Posts Tagged ‘Lydia Lund’

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Chastity Belt’s energy is like a circuit, circling around the silly and the sincere. Tongue-in-cheek shit-shooting and existential rumination feed into each other infinitely.

Theirs is a long-term relationship, and that loop sustains them. That’s a creative thesis in and of itself, but isn’t that also just the mark of a true-blue friendship?

The band talks a lot about intention these days—how to be more present with each other. The four piece—Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar) and Annie Truscott (bass)—is nine years deep in this, after all. It seems now, more than ever, that circuit is a movement of intentionality, one that creates a space inside which they can be themselves, among themselves. It’s a space where the euphoria of making music with your best friends is protected from the outside world’s churning expectations. It’s a kind of safe zone for the band to occupy as their best selves: a group of friends who love each other.

Their fourth record, Chastity Belt, comes out of that safe space. After a restorative few months on hiatus in 2018, each member worked on solo material or toured with other bands. “So much of the break was reminding ourselves to stay present, and giving ourselves permission to stop without saying when were gonna meet up again,” says guitarist Lydia Lund. “It was so important to have that—not saying, ‘we’re gonna get back together at this point,’ but really just open it up so we could get back to our present connection.”

Their discography is an album-by-album documentation of a manic desire for human connection that invariably leads to the slow unhinging of the ego—and by extension, a constant series of self-destructive choices; this is explored at length on the indelibly sad 2017 album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. On their self-titled, fourth LP, the Seattle band don’t get any closer to clarity, but they do arrive at an emotional détente of sorts: there won’t be any catharsis, at least not yet, or perhaps, never.

Chastity Belt’s sound has flattened out since their earliest releases, the sonics becoming more insular as the moods became more nebulous. Here, working alongside producer Melina Duterte  the group imbue their songs with a superficial serenity that’s similar in feel to vocalist and guitarist Julia Shapiro’s recent solo record, Perfect Version. The songs on Chastity Belt flow seamlessly into each other, drifting along on an even ebb of gentle rhythms and even gentler vocals; Shapiro has dropped her bellows and spends more time singing in her higher registers.

Chastity Belt’s placid surface is further emphasized by Shapiro’s tendency to repeat platitudes in her lyrics, almost as if she’s talking to herself. “It takes time to really get it right / Let go of control,” she sings on the dreamy “It Takes Time,” her voice hovering lightly over a lazy looping guitar line as the band sinks into the amorphous atmospherics behind her. But the surface-level tranquility serves only to obscure. Later, on the brutally pretty self-critique “Drown,” Shapiro softly confesses what’s been true all along: “Repeated meaningless words don’t work / Speech is pointless.”

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There’s nothing glamorous about the personality crisis happening on Chastity Belt: We’re not drowning our sorrows on a Grecian isle, we’re just going to the bar in a Toyota Rav-4 (“Rav-4.”) This is a record about giving up, with no anticipation of better things on the horizon. But at least we’re among friends. Chastity Belt derive their singular strength from group solidarity, and on this self-titled release they circle the wagons in an even more rigid lockstep, their deepening musical bond offering temporary shelter from the perpetual blues. The generosity between the players on Chastity Belt suggests that, if there is any way to be saved from disappearing completely in a lonely world, it’s through the healing energy of the group hug, or, in this case, the rock band.

Their experience navigating adult life within the strange seasons of the music industry has Chastity Belt orienting themselves towards whatever gets them to feel the most present with each other, in any part of the band grind. With the luxury of spending several weeks in the studio with Jay Som’s Melina Duterte, Chastity Belt was able to experiment. The new self-titled album is the work of the band playing “old songs, and trying new things on top of it,” like adding more dynamic harmonies and violin, says bassist Annie Truscott. Lydia, Gretchen, and Julia all share lead vocals on different tracks on the album. The result is their most sonically developed and nuanced record yet; one that’s not only a product of, but a series of reflections on what it means to take what you need and to understand yourself better.

Many of Chastity Belt’s signature dynamics, from the silly to the sincere, have read as feminist gestures: the Cool Slut DGAF-iness, the shrugging off of the “women in rock” press gargle, the fundamentally punk act of creating music on your own as a woman, and being lyrically forthright. What the making of Chastity Belt reveals is that the band has tapped into a deeper tradition of women making art on their terms: the act of self-preservation in favor of the long game. In favor of each other. In this cultural moment, taking space like this to prioritize the love over the product seems progressive. Chastity Belt’s intentions have resulted in an album deeply expressive of four people’s commitment to what they love most: making music with each other.

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Acclaimed Seattle band Chastity Belt have returned with their first new music since 2017. This heartfelt new record, simply titled “Chastity Belt”, is out today on LP, CD, digital, and cassette from Hardly Art Records and Milk! Records (Australia and New Zealand). Chastity Belt was co-produced by the band and Melina Duterte aka Jay Som.

Today, the band has shared a music video for “It Takes Time” from directors Claire Buss and Nick Shively. In the spirit of earlier music videos like “Different Now” and “Cool Slut,” this new clip finds the band flexing their comedic chops, with members Gretchen Grimm, Lydia Lund, Julia Shapiro, and Annie Truscott inhabiting multiple roles, including a nightclub lounge act. As Grimm explains, “We had the idea for a video set in a jazz lounge for a little while and we’re very grateful to Weird Dog for helping us bring it to life. We’re all huge fans of jazz and pasta. We have a special pasta dish that we cook when we’re together called La Vasta. It’s our famous dish, we’ve been making it since college and have shared many fond memories slurping it down together. Before we dig in we join hands in the prayer: When you’re here, you’re family.”

Chastity Belt will be touring extensively this fall in Europe and North America in support of the record, and just announced a new run of  tour dates for February 2020.

Sun, Oct 13 – Thekla Social, Bristol United Kingdom
Tue, Oct 15 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds United Kingdom
Wed, Oct 16 – YES, Manchester United Kingdom
Thu, Oct 17 – Stereo, Glasgow United Kingdom
Fri, Oct 18 – SWN Festival, Cardiff United Kingdom
Sat, Oct 19 – Ritual Union, Oxford United Kingdom
Wed, Oct 23 – The Joiners, Southampton United Kingdom
Thu, Oct 24 – Islington Assembly Hall, London United Kingdom

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Seattle based band Chastity Belt have announced a new self-titled album and shared its first single, “Ann’s Jam,” via a video for the track. Chastity Belt is due out September 20th via Hardly Art.

The album is the follow-up to 2017’s I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. The band consists of Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar), and Annie Truscott (bass). Chastity Belt is their fourth album and it was co-produced by Jay Som’s Melina Duterte. The band took a several months hiatus in 2018 and then reconvened to work on the album.

“So much of the break was reminding ourselves to stay present, and giving ourselves permission to stop without saying when were gonna meet up again,” says guitarist Lydia Lund in a press release. “It was so important to have that-not saying, ‘we’re gonna get back together at this point,’ but really just open it up so we could get back to our present connection.”

“Ann’s Jam” is the lead single from Chastity Belt’s 2019 self-titled album.

Every band begins with a mission. Some yearn for fame, others for fortune; many are just looking for a way to pay the bills, and a few want to make art for art’s sake. The Seattle band Chastity Belt also grew from a shared purpose; the quartet came together when they were sophomores at Whitman College, in neighboring Walla Walla. The catalyst? An intense desire, fueled largely by pure boredom, to troll Beta Theta Pi, one of four fraternities on campus.

It was 2010, bandleader Julia Shapiro tells me over the phone, and the brothers’ annual “Battle of the Bands”—a bacchanal dominated by Axe, weed, and body odor—was fast approaching. As such, the ladies Shapiro (guitar, vocals), Lydia Lund (guitar), Annie Truscott (bass), and Gretchen Grimm (drums) decided to contest the event.

A short while later, Chastity Belt hit the stage for their first-ever performance, dressed as punks, faces smeared with garish makeup (“I was wearing so much red eyeliner it looked like my eyes were bleeding,” Shapiro recalls). They performed a single song: “Surrender,” a five-minute ode to angst, youth, “stealing your mom’s cigarettes, and wearing dark eyeliner.” To the band’s surprise, the mass of friends gathered to watch the set significantly outnumbered the Betas. Not that Chastity Belt needed to sway anyone; according to Shapiro, some of the group’s friends stole the voting slips intended for partygoers and stuffed the ballot boxes, rigging the competition in the band’s favor. “We didn’t really win anything,” Shapiro says, her deadpan voice dripping with mock disappointment.

Chastity Belt had, in fact, won several things: a serious confidence boost, validation from their peers, and the realization that, beneath all their jangly tomfoolery as underclassmen, there was a rock band waiting to emerge. “When we moved to Seattle,” Shapiro says, “we were like ‘Oh, we can really do this’—and once we felt that, it was kind of like ‘Well, let’s make music that we actually want to make, that’s not just this funny, humorous thing.”.

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The foursome weren’t ready to grow up just yet, of course, so when it came time to record and promote 2013’s No Regerts and its 2015 follow-up Time to Go Home, they kept things light-hearted, preaching self-love and sex-positive feminism with smirks on their faces on songs like  “Nip Slip,” “Giant (Vagina),” and “Cool Slut.”

Between their nonstop buoyant hooks to garner a reputation as Hardly Art’s goofball darlings, spreading smiles and giggles wherever they went. But eventually, the chortles started to seem like a crutch—especially in the wake of sought-after opening spots for tours with Courtney Barnett and Death Cab For Cutie. “It kind of felt like we were hiding behind humor, in a way,” Truscott says. “It takes a lot more to write genuine songs. It’s just harder.”

With their third album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt are taking off the jester’s mask and buckling down, subjecting their jangle-pop to a heretofore unseen level of discipline. Where the first two albums derived their momentum from fleeting, flippant bursts of energy, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone sees the band taking a protracted approach to dynamics, venturing through the reverb-laden fog with tentative, well-measured strides. Its songs deal with depression and heartbreak. On “5am,” Shapiro mulls over the existential consequences of a long night out, seething over the realization that in all those hours of empty, inebriated conversations she and her friends have said absolutely nothing. “It’s 5am, and I’m full of hate,” she grumbles, before getting to the root cause in the slinky chorus (“Immediate urge to get everything all straight / Need to express it but it’s not the time or place”).

This is a real-life observation for Shapiro, whose beer buzzes typically manifest as a crushing dose of ennui. “I’m trying to have meaningful conversations with people, or make something happen so that it feels worthwhile that I’m out of my house,” Shapiro sighs. “Sometimes, it’ll end with me going to bed around 5am”—she drops the deadpan for an exaggerated, anguished whisper, poking fun at her own melodrama—”just because I know there’s more, there’s got to be more.”

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Nowhere is Chastity Belt’s chemistry more tangible, or their emotional honesty so profound, as on the late-album slow-burner “Something Else,” an ode to the seasonal depression that’s a hallmark of life in the Pacific Northwest. Along with the album’s lead single “Different Now,” the song represents a deviation from the band’s fragmented approach to composition (which typically casts Shapiro’s parts as cornerstones, over which the other members add theirs). Instead, its slack, melancholy arrangement came together organically during a jam session. “It ended up being a train of thought that I was having which I feel like a lot of people, especially in Seattle, can relate to during the winter,” she says, reflecting on the band’s shared headspace. “You’re kind of stuck in a downward spiral of negative thoughts until you leave the house and go for a walk to clear your head, but it’s hard to get out there when the weather’s so shitty.”

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They may be more world-weary than they were two years ago, but Shapiro and company haven’t gone full Debbie Downer yet, nor do they intend to. At the end of the day, they just want to be honest. Asked if the band’s sobered sound was a conscious effort, she shrugs, “It’s got more to do with the natural progression of our music, and what kind of music we want to be making at this point. Songs like ‘Giant (Vagina)’ and ‘Pussy Weed Beer’ were written in college, when we weren’t really thinking this band was going anywhere. At the time of writing them, we didn’t have any intention of recording them, or continuing to play music.”

Seattle’s rock scene is experiencing an underground renaissance, and at the center of its close-knit collective of punk-inspired bands is Chastity Belt. The laconic, yet rebellious foursome singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro, guitarist Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm  have been growing an enthusiastic fan base since their days as a Walla Walla college band, thanks to two raucous albums .

Their tongue-in-cheek humor often belied incisive depth, whether the topic was the boredom of youth (“Pussy Weed Beer”) or sex-positive gender dynamics (“Cool Slut”) and pointed feminist commentary (“Drone”) from 2015’s breakthrough, Time To Go Home. Now with its evocative third album, “I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone”, Chastity Belt further deepens its low-key, nonchalant persona by inviting us into their heads. And with less reliance on laughs to cloak its emotions, Chastity Belt has never felt this vulnerable, or as relatable.

From the very first lines of I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone’s brilliant opener, “Different Now,” we find Shapiro in a reflective headspace. “You’re hard on yourself, well you can’t always be right / All those little things that keep you up at night / You should take some time to figure out your life,” she sings, capturing the uncertainty that comes from getting older and still wondering who you want to be. As Chastity Belt’s guitarist and primary singer, Shapiro is our main entry point into the album’s introspective songs, which grapple with loneliness and depression, and confront the nagging anxieties that can sabotage aspirations, wreak havoc on relationships and friendships, and induce sleepless nights with your regrets and fears.

Throughout I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt’s characters nurse heartache (“What The Hell”), confront change (Gretchen Grimm’s song “Stuck”), and work through depression (“Something Else”), but the constant theme is a desire for normalcy. In one highlight, “Caught In A Lie” Shapiro worries she’ll be outed as a fraud, unsure if she’s pursuing what she really wants, or simply doing what others expect from her: “You’re caught in a lie, living someone else’s dream…Is this what you want? Is this who you want me to be?” she asks herself. Elsewhere, “It’s Obvious” portrays a chameleon-like need to adopt the qualities of a disinterested lover and losing herself in the process. “I can hold your interest, but only for a short time / and it feels freeing to lose,” she admits, in one puncturing phrase. And in “Used To Spend,” Shapiro seeks to reconcile her introverted and extroverted selves: “Out of the fog and finally feeling fine / My doubts are all gone and I’m having a pretty good time / Feeling like a real champ, but for how long?,” she asks with a muted resignation, atop loping and scuzzy guitar chords.

Recorded live last summer alongside producer Matthew Simms at Jackpot! studios in Portland, Ore., I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone doesn’t mess with the band’s signature fuzzy guitar rock, so much as refine it. The album’s instrumental depth allows the music to stretch, sway and gradually unfold to new places. That can be heard in the way Shapiro’s distorted, jangling strums entwine with Lydia Lund’s brightly chiming arpeggiated melodies, or when Annie Truscott’s repeating bass lines lock-in as a steadying backbone for Grimm’s kinetic drumming. It all helps propel the dynamic harmonies and resonating vocals of each singer: Where Grimm and Lund’s voices sound delicate and airy, Shapiro’s rich alto croon is capable of shifting from wistful warmth to guttural shouts in anxious songs like “This Time Of Night” and “Complain,” and especially in the fiery closer, “5am.” Depicting the end of a party, a woozy Shapiro seeks connection and conversation about heavy ideas, singing “Immediate urge to get everything all straight / Need to express it, but it’s not the time or place,” her frustrations personified by a cresting vamp of scorching noise and wiry riffs.

Three albums into its career, Chastity Belt showcase an emboldened musicality and matured songcraft that can only come from spending so much time together (rather ironic, given the title). I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is a thoughtful, reflective album, constantly searching for direction to and questioning every solitary, restless feeling, yet it’s that intimacy that allows us to know a new, perhaps truer side to the artists. It takes an extraordinary amount of self-confidence to expose that process for all to hear.