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Garage-punk duo PWR BTTM gears up to release its sophomore album

By Ro S
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As they often explain in interviews, drummer Liv Bruce and guitarist-vocalist Ben Hopkins of garage-punk band PWR BTTM haven't renounced the use of vowels; rather, the name’s stylization just ensures Google searches turn up their Bandcamp page rather than gay porn. “Call it search engine optimization,” quips Bruce. As best friends, the two share a well-refined, witty rapport, which—along with full-throttle energy and ferociously spastic guitar riffs—made their 2015 debut LP, Ugly Cherries, a breakout hit. In advance of a pair of Brooklyn shows, we called the duo to discuss recording its follow-up record, scamming and American Horror Story.

 

Describe in five words how the band formed.

Ben Hopkins: Liv stole my craft supplies.

Liv BruceBen ruined my useless life. Or maybe, glitter sticks to other stuff.

You’ve discussed how the new song “Projection” grapples with the “impostor syndrome” that queer people experience. How do you combat that feeling?

BH: For me, it’s validating myself in situations where I feel validated. Recognizing myself when my glitter and makeup’s just right or I feel really good about a riff I’m writing.

 

The guitar riff from that song, like others, is really high-energy—where does that playing style come from?

BH: [It was me] making up for the fact that I was self-taught and didn’t know what I was doing. Also, it makes my brain shut up. I can’t have one thought of insecurity or impostor-ness because I’m doing so much. 

 

How has your lyric-writing process been different for the new album you’re recording?

LB: [I’ve been] writing with different methods. It’s different how a pen and paper versus a Microsoft [Word] document versus an iPhone note makes you think about language—and I’ve used all those different mediums to write lyrics for the upcoming album. 

 

How does iPhone writing feel different?

LB: Thinking of internet chat rooms or AIM as a kind—there’s such an intimacy and honesty to tapping on your phone, despite how quick people are to damn digital means of communication as emotionless or too abstract. Maybe that’s why “I Wanna Boi” sounds like a Craigslist ad [laughs].

 

Digital media has always been a critical means for building queer bonds in my life.

BH: Absolutely. A lot of my queer development as a kid came from trawling the internet. [Downloading] Eddie Izzard doing stand-up, watching a video of this drag queen Katya performing on Facebook—I remember being like, “I’ve never seen this before, but that’s me!”

Speaking of media, you’ve said you love American Horror Story. What do you think of the new season?

LB: We’ve only watched RuPaul’s [Drag Race] while touring. I’m saving AHS till the whole season’s out.

BH: I hate scary shit. I’m a glitter-covered demon monster—I’m scary enough. Oh, and it’s by the same guy who wrote Glee, apparently? Honestly, it just needs more twinks.

LB: Glee or American Horror Story?

BH: All shows need more twinks.

 

Well, one thing you both adore is internet sensation Joanne the Scammer. What’s the messiest, most fraudulent scam you have ever pulled?

LB: This band.

 

And in what ways have you been scammed?

BH: This band.

 

PWR BTTM plays Baby's All Right on Thursday, October 20, and Villain on Friday, October 21.

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