, the forthcoming follow-up to its debut album, Jurassic Punk
, the New York-based indie rock act T-Rextasy lets its freak flag fly. The band — singer Lyris Faron, bassist Annie Fidoten, drummer Ebun Nazon-Power and guitarist Vera Kahn — writes about serious topics such as anxiety and peer pressure but in a jubilant manner.
The catchy, lo-fi album opener “Zit Song” features caterwauling vocals and a spirited brass section. With its primitive horns, snarling vocals and blasts of white noise, “Coffee” sounds like a unhinged mashup of Cake and X-Ray Spex.
During a recent conference call, Faron, Fidoten and Nazon-Power spoke about the album and how its live show has evolved. The band performs with Marcia Custer and Heavenly Creatures at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 4, at the Beachland Tavern
Where did you grow up and what kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up?
I’m from New York City. I listened to the Ramones and the Kinks and the Velvet Underground, Blondie, Talking Heads, Dusty Springfield. Those are my bands as a kid. I’ve listened to lots more music since then, but those left a deep impression on me. I also really like the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. I don’t know if I always wanted to sing, but I was always interested in songwriting and performing.
I grew up in New York City too. I feel like growing up as a kid, I didn’t really listen to a lot of bands. I wasn’t always exposed to rock n’ roll or punk rock. The music my parents listened to was the music I listened to — Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, Fela Kuti, Biggie and old school hip-hop and rap and R&B and opera and Caribbean music. I didn’t always intend to play the drums. I went to a camp in New York for girls. I had never played drums before, but I learned how to play there.
How did the band first come together?
We were all in high school in New York and there was a great music scene there, and a lot of kids were in bands. But there weren’t that many women in these bands. I decided to recruit the coolest girls I knew. We joined forces during our senior year of high school. It’s funny because there was this teen scene. Kids played at places that weren’t really venues. We played at a place that was actually a preschool. They would have shows and hand out candy and water bottles instead of selling beer. People had shows at their high schools. I saw Ebun and our original guitarist because I saw them play at their high school. I thought they were so cool.
What was it like to make Jurassic Punk?
I realized recently thinking about this new album that our first album just fell into our laps. It all happened in like five minutes. The recording process happened in three days and came naturally. It all just happened so fast, a little too fast I think.
What was it like to cut this album?
This album was like pulling teeth. We all live in different places. With the first album, we’d have practice every Friday and recount the tales of high school. Now, we’re scattered across the states. It was really hard. There were so many obstacles that I can’t even begin to recount. That’s okay. Sometimes, art is difficult and you learn. The tapes came in the mail two days ago, and I held them in my hands and started weeping. I thought, “This feels so much more rewarding than the other album.” I don’t know that I ever felt that moment holding those tapes from the first album.
Did something specific inspire the album's theme?
I feel like I wasn’t thinking about that when I was making the album. It’s more after the fact. For me, I connect with that concept for the album because we are crazy and hysterical and that’s super awesome. To get anything done in this world, you have to be crazy. Often times, women and people on the margins are deemed hysterical. That’s my idea about the word “prehysteria.”
I agree. It took the entire fight out of us to make this record. We realized we weren’t these teenagers any more who got scooped up and thrown into the world of music. Suddenly, we’re these women and we’re becoming adults. We’re learning so much more about who we are, and the more seriously we started taking ourselves, people who championed us unconditionally have thrown things at us that we take ourselves too seriously. This album is about nostalgia and isolation and growing up and identities. It’s also about coming together and throwing out this fuck you to anybody who has any opinion about how we conduct ourselves. Enough of that. On with the madness.
This had never occurred to me before but I had heard before that the way we naturally make music and shriek is grating and irritating. It’s us shrieking in these high-pitched voices and taking up a lot of sonic space. I think it’s part of the “prehysteria.” You can hear the ideas in the music.
We have this song where we self-mythologize and self-reference ourselves.
I guess I’m realizing that this record is pretty meta. We had to be territorial to create it and we had to stick by our ideas.
What made you want to write a song about zits?
When I wrote the lyrics to that song, I had the idea and then thought about it for six months. Lyris [Faron] has this problem but her skin looks glowing right now. I went to college and thought I would be so hot and lose my zits. I associated one with the other and was going through this hard time of coming into myself and learning who I was. I thought, “Dammit. If only there was some world where I couldn’t think of beauty as opposition and just accept the acne.” I sound like a high schooler on the song. That’s the space from which that song came out.
I don’t have that much to add except that the idea that once you get older, you stop having acne is libel. It’s a fabrication. That’s why I have to say.
I have nothing to say about it because I have great skin.
I like the use of horns on the song. What inspired that decision?
It was Vera’s idea. She wrote the parts and conducted our horn players. It was a big challenge for her.. I didn’t hear about this until later, but she called Annie [Fidoten] on the phone one night and was crying. She thought she couldn’t do it, but she totally could do it and did do it, and she did a great job.
Talk about what the live show will be like?
We have a whole new repertoire. We've transcended the form in the words of Lyris [Faron].
Yes, I would say that.
We’ve always put on a really great live show. We love to dance and put on a show. Lyris is a wonderful frontwoman. Ebun [Nazon-Power ] has the most eclectic energy. The songs feel more new and relevant to us and they’ve inspired us to put together a live show that has bits and dances. It’s really exciting because we get to bring something special. We started taking bows at the end because it does feel like we’re putting on a play. There’s a theatricality to it. It’s one of the things that makes me happiest to do in all the world.
T-Rextasy, Marcia Custer, Heavenly Creatures, 8:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4, Beachland Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $12, beachlandballroom.com