Next Friday, April 15th, Iggy Pop will be playing his [apparently] last-ever Philly date… at an opera house… for $150… So I’m guessing that the party that I [and you could follow suit] will actually be attending is Har Mar Superstar and High Waisted’s show at the 200-capacity MilkBoy (for $16). Although I’ve been a bit out of touch with the beautiful ridiculousness of Har Mar Superstar since I was a HS senior and he toured with the Gossip (R.I.P.) and did that song with Beth Ditto, I do have fond memories of that night… and I also believe that NYC-based High Waisted may have recently stolen the title belt for my favorite band of 2016. Last month High Waisted released their debut album, On Ludlow. The album boasts a sassy-pants brand of surf rock that is just as indebted to the greatest girl-groupy-ness of the 1960s as it is the brash grrrliness of the early ‘90s. They could very easily be the band that headlines the prom in a John Waters film… I recently got a chance to chat with High Waisted frontperson Jess Dye about what it is that actually inspires the band and just how excited they are to spread their sounds to anyone and everyone who digs the way they roll.
Izzy Cihak: You’re going to be returning to Philly, or Philthy, in the near future. What can be expected of the live show for those who are yet to see it? I’m imagining something pretty fuckin’ awesomely Rock’N’Roll…
Jess Dye: There’s lots of hair shakin’, hip swayin’, creepy crawlin’, knee bending, stage diving, guitar twirling and smiling. We have the best time on stage, I think that shines through!
Izzy: And you’ll be on tour with Har Mar Superstar, who I haven’t seen since 2002, but who always had a pretty insanely cool live show himself. Are you big fans of his? Are you excited to share the stage with him for this handful of dates?
Jess: It’s a huge honor to be on tour with Har Mar Superstar. We’re big fans and I can’t wait to witness the insanity that is his live show night after night. I’m sure we’re gonna learn a lot from him! Plus his band is amazing and they are all great folks. We really admire them.
Izzy: So On Ludlow just came out about a month ago, but it seems like you’ve had a pretty busy year so far. What have been some of the highlights of 2016 for you?
Jess: Releasing the record was like climbing Everest. We feel great about 2016. This year we’ve been really lucky to tour, throw crazy parties on boats and in basements, release The Acid Tapes Vol 2, run amok at SXSW, create music videos, work with clothing designers for our stage costumes, start writing our next record, and still find time to party with our friends over pizza and beer.
Izzy: Have you had any particular favorite reactions to your work, whether from critics, fans, audiences, or just friends?
Jess: Gosh. I’m just blown away and humbled that anyone is listening, let alone giving us positive feedback. It’s so strange to have an idea in your head become tangible and to catch friends singing along at shows. I guess my favorite reaction is playing to new people and seeing them dance and smile. Making people have fun is the best.
Izzy: On a related note, have you noticed patterns in the kinds of people who most like, or “best get,” your music? Every time I see you with friends or fans everyone around you seems to be pretty amazingly cool, with exceptional taste.
Jess: I mean, our moms like us! And they’re pretty cool.
Izzy: What would you consider to be High Waisted’s most significant influences?
Jess: This is a little sentimental, but NYC is our biggest influence. From the people we’ve met, to the difficulty of making it here, to the history of bands before us – this energy is everything. As a band, our musical tastes are all over the place (which is important for us), but NYC is our common denominator.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about you as a band?
Jess: We’re just a group of best friends who are lucky enough to make music we’re proud of. Our record is fun because we had had making it. Our live shows feel like parties because we want them to.
Izzy: So I really love On Ludlow, but “Detonate” in particular is like one of the best things I’ve heard all year. It reminds me of somewhere between Sleater-Kinney and Veruca Salt. How did that particular track come about?
Jess: I had this bratty “nah, nah, nah” melody in my head for months. At first I thought it was clumsy not to expand the lyrics. But I realized keeping it simple was much more confrontational and let the groove drive the track. Sometimes a ripping good jam is what a song needs. Stephan’s guitar solos are so emotive and aggressive. Detonate is meant to do just that: explode.
Izzy: Your video for “Party in the Back” is officially the best video I’ve seen this year… What is it that inspires the visual elements of High Waisted? (You also all have a great sense of personal fashion.) Are there any visual artists or “style icons” that you consider to be especially influential to you?
Jess: I spend a lot of time enjoying other people’s art. Be it film, reading, going to the museums, or just looking for new music. I naturally pull from what’s around me and stir in my own weirdness. For this video, my drummer, Jono, and I did everything from the concept to directing, and shooting. We were really inspired by the environment were in, NYC, and the friends we share fun nights with. We named the record On Ludlow because we all met there in the lower east side. This video was a little homage to those wild nights. And a celebration of my girlfriends! In terms of style icons, I’m obsessed with Blondie and Samantha from BeWitched.
Izzy: And what’s next for you? How do you hope and plan to spend the rest of 2016, after these dates wrap up?
Jess: Once these dates wrap we wanna add more dates! Our plan is to throw parties, keep writing new material, make new friends along the way and get on the road.