Existential Bathroom Graffiti—the debut full-length from Somerville, MA's Leopard Print Taser—has been my first exposure to the group. Out August 18 through Knife Hits (pre-order now on yellow or transparent purple cassettes), the 11-song album seems to mark a significant growth in sound as a denser, more robust production aesthetic accentuates a darker and more wide-spanning sonic palette that culminates in an artfully post-punkified form of slightly noisy/grungy alternative rock (for lack of a better term) that atmospherically weaves between at times shimmery, occasionally mathy, always intriguing output—peppered with sporadic bursts of circuitous punk rock energy. My ears perked up right from the start, and with further time to assess, Existential Bathroom Graffiti could well find its way onto my list of year-end favorites.
As heard above, "Lead the Charge" is one of the album's faster-paced and high-powered rippers. While you listen, here's a quick chat with guitarist Nicholas Wolf and vocalist/guitarist Leila Bower...
Bio points for the new album mention that half of Leopard Print Taser's existence was disrupted by the pandemic, which I initially thought might in part explain the five-year delay since the last EP, and/or the noticeable expansion in the group's sound. But, it seems that the material comprising Existential Bathroom Graffiti was written quite some time ago, with recording having been completed around this time last year, so... a two-parter:
Talk about how the pandemic downtime affected the band, for better or worse.
Nicholas: Yeah, we tracked drums and bass on March 11 - 13, 2020. It was surreal to watch the shelves of the grocery store get cleared. All the shows at our job got canceled. Leila moved out of the city to Vermont for a good deal of time. It took me a while to want to go finish guitar tracking as the dread set in. Reid, the drummer, and I started a death metal band called Severed Boy and focused on that for a while. Eventually it was just time to get it done, though.
And then to what would you attribute the degree to which your palette of ingredients as well as your sonic delivery has developed since 2018's Teeth Are Not Bones EP?
Nicholas: A big aspect was Leila's increased input to the writing process. I wrote all of the instrumental aspects of the music on the first two EPs, but that shifted quite a bit on the full-length. She and I worked very much hand-in-hand on writing and arrangement, and Reid and Shannon (bass) contributed as well.
The track we're premiering is "Lead the Charge," which is a fitting title at least in the sense that it's one of the album's more fast-paced and driving tunes. Share some tidbits about this song in particular—how the piece falls into the larger context of the album, its lyrical intentions, whatever you're willing to delve into...
Leila: I wrote the lyrics when someone close to me was hospitalized after a relapse. Actually, at the time we weren't that close—in proximity or otherwise. I was caught up in my own shit. My occasional text or call wasn't cutting it. She wasn't telling me what was going on. The short, pleasant conversations were a choice on her part to keep me at arm's length and an excuse for me to not try harder. It was a wake-up call to reassess my priorities and stop taking our relationship for granted, because it was hurting us both. I wanted to show up for her and encourage her to trust herself the way my friends had done for me. Showing up for people doesn't mean telling them what to do or giving them unwarranted advice. That is an attempt to control, and control is possession. Control is objectification. Control is what the drug does. Showing up means listening and correcting your own behavior and letting them take the reins. People know what is best for them, they are experts on their own reality. The song was written just to say that what matters now is how we move forward. What happened and why we are here is only important insofar as we accept it and grow from it together. Basically, "I'll follow your lead, it's your life, and I'll be here by your side when you need me."
How did you hook up with Knife Hits for the forthcoming release of Existential Bathroom Graffiti?
Nicholas: I've known Mike at Knife Hits for a long time. We both played in bands that crossed paths over the years. Most recently was Leopard Print Taser playing with Low Dose, a band with some familiar faces to his current project, Rid of Me. It just seemed like the logical fit, and we're super happy that he was interested in being involved.
Anytime I'm new to a group that has been around for a good chunk of time and find myself really impressed and excited by their music, I feel compelled to ask (if the opportunity arises): who are some bands that you feel are kindred spirits with Leopard Print Taser that also deserve to get in front of more ears?
Nicholas: Well, certainly Rid of Me [laughs]! One of the best bands going right now. Stay Inside are a phenomenal band. Who is She? is a band of comrades doing all sorts of cool things both on and off stage. Oh, Mint Green. Don't sleep on them.
Existential Bathroom Graffiti will be out August 18 on yellow or transparent purple cassettes (each limited to 50). Pre-order now through Knife Hits. Hear more from Leopard Print Taser on Bandcamp or Spotify, and keep up on Instagram or Facebook.