Breaking: Screaming Females
Who: Bred in one of the country’s strongest DIY punk communities, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based trio Screaming Females have actually got only one shrieking lady. Her name is Marissa Paternoster, and she is 2009’s answer to Sleater-Kinney’s 2006 breakup, using her throaty pipes and serious chops to channel that trio’s femme-shredder legacy to a new generation. The band’s pint-size leader — whose signature stage attire includes a mandarin Sergeant Pepper-style dress and a bowl haircut covering her eyes — is known for ripping until her fingers bleed.
Sounds Like: Screaming Females’ third full-length and first-ever label release Power Move is packed with fuzzy riffs and gritty, epic solos layered over Mike Rickenbacker’s disciplined bass lines, with drummer Jarrett Dougherty’s fierce beats pushing it all forward. The LP gets poppy on “Bell” and psychedelic on “Skull,” but Paternoster’s core influences (“I listen to Sleater-Kinney and the Pixies”) shine through.
• Over the past four years, Screaming Females have played over 300 self-booked shows. Opening slots with Throwing Muses and Dinosaur Jr. in recent months have primed the band for their summertime gig: a 13-date run opening up for the Dead Weather in July. Back in May, Screaming Females was tearing down a Nashville bar when “Some of the guys from the Raconteurs were there, and saw us play,” Paternoster says. Bassist Jack Lawrence approached with a business card for Third Man Records, and told them to get in touch. The band was confirmed to open up on the tour a few weeks later. “The venue we played with Dinosaur Jr. the other night was pretty big,” Dougherty, 25, says of Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. “But it was like, three times smaller than the smallest place we’re playing with the Dead Weather. This is gonna be huge.”
• Shortly after Screaming Females started up in 2006, Dougherty began suffering from a serious case of tendonitis, barring him from his drumming duties for weeks on end. “I was terrified that this band was going to end before it even started,” he says. But he got a copy of Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azzarad’s 2001 book that recalls the stories of 1981-1991’s DIY legends. “I read that book a whole bunch of times in a row, and it just changed my view on everything,” he admits. The band has since prided itself on its DIY mindset: they’ve spent the majority of their time as a band playing DIY shows, self-releasing albums and booking all of their own shows.
• Rickenbacker and Pasternoster go way back — as kids, they had the same choir instructor, Miss Perino, for years. Despite their growing success, the band remains humble, but there’s a few perks the singer-guitarist is willing to accept: “With the Dead Weather, we’ll be playing through really expensive sound systems. And get bottled water, and I think we get a deli tray,” she says. “Everything I ever dreamed of. Poland Spring, and like, deli meat. It’s all coming together for me.”
Get It Now: Power Move is in stores now. Click above to watch the exclusive premiere of Screaming Female’s video for “Buried in the Nude.”
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