We recently had a somewhat impromptu chat with Jennifer Prince, the guitarist in Upset, a female punk rock trio headed by Ali Kohler (ex-Vivian Girl and Best Coast drummer) and Patty Schemel (formerly the drummer of Hole) over the phone. She was at work, I was too.
We discussed the new record (out on Don Giovanni now), how regionalism is what you make of it, and what tacos trucks in LA leave her demanding more.
rara: How’s your day going, Jenn?
Jenn: Pretty good. Pretty chill. I’m just at work. I work an office job when I’m not doing band stuff, so…
rara: Yeah. That’s understandable. Speaking of band stuff, I noticed you guys are going on tour soon. Are you really excited about that?
Jenn: Yeah, we’re really excited. We’re going to be touring with Screaming Females. We’re gonna be starting in Seattle. And then we’re going to head down the West Coast to San Diego. I’m really excited. We’re gonna have Rachel Haden of That Dog filling in on bass for us, which should be really cool.
rara: That is really cool. Sounds like a classic West Coast tour. Do you guys identify as a West Coast band?
Jenn: I mean, I guess. It’s funny because actually Ali and are both originally from the East Coast. But I’ve been out here for a long time. And we live in L.A., so I guess so. But we’re on a East Coast label [Don Giovanni] at the same time, so I don’t know if I really feel that. I guess we kind of fit in the paradigm of what’s going on with music right now. I don’t know if it’s specific to a region or not.
rara: Where in Los Angeles are you guys based?
Jenn: We all live on the East Side. I live in Highland Park and Ali lives in that area as well. And Patty lives over in Silverlake.
rara: Speaking of. You probably hear this all the time, but what is it like working with Patty Schemel [ex-Hole drummer]? Is it intimidating at all ever?
Jenn: To be honest, she’s really amazing. The first time we all met up I was a little nervous, but she just puts you right at ease. The sense of humour is so fantastic, and we’re all just totally friends. We all kind of gossip at practice and talk about comedy and stuff like that.
rara: I can imagine. I saw the documentary “Hit So Hard” about her life and she really just seems like the coolest person. I was really enamoured by her.
Jenn: She’s just super amazing and really inspiring and fun to be around.
rara: I know a lot has been written about Patty Schemel’s influence, and Ali Koehler’s previous bands and influences on the album, but what are some of your major influences when it comes your guitar style? Who inspired you to pick up a guitar?
Jenn: I’ve kind of been the record nerd. I listen to every type of genre of music, you know? I really love old Hardcore Punk. I think that was my biggest guitar influence on the record. Band like Dag Nasty and stuff. I also listen to a lot of old country and all types of weird stuff. All the classics. But mostly old punk. I guess that’s my biggest influence.
rara: And Don Giovanni is definitely a big player in the early 2000’s punk revival…
Jenn: Yeah, I mean. I love a lot of the 80’s inspired stuff. I think the band that probably inspired me to want to start playing guitar were Annihilation Time!, which was this great thrash punk band that was around in the early 2000s. Graham Clise played guitar for that band. He also plays in that band Witch and Lecherous Gaze. Yeah, he’s really cool. I like that kind of style. I can’t quite play like that, but it made me want to try and go there.
rara: I think there are some pretty heavy guitar riffs on the album. I could definitely hear the hardcore influence.
Jenn: Yeah, there definitely there.
rara: I lived in Los Angeles briefly, so I have to ask, where’s your favourite taco stand?
Jenn: I really like La Estrella Tacos in Highland Park. Rambo’s Tacos is pretty good. And there’s this taco truck outside of the Cha Cha Lounge called the Lunch Box that I love.
rara: I used to live right by Rambo Taco so that was my midnight spot many times.
Jenn: Aren’t they the best? I love that the trucks have Twitter now and you can figure out where they are and just kinda stalk them and be like “Where’s my taco!”
rara: So what are some of your favourite bands at the moment. Is there anyone you think is really great and want to go out and like support all their stuff?
Jenn: Right now I’m actually really into that Jessica Pratt record. Have you heard it?
rara: No actually, not yet.
Jenn: It’s totally not the kind of music we make, but I’m really into it. She’s kind of like contemporary folk stuff, but indie still. And it’s really great. I’m really into that. I really like all my friend’s bands, like the Dream Boys and Wet Illustrated and Exploding Flowers. Just a lot of L.A. bands that I like to go out and see. The new Audacity is really good. All the Burger Records bands, Blank Tapes. I really like to go out and see shows, so just bands that are playing out right now.
rara: Yeah, there’s a pretty strong scene in Southern California around Burger Records and those guys at the moment.
Jenn: Yeah. I could talk about that forever so I won’t ramble. But those are the people that inspire me. It’s silly cause they’re your friends, but when you actually see someone you know that’s doing something you think is special, it’s really cool.
rara: I think the cover of the album, which has three young girls dressed like Daniel Clowes style superheroes, is pretty cool, so I have to ask, what super power would you choose, if any?
Jenn: I’d want to be able to fly. That would be cool. Save on plane tickets.
rara: What’s your favourite part of the new record?
Jenn: I’m really proud of the track “Phone Calls.” I think that one came out really cool. I mean, I think they’re all great. I think what we did was really cool. We recorded the record in like a week and so I think we’re all really happy with the way it came out. But “Phone Calls” was really fun for me because it was the first time I really let loose and kind of made up everything on the spot as far as the guitar overlays. I really like that track a lot.
rara: It sounds like you guys have a really great synergy at the moment when you play.
Jenn: Yeah, it’s fantastic. We all feel really good playing together. Just really validated. There’s no drama or weirdness. Practice is something to look forward to, which is fun.
rara: And so, what are the plans for the future. Tour, and then any other big things coming up for Upset?
Jenn: We have some stuff in the works, but nothing too firm yet. But I think we’ll be doing some touring next year, which will be cool and we’re really excited about that.
We’d like to thank Jenn very much for her time and all the best for next year’s tour and that we love the album very much indeed – which you can access by clicking on the picture at the top of the post or by clicking here to listen to in HQ.
Check out Pitchfork’s review of the album by clicking here.