By: Emily Gibson
Austin, TX isn’t a city synonymous with punk. But Austin is a city where the millennial population is booming. And if punk music is a brash musical outlet for the disillusionment and confusion that typifies youth, then Austin is the perfect home for it.
US Weekly both embodies and uses Austin’s punk confusion to their advantage. The four members that comprise the band came together to make punk music after playing with local pop acts. What resulted was a new kind of punk – something simultaneously individual and familiar, terrifying and comforting, abrasive and vulnerable.
The band’s latest EP “Ideas,” released in early March, is four songs written and recorded over the course of 2015. On it, ideas that seem extremely personal to front man Chris Nordahl – a panic attack in a bathroom, an existential crisis in a chain supermarket – are relatable on a larger scale. From the angry, “Eat shit / consume your waste” to the contemplative, “All my achievements/ what else could they mean / must be something more here/ drown in future dreams,” the release explores what, exactly, it means to feel stuck and directionless in a generation that is supposed to feel neither of those things.
I spoke with Nordahl about the EP and the Internet age.
SMEAR: I’ve always thought it takes a certain type of person to make punk music – what brought you into the genre, had you always been a fan?
N: That’s interesting. I was definitely a fan before, though my tastes have evolved. I think punk music allows for this freedom to be more blunt with what you’re trying to say. We try to mix humor into what we do, but we’re also very socio-political. The world is fucked up right now, and I want to use this platform to address that.
S: I hate asking this question, but here I think it stands. Your name strikes me as this juxtaposition between a punk band and this tabloid magazine – how did you arrive at the name?
N: Honestly, I saw [the magazine] on a rack in Whole Foods and just thought it was a good name for a band. Retroactively, it kind of became this contrast of high culture and low culture – not to diss the people at US Weekly, I’m sure they’re very nice people – but it became this kind of message.
S: Honestly, it’s a really sick band name.
N: It really is. Whoever it was at US Inc. who came up with it really did us a favor.
S: How long did you spend working on this EP? Did the songs evolve from when you first started working on them?
N: We started writing the songs as soon as we released our demo, so last January. We wrote “Whole Foods” and “Walls” in January, then we wrote “Christian Ideas” and “Asshole” a few months later. The songs have evolved, definitely from when we first wrote them and even from when we recorded them. And they still evolve as we play them.
The more time we spent together, the more we felt comfortable together, and the easier everything became. In the studio we were really experimenting with what we could do.
S: Tell me about the song “Whole Foods” – the song struck me as being very funny but also hitting home. Why Whole Foods specifically, and what was the message?
N: We definitely get the most questions about that song because the lyrics are pretty strange. The real thought behind it is that people our age – their young twenties – make every problem catastrophic. It’s like, ‘I feel claustrophobic in Whole Foods, this is only me who feels this way.’ But there are so many bigger problems – sexism, racism, transphobia, we all know the world problems. So it’s really more about realizing that the world is fucked up and we are all a part of that.
S: The EP got me thinking about the irony of feeling lost or directionless – losing yourself – in the Internet age but at the same time relying on it, especially as a young band. Do you ever feel that conflict?
N: Oh, definitely. I feel that as a band and in my everyday life. As a band, we just made a Facebook page a few months ago because it was something we felt like we had to do. It’s easy to post what you want personally, but as a band it’s harder. If you post something people don’t agree with, they’re doing to judge you and your art. A part of the songs or the band in general is trying to navigate the Internet age and how we’re perceived and how human beings are perceived with this part of our lives that is ubiquitous now.