Interview w/ Screaming Females

Marissa Paternoster On Social Media to Pitchfork Media


Interview curated by Robert D. Patrick

There’s no confusing Marissa Paternoster’s fine-tuned howls and propulsive guitar playing. Screaming Females, a three-piece band from New Brunswick, New Jersey, have been lauded by every publication from The A.V. Club to the Los Angeles Times for their electric stage presence and “triumphant” albums. Fresh off of their new LP, Rose Mountain, we caught up with Marissa to talk about everything from social media to Pitchfork media before the band kicks off the second wing of their tour.


ROBERT PATRICK: Your cover of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” is one of my favorite things ever. There’s a dashing duality of seriousness and levity in your version. I love how you guys reconstructed the track with grit. To you, what makes a great re-working of another artist’s song?

MARISSA PATERNOSTER: It’s always an interesting treat when a band’s cover leads you to listen to the original artists’ work. Pixies’ cover of “Head On” by Jesus and Mary Chain led me to the JAMC discography which has brought much joy, as did Jeff Buckley’s very famous cover of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.


Spin ranked you as the 77th greatest guitarist of all-time. You’re in some great company. Is that an arbitrary list to you? And if not, does that title change the way you look at your own abilities; does it make you more self-aware of your talents?

A lot of people seem to want to cite this article. I never took it very seriously and it certainly doesn’t effect my want to always be a better player.


Do you think Pitchfork, as a whole, has been more positive or negative for musicians?

I believe that when our collective consciousness looks to one media outlet for editorials and critiques concerning independent music we are walking down a dead-end path.


What’s your take on the renaissance of vinyl, and do you think it’s helpful to musicians in a climate where physical media is seemingly less popular than ever?

I think that people ought to listen to music in whatever format best suits their lifestyle…what is most important is that you have access to it!


In an interview with Billboard, you said that recording Rose Mountain caused less anxiety than with your previous albums. What was it that you discovered, during the recording process, that made you feel more comfortable?

No clue. I think the situations surrounding the Rose Mountain recording process just fell neatly into place and provided us all with a comfortable atmosphere.


Do you think it’s necessary, as a musician, to tend to the flames of Facebook and Twitter, or can one still find success without those institutions?

I remember when Screaming Females were trying to avoid registering a MySpace account! I’m sure that some artists have found semblances of “success” via social networking websites but we use them as tools to get people to leave their houses and come to shows.


And, finally, Reptar had some nice things to say about you on their Facebook page the other day: “Screaming Females has been one of our favorite bands for almost like 10 years now. We were all super stoked (and more than a little intimidated) to play right after them at SXSW a bunch of years ago. One of us gave them a cd and hoped they’d maybe one day skim through the tracks and hope they don’t totally suck.” Do you ever get taken aback by that sort of reaction to your music by fellow bands?

We have been consistently humbled by the talents of our friends: Shellshag, Downtown Boys, Vacation, PUJOL, Priests, Chris Gethard, Underground Railroad to Candyland, & Benny the Jet Rodriguez – just to name a few.


For more information on the inimitable Screaming Females, visit their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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