Parenthetical Girls Interview

albumThe Blow, Owen Pallet, Xiu Xiu, Grouper and others are among the bands Zach Pennington, vocalist and founding member of Parenthetical Girls recorded on his label, Slender Means Society. Parenthetical Girls began to take off after the band’s vinyl-only debut album, which was released in 2004.

Zach Pennington has been the one standing member in experimental pop infused Parenthetical Girls, the band formed in 2003 in Portland, and over the course of the last 10 years has gone through many changes… member swapping and stylistic revisions.

On the eve of South by Southwest, while he was out near San Antonio preparing to play a set alongside Thurston Moore, Merchandise, and seven or so other bands, he took a quick break to chat with us.

(Zach’s answers are Italicized)

Pick a safe word.

Tangerine.

What is the most precious instrument you possess?

My Casio keyboard.

Robots vs. Dinosaurs?

Tangerine.

Can you dance?

I cannot dance.

Do you have a day job?

My day job, I can finally say, is performing full time. Although, I used to be a music critic for The Stranger and also wrote for Mercury, both are based out of Portland; and I used to be pretty negative. Looking back at myself now, in retrospect, I feel bad for some of the reviews I wrote. I had no prior schooling so The Stranger was kind of my journalistic boot camp, and if you have read it, you might understand the aggressive and snarky way the stranger reads, and why my writing might have been swayed by their overall attitude.

Do you read reviews of your albums or shows?

I used to, obsessively, I found that too many variables aren’t factored in and when you see a negative review after working so hard on something, it’s a drag. So now I avoid– but still respect– the criticism.

Tell us about your latest album, Privilege.

The new record was put together as a series of EP’s, 5 totaling. I like EP’s, and prefer them over full-length albums. We made this album differently than any of the recordings prior. The third album, Entanglements, was an orchestral pop album and it was exhausting to work on… so time consuming keeping the consistency of that record. The bulk of the recordings were literally 80 tracks recorded and layered into one song. It was refreshing to have more freedom with the new album.


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