The Philly-based pop-punk band’s singer/guitarist Carmen Perry discusses Bob Marley, Florida, and her diary-writing practice.
As a college freshman whose relationship to working out was performative at best, I spent a disproportionate amount of time curating workout playlists. I never actually listened to them, though, because every time I went to the gym I ended up blasting Remember Sports’ (then SPORTS) 2014 album Sunchokes as I panted and wheezed on the elliptical, reveling in my angst and hoping to see all the people I secretly went to the gym to run into in the first place. The album’s eight short, thrashing pop-punk tracks felt like the indie rock equivalent of cardio: sweaty and kicking and confident.
Following Sunchokes, Remember Sports released two more records on Father/Daughter: the feisty, frenetic All of Something in 2015 and the more polished, layered Slow Buzz in 2018. On the latter, original members Carmen Perry (vocals, guitar), Jack Washburn (guitar), and Catherine Dwyer (bass) were joined by Connor Perry (replacing Benji Dossetter on drums). Now the Philly-based band is on a northeast tour with Joey Nebulous and others.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed since Remember Sports’ early days, it’s Carmen Perry’s sharp songwriting. On “GDP”—first released on SPORTS in 2013, then on All of Something—Perry belts, “I could keep a running list of all the things you never cared about / But I guess that goes the same for me, I never could remember / your birthday.” On “You Can Have Alonetime When You’re Dead,” from Slow Buzz, she wails, “Am I regressing or growing legs? / My pride on the floor like a broken egg.” This self-scrutiny is typical of Perry’s lyrics. She’s an expert at translating small, stinging reflections into confrontational, hook-filled anthems.
Ahead of their upcoming tour, we caught up with Carmen about the band’s latest tour and plans for their next album. Read the interview below, and catch Remember Sports at Brooklyn Bazar on April 3 with support from Joey Nebulous and youbet.
AdHoc: It’s been almost a year since you released Slow Buzz. What’ve you guys been up to since then?
Carmen Perry: We’ve been touring more this year than we ever have, which has been really cool. We made it out to the West Coast for the first time in two years [and] we did a lot of live sessions, so that’s been fun. Slow Buzz was the first album we released where we all lived in the same place at the time, so we were really able to do things properly.
Tell us about life on the road. Any favorite spots or gigs?
We really liked the Pacific Northwest. I think that’s an area we all feel drawn to. We had a great time in California in San Francisco and LA.
Probably my favorite show was in West Palm Beach, Florida. We had one of [maybe] three women sound people on our entire almost two-month tour, so that was really cool, and she was really good at her job. It sounded good, I felt good about it, and we didn’t really know what to expect from Florida, because it’s Florida. But I find that usually my favorite shows are the ones where it feels like a wild card going into it and then it ends up being really good.
Who are some of the folks you played with?
We toured in January and February, and half of that was a headlining tour that we did with a bunch of bands. We were out with Trace Mountains, then NADINE, then Pllush, then Lomelda. For the last two weeks of [the tour] we were with Joyce Manor and Jeff Rosenstock. There was a lot of variety there.
You’re about to start a tour with Joey Nebulous. How did you get connected to Joseph? How would you describe their music to someone who’s not familiar?
We went to school in Ohio at Kenyon College, and Joseph from Joey Nebulous went to Oberlin [College.] I think they played at Kenyon or we played at Oberlin—maybe both, so we’ve been music friends for a few years now. They’re really cool. I would describe them as synth-y, dreamy pop from, like, a nightmare maybe? I love that band so much. I’m really excited that we get to do some dates with them.
What were you listening to on tour?
We listened to a bunch of different things. There was one time on this last tour where we were all in really bad moods, so we were like, “Let’s just listen to Bob Marley,” and we put on a greatest hits album and it made us all way happier. That was nice. We also started listening to movies in the car.
Not podcasts, but movies?
We listened to podcasts, too. We got stuck in this snow storm traffic in November, so we put on The Shining.
It’s good audio. And Lord of the Rings.
Are you all in Philly right now?
Yeah, we are.
What does a perfect day in Philly look like for you?
Well right now it’s really sunny and I get out of work pretty early, so it’s nice to just take a walk around the neighborhood. We live in West Philly, so there’s always a pretty big chance you’ll run into ten different people you know who also play music when you’re out on a nice day like today. I always like that.
You said in another interview that you wrote the song “Clean Jeans” from a place of anger, and that you don’t play it much anymore. What are some other emotions that drive you to write?
Usually your classic sadness. Probably confusion more than anything else. I started writing songs as a way to work stuff out that I didn’t have words for, so those are always the most cathartic songs for me—when I can get to do that. I feel like a lot of people would describe our music as sad in lyrical content. That’s definitely a big part of it.
But not sad in expression?
Not always. I really like the dynamic between sad lyrics and upbeat music.
In the same interview, you said that you write almost exclusively in bed. Do you have a physical diary or journal? Or are you more of a Notes app diarist?
I do physical notebooks. I had one big notebook that I had since high school that I just finished last year. Slow Buzz was in the tail end of that one, then I got a new one recently. I do have an extensive Notes app collection, but I like to visually have that next to me when I’m writing something and then write it in my actual book.
In another interview, Jack said that you guys all do other art and music stuff on your own. I was wondering what some of that other art and music stuff looked like.
Jack plays in a band called A Million Dollars. They just finished recording an album that will be out soon. Catherine has a solo project, Spring Onion. She’s [released] some stuff [over] the last few years. I play bass in her live band.
I sort of do my own solo stuff. I haven’t been doing it much recently, but it’s called Addie Pray, and I still play some shows around Philly. I put out a tape with Father/Daughter a few years ago.
Catherine and Jack are both in another band called 2nd Grade. They have an album out soon, too. And then Connor does a lot of physical art—fine art. He does really cool installations with sculpture and sound, and he also does house painting as his day job, so Connor’s the physical one.
What’s next for Remember Sports? Do you have any plans to write, record, or release anything else?
Like I said before, this is sort of the first time that we’ve all been in the same place and had our shit together, so we’re trying to stick to a schedule of putting another album out two years after [Slow Buzz.] We’ve already been working on new stuff. It seems really far away, but we’re talking about releasing something next year.