Lauren Denitzio, singer/guitarist of Worriers, was easy to spot on the porch of the Eden House in Austin. She and her bandmates stood out, looking more relaxed, more confident, more—well, older—than the majority of other bands and music heads rolling in and out of the house on Rio Grande. Yes, a house—a full-on “DIY venue,” what we used to call “underground” and virtually identical to the scenes I remember playing in the early ‘90s: BYOB, kids with zits, slamming bands. Cassette tapes for sale. You enter through the kitchen, and can only get into the bathroom by crossing the “stage” in the living room between acts—stepping over the pedals and cords. And not a sponsor or logo in sight.
Donovan Wolfington played a loud, well-received set before Sorority Noise—clearly an in-house favorite—shook the sweat-packed room’s walls while the entire crowd belted out the lyrics. When half the scene dispersed as the Worriers were setting up, I was like, “Duuude, these guys have cred, where are you going?”
Worriers brought it. The drummer barely nodded when a roadie (housie?) fixed the bass drum’s foot while he was playing. The bassist kept it rolling with melodic lines, never noticing the dude lurking a foot behind him by the bathroom. Denitzio got the annoying out of her face with astute charm, and complimented the bands that had played before her. (My first time hearing that in Austin.) And the second guitarist found space to buckle down into her amp, twisting back towards us with fun menace, finger-tapping on the neck and leaning into the mic to howl. And on top of it all was Denitzio’s flinty, assured voice. Worriers come on like a freight train bearing down on you—but will have the decency to swerve.
Worriers’ new record, Imaginary Life, is out now, produced by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!. I caught up with Denitzio via email last week to talk about punk, Planned Parenthood, and the 2 train.
Working with Laura Jane Grace was a great and really eye-opening experience, working on our songs with a level of detail in the studio that I had never had the opportunity to do before. Both her and Marc Jacob Hudson, who was the sound engineer, made it possible to push the songs to be their strongest, both from a songwriting standpoint and how each instrument fit together. I think it became a much stronger sound both recorded and live. It made me a much more confident performer, and I think that the recording experience made us that much more excited to play the songs live. It was pretty exhilarating, and continues to be. Between going on a short tour with Against Me, recording Imaginary Life, and spending a large part of 2015 touring, I’ve never had so much fun playing music than I have over the past year and I think it shows.
You put together “Are You with the Band?”, the female-fronted band compilation to raise $$ for Planned Parenthood. Considering the heat that Planned Parenthood has been taking, have you thought about revisiting this idea?
I would certainly always want to help raise money for Planned Parenthood, especially now, but I think the punk scene that was represented on that comp has become too broad to peg down like that, in such an almost essentialist way. There are so many bands of all genders putting themselves out there politically right now, that I think there would probably be a more exciting way to advocate for an organization like Planned Parenthood than just a comp.
What about a Trump presidency?—how is this gonna be for women’s bodies?
Good point! While I’ve technically lived in New York for the past ten years, I haven’t been “home” for more than a couple months in the past two. Surviving New York for as long as we have has definitely meant leaving a lot, and I think being on tour so much has actually helped me enjoy the city a lot more. If I never ride the L at rush hour again it will be too soon, but I dislike Bushwick a lot less right now when I know that I don’t have to experience it for months on end.
There’s a ton of room for punk there, and there are a lot of venues that have popped up over the past two years and picked up the slack left by Death by Audio’s absence. The loss of that venue is something I’m still mourning, but I think places like Silent Barn have helped me feel like DIY still has a strong and active presence in the city.
NPR listed you as one of the top 100 bands to see at SXSW.
I admit, I didn’t listen to NPR’s mix, and I probably won’t see 100 bands at SXSW. Are we “listed” out as a culture? How relevant is a list of 100? How many bands do you think you’ll make it to before you go, “Ugh, I’m gonna get a taco and a margarita and find a quiet hotel room.”
There are times when I really like playlists and band recommendations, especially when going to something like SXSW, but I definitely get overloaded fast these days. When you have to sift through the huge number of bands playing such a long festival, it’s helpful to pick some out, certainly. I’m still a big believer in mix tapes and word of mouth, though. Even if it has to be via a shared Spotify playlist or something. I’m giving myself fifteen new bands that I’ve never seen before, before I hit peak SXSW.