Priests have always pushed political commentary to the forefront and their new album, Nothing Feels Natural, is no exception. Amongst strong perspective on cultural appropriation, science deniers, and materialism, perhaps the most striking statements are those revealing self-worth. Emphasizing the power of every individual’s words, both negative and positive, demands urgency, especially the cry of vocalist Katie Alice Greer in “Puff”.
“Any colorless technician can pull the knob, touch the right thing/ I don’t think that you care about anything/ Why would you applaud such uninteresting social climbing/ Even the emperor’s new clothes made a scene,” Greer proclaims.
The sharp political narratives reveal a personal responsibility and possibility that carves out a definitive call to action. It only feels right that Priests have released such an album on their own label, Sister Polygon Records. Every aspect of the album was taken on their own terms, but the one straining decision was the choice in studio. This past summer, the album was tracked at Inner Ear Studios in Virginia with Hugh McElroy and Kevin Erickson, two people who have worked with Priests previously. But it took a year of drafting to come to that point.
“We learned about how important it is to record in the ‘right’ studio for your band,” guitarist, Taylor Mulitz explained, “It’s like that triangle. You can get only two points. You can get something good and fast but not cheap, you can get something cheap and fast but not good, you get the idea.”
The result is something sonically diverse, scattered with piano and cello with plenty of R&B influence. As they told musician friends how Nothing Feels Natural was intended to sound, they fleshed out their own rich undertones, anchoring the band’s messages in more clarity than ever.
Priests members Daniele Daniele (drums), Katie Alice Greer (vocals), G.L. Jaguar (guitar), and Taylor Mulitz (bass) have provided some suggestions on how to be politically productive under our new president. The questions are based on lyrics from their song, “Pink White House”.
– “Feel Like You Participate” –
Which organizations should we be donating to and if we do not have the funds, how can we contribute?
Jaguar: Find a local organization and see if you can volunteer a bit of time. Working on a local level you can usually reach people who need a hand faster.
Mulitz: Call your legislators. It’s important to call your designated congress person or senator because they only really take into account their own constituents. Also, don’t forget that self-care is a huge part of the greater struggle for resistance. You have to take care of yourself.
Greer: We hosted a party for friends of our record label (Sister Polygon Records) recently and it was free of course, so we asked everyone to bring some extra cash for the Michigan chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations. CAIR is an incredible organization that steps in when Arab Americans have been detained for no reason other than their name or skin color. If you’re arrested at the airport and have to spend any period of time in a holding cell, you’re probably losing income from work, your family has hired an attorney, and all of these things become incredibly expensive. Not to mention how terrifying it is to be inexplicably apprehended by the police, which we all know is an institution designed to uphold white supremacy.
Daniele: Damn Katie, looking back that was a prescient choice. Especially considering Trump’s ban on people coming here from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Reading about all the people detained in airports today was so so upsetting.
– “Write A Letter”-
The amount of executive orders that have been signed and urgent calls to action can be overwhelming. Where and how should we be directing our voices?
Mulitz: I wish I knew the answer.
Greer: Make time for reading the news right now, even just 30 minutes a day on a specific issue. There is a ban on Muslims entering the US right now, even Muslims who fucking LIVE here. The federal government is trying to figure out how to dismantle and defund the NEA (National Education Association). Plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline are underway again, after a month of most people thinking that would cease. Send money to Standing Rock. Be thoughtful about the information you’re sharing on social media platforms (literally thoughtful, like consider your security and the security of others. Also consider what are worthwhile subjects to be talking about with friends right now).
– “Throw Your Shoe”-
Many people cannot help, but feel anger towards the current political climate of our country. How should we channel those feelings?
Greer: I wanna talk a moment to repeat something I heard the other day when I was on a panel with Olivia from Girl Power Meetups in D.C.. She said it is important to remember that we don’t need new leaders right now as much as we need to look inside ourselves and find the leader inside each of us. I often think of a similar sentiment when answering questions as someone in a band, nobody needs cultural figures to tell them what to do, really. I am just like anybody else, grappling with answering these questions for myself. Having said that, I will quote Solange on this one: “Be mad”. Feel that fire and intensity and learn how to channel it into something you want, for yourself and for others. Anger is like a kind of magic, if you’re not careful it’ll fuck you up. But if you learn how to use your anger, and keep it with you, it is (for me at least) a much more generative fuel than sadness. Anger gets me out of bed because I have to fix the problem.
– “Consider The Options Of A Binary”-
How can we conduct a productive conversation with people who hold views that stand on the opposite end of the binary?
Greer: Seeing the world as a gradient, rather than a starkly black and white place, can open up some possibilities for dialogue where they didn’t exist before.
Priests play Great Scott on Saturday, February 4th with Snail Mail and Halfsour. Doors are at 9pm, tickets are $14, and it’s a 21+ show.