Best of What's Next: Screaming Females
Hometown: New Brunswick, N.J.
Album: Power Move
Band Members: Jarrett Dougherty (drums), Marissa Paternoster (vocals, guitar), King Mike (bass)
For Fans Of: Vivian Girls, Jay Reatard, Bouncing Souls
Screaming Females want to get one thing straight. "I know that a lot of people might think that the two other ladies in the band with full-grown bears and chest hair might be women, but they're not. Surprisingly, I'm the only woman," says the punk-rock trio's guitarist/singer Marissa Paternoster, who adds with a laugh, "I'm barely a woman—I'm more of a little dude."
"It's definitely not The Screaming Females," drummer Jarrett Dougherty explains. "We're not trying to imply that each one of us is a screaming female. At the time we started the band, we didn't even do any yelling. It was really just supposed to be an image. It was taken outside of each of us individually."
Paternoster describes the band's group dynamic as that of “an old married couple,” and the idea of their relinquished individuality resurfaces when Dougherty talks about how the group composes its songs. "We go down into our basement in New Jersey and mess around until something interesting comes out, and we start building upon that,” he says. “There's no one songwriter.”
But when our conversation turns to writing lyrics, Dougherty passes the phone to Paternoster. "A lot of times I write lyrics that phonetically just sound like they're correct," she says with an almost-audible shrug. “Sometimes I'm lucky and it comes out really well, sometimes it doesn't.”
On Screaming Females third album, Power Move (out now), Paternoster seems to have hit a lucky streak. It's an undeniably dark collection of songs, rife with striking images of death and abandonment that have just as much poetic value as phonetic appeal. And that laissez-faire attitude seems to have been adopted by the band as a whole—during our conversation, on the eve of their first CMJ showcase, Dougherty more enthusiastically discussed the band's plans to play some unofficial sets with their friends in other bands than the possible career implications of playing a major festival.
“For the most part, we didn't really want to have much to do with it, honestly, for years,” he says of CMJ. “We've never been a band that focused on trying to have that moment where enough press people see us that suddenly people care. We've been much more focused on trying to play shows across the country, play shows for people who just love music, not having this industry affair.”
This month, Screaming Females will take their high-energy performances of songs like “Sour Grapes” and “Starving Dog” on the road for a slew of shows with Nashville garage-punks Jeff The Brotherhood. That double bill makes a bit more sense than the Females' opening-act stint with the Arctic Monkeys back in December—an unlikely arrangement, but one the band took in stride. Whether in their college-town basement or on stage with international pop stars, Screaming Females are happy just making music for anyone who appreciates it—ladies, gentlemen or otherwise.