Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Philadelphia’s Puppy Angst! Together we discussed animal and human behavior, the Philly music scene, yellow paint, their newest single “TKO”, and so much more!
You can find more information about “TKO” here.
1. Mustard is grateful to have Puppy Angst join them at Music Shelf. How is everyone doing today?
I’m doing great, thank you! It’s just gonna be me (Alyssa) answering today.
2. As a condiment who is fascinated by humans and animals they wonder what makes a puppy full of angst? Do animals and humans have shared behaviors?
Apparently puppies go through teen angst the way people do – at least that’s what I’ve seen from the articles that get mixed into the Google search results when you try to look us up haha. I’m not a dog owner or expert though so I’m not sure! I know more about cats.
3. Puppy Angst originally began as a solo effort. Could you share more about the transition into a full band?
I started the project solo back when I was 20 and playing in other bands. This would’ve been around winter 2016 I think? I wanted to make it into a full band for a very long time, and in summer of 2018, I managed to find 3 other people who were down to turn it into a band – Eric Naroden on drums, and then our original bassist Kyle O’Connor and original second guitarist Dylan Kittrell. After playing with this lineup for maybe half a year or so, Kyle had to step back due to other projects so we brought in John Heywood on bass; he was the first to respond to a post I made looking for a new bassist and obviously I was stoked to have such a talented bassist join the crew!
During the process of recording the full length, Dylan had to step back and we went into the studio as a 3-piece; I recorded the lead guitars for Yellow Paint since we wanted that song finished first and I’d already come up with a decent amount of ideas for leads on that song. After we finished our 4 days at Headroom Studio and moved on to working on overdubs at our engineer’s home studio, my partner Dan Leinweber, who I’d played in Blushed with, started writing guitar parts for the album. I wrote/recorded all of the synth and backing vocals on the album and we remained a 4-piece until we added a live synth player for our release show! Mol White played this release show as well as a couple other gigs with us, but they weren’t able to join us on tour, so Pauli Mia jumped in. Kind of a revolving door, but I’m really grateful for the talented musicians who have lended their time to make my vision happen.
4. You describe Puppy Angst as “Kind of fun, kind of a bummer.” How do you balance this duality?
It kind of just happens because I write mostly sad lyrics, but musically the songs come out sounding pretty upbeat and poppy a lot of the time.
5. Who (or what) influences Puppy Angst?
My Bloody Valentine, Title Fight, Death Cab for Cutie, Pity Sex, Mannequin Pussy, Bully, Kero Kero Bonito, Ringo Deathstarr, Chapterhouse, and Japanese Breakfast are some big influences that I had while working on the album. For the new song, I was pretty inspired by The Cure and Beach Bunny. I know Dan likes a lot of the same stuff as I do (Ringo Deathstarr, Hotline TNT, My Bloody Valentine, etc.), John is influenced a lot by Fleetwood Mac, Eric usually says Manchester Orchestra when asked this question… It’s a wide range and my favorites are always changing. When I’m writing songs, I primarily draw from my own experiences.
6. What is Puppy Angst’s creative process?
I write the song shells (lyrics, chords, structures, etc.) and then send out demos and/or bring them to practice so everyone can start working on their own parts. For the album we put out last year, I also ended up writing and tracking all of the synth and backing vocal parts; I spent a lot of time in our home studio room just coming up with ideas and seeing what would work. Some of the parts kinda just came to us in the moment while I was over at Johanna’s home studio as well. I wish I had a better answer as far as the writing process goes, but I tend to just have songs and ideas spill out of me when I least expect it.
7. Philly has a great music scene. Who are some local acts that you recommend readers check out?
So Totally, Doused, Bleary Eyed, Highnoon, Mandy Valentine, Pillow Princess, Heatloaf, Knifeplay, Janna, They Are Gutting A Body of Water, Pale Shade, Path, to name a few! There’s so much good music coming out of Philly so it’s really hard to just make a small list and I’m sure I’m forgetting so many amazing bands, so this is not an exhaustive list; it’s just the first handful of bands that came to mind.
8. 2018 saw the release of your EP “Tiny Thoughts.” What was it like to put this EP together?
It came together really quickly. We originally planned to put out demos online of the only songs we had in our set at that point in time. Then while we were working on the demos, a friend of a friend asked for help with a show in December 2018 so we decided to make those demos more of an EP release and make that show our release date. It was kind of a blur getting everything done in time for the deadline.
9. Mustard wonders what are some examples of tiny thoughts? Can these thoughts eventually grow?
I think when I came up with that line in Moths that led to the first EP title, I was talking about the way that a thought can pop up from out of nowhere and the more attention you give it, the more it takes over your mind; which isn’t really an inherently positive or negative thing, but just that ideas come from an initial spark I guess. It’s also about how I tend to ruminate on things without always being able to put what I’m thinking into words or having the courage to speak up. Ideas can kind of take on a life of their own so it just depends on what you do with them. It feels like so long ago that I wrote that song, I’ve kinda forgotten what I was talking about, but that kinda sounds right to me.
10. Mustard appreciates the song title Yellow Paint. If you could decorate any room with this color what room would it be and why?
A yellow kitchen would be really beautiful in my opinion!
11. Is it true that humans should not consume yellow paint?
Haha yes, please do not go eating yellow paint.
12.. “In Sensitivity” is about crying and remaining hopeful. Is it important for humans to let out a good cry?
I think so! I sometimes go through phases where I don’t cry at all for long periods of time, but when I wrote that song, I guess a lot of stuff was going wrong for me or I was just feeling overly sensitive or something. It’s good to let it out and have some catharsis, but I also kinda hate when I’m super weepy everyday when I’m really going through something and I end up with red, irritated eyes, etc. Everything in moderation I suppose.
13. Some humans are afraid to display their emotions. How has songwriting helped you express yours?
I write very honestly and directly, so the songs are very much me putting my innermost thoughts and feelings on display for anyone who cares to listen. I’m not usually able to be that direct when just talking to people though so it’s kind of a funny duality. I tend to bottle up my feelings a lot, which is something I’m working on and something that kind of inspired our new song TKO!
14. Last year saw the release of your full-length album “Scorpio Season.” in which you self-released. How did it feel to self-release this album?
It was a huge effort, but it does feel good to know we were able to do it. We all feel very accomplished. I’m not sure how ready I am to take on such a huge effort on our own again, though; it was a lot of work, and required a lot of our own personal money going into it. Selling t-shirts can only take you so far, so we all pitched in to make stuff happen when we needed to pay for mixes, mastering, etc. It can be kind of tough to always find extra money for that type of stuff, especially for the service industry folks or when other big life expenses come up. Plus, it meant we weren’t able to just buckle down and do like a week or two straight in the studio to get it done; we were working on the tracking for an incredibly long time whenever ours and Johanna’s schedules lined up. So it resulted in a really long creative process and it was hard to sustain the energy for it at times while other life and music stuff was happening around tracking. It was fun to make the tapes ourselves though, and I’m glad we were able to give them a personal touch, even though it was another chunk of time we had to allot. This time around, I think I want to try to send around demos first to see if maybe anyone’s interested in helping us put new stuff out, rather than just jumping right into the studio time.
15. Which type of Scorpio would Puppy Angst consider themselves?
I’m a pretty true-to-form Scorpio I think. The way I see Scorpios is that we’re really intense which can scare people off, but underneath the exterior we’re softies (Scorpio is still an emotional water sign after all). Intense, secretly emotional (I guess it’s not a secret for me what with the songs I write, but in my day-to-day life I tend to keep my emotions kinda guarded), thriving in chaos; I feel like I relate to all of that.
16. A human gets the chance to see Puppy Angst perform. In three words how would you describe your live shows?
Cathartic, fast-paced, noisy
17. Speaking of shows, do you have any upcoming shows?
We’ve got a couple lined up for this summer in Philly, as well as one in New York, but no current tour plans. Here are the ones that have been announced!
6/2 Philly, PA at Tin Can Bar with Pillow Princess and justmadnice
7/1 Philly, PA at Johnny Brenda’s with Well Wisher and So Totally; pre-sale tickets are available at https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4355889/so-totallywell-wisher-puppy-angst-philadelphia-johnny-brendas
7/15 Queens, NY at Bar Freda with HTML, Power Trash, In Angel’s Care, and Fear Not Ourselves Alone (solo)
18. What is next for Puppy Angst?
We have a new song out today called TKO for Open Tab Online, which is Fire Talk Records’ digital imprint. I have a lot of half songs written that I think I’m going to start fleshing out soon. Hopefully more new music will be on the way at some point in the near future! In the meantime, I’m trying to get us out on the road again and hopefully we’ll be able to start touring more soon. And we have some other more secret things in the works that I’m excited to announce when things are further along.
19. Where can readers listen to your music?
We’re on all streaming platforms as well as bandcamp.
Streaming link for our new song TKO: https://ffm.to/puppyangst