If wild songs are born in garages and dreamy ones are written in bedrooms, the self-reflectively droll angst of Pity Sex's music is surely a product of the Midwestern basement from whence it came. On the group's second full-length, White Hot Moon, the fidelity has peaked higher and the brooding has evened out. But just because it's been all ascent for the Michigan rockers doesn't mean they're quitting their day jobs — literally.
New Times spoke with Britty Drake, guitarist and female half of Pity Sex's gender-balanced vocal pairing.
New Times: I heard the songwriting process for this album was different from what the band's done in the past. How so?
Britty Drake: When I joined the band, we all lived together and [the other band members] had already written a demo and recorded it before I was even aware that it existed. So when I moved [in], they asked me if I'd like to join and I was like, "Absolutely." So we started writing [the 2012 EP] Dark World, but they had ideas already and I kind of didn't want to step on anyone's toes at that point just because they were inviting me into this new thing, you know? We would still go downstairs and practice and go through ideas together, but it was a lot less collaborative just because Sean [St. Charles,
But obviously, as we continued to grow and became more comfortable with each other and each other's writing styles, it just became increasingly more collaborative, and we noticed that we liked the things we wrote together more than the things that were just somebody's project and then somebody else's project.
You guys have been vocal about the band not being the be-all and end-all of your lives. Do you think of it as just a chapter?
Exactly how I wouldn't call my career a chapter in my life, I wouldn't call [the band] a chapter. I think there's a huge dichotomy in music between doing some sort of school or career pursuit versus being in a band or making music, being any sort of real artist. I think it's a really false dichotomy. Although it's sometimes difficult to balance the two, that's kind of what life is all about, is balancing all the things you enjoy and not limiting yourself to just one thing because it's easier.
What's your day job?
I work at a lab of U of M [University of Michigan]. I work for a professor who studies self-control and emotion regulation. It's very vague, but it's purposely vague because he works on pretty much everything.
That's within psychology?
Your fans and critics have myriad labels they put on the band, emo or shoegaze or whatever, which are two — can I just say — very different genres.
They are very different. "'90s-inspired"? OK, we get it. What isn't '90s-inspired?
It seems like you all are at ease just calling it pop music. Why do you think people have a hard time saying, "This is pop music"?
You're gonna call it whatever's hip at the moment if you like it. If you hate it, then you're gonna call it whatever you think is not hip at the moment. I think people would be totally fine calling it pop music — or calling some of the songs pop music — if more people were throwing that term around, but it's almost like an availability heuristic in the sense that you just heard somebody use the word, so you're going to use it because it's right there on the tip of your tongue.
So which is worse in pity sex — to be the
I think both are equal. Luckily that's not something I have any experience with. I would be upset to be on either end of that.
It seems like it's a pretty fraught name that people are pervasively interested in.
I wasn't even in the band when it was named. Otherwise, to be honest, I don't think it would be named Pity Sex.
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What would you name the band?
Something that you can tell your boss that you're going to go on tour for a month [for] and he won't laugh at you when you tell him why probably would be a little better on my end.
With PWR BTTM and Petal. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at O'Malley's, 1388 Florida 7, Pompano Beach; 954-979-8540. Tickets cost $13 via ticketfly.com.