Screaming Females Still Do it Their Way, Even With the Poppy “I’ll Make You Sorry"

Screaming Females will return to Club Dada on April 22.
Screaming Females will return to Club Dada on April 22. Mike Brooks
“Hold on, something really exciting just happened.”

Marissa Paternoster, the frontwoman of punk band Screaming Females, stepped away from the phone to convene with her bandmates. She returned, breathless.

“Sorry, we just found out we’re at the first-ever Planet Fitness. This is a big deal for us,” she says.

Even after 12 years and seven studio albums, it’s impressive they still carry this earnest excitability about everything with them.

“Sometimes, touring can be pretty mundane, and others, you stumble upon the Mecca of workout facilities,” Paternoster says with a laugh.

While the band members may not have any plans to release a workout-themed album, there would be very little to stop them if they made up their minds.

Screaming Females have spent the better of a decade making the music they want to make. Hallmarked by chaotic tonal and genre shifts in the middle of songs ranging from pop breakdowns to jazz bridges, their music has always been a little frenetic, but their most recent album, All At Once, finds them sharpened and more focused. The album feels like a whole thought, a complete line of thinking that began with 2015’s Rose Mountain, their first endeavor with Minus The Bear’s Matt Bayles.

“The first time we went in to the studio with Matt, it was the first time we worked with a producer, period. We’ve always just sort of done it ourselves,” Paternoster says.

Still, nobody steered them towards the concentrated and anthemic power pop songs that pepper the album.

“No one has ever been able to tell us what kind of music to make. Our goal is to make music together for as long as we possibly can, and this is just another thing that helps get there.” Paternoster says. “When it comes to things like this, we couldn’t just jump in and make a bunch of lazy pop-rock tunes to cash in on. That’s not who we are.

"It’s sort of like plateaus. You can’t just jump from one to the other. It’s jarring, and you have to take the time to transition.”

"If we wrote a pop-punk song, we wrote a pop-punk song. We certainly didn’t do it on purpose.” – Marissa Paternoster

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With so many changes to the sound and ethos of the music, critics have been quick to draw parallels, which Paternoster finds a little grating.

“We listen to a lot of different types of music. We didn’t set out to find any one sound. That’s never been a goal of ours. If we wrote a pop-punk song, we wrote a pop-punk song. We certainly didn’t do it on purpose,” Paternoster says of "I'll Make You Sorry."

She pauses for a second.

“One publication said we sounded like Tool, which is awesome, but uh, we don’t see it.”

From the back, an anonymous male voice chimes in: “If anything, we sound like A Perfect Circle.” They both start laughing.

Screaming Females' obstinate and unabashed commitment to their sound has everything to do with their roots. They hail from the underground punk scene in New Jersey, before the time of Facebook.

“Things are different now for kids.” Paternoster muses. “With technology, now you can just record and throw your stuff up on Bandcamp. You don’t have to sit around with your bandmates making tapes to sell at your next show. I feel like some of them are missing out on that. I’m glad more people are making music, though.”

The band has achieved a level of success few bands with its background have, with All At Once featuring Fugazi’s Brandon Canty on the drum, a 2012 album produced by Steve Albini, performances with Ted Leo and collaborations with Garbage’s Shirley Manson.

“We never thought we would be working with some of our most influential musicians growing up, but when it was happening, it didn’t really change anything about who we are and what we do," Paternoster said. "We were never going to let that change us.”

Screaming Females perform at 7 p.m. April 22 at Club Dada, 2720 Elm St. Tickets to the all-ages show are $13 at
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Taylor Frantum is a music journalist based out of Dallas/Denton,Texas. He has written for various online and print publications, including the Dallas Observer, the Dentonite, ThisNewBand and Monkeys Fighting Robots. He thinks Celebration Rock is one of the greatest albums of the last 20 years, and is more than happy to trade playlists with you, unless you have Tidal.