Photo by Zach Wright and Zack Bass
Potty Mouth - Abby Weems (vocals/guitar), Ally Einbinder (bass), and Victoria Mandanas (drums) - originally from Massachusetts, are now settled and thriving in Los Angeles, California. Their most recent record, SNAFU (2019), is chock-full of amazing rock tracks, reminiscent of all things 90's. While their songs are infectious, and will get stuck in your head for the rest of your existence, their stage presence and aesthetic are phenomenal as well. Immediately, their catchiest-of-catchy songs "22" comes to mind, with eye-grabbing looks and settings layered on top of this stand-out track. Potty Mouth keeps fans anticipating what their next move will be, with side gigs such as the record Sunday, Someday, aka "the tour that never happened" released through Get Better Records.
Though touring is not a thing at the moment, we were fortunate enough to catch Potty Mouth at Alex's Bar (Long Beach, CA), back in the fall of 2019. Weems, Einbinder, Mandanas, and their touring guitarist Nikki Martinez showed the crowd that they were a force to be reckoned with.
We were lucky enough to recently connect with Potty Mouth - check out the interview below!
1. Hello! Please introduce yourself, your pronouns, and what you each do in the band.
Abby: My pronouns are she/her and I play guitar and sing!
Ally: My pronouns are she/her and I play bass.
2. How did each of you get involved in music? Were you always interested in being in bands from a young age?
Ally: I was introduced to punk music early on in my teenage years and became a regular show-goer in the local punk scene where I grew up in Albany, NY. At that point in my life, I had more friends that I met from going to shows than I did in my high school and I think that community aspect really appealed to me. I was enamored by punk music because it made it seem so easy to just pick up an instrument and start a band. I watched as many of my male friends started bands, put out records and toured around the country with ease, and I wanted that for myself. Still, it took me awhile until I felt confident enough to try. I first started playing bass when I was 21 years old because a friend of mine needed a bassist for a project in which he had already had a stockpile of songs written. He handed me a cassette tape with 10 demos and said, "if you're serious about learning bass, listen to this tape and learn the parts to the songs." So that's what I did, and that's how I joined my first band, Outdates.
Abby: I had a lot of friends in high school that played in bands and I would go to all their shows, I even saw Ally's first band play in the basement of the Jones library before I knew her! I was super interested in playing in a band, but I didn't have a lot of experience playing guitar and I felt like I couldn't keep up with my friends. Then I got invited to jam at Ally's house in 2011 and it was super fun and casual! It didn't matter that I was new to guitar because we didn't even know what kind of music we wanted to make, so we all just played what we thought sounded cool! So sick.
3. Looking back at your 2019 record, SNAFU, there is a central theme of “feeling misunderstood or at odds with the world”, do you still identify with the subject matter on that record? Or do you anticipate your focus for future new material will change?
Abby: 2019 feels so long ago now... and a lot of those songs were written years before that! So, I'm trying not to be too judgmental of my past self while I think about this now haha. To me it sounds like I was looking for my place in the world, like I knew who I didn't want to be but still wasn't sure of who I DID want to be. Which is totally fair for a kid in their early 20's!! So yeah, it does sound pretty at odds with the world, which I still feel in a lot of ways, but at least now I've gotten to a place in my life where I understand myself better and feel way more understood by the people around me. Woo go me! Who knows what will inspire a song, could be anything!
4. You have stated in past interviews that your record SNAFU is an acronym that stands for: “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.” What did that title mean to you, and looking back, has the idea of the title changed or remained the same since then?
Abby: I don't know why but I was really stuck on this idea that the acronym for the album should be PMS ha soooo clever! But when my friend Shereen offhandedly suggested SNAFU it really stuck with me because so much of what went into that album totally felt like a boatload of SNAFU's! The whole process of moving to LA, jumping into the LA music industry, even recording the album, it seemed like a natural progression for a band which eventually got all fucked up! To me the name represents a time in our band's history when we pushed ourselves and learned a lot about what really matters to us as a band. And in a way it was a blessing in disguise because it led to us releasing the album with Get Better Records!
5. You recently contributed two songs to the record Sunday, Someday: A Compilation Album of Friends who Meet on Sundays. The proceeds were used to fund top surgery and aftercare for a member of the group, as well as used to raise awareness about systemic oppression of QTPOC community members. Could you tell us a little more about that whole experience?
Ally: Yeah, so this is the main project we're working on right now! When the UK tour we were supposed to do in April 2020 was cancelled as a result of COVID, Koji -- who we had never met but was also supposed to be on that tour -- reached out to us about organizing a Zoom meet-up with members of the bands and crew who were supposed to be on that tour. That first zoom meeting was on April 26, 2020 (a fun little fact included in the album cover) and we've met weekly every single Sunday since then. The initial plan was never to make a record together, but as the pandemic lingered on and we continued to meet virtually and develop friendships with one another, it felt like the most cathartic thing that we, as a community of artists, could do together. We all had unreleased songs and recordings we had been sitting on, and this project gave us the extra push to give those songs a life and a purpose. Within the group, we realized we had all the skills we needed to put a record together: Koji and Em (from Nervus) helped produce, mix and master all of the tracks on the record, Abby made the album artwork, and Megan (who manages Nervus) made us a beautiful website for the project (www.sundaysomedayrecord.com). The album is coming out on Get Better Records, a label run by our peers and whose mission of elevating the voices of queer artists, aligns with the values of our group. We're also partnering with Little Amps Coffee in Harrisburg, PA to create a pre-order bundle for the record (custom blend coffee and Get Better Record mug with every LP!) and proceeds from those sales will go the LGBT Center of Central PA to build acoustic treatment for LGBTQ youth with sensory needs. I could go on and on about this project because it means so much to me but basically it's a story about a community of friends that grew from the ashes of a tour that never happened, the art we decided to make together in spite of that, and the mutual aid work we can do as a creative community.
6. Have the dynamics of the band changed at all during Covid? If yes, how so?
Ally: On a practical level, I don't see how the dynamics couldn't have changed! We were lucky enough to play 8 shows in 2020. We had 3 tours cancelled right at the start of the pandemic and once it became clear that live music was going to be on hold indefinitely, it really shot down any motivation or morale to try and do anything. We've been going easy on ourselves this past year. And as sad as it's been to lose the live show/touring experience, it has been nice to explore other creative outlets and just jam here and there for the fun of it. In terms of our relationships with each other, nothing has changed except the fact that we're all neighbors now which is REALLY nice, especially considering how spread out LA is! It is extremely comforting to have the closest people in my life just a few blocks away, especially during this fucked up time. 2021 will mark our 10-year anniversary of being a band, and we really are like family to each other.
7. Hole and Veruca Salt have been listed as some of your top musical influences. Have there been any newer bands that you find influential? If so, what defining factor stands out about those particular bands?
Abby: When it comes to influences for Potty Mouth it's 90% 90's music hehe, I can't help it!! But some more current artists that have influenced me are St. Vincent, Colleen Green, the Peggies, and the Beths. I'm drawn to them because they have songs with fun, creative melodies played by rock instruments and that's totally my shit.
8. What have been your favorite touring experiences? Any city/state/venue/restaurant in particular stand out?
Ally: My all-time favorite touring experience was the three girls rock camps we were invited to play while we were on tour in Summer 2019. The camps were in Columbus, OH, Nashville, TN and Santa Barbara, CA. Nothing compares to playing to an entire gymnasium of young kids who are screaming and dancing the entire time. I wish we could do an entire tour of girls’ rock camps!
9. Grrrls Like Us is all about inclusivity, as well as highlighting bands and artists that may be underrepresented/marginalized (LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, QTPOC, etc.). Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go in regards to the punk scene. What are some ways that the scene can be more inclusive? Also, what are some ways that we can create safe spaces for those who may not feel seen or heard?
Ally: Once live music is back, I think a lot of work needs to be done to ensure that more venues are inclusive, safe and accessible. It's very sad to see how much small independent venues have suffered as a result of the pandemic, but I also believe that re-building these spaces can and should be an opportunity to do better in terms of supporting the community that helps support them. Record labels, concert promoters, and booking agents should all be prioritizing signing and booking more QTPOC artists. I also believe artists have a responsibility to one another, and that bigger headlining acts should prioritize offering support opportunities to artists and bands with underrepresented/marginalized members -- especially if they themselves are not of those underrepresented/marginalized identities (i.e., cis, white, male) -- because it is these opportunities that are the most crucial launching pads for any artist's career.
Abby: I want to play potluck shows in the future! I just like the idea of shows being like a community gathering more than a reason to stand awkwardly in a bar.
Follow Potty Mouth on Instagram @pottymouthworld, pottymouthworld on Facebook, and pottymouthworld on Twitter. You can purchase Potty Mouth merch, as well as their latest record, "SNAFU" & "Sunday, Someday" here.