The sweet release of death is nowhere in sight, but hey! Look at that. The sweet release of a new PWR BTTM song is now.
The band—who brought a gallon of glitter and an industrial drum of drag queen wit to the punk world last fall with the release of Ugly Cherries—are readying a U.K. reissue of their much-loved debut album on British label Big Scary Monsters. The reissue will feature the LP's original track list along with new material that has never been heard before, outside of the occasional live performance on tour. One of those bonus tracks is "Projection," which the Brooklyn-based duo premiered on radio DJ Zane Lowe's Beats 1 program on Wednesday.
Like a lot of the band's music, "Projection" deals with the struggle for self-acceptance. But what sets the new PWR BTTM apart from tracks like "Serving Goffman" and "Ugly Cherries" is the way in which the song explores how accepting yourself is only just the beginning—you still have to deal with everyone else's bullshit.
"Now that I am so much older, I still stay inside," guitarist Ben Hopkins sings over a steady, stable rhythm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. "Looking at myself, I feel OK. But when will I be all right?" Drummer Liv Bruce, meanwhile, is stuck "staring at the ceiling" while it's "raining men" outside. "I might as well just go to sleep," they decide in apathetic resignation.
"I actually wrote the 'it's raining men' lyric in one of my tortured high school journals," Liv told me over the phone on Wednesday morning, a couple hours before "Projection" premiered. "I was one of the only out queer kids at my high school, and I felt great about coming out. But there was still no one like me in my immediate surroundings. I'd go on the internet and read about the drag scene in L.A. or the nightlife scene going on in New York and just feel separate from all this queer activity going on around the world. Coming out meant that I was facing the world with some degree of authenticity, which was supposed to make me feel more connected, but I still felt like I was watching the world go by without me."
PWR BTTM—who make gender-neutral bathroom access a priority at their shows—will headline a North American tour this fall with Bellows, Lisa Prank, and, for a couple of dates, Boston indie-rock band Vundabar supporting. The tour kicks off at Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on Oct. 20. The duo will also headline their first European tour immediately following in December.
But before they hit the road, the band will begin recording their Ugly Cherries followup in September. Neither Ben nor Liv would divulge the album's name, expected release date, or song titles on record, but both band members were way more candid about how writing material for their sophomore effort differs from that of their debut album, some of which began when they were both still students at Bard College, a private liberal arts college in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.
"We didn't even have an audience at Bard," Ben told me over the phone. "No one came to our shows. Knowing that I have an audience hasn't changed my songwriting process at all. I still work in this black hole of shame and questioning. I'm very isolated when I write—I just write, write, write all day with no idea what I'm thinking until I meet up with Liv to go over everything. But meeting so many queer people on the road has changed the perspective I bring to my work. Writing upstate, I felt like the only person who felt like me. I felt like an alien. An essential part of being queer is feeling that feeling, but now I feel a lot less alone."
"I feel like I'm not even the same me who wrote Ugly Cherries anymore," they continued. "I feel like I'll always fundamentally be that person, but I'm just a different guy—I don't even feel like a guy anymore! I'm just a different thing. I feel twice as old and four times as young."
During our phone call Tuesday night, the night before "Projection" premiered on Beats 1, Ben told me that they've been getting their tarot read a lot lately—by Robin Edwards of Lisa Prank, actually. The musician, whose onstage aesthetic lies somewhere between the Goodwill ghosts of Alexis Carrington and the sparkly recesses of D.I.Y. glitter slime YouTube, mentioned that they've been getting the same card over and over.
"I think it's the three of pentacles," Ben said. "It's this guy carving a giant statue and just staring at it. All these people are staring at him, and he has no perspective on the things around him. I'm still in this massive, chipping-away phase on the second album. All I can see is the marble. I can't see the shape. But I feel more empowered this time. The marble might be bigger and I might be making a smaller statue, but I feel more like I know how to sculpt."
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.