Royal Headache & Pissed Jeans

Royal Headache & Pissed Jeans

Dark Thoughts

Thu, July 13, 2017

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

UnionTransfer

Philadelphia, PA

$15.00

This event is all ages

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Royal Headache
Royal Headache
Sydney's Royal Headache burst into view back in 2011 upon the release of their self-titled album, an adrenaline shot of melodic energy and heart-on-sleeve romanticism that immediately lit up listeners home and away. They dug deep, and took their blinding live show on the road throughout North America and Australia, culminating in a series of opening dates for the Black Keys on their home continent, and a 7" single for Matador Records' subscription series.

Why so quiet since then? Throughout that time, Royal Headache has been quietly socking away new songs for another spate of activity, and broke their silence by headlining Melbourne's Maggot Fest last Halloween. "We started recording the second LP a while ago. The usual process for [every one of our] releases thus far is the initial recording, then Shogun doing vocals and us tinkering, basically doing bits and pieces then coming back to see how we feel about it."

With that, Royal Headache is ready to ride once more. Their new album is called High and injects even more soul and passion into the breakneck formula that became synonymous with Royal Headache. If their first album was akin to a courtship, think of High as the romance. Not just on the level of two people falling in love, but a romance with the qualities of pop music that make Royal Headache who they are and inform what they do: eternal optimism, wistful beauty and interlocking presentation that evolves from four guys singing on a street corner to speed-addled rock, and all the brightness and darkness in between, teetering between stability and chaos and well-aware of how unsteady their footing might be. The amount of emotion and range of Shogun's vocals and the whip-smart counterpoint provided by the band present a dash through decades of pop history, recombining not just the music but all of the feelings of pain and joy elicited from audiences, supercharged and ready to explode once more.

According to Shogun, these feelings came to the music by way of the middle period and painful end of one of these relationships. "It's bittersweet," he describes. "The whole of High is about someone I don't see anymore. The music fits a bit too closely with my life in that respect. I write about four songs a week, and they're all about things happening in my life. I'm no poet; this is just my way of dealing with the world around me and my place within it." On the band's periods of inactivity, Shogun claims that "I felt exhausted by the whole thing, pigeonholed into a garage-rock gimmick. Time away from all this has given me some new perspective. I'm a good singer and everyone loves a tune." That's an understatement. Shogun's voice and lyrics aren't so much a secret weapon in Royal Headache's arsenal as they are the front line, happiness and hurt soaring above the songs, driving home all the feelings within.
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans
Pissed Jeans have been making a racket for 13 years, and on their fifth album, Why Love Now, the male-fronted quartet is taking aim at the mundane discomforts of modern life—from fetish webcams to office-supply deliveries.

“Rock bands can retreat to the safety of what rock bands usually sing about. So 60 years from now, when no one has a telephone, bands will be writing songs like, ‘I’m waiting for her to call me on my telephone.’ Kids are going to be like, ‘Grandpa, tell me, what was that?’ I’d rather not shy away from talking about the internet or interactions in 2016,” says Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette.

Pissed Jeans’ gutter-scraped amalgamation of sludge, punk, noise, and bracing wit make the band—Korvette, Brad Fry (guitar), Randy Huth (bass) and Sean McGuinness (drums)—a release valve for a world where absurdity seems in a constant battle trying to outdo itself. Why Love Now picks at the bursting seams that are barely holding 21st-century life together. Take the grinding rave-up “The Bar Is Low,” which, according to Korvette, is “about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a shithead.

“It seems like every guy is getting outed,” Korvette continues, “across every board of entertainment and politics and music. There’s no guy that isn’t a total creep. You’re like, ‘No, he’s just a dude that hits on drunk girls and has sex with them when they’re asleep.’ Cool, he’s just an average shithead.”

The lyrics on Why Love Now are particularly pointed about gender relations and the minefield they present in 2016. “‘It’s Your Knees’ is about the endless, unrequested, commenting on if you’d fuck a girl. You know what I mean? ‘My great aunt won a cooking contest.’ ‘Oh, that’s pretty hot. I’d hit that,’” says Korvette. “It’s bizarre how guys will willingly share this stuff as if it’s always in their brains, and now it gets to come out because you’re on the internet. There’s a boldness to it now that was not maybe there before. So the premise is like, ‘Yeah, she’s hot, but her knees are weird looking. Not for me, man.’”

On “Love Without Emotion” Korvette channels Nick Cave’s more guttural side while bemoaning his detachment over cavernous guitars. The crushing “Ignorecam” twists the idea of fetish cam shows—”where the woman just ignores you and watches TV or eats macaroni and cheese or talks on the phone”—into a showcase for Korvette’s rancid yelp and his bandmates’ pummeling rock. “I love that idea of guys paying to be ignored,” says Korvette. “It seems so weird.”

As they did on their last album, 2013’s Honeys, Pissed Jeans offer a couple of “fuck that shit type songs” about the working world, with the blistering “Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst” turning unwieldy job titles into sneering punk choruses and “Have You Ever Been Furniture” waving a flag for those whose job descriptions might as well be summed up by “professionally underappreciated.” And the startling “I’m A Man,” which comes at the album’s midpoint, finds author Lindsay Hunter (Ugly Girls) taking center stage, delivering a self-penned monologue of W.B. Mason-inspired erotica—office small talk about pens and coffee given just enough of a twist to expose its filthy underside, with Hunter adopting a grimacing menace that makes its depiction of curdled masculinity even more harrowing.

“Lindsay Hunter is what I would aspire for Pissed Jeans to be—just a real, ugly realness that’s shocking,” says Korvette. “Not in a, ‘I had sex with a corpse on top of a pile…’ nonsense way—actually real, shocking stuff. And she has young kids, like Pissed Jeans do. I feel a bond with her in that regard. We’re in the same camp.”

No Wave legend Lydia Lunch shacked up in Philadelphia to produce “Why Love Now” alongside local metal legend Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Goat Semen). “I knew she wasn’t a traditional producer,” Korvette says of Lunch. “We wanted to mix it up a little bit. I like how she’s so cool and really intimidating. I didn’t know how it was going to work out. She ended up being so fucking awesome and crazy. She was super into it, constantly threatening to bend us over the bathtub. I’m not really sure what that entails, but I know she probably wasn’t joking.

“Arthur Rizk was the technical guru. It was a perfect combination of a technical wizard and a psychic mentor who guided the ship.”

The combination of Lunch’s spiritual guidance and Rizk’s technical prowess supercharged Pissed Jeans, and the bracing Why Love Now documents them at their grimy, grinning best. While its references may be very early-21st-century, its willingness to state its case cements it as an album in line with punk’s tradition of turning norms on their heads and shaking them loose.

“A crucial thing, I think, for being a Pissed Jeans fan is just stemming from what I would take away from punk, which is, ‘Question things and think about things,’” says Korvette. “Don’t just go to the office and get the same coffee. Don’t just wear a leather jacket and get a 40 oz. Just question yourself a little bit if you can.”
Dark Thoughts
Dark Thoughts
With 10 of 12 tracks coming in under two minutes and the band making minimal use of chords, you could easily be misled into thinking you've heard this album thousands of times before. But actually, you haven't.

Dark Thoughts finds some separation from the pack that’s linked above by virtue of being effectively straightforward in a genre that tends to grow stagnant whenever anyone’s foolish enough to attempt the feat. So many bands have tried and failed miserably at songs that are frequently (and unfairly) categorized as Ramones-core and while Dark Thoughts certainly embraces an archetype, it does so with an infallible mixture of venom and pure feeling.

Every song on Dark Thoughts would be a worthy single but the record functions its own standalone entity as well; Dark Thoughts is a sublime piece of insanely well-informed genre work that skews as close to Fix My Brain as it does Rocket to Russia.
Venue Information:
UnionTransfer
1026 Spring Garden St
Philadelphia, PA, 19123