Single Premiere: Why Bother?'s Scuzzy Mutant Punk Returns on "Cut to Pieces"
Following up a compilation of demos and covers and two double singles from earlier in the year, Midwest garage punks Why Bother? have shared with us the ragged mid-tempo mayhem "Cut to Pieces," the lead single to their anticipated sophomore album, Lacerated Nights, out September 16th through Feel It Records. Along with the premiere, we caught up with the band who tell us more about the new single and what else they got looming in the basement.
The Cincinnati-based independent label, Feel It Records, have been on a roll, releasing some of the year's best albums including Spread Joy’s intensely tight sophomore effort, Romero’s commanding burst of first-class power pop on Turn It On, and Why Bother’s unexpected treat of demos and covers on Lovers and Addicts. If you’re like me, you might've discovered the latter through the go-to underground punk YouTube channel Tremendo Garaje and have been hooked ever since hearing the whirring blend of buzzsaw synths and guitars on "Sub-Atomic Runaway" off last year's debut A Year of Mutations, a ragged and grimy collection of sci-punk tunes. Luckily, the band's restless energy continues as they have shared with us today "Cut to Pieces," the lead single to their anticipated sophomore effort, Lacerated Nights, out September 16th through Feel It Records. Continuing the band's lo-fi recording style, the new single is drenched in driving rhythms and spastic eruptions of trebly KBD-esque guitars that carve deep into your skull. — it's ultra catchy, Ramones-worship horror punk at its best. With a fine dose of early punk propulsion, the track feels like a lost artifact. Along with the premiere, we caught up with the band who tell us more about the new cut and what else they got looming in the basement.
Paperface Zine: Take me through the origins of your new single, “Cut to Pieces.” How did this track come about and what did you envision when initially composing it?
Speck: I came up with the intro, verse and chorus riffs pretty quickly and Pamela wrote the phrasing for the middle section. I had no idea what the song lyrically was going to be about. I know Terry reads a lot of weird books and comics so I'm always looking forward to what he is going to sing about. My guess is that this one is about a night stalker of some sort (Jack the Ripper type of thing maybe). What I really like about this tune is Pamela's bassline, which really moves. Paul started galloping in as soon as I played him the intro riff. Paul's problem is usually trying to decide which drum beat out of the ten that he came up with will work best for the song. I don't remember recording any of the outro guitar — it’s a bit of a blur. We don't ever envision how we want a song to be in the end. That would be pointless and limiting. After recording Paul will have a couple different mixes to listen to then we try to choose one we all agree on. If the track sounds or feels incomplete we shelf it...TAH!
PZ: This is the lead single to your sophomore album, Lacerated Nights, which comes out next month. What was the overall recording process like for the new LP? This is different compared to last year's A Year of Mutations, which collected tracks from your first four EPs along with several new tracks.
Terry: I think Lacerated Nights might be considered our debut album because A Year of Mutations is more of a collection of tracks from a few 7” records/lathes that we released in 2020-2021 before meeting Sam of Feel It Records. But it can be either —the more confusing the better! The overall recording process for the new album was pretty much how we always record. Once we decide which song we want to work on, we rehearse it for a day or two then we try recording it live, add any guitar or vocal overdubs and then record the synth last. We tend to record songs as individual singles opposed to recording a bunch of songs all at once. That allows us to approach every recording just a little bit differently from the last. I'm sure when these tracks are mastered for the LP it is a real pain in the ass.
PZ: I know you don't perform live and this is solely a recording project, but you guys have so much in store for fans this year and next. Aside from this new one, you have a tape called There Are Such Things coming out in October. What can fans expect from that one and what was it like putting it together?
Pamela: The cassette of that will be released sometime in October and yes, the songs will be about strange things, some imaginary and some realistically tragic. The A-side will be all new tracks and the B-side will consist of tracks that were recorded in 2020-2021 that did not get included on A Year of Mutations. We also plan on releasing a cassette tape with all new songs in late spring of 2023 called A City of Unsolved Miseries and also release another full-length record either summer or fall of 2023. I can honestly say that we have enough songs to work with all the way to 2024, but it is silly to talk about that right now.
PZ: The North Iowa underground was loaded with eclectic DIY basement punk, which was greatly documented through the Punk on the Plains compilations, but that has been on the decline since the pandemic. Paul, since you curated those comps and released them, is it still the same or has there been some bands emerging?
Paul: Dude, the music scene in Mason City is zilch. It was a flash in the pan. I think Wet Bread is still recording tunes. Mason City isn't like these other bigger cities that can keep churning out bands for like a decade. The garage/punk scene seems to be more of an unpredictable spasm that has popped up here once and awhile since the eighties. It also seems to be in parallel with any type of skateboarding surge as well. I put those comps together so there will be at least some proof that bands once existed. One cool thing about the Mason city punk/thrash scene is when it does re-emerge it never looks, sounds, tastes, or smells the same. We don't have those super punks hanging around looking and acting as if they just walked out of a classic punk rock documentary. It's just a bunch of creeps, weirdos, addicts, and drunks around here. A bunch of people get sent to Mason City from other places around the Midwest to go to the treatment centers, mental health clinics and halfway houses here. These people stick around for awhile then you never see or hear from them again.
PZ: What's something that makes this lineup special and how have you grown together since forming in 2019?
Speck: There isn't really anything special about us. All I can say is that we have all known each other for years. Me, Terry and Paul have been friends since we were teenagers and we have known Pamela for over ten years. It helps to write and record music with people that have nothing to prove to each other.
Paul: Exactly and each of us can be very self destructive at times and I think Why Bother? has given us something to focus on other than fucking our lives up.
Lacerated Nights comes out September 16th through Feel It Records. Pre-order the new album here. Stay tune for our full interview with Why Bother? in our upcoming print issue.