‘I’m in the Band’ Ep. 10: Priests
Priests formed in 2012 amidst a post-Fugazi punk scene in Obama-era Washington, D.C. Along with guitarist GL Jaguar, lead singer Katie Alice Greer and drummer Daniele Daniele have been breathing new life into the D.C. music community with their explosive performances and record label, Sister Polygon Records.
With records like Nothing Feels Natural and Bodies and Control and Money and Power, Priests tackle late capitalism powerfully with angular post-punk assaults. The tunes are catchy and the message is messy, exposing a personal-is-political shared culpability without preaching solutions. There’s definitely dancing at Priests’ revolution. In this episode, Katie and Daniele discuss oral therapy, figure skating, accelerationism, and running away from home to see Snoop Dogg.
Katie on getting into music as a kid… Music was very important to me, since I was grounded so much and spent a lot of time by myself when I wasn’t at school. A lot of times when I was grounded, I couldn’t use the computer or the Internet in the house. But when I could, I spent a lot of time just trying to look up music that I had heard of. I knew that there was more interesting music than the radio.
I grew up in a suburb. I know a lot of suburbs have punk scenes. Mine did not. I was into mall punk, which I got into through actually going to Jesus camp, when I was 12 or 13. But I never really strongly identified with punk specifically, ’cause I didn’t grow up going to shows. I didn’t really know that punk was existing in real time until I moved to D.C.
Daniele on growing up with oral therapy and a speech impediment … I had oral therapy when I was a child, because I sucked my fingers ’til I was 12, and it was deforming my teeth. So I had to go to this person who would do all these mouth tricks. I would have to do lip-training exercises to make my lips stronger. I have a speech impediment, and I have my whole life, but I didn’t know it until someone else with a speech impediment pointed it out to me when I was 27.
I just thought I was a freak, and I was really embarrassed that I sucked my fingers. But I did eventually stop doing it and became like a ‘normal’ adolescent ruled solely by insecurity.
Daniele on New York vs. Washington D.C. … When I was in Williamsburg, it was kind of like, ‘Who’s a banker, who’s an artist? I don’t know, ‘cause they’re all dressing like wanna-be bohemians.’ But when I got to D.C., I got into punk and this more abrasive aesthetic and culture, because the lines in the sand were so much clearer in D.C.
It was like, ‘You work for a lobby and you’re not from here. And you don’t care about the arts.’ The people who are lobbyists in D.C. don’t pretend. They weren’t like, ‘I’m gonna pretend like I’m poor.’ They were like, ‘No. I’m rich and powerful, motherfucker.’ You almost wanna be more punk in D.C., ‘cause you wanna be like, I’m not a fuckin’ suit. That’s for goddamn sure.
Katie on the song “JJ” … I don’t usually write first-person confessional lyrics, but that one is just my life. The person who it was written about, I don’t really speak to much anymore. I’m pretty sure that they heard the lyrics and figured it out. But I don’t really care, ‘cause it’s my life and it happened to me. I’m sure that they’re an upstanding, nice person at this point. But remember when you were 18 and shitty to me? I stand by the lyrics.
Daniele on LGBT politics … When we talk about what caused the big tilt in LGBT politics and acceptance with gay marriage in the U.S. about five years ago, psychologists were trying to say what made people turn so fast. Perception-wise, it happened really quickly. It was actually being close to somebody like your grocer, the woman that cuts your hair, one of your nieces or nephews, or one of your children. ‘All of a sudden’ they’re gay and can’t just be an outsider group.
Katie on accelarationism… People are literally dying in our country every day because they don’t have health care, they can’t afford to take care of their families. They’re being murdered for the color of their skin or their sexual identity. Our country is just so so so incredibly fucked.
So if your perspective and your take away on that is like, ‘At least music is gonna be politicized and good,’ I would strongly encourage you to expand your community and who you talk to. If you are so isolated from the horrors of the world right now that that’s your thought, then I don’t think you have a very good perspective on what’s happening.
(Photo credit: Farrah Skeiky)
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