Priests just released their long-awaited debut full-length TODAY on Sister Polygon! Nothing Feels Natural is heavily infectious, and the record is sure to find itself on repeat rotation in your headphones once you give it a good old DL. The band will be celebrating the release with a show at Brooklyn Bazaar tomorrow night, and then they’ll continue touring until an eventual homecoming in DC ft. a Black Cat gig on 3.11. I was lucky enough to catch up with Gideon and Daniele over the phone recently to talk tunes, DC, life on the road and MORE, so read up on all of that below, grab tickets to any/all shows that apply to you, and I repeat, download that record ’cause IT’S REAL GOOD and we need all the real good things we can get these days amirite?! Here we go:
Congratulations on the first full-length! How does it feel to finally be getting it out there?
Gideon: Pretty exciting. We put a lot of time into making this record, and it’s really exciting to see the hard work come to fruition.
Daniele: Yeah, it’s been a while, so we’re excited that it’s finally coming out.
What was the timeline like for making it? With the current political climate, a lot of the themes seem spookily relevant, especially the title of the record.
Daniele: Well, we started writing it a long time ago, and we probably finished writing the last of the songs last December. So it’s been over a year since we finished writing the material, it just took us a long time to record it and get it out due to various obstacles. It’s kind of strange, though; when we wrote it, we had no idea that this stuff was going to transpire the way it did, you know?
Yeah, I don’t think anybody fully believed things would turn out the way they have. Now, you guys will be down in DC for the Women’s March, yeah?
Daniele: Yeah, we’re playing an anti-inauguration show, which is a fundraiser for Casa Ruby and ONE DC on January 20th at the Black Cat.
Gideon: Donald didn’t invite us to any of his parties, but that’s fine; we wouldn’t have gone anyway, so we’re having our own.
It’s honestly so insane. I have this fifty-year-old punk rock neighbor named Lisa, and I bumped into her on the street last night, and she goes, “It’s all a little exciting, though, don’t you think? I’m glad I’m going to die soon.” I was like, “JESUS, Lisa! I thought I was a nihilist!”
Gideon: [Laughs] I grew up in DC and have lived through one terrible presidency at this point, which involved a lot of protesting and angry people, but I think this is going to be completely different. I’m very curious to see how the city will change under it.
Yeah, I’m from Northern Virginia originally, so I started out with BYT when I was in the area, and DC just got so much cooler under Obama! It’ll be interesting to see if any of that shifts.
Gideon: I used to work at a venue called The Warehouse, and that was just before Obama got elected. That area was kind of completely bombed out; there was the Convention Center, but nothing else, really. Really kind of rapidly after Obama became president, there was a big shift in the city of younger people who probably were in on the campaign, people who were working for nonprofits that were probably related to the campaign trail…so I don’t know if the demographic is going to change, or if we’re going to see a lot of alt-right white supremacists instead. We’ll see.
Yeah, hopefully not the latter, but you’re right, we’ll have to wait and see. Now, you’re at Brooklyn Bazaar on the 28th to celebrate the record release, which is exciting! I’ve also watched some of the music videos you’ve released so far, so tell me about the video for “JJ” and who took the longest to break and crack a smile.
Daniele: Yeah, the idea was to be as stoic as possible, and one thing you can’t see is that while we were shooting there was this crazy bright light right behind the camera, so it was really hard to keep your eyes open, because it was right in front of us. So we were all trying to keep our eyes open and be as stoic as possible throughout this shoot while people were provoking us with their hands. But I think Gideon went the longest.
Gideon: Yeah, I think I broke when Taylor put a fake flower down my throat, but Daniele also did pretty good despite having her makeup smeared. (Which was kind of a bummer, because I remember she came to the shoot like, “Guys, I did a real good job on my makeup! I took a long time to do it!” and then pretty soon after we all smudged her makeup, and I felt so bad! [Laughs]
That’s amazing. And I also wanted to ask you about your Tumblr, because it seems like you still keep up with that pretty personally and answer fans’ questions. What’s the weirdest thing that anybody’s asked you there?
Daniele: We’ve had some weird ones, but I can’t remember anything specific right now.
Gideon: Recently we had one where like, a guy was betting money…
Daniele: Oh! Yeah, that was an email.
Gideon: It was an email, but it was still weird…this guy was betting his friend money that we wouldn’t respond to the email, and if he lost the bet he’d show up to our show in drag. But it’s not like…we respond to all our emails pretty quickly, and we don’t want to make anyone do anything like that if they don’t want to do it.
Daniele: Yeah, and doing drag as the bad side of a bet is pretty shitty. I dress up like a woman every day! Why would you mock that?! But no, I think they were very sweet, just misguided. But that was weird, yeah, to have a bet to see whether or not we would respond to an email. We also get a lot of haircut questions I feel like.
Like how you do your hair? Or where you get it done?
Daniele: Yeah, like people would ask Katie often, “How’d you get your hair to do that?” Just weird questions like that. I remember a couple of those on Tumblr.
Gideon: She did wear a wig for a while, too, so it might have been confusing for people. Whatever, if they want to ask about hair it’s fine. [Laughs]
I also noticed somebody from Argentina asked you about song lyrics, and that was chill that you responded with those! I was looking at the first line from “Puff”, and the thing about the band called Burger King is my favorite thing ever.
Gideon: Yeah, I thought at one point I really wanted to start a band called BK: Home of the Whopper, which, I guess some friends had had a short-lived band called that, and I thought, “Man, I should pick that up!” I don’t know, at least Katie calls me her best friend in that song!
Daniele: Yeah, Gideon’s where that line comes from.
So does Katie usually do the lyrics, then? Or does it change?
Daniele: It’s almost always Katie. There are a couple of songs, like “No Big Bang”, which I sang and wrote, but pretty much if it’s me singing (I sound nothing like Katie) then I wrote it, but for the most part it’s always Katie.
Got it. And are you all living in DC proper at the moment, minus Katie? (She’s in the suburbs, right?)
Gideon: Yeah, Katie recently moved to a different suburb, but she lives with the people who recorded our record right now, which is cool. Daniele lives closer to where all the action’s happening around U Street, and Taylor and I live farther north about a block from each other.
Does that make it easy to get together to rehearse?
Daniele: You’d think so, but no; we also work jobs, and Taylor and I work at the same restaurant, so we work at night, and Katie and Gideon are dog walkers, so they work during the day. It’s actually incredibly frustrating to try and organize practice.
Gideon: We also don’t have a rehearsal space anymore, which has been a very difficult challenge. Hopefully we’ll have one again soon. Real estate is so high here that it’s hard. Fortunately there is a punk rehearsal space, but we’re limited to like, every other band in DC using it.
Daniele: Yeah, you have to schedule it, and it’s hard.
Gideon: And you can’t leave any of your equipment there, so every time you go you have to set everything up. So getting together is kind of a challenge at this point; hopefully we’ll be able to find a more long-term solution for that in the future.
It’s really crazy…people say to me, “Don’t you want to live in DC? It’s so much cheaper than New York!” But to be honest, I think it actually in many ways is more expensive to live in DC than here.
Daniele: Yeah, they’re both really expensive! You know what it is? New York has higher rent if you want to live in desirable areas, but New York is bigger in a way that’s workable; in DC, if you don’t have a car and you live way out, you’re kind of screwed, you know what I mean?
Daniele: Whereas in New York, you can live way out and still have train access and a reasonable rent.
Gideon: Yeah. And in DC there are places you can find really cheap rent if you look hard enough, and it’s pretty easy to get low income housing if you just go through all the right paperwork and are a DC resident. And a benefit of living in DC is that in New York, if you’re an artist or an actor or a musician, you can throw a rock and hit one; here it’s more like if you throw a rock you’re more likely to hit a lobbyist or a senator. There’s that advantage, and one other thing that’s good is that there’s always work. Only during the worst parts of the recession have I ever been without a job, you know?
Totally, those are good points. But so it’s been tough for you to meet up and practice at this point, but you’ll be spending plenty of time together on this tour; is that usually easy for you guys? Or is there a level of personal space maintenance that becomes necessary to stay sane?
Daniele: It’s not very difficult. I feel like the troubles for us on tour aren’t generally interpersonal, they’re more like, “Our van broke down in a snowstorm in Canada, fuck my life!” or “Someone got scammed by this horrible human…” There’s so much other shit that you deal with on tour, like, “I have to drive eight hours and make it in time for a radio interview at 4pm before we do a show.” That bullshit is way worse for me. There are bands where interpersonal stuff is harder, but I don’t think this is one of those bands.
Gideon: Generally we all get along, and we do a lot of things together on tour. Like we always eat pretty well on tour, we listen to books on tape, we stop at roadside tourist traps, like Dinosaur Land and The Thing and…we do all kinds of tourist traps. We also go thrifting a lot on tour, too, so there are things to break it up.
Daniele: Oh, and nobody is really hardcore into drinking and drugs. I mean, we’re all happy to whatever, but nobody’s losing their mind, like, “I just bought PCP off this person on the street!”
Gideon: Yeah, we like to party, but we like to party at our leisure.
Yeah, that’s crucial. So if you were to put the set list together today for a show, which song would you pick right now as the one you’re most pumped to play live?
Gideon: For me, off the old record, I really like “Doctor” still. I don’t know, there’s just something about that song that’s always felt good to play live. Off the new record, I don’t know, I like all of those, and I’m really jazzed to play them all.
Daniele: Definitely “Lelia 20” for me. Katie and Taylor are not here, but I know Katie would say “Nothing Feels Natural” (the title track), and then Taylor would probably say “JJ”? I don’t know.
Gideon: Yeah, I don’t know.
Well we’ll just have to find out tomorrow night at Brooklyn Bazaar, and/or in DC in March! Grab tickets to the gig(s), and grab a copy of Nothing Feels Natural RIGHT NOW!