By Gareth Watkins
CALGARY — Pissed Jeans are equal parts Rollins-era Black Flag, The Birthday Party, Jesus Lizard, Flipper: anything raw, dirty and antisocial that has happened in punk rock since the early ‘80s. If you encounter them at work while your entire field of vision is a spreadsheet as your headphones are up loud to drown out your co-workers dissecting last night’s Dancing With the Stars, they could easily become your new favourite. They make music that effectively beats you to the floor and coughs blood onto your face.
Pissed Jeans started out long before any of them started working nine-to-five jobs. At their onset, members were in the abrasive hardcore high-school band The Gate Crashers before swapping their instruments and becoming Pissed Jeans. Since then, they’ve honed their slower, sludgier and meaner-sounding take on punk that is dominated by riffs. Witness the slithering, Middle-Eastern surf-rock guitar line on “False Jesii pt. 2” (from 2009’s King of Jeans) or its driving near-metal equivalent on “Bathroom Laughter” (from 2013’s Honeys).
“It was fun to play slow because no-one else was doing it,” says vocalist Matt Korvette, “It seemed freeing to not have to play technical, fast music and to let your personality come through.”
Said personality materializes in songs about the death throes of toxic masculinity (see “Ashamed of my Cum,”) all-consuming apathy (the key phrase from “False Jesii” is ‘no to everything!’) and compulsive eating (“I’ve Still Got You (Ice Cream.)”) It’s the musical version of what it means to be a man, comparable to a particularly uncomfortable episode of Louis C.K.’s Louie, with lessons also within. “Cat House” deals with the discomfort being in a strip club while “Male Gaze” is ripped from the pages of feminist theorist Laura Mulvey.
“(It came about) from slowly getting smarter as a person and realizing the fucked up patriarchy we live in. I don’t want to be preachy, but I think that if I publicly tell myself to do better it could have a better effect.”
Like many of his punk contemporaries, Korvette is a maniac street preacher. Onstage that monster is released, sneering and barking at the audience while his band mates deliver an equally ferocious sonic blitzkrieg.
See Pissed Jeans on Saturday, June 27th at Dickens.AB, Alberta, Dickens, Pissed Jeans, Sled Island, Sled Island 2015