Single Premiere: Scare Quotes Demonstrate Hyperactive Art Punk Lattice Across "Condo Fucked"

Formed just before the pandemic, the Atlanta-based art punk trio Scare Quotes are gearing up to release their debut EP, Tactics, out April 22 via Super Wimpy Punch and Rope Bridge Records. The trio shared one final single ahead of the release, which we have the pleasure of premiering today.

Photo by Ryan Myers

Scare Quotes is a newly-formed, scrappy art punk trio based out of Atlanta, a familiar spot for producing nervy post-punk bands like Omni and Algiers. Comprised of an experienced line-up that includes guitarist Scott Riley Irvine (Narrator), bassist Lily Zwaan (Food Court), and drummer Nathan Springer (Floral Print), the trio carve grooves deep into your brain with their sharp flow of melodic threads and wiry syncopation.


Following the release of last week's debut single, "Tomato," the trio have unveiled one more single before the release of their debut EP, Tactics, out April 22 via Super Wimpy Punch (Curse Reverser, The Chives, Blue Ray) and Rope Bridge Records (Nag, Web, Divi.jpg) — the highly-angular art punk spectacle "Condo Fucked." Built around its hazy, DIY production, the new cut is a detour of tangled precision: sprawling, slightly discordant guitar riffs, tightly-coiled jerking rhythms and snare hits, and shouty, anthemic vocals — "Maybe it's not right / Maybe you're just condo fucked!" In just over three minutes, Scare Quotes entice listeners with anxious anticipation amidst the perfectly timed, jagged musical chaos that erupts while sounding methodical and mesmerizing the whole way through.


We caught up with the trio who take us through their new single, forthcoming debut EP, and what it was like playing at Julia's War Fest '22.

Paperface Zine: What's the origins of Scare Quotes? I know you formed just before the pandemic struck back in 2020. Nathan Springer: I think maybe Scott sort of posed the idea? He and I have played music a lot together in the past, and I had met Lily on tour before she came to Atlanta. I had fucked around with drums a little, but never in a serious band. But I think there was an intention for all of us to try relatively new instruments. Scott started bringing in a lot of ideas, then the pandemic hit. But I’m glad the songs got to gestate over such a long period before being played in a live setting. Personally, I’m way too impatient to wait more than a few months to play new stuff live.

Scott Riley Irvine: Band practice was I think the one time we let ourselves venture outside our homes during the lockdown and it single-handedly kept my spirits up for the duration. That and the stimulus checks. Whatever happened to those?


Take me through the origins of your most recent single "Condo Fucked." How did it come about and what did you envision for it when initially composing it? Lily Zwaan: If I'm remembering correctly it kind of grew out of some playful riffs Scott was bringing in. One thing I've really enjoyed in this band is how naturally the songwriting has come. A lot of these songs kind of evolved out of jamming on something Scott brought in, and almost felt like they wrote themselves from there. I'm not sure what we first envisioned for it! We've just kind of been having fun with these songs while we're writing them, and I've been enjoying the way we've combined more dancy pop-sounding riffs with darker sounding stuff. I think after Scott came up with the title and the first couple of lyrics the vision started coming together.

SRI: I remember talking to Nathan about this Corridor song we both really like, about how it's always barreling forward, dipping into a chorus and out again before you even notice. I wanted something like that, something fluid and fun, and the groundwork came together pretty quickly. Where did you draw inspiration from in crafting the new single?


SRI: Lily and I wrote the lyrics as a way of envisioning what comes after this wave of "new development." Atlanta is being eaten alive by these repulsive condo compounds. People are getting pushed to the edges en masse and the landscape is changing so rapidly we can barely account for it. I guess we're just trying to stigmatize real estate developers as actual demons.


LZ: Yeah, like Scott said, there's so much imagery to draw from around the city, I can't emphasize enough how freaking fast these crazy buildings are going up, with units literally starting at a million dollars. In the song we were kind of imagining this absurd dystopia where a realtor is trying to sell you a tiny shoebox apartment for an impossible price, which honestly is kind of the logical conclusion of what you're seeing in a lot of Atlanta neighborhoods.

Scare Quotes playing at Julia's War Fest '22, April 9, 2022. (Photo by Ryan Myers)

This is the second offering from your forthcoming debut EP, Tactics, set to be released April 22. Take me through the recording process of it. Where did you record the new EP and what was the recording / mixing process like for it?


LZ: We recorded it with Graham at Mirror Mirror in Atlanta, which was an awesome experience. Scott and Nathan have worked with Graham before, but it was my first time and I absolutely loved recording there. Besides all the mechanics of the process Graham knows exactly when to push you to get one more take or try it a different way, and when to encourage you to stop and take a break, or just be happy with what you got. He also added a lot of creativity to the tracks — there's an additional guitar part on Condo Fucked that he had Scott try on a whim and we really liked it. I've never felt so relaxed while recording! Plus Graham's dog freaking rocks.

NS: Yeah, my other band, Floral Print, has always recorded with Graham, and he's the best engineer/producer/wunderkind in Atlanta, in my opinion. His hustle is something to behold. Also, he does take on a role almost like another member of the band, and that really helped us to make some sections of the songs take on a completely different life in the recorded setting.


What's it been like working with both Super Wimpy Punch and Rope Bridge Records for this new EP? SRI: Can't praise either of them enough. Wonderful, selfless people all around. Rope Bridge is brand new, but already has a fleet of amazing releases, which absolutely speaks to Ryan Myers' taste and hustle. And we’ve all been big fans of SWP’s roster for a while so they were the first people we went to with the EP. I only just met Jordan Caulfield and Jasmine Taibi this past weekend, but it felt like instant kinship. They also cooked us the meanest breakfast spread I've ever seen.

NS: Yeah, dream team, honestly. Amazing how it worked out this way. I'd met Jasmine and Jordan on tour years ago and always admired the SWP stuff. Ryan is the biggest supporter of DIY music that I know and just recently started putting out tapes of local bands at a staggering pace. Ryan, Jasmine, Jordan, and I also all have Blue Smiley tattoos, which is a funny connection, haha.


What was it like playing Julia's War Fest this past weekend? We were tabling all three days and each night was stacked with some amazing young talent.

NS: Julia’s War Fest was absolutely amazing. All of the organizers did an amazing job of putting it together, and the lineup was incredible. So many familiar faces and bands as well as a bunch of new ones that absolutely blew my mind. It was just such a great feeling of community, and it's nice to go to a "cool" event like this with no sign of pretension in sight. We can’t wait to come back to Philly, hopefully on tour this summer.

LZ: It was awesome! I was stoked to see so many incredible bands, the lineup was really exciting. Also this was only our third show, and our first time playing outside of Atlanta as Scare Quotes, and everyone made us feel really welcome.

Scare Quotes playing at Julia's War Fest '22, April 22, 2022. (Photo by Ryan Myers)

Tactics comes out on April 22 via Super Wimpy Punch and Rope Bridge Records. Pre-order the limited cassette tape of the upcoming EP at ropebridge.bandcamp.com.