The bio for Speedy Ortiz notes that founding member Sadie Dupuis was living in a basement apartment in New York City and sick of it. She sought refuge in Northampton, Mass. After infiltrating the Allston basement scene, a terrain that's garnering a signficant rep of late, Speedy Ortiz joined the likes of Fat History Month, Grass Is Green, and Pile on numerous DIY occasions. Feeling the local pride, Speedy Ortiz is inviting those who think Boston is just baked beans, obnoxious Red Sox fans, Irish mafias, and tea parties to get acquainted with the burgeoning scene, as well as its rich rock history.
Speedy Ortiz's Driving On The Nine mixtape ranges from the ubiquitous to the obscure with the oldest selection coming from 1966. My gut reaction has always leaned towards a Dismemberment Plan comparison, when discussing Speedy Ortiz, particularly on “Tiger Tank” (below), but their Driving On The Nine mix will forever alter my perception. Turns out, I just didn't know enough about Boston/Mass to look to Swirlies or Big Bear as touchstones. Read on for an interview with Speedy Ortiz regarding the impact Massachusetts rock and a bit of new jack swing had on their upcoming Major Arcana full length.
Speedy Ortiz' Major Arcana is out July 9 on Carpark.
What sort of activity would you suggest taking this mix along to do?
Sadie: Driving aggressively on the Masspike while writing Yankees hatemail and dropping our 'r's, because that is what we all do all day in Massachusetts. Really.
Mike: Drivin' on 9! Route 9 runs across Massachusetts. Try it out sometime.
Matt: Swimming, runs to go get tocos before and after, don't forget to pay the toco toll
Darl: Doing jumping jacks outside a gas station-Taco Bell wonder palace.
Can a Bell Biv Devoe influence be found in the sound of Speedy Ortiz?
Mike: New Jack Swing is our most primary influence, so yes. We were also hugely inspired by the Fresh Prince episode where they shoot a video for “Gangsta” while Uncle Phil is away for the weekend.
What was the first local band that gave you hometown pride?
Sadie: I'm not originally from Massachusetts, and most of these bands were bands I liked before moving here, so it's hard to answer that. I'm stoked to live in the same state and be friends with Grass is Green and Sneeze, two of the best current bands in the country, period.
Matt: Think I Care, a hardcore band from my hometown of Winchendon, MA. My best friend's older brother was in the band and used to throw off the chain shows in their basement. I was like 12 at the time and couldn't attend but my friend and I would play Sublime covers in their practice spot.
Darl: Grass is Green when I saw then perform at The Boner Show, organized by Sadie a few years ago.
Did you go through a period a deep exploration of local history? Or are these bands that have accumulated your interest over time?
Sadie: I heard Spore from getting really into the Taang! catalog and specifically the Boston artists they released.
Mike: A little of both, but these are mostly songs we've loved for years.
Matt: Over time. Swirlies, Wicked Farleys and Big Bear were some formative ones for me.
Darl: There wasn't really an exploration, but since joining the band, I've become more interested in DIY music, ranging from local bands to music across the country. The interconnection between the bands allows music to be distributed easily.
What band in this mix is the biggest influence on Speedy Ortiz?
Sadie: Chris Brokaw from Come is a major hero for me in terms of guitar and writing chord progressions. His solo work is amazing.
Darl: Bell Biv Devoe.
Were any of these bands looked to for guidance in crafting Major Arcana?
Sadie: There are some guitar parts in a song called “Hitch” which are nods to Big Bear. We'd been listening to them a lot on tour and when we came home I tried to rip 'em off with that song. I don't think I succeeded overall, but at least a couple parts are very directly in their style.
Matt: Big Bear, yeah.
If you were to place Major Arcana among the history of Mass. music – where do you see it resting?
Sadie: Filed in the budget bin next to Sparkalepsy. Fuck, why didn't we include Sparkalepsy?
Matt: hopefully in the same dollar store where I got my “Pistol Grip Pump” cassingle in middle school.
Darl: After Marky Mark's initial success and before his eventual rap comeback.
Do any of these bands make you think of specific places in Mass or times in your personal lives?
Sadie: That first Heatmiser album was really good to listen to on a discman while running. A lot of it's pretty mid-tempo which I guess proves I was a slow, shitty runner.
Matt: My friend and I had a somber hangout the night of the Boston bombing and put on “Twilight in Boston” which is why I wanted to include it as the closer. Darl included “My Best Friend's Girl” which reminds me of riding in my dad's truck to get fried chicken.
Darl: Cave In was a big band for me when I first went to college, and was one of the first heavier bands I listened to. They were an important influence for a band I had with some friends at the time.