San Francisco trio Grass Widow are often described as a “post-punk” band, but the sounds of their third LP, Internal Logic (released on May 29th), ring far more of the hippest, most avant-garde bands to grace the stages of the first five Lollapalooza’s, and also the first wave of riot grrrl (except far less abrasive and far more moody)… It’s no surprise that they’ve toured alongside the liked of Sonic Youth, The Raincoats, and Wild Flag… They’ve even appeared on Portlandia. While their self-titled debut was released via Make a Mess Records in 2009 and their follow-up, Past Time, was released by Kill Rock Stars, in 2010 the band started their own label, HLR, which produced Internal Logic. The band is currently on a short East Coast tour that wraps this Monday, November 12th, at the Barbary. I recently got a chance to chat with guitarist/vocalist Raven Mahon about Grass Widows’ very own 2012.
Izzy Cihak: It feels like, as of recently, I’ve covered more musical acts from SF than any other place in the world. What are your thoughts on the city’s music scene? It seems quite varied. Do you have any favorite local musical peers?
Raven Mahon: There is a pretty broad spectrum of bands in the Bay Area right now. It feels like a good moment but, that said, it’s also become a really expensive city to live in, which means people have to hustle. There are definitely bands who are touring a lot and getting press and seeing success in that regard, like Ty Segall and Thee Ohsees, which are both great, but also a lot of others that are off the media radar. We are playing with a new band called Scrapers in December, who are awesome. We are big fans of The Mantles. I like the Sandwitches and The Mallard, Culture Kids, Jess Scott from Brilliant Colors’ new band, Index.
IC: Your latest album, Internal Logic, was released this past May. What have been the highlights of promoting it, thus far?
RM: Putting out Internal Logic ourselves was definitely work, but worth it. We took a long time to write the record because we were touring a lot throughout the year and working our day jobs, but it was a satisfying process to be working towards something we were putting out ourselves. We’ve always been very intentional about our band and the decisions we’ve made, both creatively and in the realm of business, so starting a label and not having to compromise or deal with the sometimes grey area of label negotiations was important to us.
IC: What were the album’s biggest influences, whether musical or otherwise?
RM: The album before Internal Logic, Past Time, was written during a heavy time for the band, personally, and ended up containing a lot of narrative and processing. Internal Logic was a follow-up to that conversation, in a way, but took shape as a more visceral, less-wordy form of experiencing music as a cathartic and therapeutic thing. It was inspired by some sci-fi themes and the songs were written with the act of playing them live in mind.
IC: You’re currently on a tour, which actually wraps here in Philadelphia. What can fans expect of the live show?
RM: We’re in the middle of a short East Coast tour, nearly thwarted by the hurricane. Our first show was in Brooklyn a few days after the storm. People had serious cabin fever and were ready to get out, although most of the public transit lines were still not operating. We made it out of NY with a rental van and a full tank of gas, but have heard some stories from friends back there who have had their gas tanks punctured and drained. People are still in the thick of it, and now with the storm… It’s crazy. We were in Toronto for the election, which was also surreal. We found out that Obama was going to win the election just before we went on.
IC: What are your biggest plans for 2013?
RM: As for 2013 plans, we don’t have anything major in the works. We are going to tour the South in February. Australia and New Zealand are still on our wish list.