(Photo by Rita Gonsalves)
Piss Test is a tried and true punk band, for better or for worse. They’ve got 2 EP’s and an LP in their cache which consists of short, bratty bursts of agitation and frustration mixed with a hearty dose of wit and sarcasm, enough so that when they’re done with you, it’s hard to tell which end is up. They’re music is also peppered with their irreverent sense of humor, which much like the Angry Samoans is one large blazing middle finger in your face. Piss Test sing about what they think about you, your stupid friends and that ridiculous life you actually call an earthly existence. They don’t care if you agree or if you get it or not, these are not their concerns. Their music is so loud and in your face you can’t get a thought in edgewise and even if you could there’d be no one there to listen. To me, this is Piss Test: love ‘em for it, hate ‘em for it, they don’t care.
Interview by J Castro
Let’s start out by telling us who is currently in the band and what everyone does in Piss Test:
PISS TEST: Zach plays guitar and sings, Rodrigo plays drums, Samantha plays bass and sings.
How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
SAMANTHA: Zach and I are both from Denver. I had a raging teenage crush on him before he moved to Portland and my persistence worked out. I moved to Portland almost eight years ago and we met Rodrigo when he joined the band Therapists. He really impressed us. I did not play music before this band.
ZACH: Despite the fact that Samantha and I are a couple, it was Rodrigo’s idea to have her play bass. I asked him to start a band after he quit Therapists. He claimed he was done playing drums, which was utterly unacceptable.
RODRIGO: I'm glad didn't stop drumming. I seriously wanted to quit, and play bass.
Your band is currently based in Portland, OR. With so many other great bands out there at the moment, is it tough playing shows with so much else going on? I know here in Phoenix sometimes there are two or three good shows and as a fan, sometimes it’s hard to choose.
SAMANTHA: People go to a lot of shows. Our last show competed with Bad Brains at a huge venue, Fred & Toody Cole of Dead Moon at a fancy venue and members of Autistic Youth playing in an indie rock band on a boat and was still decently attended.
ZACH: Most of the good bands in Portland barely play.
RODRIGO: There are so many rad bands here in Portland. At first I think it was tough, but now I think we are starting to have a following here.
People have reviewed your records and compared Piss Test’s sound so early ‘80’s hardcore and bands on the Killed by Death compilations. How would you describe your sound to someone that’s never heard your band?
ZACH: Recent reviews keep saying we sound like Boston’s The Proletariat, so I guess we sound like The Proletariat. We were going for more of a Blood Stains Across Texas meets 100 Flowers vibe.
RODRIGO: I can't think of anything we sound like.
I was watching this old interview with Henry Rollins and he was saying how much he hates Bruce Springsteen because he doesn’t offer any solutions to some of the things he sings about, he just whines about them; things like poverty, social inequality etc. Do you agree with this at all? Do you think bands should offer more solutions to the things they talk about in their lyrics?
SAMANTHA: Nothing that Henry Rollins says matters. Bruce Springsteen is The Boss. Giving “solutions” or suggestions for how to live life is a major mistake that Minor Threat made. We hope to never be like that.
ZACH: Henry Rollins has never solved anything!
RODRIGO: What did Henry Rollins offer? Is he even playing music? Who cares?
ZACH: One of the things I love about Bruce Springsteen records like Nebraska is that they are lyrically a collection of short stories. None of the characters in Piss Test songs are autobiographical. We write about addicts, aging skate bros, suicidal teenage girls, etc. You can shed light on social issues by writing about individuals.
Piss Test’s song lyrics seem to be all over the place in terms of subject matter. Can you remember the most bizarre person or event that inspired a song? Have you ever written songs lyrics that you regret for whatever reason?
ZACH: “Necrophilia, It’s Halal” was inspired by a supposed fatwa issued by Moroccan, Iman Zamzami declaring necrophilia, well, Halal. There were reports claiming the translation to be sensationalized, but that is completely irrelevant as far as song writing is concerned. Never regret anything, especially song lyrics.
SAMANTHA: In “Nazis” we name drop the tax preparation software Turbotax. I think that is weird.
ZACH: I stand by the lyrics.
Sometimes I hear a song and its lyrics or guitar riff are so great I think to myself, man I wish I would have written that! Have you ever felt that way about a song or lyric that strikes a similar chord (no corn ball pun intended) with you?
ZACH: All the time. If you don’t feel that way about other people’s music, you shouldn’t be trying to write music.
SAMANTHA: Nick Lowe, “Rollers Show,” The Next, “Cheap Rewards,” the entire Adolescents blue album and Boys Next Door “Somebody’s Watching Me,” “Death of Innocence” by Legal Weapon and a couple of hits by the Go-Go’s…
I was listening to your song “Everybody” from your 2014 LP Biggest Band in Europe (Johnny Cat Records/Taken By Surprise) and it got me wondering; do you feel people in bands put too much pressure on themselves to write and/or perform? Do you think that may be why so much popular rock n’ roll music lacks key ingredients like spontaneity and recklessness that made it great in the past?
SAMANTHA: The song isn’t pressure as much as delusions of grandeur. Some bands don’t work hard enough to write or perform, which is why there are so many sloppy, shitty, and boring bands.
ZACH: “Everybody” wasn’t inspired by bands who were trying too hard; it was inspired by bands who were posing too hard.
RODRIGO: I like to think that the best performing bands are having fun. Great music shouldn't be forced. Bands that sport their best fashion and hair styles before the music suck ass.
Where can people go or log on to listen to your music and buy your records?
ZACH: The internet
SAMANTHA: pisstest.bandcamp.com and the coolest of cool record stores
What does the rest of 2015 have in store for the mighty Piss Test?
ZACH: More of the same shit
RODRIGO: Hopefully touring more