Interview: Michigan thrashers Pity Sex take on the UK: “I swear I won’t comment on the accent”

Michigan thrashers Pity Sex take on the UK: “I swear I won’t comment on the accent”

Ahead of their first UK tour, Britty Drake and Sean St. Charles talk the shoegaze/emo group’s ethos and big plans for the future.

Pity Sex might make cathartic indie rock, but the Ann Arbor-based, shoegaze-cum-emo quartet are anything but melancholic themselves - in fact, they’re having a blast. Having signed to Run for Cover straight off the back of a debut EP, they’ve gone on a “badass tour” of Australia, performed with genre giants Basement and even managed to squeeze in the responsibilities of real life somewhere along the way.

Originally released back in 2013, their full-length debut ‘Feast of Love’ has finally made its way over here, and it hasn’t aged a day. Anyone acclimatised with “emo”’s conventions would do well to listen to ‘Feast of Love’ which turns the genre’s stereotypes on their heads and slathers them with gritty guitars, bright-eyed melodies and a satisfyingly filthy lo-fi sheen.

Here, vocalist and guitarist Britty Drake and drummer Sean St. Charles talk about their experiences in Australia, the weird way in which most bands shun the “demands of regular life” and the things they’re looking forward to the most about coming to the UK for the first time.

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Defying band logistics 101, you guys somehow wrangled a tour to Australia before coming over to the UK. What was the story behind that?

Britty: Poison City Records hooked us up with a badass tour while things weren’t coming together on the UK front. I don’t know how we managed to get their support, but I’m glad we did. That was one of my favourite tours so far. I’m sure the UK will be up there as well.

How was it compared to playing shows in America, are there any major differences?

Britty: It was pretty similar. The people are a bit more approachable, but aside from that and the accents, It felt like playing anywhere in the US.

You’ve also been on tour with fellow emoters Basement. What’s your relationship with them and how were those dates?

Britty: They’re great. We were already friends with Al from RFC, but we got to know the other guys pretty quickly. Andrew asked me about my dog right away and I was like ‘Oh hell yeah, we are friends.’

You’ve been fairly quiet in terms of new material since ‘Feast of Love’, which is finally coming to the UK. What’ve you been up to in the interim?

Sean: We’ve all been busy with the demands of regular life. It seems weird to me that bands rarely talk about this sort of thing. Britty’s been in school. The rest of us work full time more or less. All that aside, we’ve been touring quite a bit. We released a song for our friend / producer’s compilation in late 2013. Last year we put out a split 7” with Adventures. Writing for our second LP had been ongoing the entire time, but really started in earnest last summer. We recorded in March and will have the new record out in the near distant future. We’ve been up to all the usual stuff.

How did your relationship with Run for Cover come about?

Sean: Jeff from Run For Cover hit me up via email a few weeks after we released our first EP online. From what I gather, he’d heard about us from a couple Michigan area bands that RFC works with. Nick Hamm from Citizen knew Brennan and I because of a hardcore band we used to play in. He’s been a huge proponent of ours since the beginning, and I imagine he had a lot to do with RFC turning an ear our way. After emailing with Jeff a bit, we dove in. They’ve been nothing but good to us ever since.

If you’ve started work on the follow up yet, what can people expect from the record in comparison to ‘Feast of Love’?

Britty: We actually just finished recording our second full length. I have no idea how it sounds in comparison because it’s impossible to have an objective listen after working on them. Maybe a little more diverse?

Are there any challenges that you faced while recording ‘Feast of Love’ that you’re looking to overcome this time around, or anything you learnt previously that you’re thinking of applying now?

Sean: During ‘Feast of Love’, a lot of the work was just learning how to record in a studio. It’s not something we’d done before. ‘Dark World’ was recorded with a single microphone in a dining room. We were lucky enough to have a friend who vaguely knew what he was doing, and we had a clear enough vision for aesthetic that it sort of came together in an interesting way. The transition into a professional setting took some getting used to. For the new record, we were able to step right in and make the thing we wanted to make.

Ann Arbor and any other town harbouring an emotional-leaning band from the Midwest seem like havens of thriving scenes and perfect lifestyles to fans of said bands in the UK, but just how realistic is this vision?

Britty: It’s not bad. I have an appreciation for the Midwest mentality, and I’m glad I grew up here. People here probably romanticise the UK/Europe the same way people there romanticise the Midwest.

What’s the thing you’re looking forward to the most about playing in the UK?

Britty: I heard the coffee around London is really good. I’m excited to check that out. I’m looking forward to seeing new places, and hanging with the locals. I swear I won’t comment on the accent and ask people to say certain words over and over.

Pity Sex’s ‘Feast of Love’ is out now on Run For Cover. Check out all the group’s upcoming UK dates here.

Pity Sex will play The Great Escape (14th-16th May), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.