Philly’s own noise-rock greats Pissed Jeans were a necessary charley horse punch in the arm during the “before times.” Hearing their grizzled approach to punk rock — with wiry singer Matt Korvette’s anguished vocals and lyrics about mundane moments in the corporate world and takedowns of ridiculous double standards we are conditioned to ignore — could wake up any jaded nine-to-fiver from their stagnant haze.
Metro caught up with Korvette over email to talk about the band’s triumphant return to the stage with their hometown gig at Underground Arts on Saturday and to see what kind of racket they are creating to follow up to their chaotic fifth album, 2017’s “Why Love Now.”
It feels like with bands being able to tour again we are all catching up with people we haven’t seen since the beginning of the pandemic. So first off, how have you and the band been over these last couple of years?
We’ve been good! We’re all still alive and healthy, which is something I’ve come to appreciate more than I did a couple years ago. Until we were able to get vaccinated last spring, we didn’t practice or hang out together or anything, which sucked. Though, we did manage to have a weekly FaceTime call, which led to the establishing of a sole week-long pushup competition (Sean won, I’m sad to admit), and on the very first call I got wickedly drunk at home for no apparent reason (just excited to talk to my friends, I guess), which led to me accidentally sitting on my remote on the couch and watching a few shows on fast forward without realizing it was happening. Lesson learned. We’ve been playing together since May though, and it’s been great. Doesn’t feel like a weird reunion or a fake version of Pissed Jeans or something; we jumped right back into where we left off.
Did you find yourself getting into any unexpected hobbies during this crazy time in history?
I played a bunch of tennis before the pandemic, but over the past couple years it’s been my saving grace. It’s a pretty distanced sport, and I played with my neighbor religiously; I still do, in fact, at a cozy and cracked court in Queen Village. Nothing like casual competition to take your mind off the world for an hour and get your body moving. I also was never a big movie buff, but like probably everyone else, I plowed through all sorts of films over the last couple years. Got deep into the work of director Andy Sidaris, who I can’t recommend enough to anyone interested in compelling action trash.
In Pissed Jeans, you tend to write lyrics that deal with problems that actually affect people on a day-to-day basis. Does writing about these easy-to-relate-to issues like mind-splittingly mundane office dynamics or making references to how dependent we are on current technology create a deeper connection with the audience when you perform?
I’d hope so! Though it seems like bands can connect with their audiences when they’re singing about mystical evil and demonic dragons and stuff too. Hell, At The Drive-In never made a single lick of sense and they’re highly beloved to this day. I just try to write about what I’m experiencing, things that tickle or torture me, and kind of just assume that I’m not too unique of a flower and that other people out there might relate, or at least find entertainment in it. I like writing about ‘the real’ because to me, it’s far more exciting and scary than any sort of fiction I could come up with.
How are you feeling about shows in general? I’m sure things will be a little more reserved for the foreseeable future…
Kinda weird, right? Things definitely aren’t ‘back to normal’ yet, as though that is a place we can ever return to. I’ve been to one indoor show thus far, and it was kind of a mellow affair as far as loud rock shows go, but then I’ll go on Instagram and see videos of hundreds of kids moshing and going nuts as if things were completely normal, so who knows? One thing is for sure, I’m incredibly sick of passing judgment, though I sure am glad most venues are taking the appropriate steps to make sure they’re as safe as possible.
This is your first show back in Philadelphia in quite some time. How does it feel to be playing Underground Arts?
Cool venue! I always feel like I’m in one of those Matrix underground rave scenes when I’m in that big basement room, with those big concrete pillars and the cement floor that gives me lumbar pain if I stand still in one spot for too long. We’ve played there a few times before, and I saw Pentagram there on my birthday like five years ago, so I have lots of love for that spot. We’re really psyched to play.
It’s been four years since the band released “Why Love Now.” Are you working on a new record right now?
Oh hell yes! We’re furiously working on a new record, and our songs are sounding sick. I think after that big break, it kind of lit a fire under our collective butt, not wanting to take time for granted. We’ve got a handful of new songs, and are thinking about playing them at this show, maybe? I guess we’ll see! When we were last playing out, improvisation was becoming a larger part of our live show, so maybe we’ll play an entirely new set of songs made up on the spot, or just drag out an oldie into a 10-minute room-clearer.