Reimagination and experimentation with punk music and songwriting on Naomi Punk's newest record, Yellow.
Yellow is the third full length record for Naomi Punk. How is Yellow different than the previous releases?
I think the first record, it was like, we made it over a really long time, recording early in the morning on a four-track in a rat infested old factory turned band jam space called the Chop House that used to be in Seattle. That whole building got bulldozed in like 2013 right after we finished recording and I had moved to Olympia. They built a lifestyle condominium for the gentrified millennial movement and named it “Chophouse Row,” (I’m not making this up) which features exposed walls from our old space. They have large hi-res photos of the old Chophouse in the bathroom of the restaurant. I can’t even believe how gucci and vile this place is; it’s such a perfect metaphor for Seattle right now. Anyways, that first album was like a sculpture for me, mixing it and shit, we played the songs at half speed to mimic the slowed down recordings and major oceanic vibe. Naomi Punk was a weird recording experiment for me. We were playing in different bands that went on tour together, playing shows as Naomi Punk really infrequently when they were like, weird shows.
Quitting other projects and focusing on this band and touring a lot and writing a lot has moved us to a new frequency as people making art together. We’ve been doing it together for longer than we’ve ever been in bands with other people at this point. There are new languages opening up. The Yellow album is going into deeper spaces, that’s why we had to do a double record, just to get enough space to breathe and open ideas up into their own universes.
Many of the tracks were created as the alternate version of Naomi Punk known as The Scorpions during the "Scorpion Sessions." Can you explain the Scorpion mindset and how you create differently with this framework?
Ooh, the Scorpions…. Well, dipping a toe in a different energy field. Trying to open up a portal. Sound can be interpreted with different energy in different mentalities. Context dominates outputs. How many times have I been in a cramped sweaty room surrounded by amps on a sunny rainy windy day looking at my bandmates and thinking about structures and jokes... LARPing haha!
The record experiments more than previous NP records, with tracks like "Cookie" and "Cardboard" having a distinct Naomi Punk sonic and percussion offering. What were the influences and inspirations behind the songwriting for Yellow? What new recording techniques were used for the experimental components of the record?
Recording lots of jams, rewriting the jams, recording lots of found sounds on this Tascam handheld recorder that Neil has, working it into the dough. He catches a lot of really great sounds. A couple years ago on tours he would have it out at all the time recording random stuff we walked by. We were always joking about and imagining how certain sounds could be used in writing new material. I don’t think it’s that informative to list off music we listened to throughout the making of, that shit’s corny but let’s just say we are always talking about Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland when working through our theories of how we’re discovering in a music creation situation.
The 25-track record transforms across the 1-hour 14-minute runtime. How was the flow of the album designed?
I found this description on the internet of someone (not me) experiencing ego death on magic mushrooms. I like when things have 4 stages.
Side A (stage 1): You realize your social conditioning and begin breaking down the limited barriers it has placed on you, leading you down a path of deeper self-examination.
Side B (stage 2): The lines between your body and the external world become blurred. Disassociation of the ego. Understanding the interconnectivity between things, between molecules. Glimpsing a new kind of oneness.
Side C (stage 3): Your consciousness dematerializes into the dimension of infinite possibilities, the astral realm, the plane of collective consciousness.
Side D (stage 4): You are now in a state of pure consciousness, pure awareness, pure bliss. The universe reveals itself as an immersive orbital energy field.
Yellow paints "rock and punk" as obsolete, failing to provide new solutions for listeners. How does Yellow provide a structure for the reorganization and repurposing of these elements?
Our friend wrote that. I think what they meant by it was that the themes of the album don’t really cohere to standard punk/rock tropes in terms of what the typical models are for what kind of feelings rock records and lyrics are supposed to make you feel. Like, so much rock and punk now is just like, here’s an anthem for you to feel tough that reminds you of this other vibe. Same story. I think our friend was trying to compliment our band because the vibe of the record is maybe not leaving the listener with certain feelings that other rock records are trying to condense for someone? I don’t know. It’s not like a revolutionary document, it’s not destroying all money and capitalism or paving a new way forward. It’s just sounds like we made it while thinking about that kind of shit, but it’s more of a painting to me than a manifesto. But I’m glad we got to include all the lyrics in the insert. I don’t feel like this music is for everybody, like, obviously this music is not for everybody. Especially if they want distilled streamlined punk rock stylings.
For the upcoming tour dates, what can the audience expect for the Yellow live experience?
Loud freaky sounds and major vibes.