The Soviettes are out on tour with Against Me!, the Epoxies, and Smoke or Fire, hitting all 50 states (yes, including Hawaii and Alaska) as well as a few Canadian cities. So basically, there’s no excuse to miss this, the new generation of Fat Wreck Chords bands.
Why are they a new generation? Because, quite frankly, they’re moving on from that Fat Wreck sound that you all know so well, and I personally think this is a great lineup, with four bands that all have their own distinct sound. The Soviettes think so too, and took time out to talk to Kaffeine Buzz about drunk-dialing, roller derby, politics, and being thought of as a girl band.
Kaffeine Buzz: [The Soviettes] are one of those bands where I feel weird interviewing one member, since you all do everything.
Annie: We’re all in the car if you want to talk to all of us! If I feel that it might be appropriate for someone else to answer one of your questions, I’ll pass the phone off.
KB: The name the Soviettes–I read somewhere that it was more of a joke than a real political statement.
A: It’s just funny. This kid gave it to me as a tip at a coffee shop that I used to work at a long time ago, and I thought it was really funny. We’re not, like, hardcore communists or anything.
KB: Do you think people assume that you’re more political than you are, because of the name or the Rock Against Bush CD?
A: Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I don’t know–some people actually have a tendency to get a little bit offended by it, especially people from the Eastern Bloc. We’ve gotten a couple of letters from people who are like, “Do you realize that that’s really offensive?” And we’re like, “No, it’s funny! A joke! Don’t you get it?” All in all, at least in this country, it seems to be just fine. People either love it or hate it, I guess.
KB: The other thing that you probably get asked all the time is, of course, the “girl band” thing. I love that the press release says, “Don’t be a douche. One of the members has a wang doodle, drums, and sings.”
A: That’s a goofy line in that thing. Yeah, we don’t consider ourselves to be a “girl band,” although we are obviously three-quarters female. It’s just not really an issue for us. We didn’t do it on purpose. Other people see it as like a schtick or something. People wonder if it is, or we get asked a lot, “Why didn’t you use a girl drummer?” “Well, because our friend that wanted to play drums was a guy?” It just so happens that we’re female, I guess.
KB: At the same time, though, it’s kind of refreshing for me to interview girls. I spend so much time talking to yet another guy. Anyway, you guys are out on the Fat Tour now. . .
A: Yeah, we’re on our way to Chicago right now, from Buffalo.
KB: How’s that been going?
A: It’s been awesome. We’ve played like six shows so far, and it’s been really great, and everybody in all the bands is really, really really awesome, it’s really great. Right away, it kinda felt like family. We’ve met a lot of cool people.
KB: And you’re hitting all 50 states on this tour. That’s got to be interesting, because there are a lot of places that get skipped all the time.
A: Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
KB: It’s interesting, because Fat Wreck Chords has a lot of bands that sound exactly the same. . .
A: Yes, they do. And it’s been really cool to be part of a wave of new bands that don’t have that traditional Fat sound.
KB: I thought it was interesting that they put together a “Fat Tour” that doesn’t have any bands that have that sound.
A: Yeah, I think it’s a good thing, a good progression for that label. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a really big fan of some of the bands that have been on that label for a really long time, but I really like the new bands that they’ve been picking up, too. It’s pretty rad.
KB: Yes, it’s nice to see them branch out. While I was trying to put together questions for this interview–I wasn’t sure if it was just my press copy of the CD that didn’t have lyrics in the liner notes, but when I was doing my background I came across a few reviews that complained about the lack of printed lyrics as well.
A: We don’t have the lyrics for that one. We put lyrics on our first two records, and it gave people fuel, and we just decided not to put them in this one. When it got right down to the time-crunch period, it’s like, ah, screw it. Also, just because we write our songs for us, we don’t write them for reviewers. No offense! [laughs] We meant to have them all up on our website by the time we left, but they should be up any day now.
KB: It doesn’t necessarily make it easier or harder to review it, but it’s easier to have something specifically to refer to when writing questions. Especially since you are a very fast-paced band, it’s honestly hard to hear what’s being said sometimes.
A: It’s hard. We all talk really fast in some of the songs, so I know what you mean. Actually, [one of the guys] at Fat, his job for–I don’t remember what it was for, but he was supposed to listen to the songs and figure out what all the lyrics were, and he called me up and was like “Are these the lyrics to the songs?” and the things that he thought he had heard were completely, 100% not the actual words to the songs.
KB: Some aren’t so speedy. The song “Middle of the Night,” which doesn’t really have such a punk sound, is much easier to decipher. Was that about anyone in particular, or just an issue that you wanted to write about?
A: Actually, I watched a PBS documentary one night on transvestite and transsexual kids, teenagers, the different ways their families responded to that. Some families were really supportive, and some of the kids got kicked out and had to turn to prostitution to live, basically, so that’s what that song’s about. It really struck a chord with me. I was really moved by it, so I wrote a song about it.
KB: On a somewhat lighter note, I also appreciate “What Did I Do?!?”
A: That’s actually Susy.
KB: I have a friend who’s a big drunk-dialer, so I can relate. . .
Susy: Yeah, I do it a lot. That’s what that song’s about, being stupid and having a phone while you’re wasted.
KB: While I was prepping for the interview, I read a review in which the reviewer seemed to be complaining that there were more “party-themed” songs on this album than previous ones.
S: I guess it’s a mixture. We have a couple of political songs, a couple punk. . . I guess, a couple of party ones. It wasn’t conscious, it was just–we’ve been on tour, partied a lot, I guess.
KB: It kind of relates to the question I’d asked Annie before, that you guys may get pigeonholed as more of a political band than you are, and he seemed to be expecting more of that.
S: Well, all of us each write songs about what’s on our mind lately, whether they turn out to be political or whatever, but I guess because of the name. . . I don’t really read reviews, to be honest with you.
KB: I wanted to ask about the “Roller Girls” song as well.
Annie: Roller derby just started in Minneapolis this last year, they’re going into their second season, and when I found out about it I wrote them a song.
KB: So none of you are actually on a team?
A: No. I want to really bad, but I can’t risk breaking my hands, so I’m not allowed. So I wrote them a song instead. They actually came into the studio, and you can hear in the song, the people that are talking, doing the “We’re not your plaything!” was the roller girls. They’re so awesome. I love roller derby and it’s totally becoming a huge thing all over the U.S.
KB: I noticed in your bio that you guys are all in a bunch of different bands. Can you tell me more about the Minneapolis scene in general?
A: Minneapolis right now–well, it’s always kind of been awesome for arts and music, but it’s really neat to be a part of what’s going on there right now. There’s a huge rock’n’roll scene, a big hip-hop scene, a big hardcore scene, lots of noise, there’s a good alt-country scene. There’s everything going on and everybody really supports each other, even down to like–there are lots of people who mix and produce albums, there are a lot of people that make beats for the hip-hop groups, there’s a lot of people in fashion that make clothes, a lot of artists, pretty much anything we would ever need done for the band we have done by our friends. Our friend Bossman does all of our cover art, our friend Justin makes all our videos, our friend Brad makes our buttons, our friend Jeremy makes our T-shirts, it’s really awesome. It’s one of the best scenes in the country, I think. It’s huge and really diverse, really strong.
Catch the Soviettes on the Fat Tour with Against Me!, the Epoxies, and Smoke or Fire.