New York female-fronted psychobilly/punk/everything act American Pinup will be releasing their new album “Change Machine” on September 3rd via Altercation Records. We recently got the chance to catch up with vocalist Lauren West for a little more insight into the creative process behind the record and what fans can expect in terms of its progression from previous releases. We also touch on some of the band’s upcoming tour plans.
Read the whole interview below.
Dying Scene: “Change Machine” is what, your third release with altercation records correct?
Lauren West: Yeah, we had our first record, “Strange Creatures”, then we did a split with Lost In Society, and this would make three!
Tell us a little about this one and how it differs from the others.
The production value will probably jump out at people first as the biggest difference. We produced Strange Creatures ourselves in our drummer’s basement and for Change Machine, we went to Telegraph Recording and worked with producer Mike Kalajian, who really brought just enough polish to our sound without losing that natural quality that people expect from us. Not having to worry about doing all of the tracking and mixing on our own gave us the freedom to focus on the writing and arranging, and I think it shows in a lot of ways. I think people can expect to hear a more mature record overall. I dug deep for the lyrics on this record and brandished some really killer hooks, if I dare say myself. I also think there’s more darkness in this record – a little more depth.
My favorite song so far from Change Machine is New America, love the others as well but that one really hits home with me. Can you give us some details on the lyrics and your inspiration?
I rarely touch on sociopolitical issues in my lyrics, but when I do, it can get pretty heavy. “A New America” was written right before the Occupy Wall Street thing hit. I think everyone could feel it coming. There was so much frustration and hostility in the air and yet everyone seemed terrifyingly complacent at the same time. I had the line “just scoffing from our sofas, taking in the 5 o’clock news,” and that was the seed for the rest of the song. I really wanted to turn it into some kind of a sing along folk song, but I also wanted to make it self-reflexive and complex. It contains a lot of contradictions and moments of self-indulgence, but it’s also about the frustration of being surrounded by contradictions and self-indulgence. I think the lyrics really reflect the mindset of someone from my generation – disenchanted, lost, promised the world and then bitterly disappointed and utterly confused. We’re the first American generation statistically worse off than our parents, and I think we were also the most spoiled generation yet overall. Trying to justify your own outrage at not getting the bright future you were told you were entitled to just by “being yourself” is really disorientating. You know there’s something inherently wrong with it, but you don’t know what to do with those feelings of disillusionment – other than try to turn them into hope. So the chorus is hopeful. It says “A new America would just mean new Americans.” It puts faith in people, in ourselves, to flush out the values that don’t serve a positive purpose. It’s not a song about tearing down the establishment. It’s a coming-of-age song about the inevitability of change – but change on the human level, rather than the institutional level. Evolution over revolution.
Yeah I get it…and congratulations on another great album, I was a fan of Strange Creatures, and I really like the new dynamic sound you have created here on Change Machine it seems to have a greater musical punch, what do you attribute that to?
It was more thoughtfully written. We were definitely going for a more dynamic sound. Strange Creatures had a healthy dose of cynicism in the lyrics, but it was sort of masked by this relentlessly upbeat, carefree sound. Change Machine is still plenty upbeat, but I think the music is more layered with moments that both reflect the darkness sometimes found in the lyrics and transcend it. It sort of drags you down into the emotion and then lifts you up out of it, so it’s all the more rewarding. The solemn moments help those upbeat moments pack even more of a punch, and vice versa. Part of this change probably comes from taking myself more seriously as a songwriter, personally speaking. I think I used to hide behind this tongue-in-cheek approach, but this record is a lot more honest. We were more confident this time around.
And this album will be released on September 3rd correct?
Yep! September 3rd. Tell everyone!
You’ll also be touring this August and September right? Give us some details please.
We’ll actually be going on the road starting in August with Lost In Society and then making an appearance at Upstart Fest 2013 in September. I don’t know if we’re supposed to announce that yet, technically, but we’ll be there for a few of the dates. We had a blast last year and are really looking forward to doing it again. It’s one big punk rock family celebration.
Sounds great, you’ll be covering good bit of ground then?
Yep, we’re mainly hitting the Midwest and New England, but we also have a few dates along the East Coast. We’ll probably be back down South again in the spring and I think 2014 is our year to finally hit the West Coast. Finally! Like everyone else, I’m convinced we’ll be mega famous rock stars the moment our feet touch California soil.
Good Luck with the new album, and the tours, and thanks for the interview.
Thank you! And any time!
You can stream “A New America”, a new song from “Change Machine” right here.