Northampton, Massachussettes indie rockers Speedy Ortiz aren’t the easiest band to describe to friends and family. At first whiff, you might get the familiar scent of another run of the mill throw back indie rock band, but the more you dig in, you start to pick up on other distinct flavors. There is an art rock element prevalent throughout their discography that keeps things interesting while setting them apart from their peers.
At the same time their tunes have a toe-tapping, catchy substance to them, but I certainly wouldn’t refer to the noise they make as pop music, making for one hell of an indie rock juxtaposition. For me, there isn’t another band on a similar wave length, which is part of the reason I keep coming back to Speedy Ortiz in order to satiate a very particular audio craving.
Following up on their brilliant 2015 record Foil Deer, the band has a new record called Twerp Verse which is out now via Carpark Records. Check out the colorful music video for their single “Lean In When I Suffer” below:
Considering that Speedy Ortiz is playing at Zanzabar this Wednesday, May 30th, I figured now was as good a time as ever to catch up with frontwoman Sadie Dupuis. Read on as we talk about the new record, playing in Louisville and more…
Never Nervous: How would you describe the music that Speedy Ortiz makes to my 83 year old pee paw?
Sadie Dupuis: The same way I’d describe it to a person of any age, I guess: ”Just a rock band.” I did once tell a TSA agent I played in a prog band once, and he seemed to like that.
NN: How has the band’s songwriting process evolved over the years? Has anything changed?
SD: The structure has stayed sort of the same — I write and record demos and bring them to the band, at which point we practice and tweak them to sound good as a four-piece — but we’ve gotten better at all of those elements. I’m much stronger at home recording than I was when I started Speedy Ortiz as a solo project.
Mike and I are better at knowing each other’s preferences and tendencies when it comes to rhythms. Darl has been writing some of the more adventurous basslines the band’s had, and on some of the songs I’m leaving more space on guitar for the bass melody to carry things. And obviously Andy is a new addition and a change, and his sonic ideas have made our sound a little brighter and more pop.
“I write and record demos and bring them to the band, at which point we practice and tweak them to sound good as a four-piece.”
NN: Your band’s name has a quirky ring to it, so I have to ask: Where does the name “Speedy Ortiz” come from?
SD: It’s the name of a comic book character from the series Love and Rockets, specifically the Locas stories by Jaime Hernandez.
NN: If you had to choose, what would you say is your personal favorite track from Twerp Verse? Mine is probably “Lucky 88”.
SD: Right now I’ve really been enjoying “I’m Blessed”, especially playing it live. There are a lot of changes in tempo, sound, and melody, and I think it’s the most compositionally interesting.
SD: I moved out of Noho two years ago, and it’s a city that’s very rooted in academia since it’s know as the “Five Colleges Area”–I moved up there to get an MFA, actually. A lot of the bands I loved when we lived there have moved away, like Potty Mouth and And the Kids. Mal Devisa, Loone, and Dump Him are three very great projects that still actively represent Western Mass.
NN: You’ve been on quite a few extensive tours over the years, so I’m sure you’ve had your share of interesting experiences on the road. Care to share one with us?
SD: The other day in Nashville we ate in a vegan hot chicken joint and Miley Cyrus was sitting in the corner booth. The most interesting thing I can think of is proximity to celebrity stories–I guess it’s a metaphor for any indie band’s career.
NN: As a performer on stage, how do you feel about show-goers that constantly record you on their phones? Does it annoy you at all, or are do you welcome it?
SD: Totally cool with it! I get to watch the Instagram stories later and know how badly I fucked up.
“Totally cool with it (people recording live with their phones)! I get to watch the Instagram stories later and know how badly I fucked up.”
NN: When you think of the city of Louisville, what is the first thing that pops into your head?
SD: We played a really amazing show at Dreamland a few years ago with Chris Brokaw, one of my guitar heroes I wound up taking a few lessons with him on Skype after that, which was a really cool experience. Also, after we played Forecastle a few years ago, we got a custom Speedy Ortiz baseball bat, which I used in the promo photos for my solo project Sad13–so I think about Forecastle whenever I see those pics!
NN: Before you go, give our readers one good reason to see you perform at Zanzabar this Wednesday.
SD: I will draw my pitbull Buster on any merchandise you feel like buying!