Breaking: Chastity Belt

On their third album, Seattle's funniest punks come clean.

MEMBERS: Julia Shapiro (vocals/guitar), Lydia Lund (lead guitar), Annie Truscott (bass), Gretchen Grimm (drums)
FOUNDED: 2010
FROM: Walla Walla, Washington, before settling in Seattle
YOU MIGHT KNOW THEM FROM: Their 2013 debut album No Regerts, 2015 sophomore effort Time to Go Home, or the challenge they present to gender norms through their raucous songs
NOW: Releasing their third full-length, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, via Hardly Art

With song titles like “Giant (Vagina)” and “Pussy Weed Beer,” it’s pretty clear that humor has driven the music of Chastity Belt since the four-piece’s first record, 2013’s No Regerts. And in some ways it’s served as a coping mechanism for the band. “On past records we were kind of hiding behind our humor, and [we] put up a front,” says frontwoman Julia Shapiro. “Now that we’re feeling a little more confident and have more experience, we don’t necessarily need to do that.”

Before Chastity Belt, none of the members had been in a band before. “I think it took pretending it was a joke and not [really] trying in order to take the risk to actually perform in front of people,” explains Shapiro. “It’s easy if you’re not taking it seriously because you can laugh it off.”

But with their third album, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Annie Truscott, and Gretchen Grimm use vulnerability in a much more mature manner—all the way down to the titles of the songs. On the truncated semi-title track “Used to Spend,” Shapiro sings, “I wanna be sincere”—a message to fans that the band is ready to be its most candid self.

“It’s easy if you’re not taking it seriously because you can laugh it off.” — Julia Shapiro

More important for their development was Shapiro realizing that even though she loves being around other people, she could stand to spend more time alone. That struggle is something she’s battled with in the past, but the album title in particular is representative of Chastity Belt’s new direction. “It ties into us growing up in a weird way,” Shapiro says.

For I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone, Chastity Belt recruited the English producer (and current Wire guitarist) Matthew Simms, who recorded the group at Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland, where Pacific Northwest legends like Elliott Smith and Built to Spill have laid tape. “He had a really good idea of what guitar tones we should [use], and he wired a ton of abstract parts that use a lot of pedals to make the songs atmospheric,” says Shapiro.

While the group has turned inward of late, they haven’t exactly become hermits, either; when it came time to choose the first single from the record, they enlisted the help of their friends. The melodic post-punk cut “Different Now” garnered the strongest response, as Shapiro sings what every person in their mid-twenties contemplates: “You should take some time to figure out your life.”

“I think we’re all maturing—getting better at playing our instruments and getting better at playing with each other,” she says. “Some would say our new record is more serious, but I think we’re just getting more comfortable being a more serious, real band.” FL

This article appears in FLOOD 6. You can download or purchase the magazine here.

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