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Interviews

Discussing Reno’s punk rock past and future, with SPITTING IMAGE – new album coming up!

Nevada’s Slovenly Recordings is releasing the debut album Reno, Nevada post punk dark rockers SPITTING IMAGE next month, and it’ll be the first time the label releases a hometown band (they mostly release international punk groups). Today, we’re giving you a fresh taste of what’s coming, with a new single stream called “Still Thing” and an insightful interview with Slovenly Recordings and Spitting Image, touching on Reno’s punk rock past and future, the band’s new album, and more. Check it out below. “Full Sun” comes on February 3rd.

Spitting Image has been around for 11 years, and before this signing, they were on a Pacific Northwest label called Casino Trash Records, where they released a slew of EPs. The record is called Full Sun, and it’ll be released digitally next month and out on vinyl and cassette come Spring time.

The album marks a new era for Spitting Image as the LP ends a period of inactivity brought on by various members’ personal and professional commitments in different parts of the country. They never broke up during their physical separation and conserved ideas for the time they’d re-activate. Vocalist Austin Pratt summarizes the band’s new chapter as  “Same name, Same People, New Music.” This reactivation occurred in 2019 as one-by-one members returned to Reno with a batch of ideas fleshed out.

For fans of: Metz, Ceremony, Pissed Jeans, VR Sex, Drive Like Jehu.

Full Sun is their first issue of new studio material since their Icon Alive EP, with the band working with Tim Green (The Fucking Champs, Nation of Ulysses) in March 2021 to helm the recording sessions at Louder Studios in Grass Valley, CA.

Spitting Image came together in 2012 within the oft-overlooked underground DIY music scene Reno’s incubated over the prior decades with their understanding of culture derived from coming of age in cramped rows of small record shops, a slew of B-grade sci-fi/horror flicks, noise rock/hardcore punk shows, and the tail-end fallout of the 2007 market crash. Their early efforts on Casino Trash Records won the quartet accolades from the underground press and support slots for Ceremony, Shannon & The Clams, Sheer Mag, VR Sex, Iceage, Surf Curse, Spiritual Cramp, and more.

The band is: Austin Pratt (vocals), Julian Jacobs (guitar), Jack Scribner (bass), Donovan Williams (drums)


Pete, you’ve lived in Reno since you were young after moving there with your family from New York. From your time booking shows on Ryland St and starting Sticker Guy and 702 Records before Slovenly came into existence, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen taking place gradually over the years which has affected Reno’s underground music scene?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): The biggest difference between now and the 90s when we were doing basement shows is that, unfortunately, most of those killer houses with basements have been turned into offices or investment properties for monied folks moving over from California, or they just get torn down altogether to make way for condos and such. And downtown Reno, which in the 90s was always full of people for casino tourism, is quite the ghost town nowadays. After gigs in the basement at 516 Ryland, we used to walk downtown with the bands to eat at the casinos. The food was crap, but it was dirt cheap (like $1 per person), which is exactly what those touring bands needed. A lot of those old casinos have been torn down over the years.

How were members of Spitting Image first exposed to Reno’s underground punk scene growing up? Could you see anything lacking in Reno’s underground community that’s prevalent today or vice versa?

Julian Jacobs (Spitting Image): We all started attending punk shows in our early teens. At the time, shows in Reno were primarily held in people’s basements and dedicated punk clubs and record stores. Since then, new clubs and record stores have come and gone, and many of those neighborhoods have changed– former show houses have been either leveled or have seen their rent double. That said, The Holland Project, a non-profit all-ages DIY music venue and gallery space and a major hub for all of the most interesting music/art/activist culture in Reno, has been an instrumental player in Reno’s DIY community and has brought stability and continuity not present in earlier years.

SPITTING IMAGE

SPITTING IMAGE

What changes have occurred in Reno’s DIY music scene that has greatly impacted the community’s sustainability? Can you two discuss any changes in the socioeconomic aspects that have affected venues, radio, and other stakeholders able to keep that world moving?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): Reno has become unbelievably expensive — it’s not much cheaper than Seattle or Portland these days. That, along with the disappearance of basements, is hurting the local scene the most. I heard Julian from Spitting Image say that they’re paying for a practice space for the first time in their 10-year existence as a band.

Austin Pratt (Spitting Image): Reno’s been touted as “the next tech hub” for a while now and has seen a huge influx of newcomers, so we’ve seen many of the same issues with gentrification, displacement, housing instability, etc., as many other major cities. When we were starting, hardly anyone rented a practice space– everyone we knew was practicing or even putting on shows in their basement in a run-down house with cheap rent. With many young people priced out of those older neighborhoods, people have been forced to get more creative regarding the logistics of making a band work and putting on DIY shows. But people here are resourceful, and there are constantly new bands playing and new places putting on shows.

Over the last decade or since the beginning of the 2010s, have you two noticed any developments or new ideas have emerged that are helping to shape and sustain the community’s music scene?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): KWNK was a long time coming. That’s our community radio station, and I don’t know if folks in Reno are aware, but we should all be grateful to a cat from Davis, CA, named Todd Urick. He’s an old pal from KDVS and has been a crusader for community radio, helping to make a bunch of stations happen in smaller communities all around the west coast. He asked me to put him in touch with some people in Reno, and several years later, it happened. Of course, the main people we need to thank are the ones at KWNK, the Reno Bicycle Project, and the Holland Project. Holland has been vital to the local all-ages scene. Kids no longer need to rely on basements for gigs like we did — they have their place at Holland.

Austin Pratt (Spitting Image): The Holland Project started in our late teens and took several years to become sustainable, so we viewed having a stable DIY venue as something delicate or impermanent. Since then, Holland’s stability and accessibility to young people have inspired tons and tons of new bands, particularly among teens and young adults, which has, in turn, created more robust music scenes outside of our immediate community. Reno has active communities surrounding punk, indie, hardcore, folk, etc., all of which cross over and thrive independently.

Pete, Slovenly’s now worked with Spitting Image in two capacities, with you booking them in 2019 and now releasing their new album. What’s the story with these guys and your involvement in their world?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): I first heard SPITTING IMAGE when they hit me up to play our 20th-anniversary party in 2013. They put on a great show. I’ll let the guys tell you their story because I’ve only seen them play twice now (the second time being in 2019 when they played a DEBAUCH-a-ReNO pre-party). Regarding the release of their album, it was a long time coming. Slovenly’s been around for 20 years, and until now, the only Reno-based band to come out on the label was EDDIE & THE SUBTITLES. Eddie is from Reno and lives in Reno, but the record we did for them was a rerelease of their 1981 album when Eddie was based in SoCal.

What made Spitting Image feel Slovenly was the best fit for Full Sun after being with Casino Trash for so long? How long have the members known the label, and what were some of the bands that drew you all towards the decision to sign?

Julian Jacobs (Spitting Image): Slovenly have always been hometown heroes to us. We’ve been part of past Debauch-a-Reno events both as attendees and performers and loved so many of the Slovenly bands that have come through town over the years– Acid Baby Jesus, Useless Eaters, Scraper, Las Ardillas, The Anomalys, so many others, and of course older signees like The Spits and The Black Lips. We’re hyped not just to be joining the roster with so many sick bands but being the first Reno band to do so.

Pete, what made you feel Full Sun was Slovenly material and could stand out among the slew of garage rock/punk releases the label’s pumped out over the years?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): It’s a damn good album from start to finish. When bands send us such solid work, we do our best to make it happen on Slovenly. This one is very different from the garage/punk stuff we’ve released, but then again, so is GREEN/BLUE, MODEL ZERO, HÄXXAN, and DUCHESS SAYS. The albums we did for these bands are recommended listening for fans of SPITTING IMAGE.

Spitting Image

Spitting Image

The songwriting and production of Full Sun have a raw edge not heard in the band’s prior EPs. What did members of the band feel helped make the songwriting on this record exude more harsh elements than your prior work, and how did the opportunity to work with Tim Green come about?

Julian Jacobs (Spitting Image): It’s nice to know we have yet to go soft. What accounts for the harshness is tough to say. We’ve never approached songwriting or recording with a specific sound or effect in mind. We knew we wanted to make an interesting, dynamic, and exciting record, so Full Sun found us exploring the breadth of our influences more comfortably than ever. There are bits of industrial, alt-country, trip-hop, and jazz laced throughout the record. Taking all of that and making it sound “punk,” I think, gave the record the cohesion it needed to work as a whole. Working with Tim came about naturally. We’d never met Tim before working with him. Our friends recommended him, and we admired his work over his career as a producer (Melvins, Joanna Newsom, Bikini Kill) and the bands he’d played in, especially Nation of Ulysses. We received plenty of NoU comparisons in our early days, so it seemed like a natural fit. Tim’s studio is located in a meadow up in the Sierra Nevadas nearby, so the vibe also resonates with ours.

Pete, Slovenly is coming up on a new year, any plans you can reveal this year about any future releases or festival news with We’re Loud and Debauch-A-Reno?

Pete Menchetti (Slovenly Recordings): We’ve got some cool records cooking, and we’re planning to celebrate 20 years of Slovenly (one year late), together with the 30th anniversary of Sticker Guy. We’re putting together a big party in Reno in June 2023. Hopefully, we’ll get SPITTING IMAGE on the bill — that will be my third time seeing them! This fall, we’re planning another traveling WE’RE LOUD FEST that will go from Italy to Spain… and in 2024, we’re planning to bring it to Africa. A massively challenging project that we’re massively excited for. Stand by for news on that!

With Full Sun out will there be any touring in the near future for the band?

Austin Pratt (Spitting Image): We’ll definitely be touring once the record is out. We hope to hit the West Coast, Southwest, and Midwest this summer and, hopefully, the East Coast in the fall.

 

 

Discussing Reno’s punk rock past and future, with SPITTING IMAGE – new album coming up!
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