That one time we met up with Potty Mouth in the Fairmont | SXSW | INTERVIEW
We are obsessed with the Spunk you ladies are bringing to our industry! Could you share with us, how this unstoppable trio formed in Western Massachusetts? And where Potty Mouth gets its name.
Ally and I went to Smith College together with our original lead guitarist Phoebe (she thought of our name while sitting on the toilet). We met Abby through the local music scene and thought, “What the heck, let’s start a band!” So we did. This was in 2011.
Who are some of Potty Mouth biggest female influences? Doesn’t have to just be in the music industry.
Juliana Hatfield, Shirley Manson, Sheryl Crowe...
Each of you bring a different but unique vibe to the band itself. Could you each please share a spunky aspect that is brought to the stage to make Potty Mouth come alive with upholding the spice of the Punk Rock band?
Abby: I like to find ways to mix up the dynamic on stage. Every venue is different and has potential for interesting moves during our set. We like to put on a real show for people!
Ally: Since I don't sing, I love to move around on stage as most as possible. Even if the crowd doesn't seem very lively, I try to keep the energy up on stage because often times the audience will feed off of that energy and become more engaged as the set goes on. I love playing hard and with feeling.
Victoria: I don’t know how to answer this question but what I can say is that I love to rock!
With your debut album SNAFU or “Situation Normal All Fucked Up.” reaching the ears of many listeners. What is it most that you all want the world to feel, see, and think when tuning in? Also explain the acronym for SNAFU.
First and foremost, we want listeners to have FUN. Our lyrics can run from serious to silly but at the end of the day we want to make fun, catchy music you can rock out to. It’s all about having a good time. As for the title, SNAFU is in reference to our path as a band. We started Potty Mouth because that’s just what you did for fun in our small town. From there, things started to pick up, and for better or for worse, it’s been a pretty fucked up ride navigating this industry. Luckily we were able to find our footing and put out an album we love.
Explain the hustle of a day to day during SXSW. You ladies were popping up in color everywhere.
It’s all about the SWAG and the scooters! Just kidding. We LOVE playing shows. We played 9 in 6 days. It was grueling but ultimately very rewarding and a ton of fun. We met so many amazing people in Austin this year and played with an insane number of incredible bands.
If you could co-headline a tour with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Paramore or The Ramones
Where is Potty Mouth hitting the stage next?
We play all over the US this summer! Keep your eyes peeled for dates.
What does it mean for you to be a female in the music industry?
Sometimes it means people treat us in ways that are straight up gross, creepy or condescending. Other times it means we get to meet and make friends with other amazing musicians and music lovers with whom we share similar views, ethics and taste. This is the best part!
It's hard to imagine that anything in today's tilt-a-whirl society could ever be considered a "situation normal," but needless to say-most everything is all fucked up, no matter how you slice it. The state of the music industry, expectations for what a band should be, the way we consume art-it's all decidedly fouled, so the secret is in how you embrace the chaos. For Potty Mouth, the LA-based pop rock trio of Abby Weems (vocals/guitar), Ally Einbinder (bass), and Victoria Mandanas (drums), the term SNAFU-Situation Normal All Fucked Up-has become a rallying cry, one that inspires them to forge on no matter the odds and to trust themselves in the process. And, naturally, it's the name they gave their long-awaited new album out March 1, 2019 on Get Better Records.
Potty Mouth arrived in the early 2000-teens as a feel-good punk rock force from the fabled Western Massachusetts scene. Formed while Einbinder and Mandanas were students at Smith College, and Weems a local rocker, they quickly made a national name for themselves with their brand of art-sensible power-punk wrapped in a catchy, fist-pumping package. Their Sun Damage EP in 2012 and their debut LP, 2013's Hell Bent, put them on the map, and the subsequent years of touring and an acclaimed self-titled EP in 2015 reinforced their status as one of punk's most rock-solid and talented upstarts.
Momentum seemed to be in their corner as the music world came calling, but as the time to record a follow-up full-length approached, the band began to sense the molasses-like stickiness of the industry creeping up on them. In 2016 they headed west to Los Angeles, ready to record a batch of fresh songs, but soon discovered that the pace and terms the industry wanted, were not their own.
"We were being given this old-fashioned music industry wisdom-to wait for someone else to make things happen-but why," said Einbinder.
And so, not content to wait around under the control of others, Potty Mouth took their fortunes into their own hands, refusing to compromise on any creative concepts. Fully aware that their decision would potentially delay the process even more, the band forged ahead, insistent on following their vision on their own terms. "It felt like our history as a band started out normal and got all fucked up," Weems says. "But instead of letting that hold us back, we've learned to stick together and support each other."
"Our approach made things take longer, but it gave us more creative freedom," Einbinder adds. "To have that flexibility was so helpful, and the amount we grew and learned during the making of this record is the product of a lot of patience and finding the right situation for ourselves."
Working in a Burbank studio with engineer Courtney Ballard, Potty Mouth began recording songs chosen from the stockpile they had created over the ensuing years and embracing the chaos of their situation. On "Fencewalker," Weems met with The Go-Go's Gina Schock for a writing session, leading to a co-write credit and the chance for Potty Mouth to open a pair of their heroines' shows last summer. "Do It Again" starts with a thunderous, crisp pulse before evolving into a chiming, head-nodding hook that still pounds with the gnash and gnarl fans of the band have come to love. "22," raises the energy with crunchy guitar and a familiar lament of growing older, a surefire smash that sets the bar high. "Liar" hits even harder, with Weems's sweet-but-sneering snarl more urgent than ever. And "Starry Eyes" is perhaps the most radio-ready anthem the band has produced yet, complete with charming, jangly verses, and confident, reverb-laden hooks.
Fully realizing their self-empowered status, the band is set to release SNAFU on their own terms under the independent label Get Better Records, an outfit co-run by Einbinder and her partner, Alex Lichtenauer. Despite all the seeming normalcy run afoul, Potty Mouth have embraced their given scenario and created the album they wanted to make, precisely as they wanted to make it. The Situation Needed A Fucking U-turn, as it were, and they were the people to do it.
"As artists trying to maintain control over this path we've taken together, the three of us have stuck it out for eight years now, and we're here for each other," Einbinder says. "It's a constant learning process, and because of that, things aren't always going to go the way we want them to go-so SNAFU's are par for the course."