The first time I saw Potty Mouth play a live show was roughly 3.5 million years ago in NYC (I think during CMJ, RIP), and from that moment forward I was hooked. The band has evolved quite a bit since its inception, as you might come to expect, and while they’ve certainly put out material since Hell Bent debuted in 2013, today is the day that we’re finally getting highly-anticipated sophomore LP SNAFU.
“If anything, it just feels like a whole new start for us,” Abby Weems told me over the phone a few weeks ago. She and Ally Einbinder, who comprise two-thirds of the band, got me all caught up about the process of making this collection of songs, what it’s like living in LA, and how they came to meet Caramel, America’s favorite ball python who makes a cameo in the video for “22”. You can internet-eavesdrop on our full conversation below, but obviously make a point to grab a copy of SNAFU for your ears as it’s out right this very second and it’s REAL GOOD!
BYT: So congratulations on the record you’ve got coming out! How long has the full-length been in the pipeline?
Abby Weems: It’s been in the works for a long time. We’ve been wanting to put out a full-length for a while, it’s just never really come together because of all the different moving parts. We put out an EP in 2015, and that was our sampler version of the direction we were heading in. From there, we just kept writing and picked our top ten songs that we thought would work the best together, and then we started recording.
BYT: Did you feel like you had any of the stereotypical anxiety that comes with putting out a sophomore LP?
AW: I don’t think so, just because our first album was so DIY. Those were the first ten songs we’d ever written, versus now, where it’s like, “We know these songs are fucking sick, we’re really proud of them, they sound amazing…” If anything, it just feels like a whole new start for us.
Ally Einbinder: Yeah, Abby and I were just talking about that last night. I don’t even really think of it as a sophomore record, because we’ve just been on such a journey. More than anything, I think this record represents us having a lot of resilience, ultimately figuring out how to do things the way we want to do them.
BYT: Speaking of journeys, I know you guys moved out to LA a few years ago. How long has it been now?
AE: About two and a half years.
BYT: What does an average day look like for you when you’re not touring and can be back home, then? Does an average day exist for you?
AE: Oh my god, average day…Abby and I are so exhausted all the time. We both work a lot. (We have to in LA in order to make rent.)
AW: There’s definitely no routine in LA; you’re always hustling, trying to find a new job or a new opportunity, meet new people, and it’s just always go time. That’s something I love, because that’s just kind of how my brain works, but it’s definitely a lot.
AE: Yeah, it’s nonstop hustle. That’s what I feel about this whole time in my life right now; it’s just hustling super hard. But I wouldn’t want to move back to Massachusetts. I like being in LA, in a place where I’m surrounded by other creative, hard-working people. It’s inspiring and it’s motivating. Not to say that those people don’t exist in Massachusetts, because they totally do, but I’m specifically talking about the music industry.
BYT: Right, it’s a much more condensed sort of space. Now, I don’t know if this is something you guys have encountered in your time out there (or in general, being musicians), but I know quite a few people who moved out to LA and found themselves either working with or in talks to work with folks who turned out to be shady. Obviously that can happen anywhere and in any industry, but I do feel like there’s a heightened ability to create facades out there, and I feel like that can make it difficult to know who to trust. Have you had any experiences like that? And if so, do you have any advice for other people who might find themselves in similar situations?
AW: Hmm. Well, we’ve definitely gotten a lot of experience in that, you know, just because the music industry is so hype-based. If something is really exciting in the moment, you might have someone say, “Oh my god, I really want to make a music video for you!” or “I want to put out your record!” and you believe them, because they seem really excited and like they mean it. But everything moves so much slower than that, so you just have to be real with yourself. What we’ve learned is to trust ourselves, and to trust that we know what’s best for ourselves. We know that we have to keep working, and know that we can’t rely on anyone else to make things happen for us. That’s where you can lose your footing, is if you bank on other people to make things happen for you. Those people have other things to do, so it’s just not realistic. You have to trust yourself and make it happen for yourself. Of course, if other people want to help along the way, that’s amazing. But you’re your biggest cheerleader at the end of the day.
BYT: Exactly. Now, speaking of doing things yourselves, what can you guys tell me about the comic book that’s a companion to this record?
AW: That’s something that I did, and Ally and Victoria and I all sort of came up with the idea together. I’d put some of my drawings on Instagram, and people started asking for a Potty Mouth comic book. When we were trying to think of ideas for how to make this album feel really special and exciting, and engage people and give a little more insight into our experience as a band the last couple of years, we thought it’d be nice to make a comic about that. That way, people would feel like they got the inside scoop in a fun and interesting way.
BYT: That’s super cool! And on the other side of visual art, you also had that rad video come out for “22”. What can you tell me about that? Was that concept pitched to you, or did you come up with it?
AW: That was brought to us by some people who were friends of friends of mine who went to Emerson College. They’d just wanted to try making a music video, and they came up with the idea, which is based around seasons; each of us is supposed to represent a different season, and that ties into the passing of time, getting older, and the whole idea is supposed to be that we’re going through the motions and cruising through life, cruising through these seasons, until we realize that you don’t have to do that, that time is a construct, and you can find your own path that way. So that was the concept that was pitched to us, and I know the video is very aesthetically-driven, so I don’t know if that whole concept comes across, but that’s what they pitched to us. So we said, “Cool, yeah!” and it came out really well.
BYT: Whose snake is the one who makes the cameo?
AE: Oh my gosh, that’s Caramel! She’s a female pastel clown who we know because her family are from San Diego and they’re Potty Mouth fans, and they breed reptiles. They’re like, ball python breeders. The girls, Miranda and Emma, they’ve seen us play before; they saw us play with The Go-Go’s in San Diego. We just wanted a snake in the music video, so we asked them if they wanted to bring a snake or two, and they came and brought two snakes! We used Caramel, and she was actually pregnant during that shoot. No one even knew she was pregnant! Shortly after that she laid her first batch of eggs, and they named one of the baby snakes Ally.
BYT: Whoa! Caramel is a total working mom! God, that’s too funny. Also, very interesting trade to get into…breeding reptiles. Alright, aside from the video, let’s also talk about some of these shows you guys have got coming up. Are they just a few one-offs at this point, or is there a full-blown tour in the works?
AW: We have a lot of shows in California, and then we’re going to SXSW.
AE: We are planning to tour more extensively around the album, these are just the ones we have locked in right now for the US. We also have one in New York in February.
BYT: Totally. And you’ve obviously done a ton of touring prior to this; do you like being on the road? Or do you prefer being more anchored to one place?
AE: I personally love being on the road. I always want to be on tour. That said, when I am home I definitely feel like more of a home body. I like staying at home with my cats and relaxing, because touring is the other extreme; you don’t really relax at all. But I do like being in a different place every day and traveling. I love seeing the landscape change.
BYT: And do you ever write on the road? Or is it too hectic for that?
AW: It’s so hard to do anything on the road. We have a fifteen passenger van, so there isn’t a lot of space to write or work on artwork or anything like that. It’s usually just something that happens during downtime.
BYT: For sure. And clearly you want to get this record out and let it breathe for a minute, but is there anything new in the works that you can and/or want to talk about?
AW: Yeah, we literally recorded two albums, because we were getting so sick of waiting to put something out at the right time that we just decided to record a whole other album. So what ended up happening is we’re putting out SNAFU, because that’s the one we’ve worked on really hard, and it sounds amazing, and everything finally came together for it to be able to come out. But we have a whole other batch of songs for another album that are recorded, but I don’t know if they’re fully there yet. We have so many songs, though, so once this album is out, it’ll be really easy to keep releasing things afterwards.
BYT: Rad! And what else are you excited for in 2019 apart from shows and records and even band stuff entirely?
AE: I’m really excited for Get Better Records, which is the label our record is coming out on and is the label my partner Alex [Lichtenauer] started ten years ago, and now I help run it. We have a lot of really exciting releases planned for this coming year, so I’m just excited for the label to continue to grow.
AW: I’m in such a band headspace right now, but I’m excited to work at Coachella in April with Ally. We did that last year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
AE: Touring in the UK and Europe for the first time, too…I’m so excited for that. We’ve never played outside of North America before, so we’re really looking forward to that.