Chicago-based noise-punk-rock anomaly Prizzy Prizzy Please (Ted Wells: Keys, Scottie McNiece: Percussion, Mark Pallman: Lead Vocals/Saxophone and Bob Allen: Bass) recently took a free moment from their impressive North American tour jaunt to talk with David Thomas about their latest album Chroma Cannon, touring, and laying the groundwork for the P.P.P. Chicago Space Needle.
Besides the upgrade in recording quality and notable attention to sonic detail through post-production mixing, the overall sound and stylization of Chroma Cannon significantly differs from your eponymous LP and PPPPPEP. Was this an intentional departure aiming for a specific recording objective or the culmination of a natural progression in Prizzy Prizzy Please’s sound?
I think that for each of us, there is something in Prizzy Prizzy Please and PPPPPEP that we wanted to get right this time. So, part of the sonic departure is intentional tweaking, and part of it is serendipity in the studio.
What were each of your personal highlights during the recording Chroma Cannon?
Getting all the star coins in Mario Wii was a major accomplishment of mine. Scott liked it when The Schrein stopped by during recording. Having the support of our friends who visited the studio was huge for everybody. Additionally, getting the project done in 6 days of studio time was a group highlight and an exhausting effort from everyone.
Whose idea was it to use the smooth jazz/lounge reprise of “Lost” with “Drizzling Diamonds” as an album closer?
It was more a discovery than an invention, so to speak. In the basement of the house that occupies the future site of the Chicago Space Needle, where we practice, we sometimes have to play late, so when we do, we play quiet. Drizzling Diamonds is a result of late-night quiet practices. It turned out that we really liked playing it, and we figured that a listener’s ears might need to relax after listening to Chroma Cannon, so we decided to close the album with it
This one is directed at Scott. Scott, you once said in an interview with Stereo Subversion that you wouldn’t personally want to put in a Prizzy record and listen to it. Not because you didn’t enjoy the music or that it wasn’t fun to play live, but you really wanted to record a great studio album. Has Chroma Cannon fulfilled this desire?
Yes. I enjoy listening to it more than our other albums because it sounds like a more well thought-out piece of music. But also, SS interviewed us 2 years after we had released anything. And, I imagine that in 2 years from now I’ll have a different opinion.
You all put on an immense live show. Whether for a crowded venue of fans, like your Chicago record release party with Sass Dragons at the Beat Kitchen, or rocking a slimmer show with a notably random assortment of acts at the Bottom Lounge you guys always come out strong. But where have been your favorite places to play and who have been some of your best crowds?
Some of our most memorable shows have been at a yoga studio in New Brunswick, NJ as part of the Three Day Weekend festival there, a house party at the now-defunct Grandma’s House in Boise, ID, where the crowd went nuts immediately (in a good way), another house after-party in Toronto, Ontario hosted by a gentleman named Henri during North By Northeast, and an art space in Oakland, California that featured a very large Möbius strip made of One Way street signs. The Bike Haus in Cincinatti, OH has always been a blast. However, I think the show that stands out the most happened at a Mexican restaurant in LA called Jaunita’s. The show was a huge success- tons of people were there, everybody had a great time, and the crowd loved our performance. After the show, the son of the owner invited us back to the restaurant the next day for breakfast on the house. The machaca was delicious.
What are each of your favorite songs to play live?
Ted: Supersize Hookup.
Mark: There are so many, I can’t choose.
Scott: Drizzlin’ Diamonds. It’s a spot in the set when I can breathe.
Bob: Flea Bomb
I know it is a bit of an over asked question, but Prizzy’s sound is truly a unique mash-up of genre and performance style. You have been reviewed as being “cutesy bullshit” and a “Bruce Springsteen-esque version of Lightning Bolt.” How would you all describe your yet-to-be-classified Midwest melting pot of sound?”
I’d say that describing and classifying our sound is not our job. That’s a job for critics. We certainly don’t try to focus our songwriting by trying to respect a genre. Instead, we find that focus by dealing with the limits of the combination of instruments in our band. But the bottom line is that we write songs that move us, and so far it’s been a thrill to see other people moved by them as well.
The band originally hailed from Bloomington, Indiana. What factors led you all to up and move to Chicago?
This one’s easy. You can’t build the Chicago Space Needle in Bloomington, IN.
How did the move affect your fan base and sound?
We’d been playing the Chicagoland area for about 4 years before the move, so the change of location didn’t drastically change our fan base, except maybe make it easier for us to reach more people, mostly Chicagoans. Our upcoming 60-day tour is part of a broader outreach effort. If our sound has changed, I wouldn’t credit the move, but instead I would cite a natural outcome of 4 guys who love playing together.
Have you enjoyed the transition from a more-university driven scene to playing well known Chicago venues?
Yes, but I don’t think ‘transition’ is the right word for it. I mean, it’s not as if we’ve stopped playing college bars, punk houses, warehouses, lofts, basements, living rooms, kitchens, front yards, or other places wherever particular people congregate. Yes, it’s an absolute thrill to play to a sold-out crowd at the Beat Kitchen. But playing alternative and smaller venues has been a part of what we do for so long that it doesn’t make much sense for us to stop now.
Since DIY caters both to an American and UK-based audience let’s try an English drinking/question game of shoot, shag, or marry. You get three people and you have to shoot one to kill, shag one, and marry the other for life. Your ladies are Betty White, Lady Gaga, and Sarah Silverman. Discuss.
Shoot: Gaga — The romance is guaranteed to be a bad one.
Shag: White — Here by default, and also for the story.
Marry: Silverman — Obviously the best marriage material of the three.
You are about to start the first leg of your Midwest and East Coast tour in support of Chroma Cannon’s release. What can concert goers who are unfamiliar with Prizzy expect in a show?
Concert goers can expect to hear mostly songs from Chroma Cannon, as well as some reliable standbys from earlier recordings. It’s an energetic show.
If your tour was being made into a television docu-drama what would it be called?
MTV’s The Grind Presents: Tasty Waves
The Prizzy Prizzy Please True Hollywood Story
Who would you want to do the narration? Personally, my vote is leaning toward someone epic yet with a touch of class. Someone like Randy “Macho Man” Savage.
That’s pretty good. Come to think of it, that’s a great idea! Do you want a producer credit?
For each of your respective positions in the band who would be your ideal musical replacement if you had to bow out of a show during this tour?
Ted: Tom Lehrer
Mark: Sam Kinison
Bob: Lemmy Kilmister
Scott: Animal from the Muppets.
The impossible question: When poured onto cereal milk is: A) a beverage B) a broth or C) a sauce?
Milk is the juice a cow makes. It’s cow juice. Juice is a beverage, so the answer is A).
What are you plans for the band after the Midwest/East Coast tour? Further touring? A break from long distance touring with a string of local shows? Back to writing and recording?
Currently, we have a show opening for Lightning Bolt at Rhino’s in Bloomington, IN on July 20. Sometime later we plan to break ground on the Chicago Space Needle, situated in the heart of Chicago’s Roscoe Village.