- by Matt Dunn
When I first saw the Raleigh, NC based band Pie Face Girls a few years back, I was knocked out by the energy of their live shows. The band have built a strong local following in the past several years. I’ve never seen them be shy about speaking their mind on or off stage. At the same time, the group has a great sense of humor and you often find yourself laughing at the onstage banter between the singer/guitarist Dani, bass player Tiffany and drummer Klay. Their debut album Formative Years is available Friday February 24th 2017 from Negative Fun Records. You can preview a couple of tracks from the album on Negative Fun Records Bandcamp.
When did Pie Face Girls form?
Dani: It was 2013.
Klay: Me and Tiffany had been together for a while so we don’t know. Once Dani came into our lives, that’s when we hit start.
Dani: *laughs* That was beautiful.
How did the band originally come together?
Tiffany: Well, funny you ask.
Dani: Klay wasn’t there when we decided that he was gonna be in our band.
Klay: I was skeptic.
Tiffany: Me and Dani were sharing a meal together. We were talking about how depressed we were because we hadn’t been creating.
Tiffany: We were both writers. And we wanted a new outlet.
Dani: I had played a little bit of guitar. Acoustic though.
Tiffany: I was a musical genius. Pretty much. *laughs*
Dani: She just didn’t know it yet. She had never picked up an instrument.
Tiffany: Klay had been in a band for several years and his band had recently broken up.
Dani: Well, we decided Klay was gonna be in the band and we just told him.
Klay: Yeah they were like “We wanna start a band!” and I was like “No you don’t!” I didn’t think they’d stick with it.
Dani: He didn’t think we’d stick with it. We ended up having a whole long conversation about it.
Tiffany: Klay accused us of not taking it seriously.
Klay thought it was a joke at first?
Tiffany: Yeah, I guess. Is that what you felt like Klay?
Klay: Well, the only reason that I said that is because at the time I was going to a studio in Salisbury and recording solo stuff. That was taking up a lot of time and if we really wanted to do this band, I’d have to commit to that. Every weekend I was going away to record solo stuff at this studio.
Tiffany: Me and Klay lived together at the time and we would just practice at the house. We learned “Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill. That was the first song we learned.
Klay: We tried to learn a Sharon Van Etten song.
Dani: And that’s when we decided what kinda music we wanted to play. Klay tried to make us learn it because that’s what Klay does. But then we were like “This is boring!”.
Tiffany: Then we decided to be punk.
Klay: The only reason I picked that song is because we all knew it by heart and that it was easy.
Dani: Our first show was at the Morgan Street house. Two songs in we got broken up by the cops.
Klay: That house was called Axe Manor aka The Maxi pad. We got shutdown during a cover of “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels.
Dani: We migrated the show to our friend Ryan’s house that was called The Danger Room. We yelled at everybody because they kept turning the lights off and we couldn’t find the notes on our guitars or the bass. We couldn’t see and they were turning the lights off so we kept screwing up the songs.
Tiffany: Yeah we were super green and total newbies.
Dani: So I was like “STOP TURNING OFF THE LIGHTS!”. There’s a picture of us from that night and Klay is in the background laughing.
How long did you practice before you started playing shows?
Dani: A couple months.
Tiffany: We formed the band in September. I remember and our first show was in March.
Was your first show with the band Flesh Wounds?
Tiffany: That was our second show. But Flesh Wounds did get us our very first show out in a venue.
Klay: We owe all our success to them!
Where did the second show take place?
Tiffany: At The Night Light in Chapel Hill.
Dani: We played with Flesh Wounds and Thelma And The Sleaze. We forgot all of our pedals. We forgot our mics and a lot of our equipment in Raleigh. We were all really nervous. I was shaking.
Tiffany: That stage is really small. If you aren’t used to that…
Klay: It was also hot because it was the summer.
Dani: You couldn’t see anything. It wasn’t our best show.
Tiffany: The lineup was awesome!
Klay: Yeah, Thelma And The Sleaze is a really good band from Nashville, Tennessee.
How long did it take to record your album?
Klay: Two days!
Dani: But two really intense days! We did two days because we are broke. We got a lot of great support from crowd sourcing. I’m still really amazed that we got as much money as we did. People were so supportive of us and willing to give their hard earned money to our album. That was super awesome!
Did you initially feel reluctant to crowd source?
All: Yes we did.
Klay: We heard so many horror stories about how you don’t have any respect if you crowd source your album. It’s almost expected that if you’re a band that no one knows about, someone’s still gonna pay to put out your album somehow.
Dani: And it doesn’t happen like that. We put all the money that we made from the moment we started into a fund.
Tiffany: 100% of it. We never took any money from it.
Klay: Yeah we paid for at least half of the recording session. If not more.
Dani: Some people had a few snide comments. But to those people I say “F*** You! What are you doing?”
Klay: To those people I quote Darby Crash from The Germs and say “Hey! Give me a dollar!” That’s what you do! The most punk thing you could ever do is just ask for something for free and be a dick about it.
Dani: Well, we had established ourselves. We’ve played out. We’ve spent all our time in the community working to make a name for ourselves. Working to make a difference in the community too. Activism is one of the big parts of our act. Empowerment for people who are commonly overlooked. I think some of the negative comments were coming from people who were saying “You aren’t working for it.” F*** you man.
Tiffany: We have been working for three years and we’re still short.
Do you feel like it’s a situation where people can choose where they spend their own money?
Dani: Yeah, definitely.
Dani: We’ve played a lot of free shows and benefits. We haven’t asked for money in a lot of places when we have worked for it. At this point, we really wanna do this so we can have a broader outreach and we need your help to do this.
Tiffany: Also, it was time sensitive. Missy Thangs showed interest in recording us and becoming involved. We had to do what we had to do to make that happen. When someone you respect shows interest you do what you have to do.
Did the recordings come out sounding different than what you expected?
Dani: This is the first time we have recorded where I felt like my vocals sounded right.
Klay: You actually hear all of us for the first time which we’re not used to.
Dani: One thing that I noticed was how far we’ve come technically as a band. Klay and I played instruments but Klay had never played drums before and I had never played electric guitar. Tiffany had never picked up an instrument. The whole reason we waited so long to put an album out was to perfect what we were doing. If you put a bunch of money into a project like this, you want it to sound good. Some bands just jump right into the studio and that’s great but we weren’t ready. I’m really glad that we waited because it’s awesome to hear what we started at and then hear the album itself. I hear myself doing solos. I hear Klay doing some crazy drum beats. I hear Tiffany holding down the bass doing slides and all that. We’ve come a long way. We started at a point where we couldn’t play much and now we are writing these great songs.
Klay: I feel like we have prided ourselves on being this throwback band. We have the feminist aspect of which I guess you could throwback to a Riot Grrrl kind of sensibility. Even though we don’t really sound like a Riot Grrrl band. If you think of a band like The Germs. They had t-shirts before they ever learned their instruments. They had a name and a presence before they ever played a show. And you also think about bands like 7 Year Bitch. They were just hanging out in a basement learning music together but grew as a band and flourished that way. We kinda subscribe to that formula of music. Being people who become musicians and do it because we have something we want to say and express instead of being musicians who are bored and just need something to do.
Dani: We are all best friends and and we felt like we wanted to create something that’s going to change all the bullshit that we constantly are seeing. We entered the punk scene and all you mostly see in the triangle area (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) is male focused bands. Those are the people who play and are supported and are the forefront to the scene. I’m sick of it.
Klay: There was a surge of local female influence in the scene when we first started.
Dani: Which was really cool. When we played with them and it was like a power force.
Klay: You had bands like Daddy Issues (Greensboro, NC), Silent Lunch (Durham, NC), No Love (Raleigh, NC) Free Clinic (Wilmington, NC). There was a bunch of bands that were kinda like in an inner circle. It was a great thing for afresh band like us to come into. It was a scene that we felt comfortable in and made friends that we could play out together with. It made us wanna do it more because it wasn’t uncomfortable and no one was looking at us like “What the f*** are you doing here?”.
You released an EP titled Dick is Dead What does the term mean to you?
Dani: No offense but they’ve had all of humanity.
Tiffany: Yeah, you’ve been on top for a million years. Time to step aside sir.
Dani: A lot of y’all don’t deserve it. It’s just because you’re a white male with a dick. My vagina’s way stronger. It carries and procreates life.
Klay: They feel that way. I think dick is beautiful. *laughs*. I think dick is fantastic. Depends on whose it is though. If you have a dick, I hope you’re cool. Otherwise your dick is dead.
Do you feel like the local North Carolina scene is supportive of a punk band?
Klay: Yeah, I think so. Everybody’s been really cool.
Tiffany: You don’t know what to expect. Especially with the kind of music we play and the message we send. You don’t know how people are going to receive that. The way Missy explained it, “the line’s here and we are four inches over the line with our music.” So you never really know how people are gonna take that. But we have never played a show where people were outwardly rude or dismissed us or belittled us for any reason.
Dani: If someone ever disrespected us, I just confronted it on stage. Never by any bands though.
Klay: People in the punk scene have been very cool to us. I’ve made a lot of friends within that scene. They’ve always been really awesome. I think that’s where our home base has always lied, within the punk community.
When you were recording the album was their any differences in the way you wanted it to sound?
Klay: Maybe during the mixing. During the recording, not so much. We did nine songs in two days for the recording. It was intense but it was a great experience. I feel like whenever a band goes into a studio, you’re either going to break up soon after because you’re tired of the shit. Or you’re gonna become closer and it’s gonna be a great experience.
Dani: One night we were really tired and we were trying to play another song to get it in and we couldn’t get the song. We were like “We’ve got this, we’ve got this.” Missy got on the mic and was like “Are you sure? Because I’m not feeling the magic.” She was super honest and upfront. We just thought it was hilarious because that’s what we needed. Someone had to be really f*****’ honest with us. After that, Tiffany and Klay went into another room and learned a different part and then we got it. We just needed someone to be like “What you are doing right now isn’t really working.” We are three best friends who are basically like three siblings. We’ve already had disagreements.
Tiffany: We’ve had disagreements every day.
Dani: I feel like recording disagreements were small.
Tiffany: We don’t even remember them because that’s how often we disagree!
Klay: One thing that I’m proud of us about it is that most bands are passive aggressive and won’t tell each other what they are actually thinking. We latch onto each other and won’t let it go until you say something. Until you say what’s on your mind, this car is not moving!
Tiffany: We’ve had several band practices turned therapy sessions.
Earlier you mentioned The Riot Grrrl movement. What about that scene still resonates with you today?
Tiffany: As much progress as those bands made in the 90s, we are still dealing with the same shit as women they had to deal with back then.
Dani: We now have other issues too. Transgender issues and women of color. There is so much shit going on in our society. Some of that wasn’t at the forefront of the scene during the Riot Grrrl movement. Now is almost like the second coming of Riot Grrrl. I feel like the only time we are ever compared to another band is in reference to another girl band. And I say girl in the sense that they all identify as female. And they can be a completely different genre and it doesn’t matter.
Tiffany: Exactly. It could be a band made up of dudes whose music style aligns way more closely to what we are doing. But when someone books us, they always want to book us with another female artist. It doesn’t have to always be like that. We can play with an all dude lineup. We can hold our own. But a lot of times, people don’t give you that chance. They’ll stick you with some other girl band who is nothing like you. Someone who is interested in the kind of music they play might not even be interested in the stuff we play. But they put us on the same show.
Klay: When I think about our band, I don’t think of our influences as strictly female. I do think of bands like Mudhoney, The Melvins and Beat Happening.
Dani: L7 though.
Klay: Yeah, of course. But whenever I think of the sound of our band, I always think of those bands for some reason.
Tiffany: So many boys are reading this article right now rolling their eyes.
Are a lot of your bass notes influenced by Post-Punk bands from the 70s and 80s?
Tiffany: Sure. Klay helps me a lot with writing. I think so but that’s a tough question to answer.
Dani: I think it’s inspired by whoever brings a song to the table. I just recently brought a song to the table during a time where I was listening to a lot of Babes In Toyland. I said to Klay: “Listen to this Babes in Toyland song. Listen to the drums. I really like this style.”
Tiffany: We do a lot of our songwriting in a room together. So we do get a lot of influence by whatever the person writing the song was listening to at the time.
Dani: We all have similar music tastes anyway.
Klay: I don’t think Tiffany has a particular style that she plays in. I hear it as more of an organic way that she plays the bass. I don’t feel like she is going “I’m getting a lot of Joy Divison or Talking Heads influence on this song”. It seems like a very organic, homegrown DIY punk aspect of bass. It’s going back to the very beginning of 1970s/1980s California Punk Pre-Hardcore.
Tiffany: When you are new to something like I was to bass, it’s like a whole fresh new perspective.
You have used a lot of stage props during your live shows. It reminds me of some of the theatrics of 70s Rock bands. What was the inspiration for that?
Klay: Alice Cooper.
Dani: We couldn’t play our instruments. *laughs*
Tiffany: We had to distract people.
Dani: I love theatrics in general.
Tiffany: We used to work at a local bookstore and this book came in that was the most ridiculous sexist book.
Dani: One of the quotes was like: “He may not have built you the Taj Mahal but he built you a laundry shelf and you should be thankful.”
Tiffany: It was all of these little one-liners like that.
Dani: “Love is staying up and waiting for him with all of your makeup still on.” So I decided I was gonna go Courtney Love on that shit.
Tiffany: And incorporate it into a show.
Dani: I decided I was gonna put lip stick all over my face. I didn’t think Tiffany would be into it. But she was like “Yeah! Let’s do it.” So we tried it at the house one day for shits and giggles and it was really fun.
Tiffany: It just became a thing because people liked it so much. It was fun but it made a point.
Dani: It’s our art so you want it to be fun.
What was it like playing at the Hopscotch Music Festival?
Dani: It was great!
Tiffany: We were treated so kindly.
Klay: I didn’t think people took us seriously at first.
Tiffany: Someone came up to me though after the show and said “you guys have gotten a lot better. Last time I saw you, you guys were all wasted.”
Dani: Yeah that used to happen a lot but we decided we wanted to be really good at what we do. We felt like people were starting to listen to us. So we decided to sober up and get to know our instruments a little better.
What are some of your favorite live venues to play in North Carolina?
Dani: Slim’s on the weekends.
Tiffany: I love playing at Kings. That stage is so awesome and the lighting is good. *laughs* We also really enjoyed house shows at places like this one called The Mattress Fort.
Dani: We grew up in house shows. Recently house shows have died off a bit in Raleigh. I’m sad because I miss house shows. Those are my favorite to play.
What was the Mattress Fort like?
Klay: For a while during the summer, it seemed like they had shows every weekend.
Tiffany: Everyone was so rowdy and energetic. As a band it was always so much fun.
Klay: I remember people were moshing super hard at one show and they knocked Tiffany back. She fell back on the amp but just kept playing. She just held on and kicked ass. It was awesome!
Dani: I got mad and yelled at everybody. I always get really mad. We have been really welcomed by everybody. The Cave in Chapel Hill has been really supportive of us.
Tiffany: Local 506 in Chapel Hill is also one of my favorites.
Dani: The Nightlight in Chapel Hill was one of our first shows. That will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Do you feel that being very outspoken on stage is therapeutic?
Dani: I’m always outspoken on or offstage. The stage just gives me a mic where everybody can hear me. I’m so sick of sitting back and watching all this shit happen around me. One example is people being taken advantage of sexually. I’m not doing this to be everybody’s sweetheart. I’m doing this because I have stuff to say and that I believe in. There are many things that are continually overlooked by society. I feel like screaming it and putting it in your face. Male identified people can do that all the time. I feel like I should have an opportunity to as well. It should make you feel angry that another female in your community is being sexually molested by someone. It should make you angry that you can’t talk about your sexuality. It should make you angry that transgender people are victims of hate crimes. As well as women and men of color.
Do you feel that Punk is the best genre for you to convey an angry outspoken message?
Dani: I do. I never really felt like I fit into anything in my whole entire life. Especially growing up in Louisiana. I met Klay and Tiffany and felt like these are people like me.
What was the first band you really got into as a young kid?
Klay: I’m a homosexual man raised in a small southern town. We don’t get a lot of influences out there. My first big influence was the band Hole. That helped get me into other bands like The Raincoats, Beat Happening and Bauhaus. You don’t think these bands are all connected but they are.
Tiffany: The first rock band I fell in love with was Silverchair. I had a Discman and would listen to Silverchair during lunch at school instead of hanging out with my friends.
Dani: The first rock band I ever fell in love with was Heart. Hands down. My mom used to jam the f*** out of Heart. We used to air guitar Barricuda. “Magic Man” and all that stuff was amazing. Killer riffs and her voice was incredible too.
Contact Matt Dunn: email@example.com