Following the February release of their critically acclaimed debut long-player, ‘Nothing Feels Natural’, Priests will be releasing ‘Early Recordings’ through Tough Love as part of this year's Record Store Day. It will be pressed on to opaque white vinyl and limited to 1000 copies.
Priests’ ‘Early Recordings’ combines the band’s first two cassette-only tape releases, originally recorded in 2011 and 2013. The small run cassette releases were originally intended to be for purchase only at the band’s live shows. “We didn’t want everybody to hear it,” said drummer Daniele Daniele. “We were still learning our instruments, so these tapes were not intended to impress the world, just document where we were for our own sake.” Daniele met vocalist Katie Alice Greer the same week she arrived in Washington, DC to complete a fellowship at Georgetown University, and the two decided to start a band. Guitarist GL Jaguar joined soon after, and bassist Taylor Mulitz completed the lineup the following year.
Tape 1 was recorded by Jaguar in his parent’s basement in Maryland. The band had existed for one week, and the trio had written four songs. “I was very eager to have evidence of the band exist for myself, because I didn’t know how long it would last, and I wanted to make music more than anything,” said Greer. “Diet Coke”, the band’s first song, is a hundred second blast of pummeling energy and what would become Jaguar’s signature riffage. A winking nod to advertising that sneaks into culture, the tune is followed by the more contemplative “Talking”, a song on which both Greer and Jaguar play guitar. Greer’s lyrics speak to US public school systems “rewarding complicity” and children being “being socialized by reality TV”. “The World”, perhaps foreshadowing the band’s krautrock-inspired penchant for repetition, is a jubilant intermission before “Cobra”, a playfully minimal stop-start closer inspired by cult favorite rock group She (also known as “The Hairem”).
On Tape Two the band was eager to showcase their fuller sound as a newly expanded quartet. The tape’s seven songs were recorded by Kevin Erickson and Hugh McElroy, who had already recorded the band’s first single “Radiation/Personal Planes” a year earlier and would go on to produced half of Priests’ Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP and all of Nothing Feels Natural. “Leave Me Alone” nods to the Priests’s affinity for inverting the cool funk of a song like Bush Tetras’ “Too Many Creeps” (“I see you when I’m out on the street/ I think you look like a creep”) while exploring more melodic territory on tracks like “Twelve”, hinting to material that would later surface on Nothing Feels Natural. Lyrically, Priests continued to explore themes that center women’s lives (“Lillian Hellman”), critique social perception of female celebrity (“Lana”), interrogate assumptions of US history (“Incantations”), and invert the male gaze on the Daniele Daniele-penned closer “Watch You”. Priests was already interested in expanding their musical palette, as evidenced by metallic clangs and a purring drum machine on “Watch You” and creeping mellotron weaving in and out of a few different tracks throughout.
‘Early Recordings’ lays the groundwork for Priests longer releases in the following three years and provides context for the band’s evolving sound.
Nothing Feels Natural represents a major step forward for Priests. It’s the band’s most stylistically diverse set of songs to date, expanding on their lo-fi post-punk bona-fides with ideas drawn from pop, R&B, and industrial noise. Thematically, Nothing can be understood as a series of vignettes — nine stories that crystallize into a bigger picture about the economics of human relationships, the invisibility of feminized labor, and the dual purpose of art for both the group and the individual.
The album will be the first full-length LP released on Sister Polygon Records, the label that Priests founded and operate.
Priests are Daniele Daniele (drums), Katie Alice Greer (vocals), G.L. Jaguar (guitar), and Taylor Mulitz (bass). Formed in 2011, the band has proven a valuable force for strangeness in a city that is increasingly terraformed by norms. At a time when few groups were making serious moves beyond the Beltway, Priests toured throughout North America and Europe. More significantly, they’ve helped to raise the general standard of show-going at home through cassettes and singles released on Sister Polygon, including music by bands like Sneaks, Snail Mail, Pinkwash, Cigarette, Downtown Boys, and numerous Priests-affiliated groups like Gauche and Flasher. Still, even amidst thriving hometown creativity, Priests possess a singular gravity. They are physical and combustible, urgent and visceral.
Following the release of Bodies and Control and Money and Power, Priests began to tweak their songwriting process – concentrating more deeply on melody, dialing down the distortion, and experimenting with dynamics. New songs evolved in performance, starting off tentative and gaining confidence and character on tour. The band recorded and scrapped versions of Nothing Feels Natural for almost a year before enlisting Hugh McElroy (Black Eyes) andKevin Erickson. Nothing Feels Natural was tracked throughout summer of 2016 at Inner Ear Studios in Arlington, VA.
The result is by turns moody and explosive. “Appropriate” is a nod to Priests’ earliest incarnations – loud and corrosive, chaotic and improvisatory. “JJ” is streamlined and melodic, pitting barroom piano against warped guitar and bass tones. On “No Big Bang” Daniele takes up the mic while a Roland TR-707 holds down an unflagging pulse. The album’s title track and centerpiece “Nothing Feels Natural” builds slowly, with shimmering guitars eventually giving way to feedback and billowing reverb. Lyrically, Priests songs present contradiction. In these songs, innocuous moments often drive major ideological scene shifts. It’s a record that thrives amid the tension between that what is valued and what is dismissed; between what is desired and what is presented.
European tour dates & venues
21.05.2017 UK Leeds - Brudenell Social Club
22.05.2017 UK Glasgow - The Hug & Pint
23.05.2017 UK Manchester - Gullivers
24.05.2017 UK Bristol - The Louisiana
25.05.2017 UK London - Victoria Dalston
26.05.2017 UK Brighton - The Hope & Ruin
27.05.2017 NL Amsterdam - De Niewe Anita
29.05.2017 BE Antwerpen - Het Bos (TBC)
30.05.2017 FR Paris - Mecanique Ondulatoire (TBC)
31.05.2017 FR South TBC
02.06.2017 ES Barcelona - Primavera Sound Festival
03.06.2017 ES Barcelona - Primavera - free show
05.06.2017 LUX Luxembourg - Rotondes
06.06.2017 DE Esslingen - Komma
07.06.2017 DE Darmstadt - Oetinger Villa
08.06.2017 DE Hamburg - Hafenklang
09.06.2017 DE Dresden - Scheune (TBC)
10.06.2017 DE Berlin - Torstrassenfestival