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Cut Piece: "The Steamy Trash Can Fire of The World was Becoming Too Much, So I Needed to Start a Hardcore Band"

Before the band's debut LP comes out on Total Punk in May, we caught up with Laura of Cut Piece all about recollecting her roots through past West Coast punk scenes and the grippingly melodic anarcho-punk edge of her latest band.

Photo by Flesh Photography

Hey Laura! What have you been listening to, reading, or spending a lot of time doing?


Laura: Winters in Portland can be a real sad bag, so we've been staying busy getting out of town and recording our upcoming debut LP Your Own Good, that'll be coming out on Total Punk and Sabotage Records this spring. Not to mention, tons of supplements and infrared saunas (wish I was joking.) We recently went to Vancouver, Canada to play Alien Boy's record release show and loved checking out the No Future Shop. We played a couple of really fun Bay Area shows, too, including one with Quaaludes and Screaming Fist that brought together so many rad people. I lived in the Bay Area for a while and love visiting there and eating burritos whenever possible. I'm usually listening to something older and something newer. Right now it's Ciudades from Ataque Zero, Playa Sola from Puerta Negra, Where Have All the Children Gone? by Dan, and Belfast from Toxic Waste. I've been reading Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP, a crucial book for anyone looking to better understand why continuing to advocate for people living with HIV and increasing access to PrEP/PEP is absolutely necessary.  


Tell our readers a little about your background. Where did you grow up, what was your childhood like, and how did you get involved with playing in punk bands?


I saw the "Love Shack" video when I was a kid and immediately knew I wanted to be at that party. My dad took me to Planet Records in Harvard Square and I gravitated towards metal and punk albums with their cool images and names. I started going to shows at the Worcester Palladium when I was in middle school (goddess bless my mother for driving me in), and learned about punk and politics from other bands and people tabling at events with information on animal liberation, anarcha-feminism, Assata Shakur. I moved to San Francisco and got involved in the punk scene, going to shows and DJing a KBD/Bloodstains worship night. Some people got a sense of the music I liked and asked me to try out for their band. In the Bay Area at that time, a really cool punk scene of women/non-binary people was forming and I wanted to be a part of it both because I liked their band's music and because the scene desperately needed an infusion of new perspectives and overdue split from the toxic masculinity gatekeeper mentality. After my "audition," I went to Balazo to see the iconic Alice Bag perform. I met her for the first time, and I told my idol I wasn't sure I would make the band. She told me, "you make music for yourself and the people you love, if this band doesn't work out, fuck 'em, start your own project." After I heard that, I had everything I needed to be in that band and any other band I wanted to start.


That's so amazing you got to meet your hero Alice Bag! What punk records or fanzines did you find yourself clinging towards when you were younger?


When I was younger, I got loaned a crate of anarcho/UK82 punk records with lots of Riot City and Mortarhate Releases. Until that point, I had mostly listened to U.S. hardcore and punk. Hearing Zounds, Expelled, The Insane, Vice Squad, Chaos UK was super exciting, and I re-listened to those records constantly. Prior to that, I gripped This is Boston, Not L.A. and the Better Youth Organization compilations tight. I was really into the zine Beyond Gallery Walls and Dead White Men, stuff by Cristy C. Road, Maximum Rocknroll, and anything from AK Press.

Photo by Darren Plank

Early on, you played in bands like Petite, Interior 27, Midnite Brain, and Apriori. What have been some of your favorite memories playing in these groups and how has it been being pinned to the Portland hardcore punk scene?


I love the interconnectedness of punk and have tons of crazy memories from playing shows at places that don't exist anymore. Midnite Brain played at Lipo Lounge in Chinatown, the Swamp in Oakland, a garage spot on 24th with Ratface that everyone had to pack into wicked tight to be able to close the sliding garage door from the inside. Totally the opposite, we played outside on a mountain at 1,200 feet in Ashland, OR. The drum throne was forgotten and some poor soul had to go back down the mountain to get one. Petite played an all ages show with Limp Wrist and Martin Sorrondeguy is a huge inspiration, that was one of the coolest. We also played a lot of benefit shows surrounding the stabbings on the Max, which inspired the lyrics to Make Them Pay. Interior 27 recorded in our tiny Tenderloin practice space and used a red rose to cue each other. We played a show with Mane and Raktka at El Rio and no men were involved with sound, booking, etc. (Insane that's still a rarity). Apriori played the Manic Relapse day show and in the Alf House backyard in Vancouver, touring in a tiny truck all four of us squished in. It's cheesy, but memories of spending time weekly with bandmates who care about each other and collaborating on a project we’re all excited about are some of my favorite memories, too.


Portland is obviously a legendary city for punk (Neo Boys, Dead Moon, Wipers, The Rats, Exploding Hearts, etc.) What are your thoughts on the current rock 'n' roll circuit there? What are some of your favorite bands/labels and venues to go to/play at in the area?


We're all just trying to be the Wipers! Portland is by no means perfect, but for punk, it's got it going on. There's a slower pace and less distractions that enable people to be able to go to shows, tour, start their own businesses, play in bands, rent out practice spaces. Tons of beautiful nature spots to write your next crust record. There's a lotta sick bands in different super sub genres. Dry Socket, Retirement, Chueko, Lazer Bullet, Noxeema, Masque, Alienator, Puerta Negra, Collate, Atomic Prey. Labels like Black Water Records, Total Punk Records, Distort Reality, Filth Pot Records. We love passing time at the Dum Dum Club, Sandy Jug, Darcelle's, Lone Fir Cemetery, and going to shows/playing at Shanghai Tunnel, Coffin Club, Black Water Bar, The Six, Mississippi Studios, Republic Cafe, Speed's Auto.


Talk to me now about your newest band Cut Piece. How did you meet Zach, Samantha, and Mary and decide to start this band last year?


The steamy trash can fire of the world was becoming too much, so I needed to start a hardcore band. Mary and I were in another band, Dials, and had a blast together. I had previously played drums in a band with Samantha years before and we had good chemistry. Samantha and I also DJ'd at the best radio station in the world, 90.7 KBOO, (FM dial, baby) where I met Zach, and where I also initially met Mary while interviewing one of her old bands that played on air. I threw out the idea to everyone, and when we got together we gelled musically and the songs were fun to write.

Photo by Flesh Photography

How has it been playing music with them over the last year? How do you think you've progressed, especially from all the live shows you've played?


It's been wicked fun! We're all guided by the same principle of making music that we enjoy playing. We have developed a shared language for creating music that's been exciting to see come together. Some of the songs like "Mind Regression" started with the lyrics that inspired the music, and sometimes I'll hum out some boops and bops that Samantha and Zach will create into guitar and bass parts.


How did the two tracks "Change Games" / "Halls of Power" come together with Evan Mersky at Red Lanterns Studio last year for your first single release? Also, were these the first two two songs Cut Piece had ever written?


These were some of our first songs! Zach had a solo project prior to Cut Piece that had been creating music for using a drum machine and guitar. Those recordings became the blueprint for "Halls of Power" and "Change Games."


Last September, you released your debut EP on Dirt Cult and Sabotage Records. How did that one come together?


Until recently, Dirt Cult was a Portland-based label and Chris had been in Macho Boys with Samantha. Once we had the recording, we thought he might be into it and he was!


Which song from the record means the most to you (and why)? Also as a follow up, do you have any favorites you perform live?


Gotta be "Accept Defeat (Don't Sabotage Me)." This was one that I hummed out the different parts, and the lyrics were ideas I had been wanting to get out for a while. It's an homage to queer, gay, trans and non-binary elders (disproportionately Black, Indigenous and people of color like Miss Major) who fought for us baby gays and queers, and a call to action to keep up their fight despite how intense the opposition may become. I've been into playing our new songs live! "Walk the Dog," "Big One Hits," and "Your Own Good."

Photo by Matthew Kadi

What were the inspirations behind the EP's cover art?


I was inspired by the bizarre worlds of surrealists like Leonor Fini, Toyen and Leonora Carrington. Equally, we wanted to create something that looked capital P punk. We worked with Mike Carrasco, who previously did the Macho Boys LP art, on the EP (and upcoming LP art), and his style and medium encompassed the unsettling themes we were going for.


What else is on the horizon for Cut Piece within the new year?


We got some cool things cookin! Seats of Piss Records based in Indonesia will be doing a run of the EP on tape and printing shirts with the EP cover art. Our LP will be out in May on Total Punk and Sabotage Records. The first single and pre-orders will be available April 5th through Total Punk and we're really proud of how the songs came out. We can't wait to be a part of the Total Punk Records weirdo fam. Maybe we'll make another music video? In June, we'll be touring in Europe and playing at Izero Fest in Poland! Email us at cutpiecepdx@gmail.com if there's things we should check out when we're there. Locally, we're getting ready for some sick shows with Home Front, Béton Armé, Puffer, and Teini-Pää.


How excited are you to be playing the Total Punk Corporate Retreat bonanza May 25th? It's such a stacked bill, especially with Theee Retail Simps, Tyvek, and Itchy and the Nits coming over.


SO excited, it's gonna be wild! I can't wait to see everyone's business casual freak looks. Come to Portland, eat a vegan hot dog, and check out City Noise.


Cut Piece is out now on Dirt Cult and Sabotage Records. Pre-orders for the band's upcoming debut LP drop April 5th on Total Punk.




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