk rock ethos. We caught up with lead singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster before their Thursday evening performance to talk about touring with Jack White and how her incredibly intricate artwork ties in with the bands aesthetic.
What was the catalyst in transitioning from doing DIY tours to touring successfully as a band?
– We started out touring playing house shows, using contacts we made from putting on shows in New Brunswick for other bands and calling in favors, sort of like a barter system. But we finally got a booking agent in 2009 when Jack White asked us to open for his band The Dead Weather on a tour. We had never really played shows like that before. We were playing for like +3000 people and it was really intense.
Screaming Females recently released Live At The Hideout but you didn’t do much touring behind it. What are your plans next?
– Our new album is done. We did it with this guy named Matt Bayles (Isis, Botch, Mastodon) in Seattle. Matt also played keyboards in Minus The Bear but is more widely known as a metal guy. Now I am just working on the art for it. It’s kind of a slow burn but because we are an older band we have the luxury of being able to sit down and plan out stuff way ahead of time.
Tell us more about your art. Does it tie in to the music or do you keep them separate?
– There is no way the two things can be separated. I’m not a mystic and can’t split myself in two. Everything that comes out of me must be inherently connected. I use a lot of text in my artwork that sometimes turns into lyrical content. Coming up with album cover ideas or even t-shirt designs, that stuff doesn’t just pop in to your head. You have to do a bunch of sketches, talk about ideas and go look at other people’s art.
Do you do ever show your stuff at art galleries?
– Once in a while I do. Right now I have a limited edition print of lithographs of a really big drawing I did and it’s for sale on my website. I am working on a new little zine too. Screaming Females takes up most of my time but I probably get most of my drawing done when we are on the road.
Screaming Females can be found online here. You should also order their live album Live At The Hideout from Don Giovanni Records here.
Photo and words: Glenn Alderson