Pissing My Jeans on RSD

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With Record Store Day just around the corner on April 19, expect some excellent releases from Sub Pop Records. Publishing four records, Sub Pop is offering a selection of solid bands. From the grungy standby Mudhoney to the nominal electro-pop group Notwist and the folky Chad VanGaalen, Sub Pop has something for every audiophile. However, everything pales in comparison to the release of Pissed Jean’s The Very Best of Sub Pop 2009-2013: “Live” at the BBC.

More than 10 years after the band’s inception, Pissed Jeans have gone from punk stardom to Sub Pop’s best-kept secret. A combination of hardcore punk and noise rock, with a smattering of dudeist cynicism, Pissed Jeans were a total gamble—a divergence from typical Sub Pop artists of the last decade like Fleet Foxes and The Shins. The first time I ever heard Pissed Jeans was their second album, Hope For Men. However, what brought me to the table as a full-fledged fan was their first album, Shallow. Full of suppressed sexual energy and societal angst, my life revolved around the album for a large portion of my 21st year.

Matt Korvette, lead singer of Pissed Jeans, was pretty upfront about the decision to publish the EP. “We [were] asked if we wanted to do something by Sub Pop, and [Record Store Day] has been around long enough—we figured ‘sure,’” says Korvette. Recorded live on the UK’s Punk Show with Mike Davies, the EP is four of their more well-known songs, like “Cafeteria Food” and “False Jessi Part 2.” “We had a recording we thought was cool to put out, so we sort of went for it and did it,” he says. The album is a drudged, thumping tryst in the alleyway—sort of a mock-up of a John Peel Session (He’s the only English radio DJ I know of) meets a basement show. Korvette sings in a fake cockney accent on most of the four songs. Known for their riotous performances, you can hear the energy and aggression in this live recording. “This record is bad, but it’s weird enough to put out there,” says Korvette. Black Flag meets Butthole Surfers, fronted by a Nick Cage–like performer, these four songs are either a great introduction to Pissed Jeans’ material or a supplement to their rather sparse but quality collection.

Korvette explains the exquisite feature and bonuses of their Record Store Day release: “It’s a professionally printed cardboard sleeve, glued on three sides. The vinyl comes in a protective paper sleeve,” says Korvette. “I think people have figured out how to make a record look nice—you don’t need to like, fill up an inflatable pouch of water glitter that explodes when you play a song twice. The medium is pretty much already perfected—you don’t have to mess with it.”

Record Store Day isn’t just about the jams and sweet swag—it’s about keeping local stores in business and introducing yourself to music you would have otherwise overlooked. In these days of iTunes, SoundCloud and Bandcamp, the record store is under assault on two fronts: the infinite selection/variety of the Internet and how ungodly cheap it is. Some have praised this as a democratization of music, the potential nail in the coffin to large conglomerates like Capitol Records and CBS. Another effect of the “locationless music store” is the damage it has done to small record shops around the world. Korvette explains that while the variety is great, the Internet lacks direction. “You can go to the Internet and find a recipe to cook dinner, but you need someone to narrow it down for you and direct you in the right place. Record stores are good when it comes to [guiding people to] music,” he says. Korvette continues saying that the physical activity of going to a record store with friends is a much more exciting and interactive experience, saying, “It’s hard to gather with your friends and look at an online distro.”

Korvette lays a lot of significance in record stores for his own musical development, as well as the band’s. Korvette’s favorite shop, called Double Decker Records, located in Allentown, Pa., is where Pissed Jeans was born. “Myself and the other members of Pissed Jeans, we’ve been going there since it opened. When we were teenagers, when you just learned to drive, just hanging out there and going there … it really shaped our taste. Pissed Jeans wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for that place, really,” he says.

Korvette also had nothing but great things to say about their label. Pissed Jeans have been with Sub Pop since 2007 and Korvette appreciates the lack of pomp and pretentiousness at Sub Pop. “I always admired Sub Pop Records, but they seemed beyond my reach. It’s this cool thing that has a history, but I never thought twice about them because, ‘Why would I ever be on that record label?’” he says.

Find Pissed Jeans’ The Very Best of Sub Pop 2009-2013: “Live” at the BBC at your nearest record store on April 19.