INTERVIEW: Kissing Party Talks “Mom & Dad,” New Video & Next Album

Denver’s Kissing Party just released their most recent album, Mom & Dad, and a new video for single “Jimmy Dean.” The self-proclaimed “slop pop” band is made up of vocalist Deirdre Sage, guitarists Gregory Dolan and Joe Hansen, bassist Lee Evans and drummer Shane Reid.

“Jimmy Dean” was written by Deirdre “about having to fight for basic rights, recognition and safety and the narratives created about womanhood that keep pushing us to really unhappy places,” she said in a press release.

Here, Kissing Party’s Greg talks about their latest album, Mom & Dad, “Jimmy Dean,” the next album they’re already working on and what’s to come.

AF: In your own words, what is “slop pop?”

GD: Well the word “indie,” that every band on the planet is described as these days, is really tired and meaningless at this point. If you Google “indie bands” it’s like Arcade Fire and The Killers and shit and I don’t really think bands that are selling out stadiums on major record labels should be defined as indie, but that is the world we live in. Anyway, we figure if we’re gonna be labeled as something, it should be a label of our choosing. Someone once described us as “princess pop trash music” which I think is accurate but is too long and doesn’t rhyme, so I would say listen to our new album – that is “slop pop.”

AF: Can you tell me what current national or personal triggers inspired “Jimmy Dean?” 

G: A local trigger was Deirdre was looking in my gramma’s fridge (whose nickname is Jimmy Dean) and my gramma was embarrassed by the contents and told her “I’ll leave you to your misery,” which inspired the chorus and song title. As far as other inspirations, I think it’s kinda Deirdre’s reaction to all The Handmaid’s Tale-type shit that’s going on these days.

AF: What were your main points of inspiration for the songwriting of your new album Mom & Dad?

G: Songs come from somewhere – I don’t know where. It could be something that happened to me when I was 12 or 26 or last week. It’s heartbreaks and regrets you carry around with you that come out when they do and you put them to music that you can dance to. I know what they are about and what they mean to me, but would rather leave it up to the listener for their own interpretation.

Kissing Party
Courtesy of Kissing Party

AF: Does the title track, “Mom & Dad,” reflect heavily on the album’s meaning as a whole?

GD: I don’t think so. It’s not a concept album about my mom and dad [laughing]. There are several songs on the album written by the 12 year old brat in me. The lyrics “nothing left to spend, nothing left we had…mom and dad, these things don’t comfort me,” the “things” that don’t comfort being mom and dad. I hate to try and define or explain the songs though because I think it cheapens them.

AF: What are you guys currently working on?

GD: I’m trying to gather up all of our unreleased songs and rarities to put on an album called Unmade Beds that, hopefully, we can release by the end of the year.

AF: You just released the video for “Jimmy Dean” – do you have any other visuals on the way?

GD: Yes, the next video we are gonna put out is for a song called “Problems or Dreams” that I wish I would’ve put on the original album but is on the deluxe version.

AF: What’s something you want your fans to know about you that they may not?

GD: I don’t really want anybody to know shit about us [laughing]. That being said, we are fans of our fans or anybody who gets and understands what we are doing, so we want them to know we love them…Patrick. Oh and also there is a little cove on a beach off the Santa Cruz boardwalk, if someone could send us a video of themselves listening to Kissing Party in there that would be lovely.

TRACK PREMIERE: Anna Morsett of The Still Tide Walks the “High Wire”

Photo By Anthony Isaac

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Photo By Anthony Isaac
Photo By Anthony Isaac

The Still Tide currently reside in Denver, Colorado where they craft the kind of lovely, expansive music one expects from a town surrounded by mountains. Anna Morsett picked up the guitar at an early age; her lyrics capture the melancholy of long nights alone. We talked about her writing process and whether a change of location alters a band’s sound. Listen to The Still Tide’s new single “High Wire” below!

AudioFemme: You grew up in Olympia, Washington. What’s it like growing up in the northwest? My mind sort of melds scenes from Twilight in with a Kurt Cobain documentary.

Anna Morsett: Haha, EXACTLY. My childhood and teen years are pretty much a mash-up of the two. It was great; I feel spoiled to have grown up in such an amazing place really. I miss it all the time. Being near the water was such a gift! It was amazing to grow up in such a liberal and accepting place too. I think that instilled something important in me at such a young age. And there was so much music and art everywhere; it was always so celebrated. I think seeing that and having access to it changed my life direction.

AF: You said in an interview with that you got interested in music during middle school. Who were your first musical influences?

AM: Yes! My older sister would hand me over all the things she was listening to then, during my middle school years, which were a lot of Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. That was definitely a start. And then of course that was when Third Eye Blind’s self titled record came out and I listened to that relentlessly. I’d started playing guitar then too and really wanted to rock out like those bands. I remember spending hours online trying to learn little riffs and licks.

AF: When did you first start writing music?

AM: About then, probably when I was in seventh or eighth grade? Not of course anything exciting but realizing I could do that or wanted to was important. I think I buried a lot of middle-school feeling/realizations in private half-written songs.

AF: Have you revisited any of those middle-school lyrics for inspiration?

AM: Ha! I haven’t but I should, shouldn’t I?! I did have a collection of old tapes for a long time of those first songs…oh man. I should’ve kept them.

AF: AudioFemme, inspiring artists to search through old diaries since 2017.

AM: Haha! I really am gonna go back and find some of that . . . the last time I went through my boxes of ol’ middle school gems I found a to-do list that said something like “1. quit golf 2. practice guitar 3. take up karate”

AF: You met bandmate and guitarist Jacob Miller in New York. Why did you decide to move to the city?

AM: I decided to move to NYC to live out my dreams as an ex-golfer/guitarist/karate-master. Obviously. I decided to move there because I wanted to get involved in music, more so than I was at the time. I was living in Portland and doing open mics and stuff like that but I think I wanted a place to reinvent myself, figure myself out more and just have an adventure. I just leapt without much of a plan other than that, and moved into a crawl space – my room was four feet tall and only had three walls – in a loft building of artists Bushwick. Which was really one of the best decisions I made! It was hilarious, but such an adventure and I met so many great people.

AF: New York has such a specific energy to it. Did the city greatly influence The Still Tide’s initial sound?

AM: The city was definitely an influence! The energy alone I miss sometimes. Everyone I was around in those early days was on a mission! Always working for or towards something, struggling to get by in the name of the art, music, performance, whatever they were doing. Just running wild with experimenting in whatever arena they were in. So inspiring. And being in that community of Bushwick DIY spaces and bands changed how I thought music was possible.

As far as sound goes, it changed a lot over time. The first EP we put out is much more rock-heavy than what came later. I think that had more to do with what we were into at the time, who was in the band and the bands we were playing with and around. That, and probably just trying to be heard over the loud bars we were playing then.

AF: How has the band’s sound shifted since you and Jacob moved to Denver?

AM: We started writing songs, initially at least, that were a little more quiet and delicate. The crowds we had here were really attentive and curious about us and because we didn’t have to try to shout across the room to get people’s attention like we often did in Brooklyn, we worked harder on lyrics and on how our guitars were working together. It was really refreshing and breathed new and different life into the project. Songs that I’d been working on that hadn’t quite fit the rock thing we were doing previously finally had a landing space. Having time and space – and local support here – to explore that side of ourselves ultimately helped shape us into the project we are now.

Eventually we became more rocky again (which is more represented on this latest EP) but I think having gone through that quieter, more vulnerable performance and writing space was a really important phase to go through. I think it changed how Jake and I wrote together and how we approach new songs.

AF: How does the writing process normally work? Do you start with lyrics and go from there?

AM: Most of the time the music comes first. Usually I’ll play for hours and hours until I stumble into something I think is exciting or inspiring and then try to build it into an actual song. I have many journals that I’ve kept over the last several years with little pieces of lyrics and ideas and often I’ll just start raking through them to see if anything calls out or sticks with what I’m working on and use that as a starting point for lyrical direction. Often too, something will just spill out in that initial writing moment and I’ll just try to keep unpacking it until a song is revealed. Like finding treasure in a sandbox. Once the song is in presentable shape (roughly) I’ll bring it to Jake and our now drummer/producer pal and wonderkid Joe Richmond, and we’ll work through it together.

AF: The band has gone through a few different iterations, with you and Jacob remaining the backbone of the project. Does the process change when you add members or do they act more as support for the live shows?

AM: It does change a little, I guess. After years of playing together, Jake and I are great at working through ideas in their roughest, most unformed shapes but the songs do need to be a little bit more fully formed by the time we bring them to the rest of the band. I love how much ideas can change when we work through them as a group; everyone always brings their own flavor. That kind of collaboration keeps me inspired and excited.

AF: What’s a challenge you’ve faced as an artist that really blew you away? That you weren’t expecting at the start?

AM: So many little challenges along the way! Trying to balance time, energy and finances are all pretty tricky and generally a constant. But I’d say the biggest challenge I’ve faced was often just myself. It took a long time to learn how to get out of my own way and be braver about getting my own work out into the world.

AF: Tell us about your new single “High Wire” – I love that opening trill at the beginning.

AM: Me too! One of my favorite parts of our shows lately is launching into that song. “High Wire” is about a relationship falling apart and the energy each person in the relationship spends trying to save it when maybe it’s best to just let it go. And about how difficult it can be to make that call, especially when you’re still in love with each other but so aware of how things aren’t working. The chorus “Where do you run to / whether you want to / whether you don’t” speaks to that and the inevitable distance that creeps into a relationship while it’s unwinding.

AF: You’re currently touring through August. Will you be adding additional dates?

AM: There will be a few local shows in Denver over the fall but we’ll focus on touring again more in Spring. We’re also part of another band called Brent Cowles and will be touring with him in September and November. Wish there were more time for us to get out then too! Just so much cool stuff going on…

AF: Anything else on the horizon we should look out for?

AM: We’ve got some music videos in the works! We’ll be releasing those over the next few months. We’re also working on some demos for the next record already, so fingers crossed that we can move on that this winter.

AF: What advice would you give a middle schooler currently jotting down ninja lyrics in her diary?

AM: I would tell her to just keep going – keep working those ninja lyrics, someday they may change her whole world. Oh and then I’d ask her to send me some so I could get back to my roots. Maybe she and I could collaborate.

The Still Tide’s new EP Run Out is out this Friday.

Want to see The Still Tide LIVE? Check out their website for upcoming tour dates. [/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

ALBUM REVIEW: Nathaniel Rateliff “Falling Faster Than You Can Run”

At eighteen, Nathaniel Rateliff moved from his hometown of Bay, Missouri, population 60, to Denver. He focused first on finding work, but after a mysterious bout of health issues forced him to take a break from his job at a trucking company, he slid into the indie folk scene sideways, quickly becoming a local darling of Americana and indie folk. American music, as Rateliff knows, comes from a patchwork of styles, half accidentally thrown together, half borne of different kinds of musicians playing together. Rateliff’s path into music reflected some approximation of this same amalgamation. He’s played in a number of groups, including folky rock group Born In The Flood and his more recent soul project The Night Sweats, and he released an early, homemade batch of recordings as Nathaniel Rateliff and The Wheel. Monikers and fluctuations of style notwithstanding, though, Rateliff is recognizable in any project he lays hands on, and that’s all due to the reedy, pulse-happy rhythms of his singing.

On his second full-length solo album, Falling Faster Than You Can Run, Rateliff takes us further down the direction of interior, quietly catchy songwriting he established on his Rounder Records debut In Memory of Loss, which came out in 2010. The two albums also share a penchant for bleakness. The acoustic spaciousness of the tracks on Falling Faster highlight Rateliff’s voice, and that voice often sounds pretty sorrowful:  sharp, emotional volume spikes on the choruses make each song into a miniature nervous breakdown, with plenty of room for wallowing in the acoustic guitar line. Many of the tracks were written on the road, when Rateliff was touring, and you get a real sense of nomadic loneliness listening to this collection. The lyrics are songwriter-intimate but bear far remove, as if the songs look down at their subjects from thirty thousand feet.

Falling Faster‘s best lyrical moments come when Rateliff reveals the cheekier side of his charm, as is the case on the comparatively bouncy and lighthearted “Laborman” (“I’m begging your pardon if I kinda like the way it feels,” Rateliff sings, and you can practically hear him smirking into the microphone.) Those moments of sunniness serve the album well, and a few more would have not only expanded Falling Faster‘s range, but placed well-deserved focus on the gorgeous flexibility of Rateliff’s voice.

Watch the official video for “Still Trying,” off forthcoming album Falling Faster Than You Can Run, below: