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March 7, 2011 / punkcakes

Screaming Females: an Interview with Jarrett Dougherty!

So, I have been totally band obsessed with the New Jersey bread Screaming Females, consisting of vocalist and guitarist Marissa Paternoster, drummer Jarrett Dougherty (pictured above), and bassist King Mike. With the release of their fourth album, Castle Talk, they have been gaining rapid momentum from playing in friends basements throughout New Jersey, to selling out shows, to still playing basements in New Jersey. They know who they are, and what they are is brutal magnificence. Check out the interview with the super cool Jarrett Dougherty!

Q: How does the story of the Screaming Females begin? What are your musical backgrounds?

Jarrett:  I grew up in a music household.  My mother is a multi-instrumentalist and a music therapist.  My father is a singer-songwriter and recording engineer.  In some of the oldest pictures of me, I’m holding toy guitars, microphones, and drumsticks.  Even with my extended family music is very important.  All of our family celebrations have traditional songs that everyone sings, usually led by my father and mother.   Marissa learned to play guitar from her father.  Mike learned to play bass by playing along to Clash records but his father’s interest in reggae and The Clash helped!

Screaming Females formed from the band Surgery on TV, which Mike and Marissa were in.  I got involved and we reformed as Screaming Females.  Then we played a basement show at The Parlor in New Brunswick, NJ.  Almost 6 years after I first met Marissa I am doing this interview with you!

Q: Who and what are your musical influences? What inspires you guys to continue to make awesome music?

Jarrett:  I got into music in the heyday of 1990s rock.  My first three albums were Green Day’s “Dookie,”  The Offspring’s “Smash,” and REM’s “Monster.”  I remember making a website with my friends where we were reviewing Weezer’s Blue Album right after it came out.  The hard drive crashed before we could actually get it on the internet and we gave up.  Imagine if we had actually gotten that site up and running.  We could have beaten Pitckfork to it!

All the hard touring DIY punk bands keep us inspired.  When things seem tough, like we aren’t getting the offers we wish we were getting and stuff like that, I look at all the amazing bands that I love that release records and tour hard for the simple reason that they love it.  A lot of them have no aspirations for any kind of success and are happy to sell 300 records and do a few tours.  And a lot of the people in these bands have been doing it a lot longer than I have.  I think about Fid, from The Measure (SA) and a ton of other NJ punk bands, and think about how much he still loves to play music, go to shows, and support bands after being involved with punk for over 15 years!

Q: The best thing about your shows is the amount of energy and passion you provoke the audience with – what is it about playing shows that you guys love so much?

Jarrett:  I have a lot of problems with stress and anxiety.  I have for many years now.  I do a lot of things in my life to help combat it, such as Yoga and becoming vegetarian, but the number one best antidote for my, at times, paralyzing anxiety is to play music.  When a show is going well it just feels like all these pieces are just falling together without any effort at all.  It’s like I couldn’t fuck up playing if I tried.  It isn’t Jarrett, Marissa, and Mike playing together, it is just Screaming Females.  In those moments it is kind of like my ego (in a Freudian sense) disappears and all that anxiety has no place to exist anymore.  I play with my eyes closed almost all the time.  I rarely ever see the crowd but I can still tell when the crowd is feeling it.  It’s like when the three of us lock into that unconscious connection the crowd can’t help but lock in as well.  In that way the show, the performance, is as much about the crowd as it is us.  It takes the whole thing coming together to really make for a great show.
Q: Favorite show to date? Favorite venue?

Jarrett:  That is am impossible question!  It changes all the time.  Our headlining slot as part of the Don Giovanni Records showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn was definitely a recent highlight.  We haven’t done a REALLY big tour in a while.  One of those ones where we open for a band with thousands of people at every show.  I’m kind of missing that currently.  It is a crazy feeling to walk out on stage and have 3000 pairs of eyes staring up at you.  But then again, when we are on one of those tours I dream about the amazing shows we have played in tiny co-ops and house venues.  It all depends on my mood I guess.

Q: What is the most important thing to you guys about playing music?

Jarrett:  Also an impossible question!  There are so many important things!  It also has changed with time.  I think overall the most important thing is to feel like there is always still something new to do as a band.  The day when we have run out of new avenues to explore is the day we call it quits.   I think that is part of the reason we have really cherished are incredibly slow and steady growth as a band.  If we had played on support slots for thousands of people and been on TV and released 4 albums in our first year as a band, I probably wouldn’t be able to see the band lasting as long as we have.

Q: You started out in basements throughout NJ, and now your playing sold out shows. How does it feel to be growing and gaining recognition?

Jarrett:  Oops!  I kind of answered that in the last question!  PS – We still play basements in NJ.

Q: What does the future look like for Screaming Females? What can we expect?

Jarrett:  More touring.  More recordings.  I’ve been working really really hard on securing proper European distribution for Don Giovanni Records.  I’m incredible excited about the possibility of opening up our little hometown label to a world market.  The people are definitely there!  We’ve been to Europe once now and are going back again soon.  If we can have our records properly distributed over there then more Don Giovanni bands will have the chance to have successful European tours as well.  Fingers crossed!

Q: If you could give any piece of advice to young bands starting out, what would it be?

Jarrett:  Realize what you want out of your band.  If you just want to screw around with your friends, make some noise, and play a few shows, then do it.  That is something that you can easily accomplish!  You can feel like a total success because you accomplished what you set out to do.  If you feel like there is more to do once you have accomplished your initial goals than keep going.  Just remember that even if you don’t reach all of your goals, that you still did something fun and important.  A lot of people never even take the risk of expressing themselves artistically.

Q: Being from New Jersey, I have to know – what is your favorite thing about NJ and its music scene?

Jarrett:  My favorite thing about NJ… is probably my memories of the shore growing up.  I still love the shore but those early memories of LBI summers are amazing.  My favorite thing about the NJ music scene is how hard people have to work.  NJ is a really expensive place to live and is NOT very supportive of the arts.  More than almost anywhere in the country, NJ gives off this general sense that everyone needs to go to college and land a super high paying job to be a success.  That doesn’t leave much room for artists!  So anyone involved in the NJ music scene is really putting themselves out there because it isn’t easy being an artist in NJ.

Q: As a music blog with an appreciation for pastry arts, what are your favorite deserts? Any recipes you’d like to share?

Jarrett:  I love cooking but kind of avoid deserts!  I do love really good dark chocolate and pretty much all kinds of fruit.  If you want to ask me about sourdough bread making recipes I can give you a ton of input there!  Also if anyone needs some sourdough starter I’d be more than happy to break you off a piece of mine and teach you how to keep it alive!

Catch these guys play one of their infamous, energetic shows!

March 30 – Maxwell’s (Hoboken, NJ) More information here!

March 31 – Santo’s Partyhouse (New York, NY)


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