by: Catherine Vianale (@catherineveeee)
Early this past summer, Sacramento based noise-punk band So Stressed released their latest album “The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art”. This album follows their 2012 release, “Attracted to Open Mouths”, and shows them continuing to hone their frantic, noise-driven brand of punk music, mirroring the feeling of riding an angry tiger in the eye of a tornado. It’s a hard-hitting, fast-paced album with guitar and vocal hooks that would make even the squarest of squares mosh uncontrollably in their bedroom. I corresponded with members Kenny Draper (drums) and Morgan Fox (synth/vocals) to talk about their influences, latest release, and other aspects of being in a touring band that have impacted them as musicians and members of the DIY community. Here’s what they had to say:
Catherine Vianale: How does the writing process usually work between the three of you? Is there one person who writes most of a song and presents it to the group, or is it more of a collaborative effort?
Kenny Draper: The writing process between the three of us is usually a collaborative effort. When one of us comes up with a part that we all agree is cool and fun to play, we’ll work together to come up with parts to compliment it and structure the parts into a song.
Morgan Fox: Yeah, it’s a much more collaborative thing now. Andy (Garcia, guitar) used to come up with almost everything on guitar during practice. It was a lot of him playing weird riffs and us saying, “Oh, that’s cool. Do that again.”
Now we all kind of work on stuff on our own and then bring it to practice and if we all like the part, we’ll kind of mess with it and make it longer or shorter or slower or something. We all write stuff by ourselves, but by the time we’ve brought it together and turned it into a full song, the parts are usually pretty different from how they started.
CV: How did the music scene in Sacramento / Northern California influence your style and taste as musicians?
MF: I have been friends with a bunch of weird punkers since I was in high school and even though I never really got into listening to that kind of music too much, I’d go and see my friends’ bands play and it was always neat to watch them run and around and yell. That probably had some sort of impact on me back then.
KD: I don’t know very much about the music scene in Northern California. When I was in high school I would go see the band Tera Melos play sometimes. Going to see that band made me excited about the idea of playing rock and roll music.
MF: I think Tera Melos definitely influences our band. Even though we don’t sound anything alike, those guys just have an interesting, fun approach to music that I think is refreshing.
CV: Where did the title The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art come from? Are there any specific ideas or themes that the songs on this album circle back to?
KD: Morgan came up with that idea. I don't remember how he came up with that or why he wanted to use it as the title of the album. I like it though. I’m not sure what most of Morgan’s lyrics are about so I couldn't tell you if there are any specific ideas or themes that they circle back to. I like them though.
MF: I’m glad you like the lyrics, Kenny. Thanks man.
I didn’t actually come up with the title. It was something my friend said and it just sounded very pretty to me. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but as soon as she said it, I had to stop and write it down because I thought it sounded so nice.
I don’t know if there are too many overarching themes on the album. Some things that come up more than once are food and feeling uncertain. I think I mention food or eating a couple of times and there are a few song titles that have to do with food. Mostly, I just write about stuff I really like or really dislike.
CV: You guys are currently the only band out on Honor Press, which is really neat! How did you become acquainted with Meredith Graves / the Honor Press label and blog?
MF: Thank you. We think it’s neat too.
I met Meredith on the internet a couple years ago. We talked a bit and became friends. She found out I was in a band and for some reason, she liked it. She had mentioned that she was going to start putting out some of her friends’ albums on a little label and told me to keep that in mind whenever we made another record. When we finally finished our album, I asked her if she wanted to hear it and she did and she liked it. She showed it to Mike Sniper who runs Honor Press with her and he liked it too. Being the wonderful, benevolent beings that they are, they said that they wanted to put out our little album for us.
Obviously, it was and still is incredibly awesome and we are super happy and lucky to get to work with such kind, patient, talented people.
CV: Do you have a favorite memory from a weird / exciting experience you had at one of your shows or on tour?
KD: Playing music and spending time with Andy J. Garcia has been, and continues to be, a weird and exciting experience.
MF: Earlier this year we got to go on tour with our favorite boy band, Wreck & Reference. Hanging out with them is always great. We played together in Cleveland, Ohio and nobody showed up. We played to a big, dark room that was filled with skate ramps and no people. That was pretty wild.
Another good time was when we were in Ames, Iowa hanging out at the house we were going to play at that night and Andy had bought a newspaper and we all collectively solved the crossword puzzle together. That was nice.
CV: Are there any active bands that you’re hooked on right now or upcoming releases you’re looking forward to?
MF: I’ve been listening to Oneohtrix Point Never a bit recently. I think I’ll probably check out Garden of Delete when it comes out. I’m also looking forward to the day Hy!£UN35 finally gets released.
CV: If you had to wake up tomorrow morning as the master of something, what would it be?
MF: I would want to be the master of bugs and I would command them to leave me alone.