Our brains are dumb. Some people sneeze when they go out into sunlight because their optic nerve or whatever gets mixed up and sends a signal to the brain that it needs to sneeze. You can (allegedly) train yourself out of almost any habit by repeating the correct behavior for about 21 days. Does it work? I don’t know! But I’ve already slept through four “wake up earlier” alarms this week and it’s only Tuesday.
Lindsey Baker, who fronts the band, is a Philadelphia-raised artist living in New Orleans by way of Brooklyn who understands the nuanced stupidity of the human brain about as well as one could. Her forthcoming album, Trench Foot, is all about it. Today, we’re premiering “Pansy From the Hills,” a subdued song. Baker told Noisey a little about the song and answered a few lingering questions we had about her record.
“Growing up, I was scared to death of my father,” Baker said of the song. “He was a body builder (that’s him on the cover of my first album, The Arm Wrestling Tournament), he was impatient, and supposedly he had been a really bad kid—so he took no bullshit from anyone, especially me. If I would fuss or cry over something not going my way or whatever little kids get upset about he would hold up his giant, square palm and say, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” I don’t have kids but I’ve dated some genuinely stupid people. “Pansy From the Hills” is a meditation on actually giving those people something to cry about.”
Noisey: Trench Foot is your third record. Do you feel like you have the hang of it now?
Lindsey Baker: After three albums I realized that confidence is a powerful tool that I should constantly push towards the foreground in my music. I’ve spent too long on the sidelines watching cishet dudes forcefully distribute their weight in every direction so they are essentially engulfing whole stages and entire audiences. I’ve learned to take absolute pride in all of this because it’s the only thing I’ll every truly own.
With Trench Foot there was a decision to replace the demure, shakiness in previous albums with a command over my writing and my performance. I’ve stopped letting dudes tell me how much reverb I should use and with that comes a certain confidence that’s endlessly liberating.
Many of your songs and videos feature dark humor (which I love). At the risk of sounding too “welcome to my twisted mind,” why do you think you gravitate toward that kind of writing?
Before I was doing Guts Club I was working visually, painting absurd banners to hang on fences and making ridiculous videos with me singing the saddest cover songs I could possibly think of. At the time I thought I was a serious artist but people would always comment on the dark, underlining humor in my work. I don’t know if it’s that I find all aspects of everything ever to be a little bit funny, if they actually are funny, or if I’m just an actual monster.
Leon Payne wrote a song Eddie Noack sang called “Psycho,” a song that people usually find more sobering than funny. “Psycho” is wild and I thought it was a weird joke the first time I heard it. It seemed like a parody of a parody, but whatever it was, I needed to heard it like, 45 times. I’ve always loved the way Vic Chesnutt made a song about retiring in Florida sound as bleak as dying alone on the moon. In “Rabbit Box,” Chesnutt plainly sings about shooting birds as a kid, “it was two pigeons that fell like beanbags into the weeds/ well they sure looked like doves to me.” In the Scout Niblett song, “Gun,” she’s literally warning an estranged lover that she’s thinking about buying a gun, “a nice little silver one,” most assuredly for the purpose of shooting him. These songs are excruciatingly dark but its music I always come back to. Life is a horrifying disgusting place, it’s also weirdly funny. I’m just making music I would want to listen to or accidentally find on those days when everything feels bogus.
You featured country-leaning sounds in your previous album and expanded on them on Trench Foot while going electric. What lead you to those musical choices?
There’s a gorgeous sense of integrity in classic country and outlaw music but that pretty much exists only in traditions structured around spaces where I feel unsafe or like an outsider. I connect with a lot of the tropes in old country music so much that I’ve just extracted and repurposed the stuff that stands out to me. It’s like watching a concert through a window outside the venue- I’m safer outside but that doesn’t mean I won’t take what I heard and loved and use it to tell my own weird stories.