Writer, musician, and occasional Vol.1 Brooklyn contributor Zachary Lipez is a busy guy. He writes regularly for the likes of Noisey, Hazlitt, and Pitchfork, and his new band Publicist UK recently concluded a short tour behind their debut album, Forgive Yourself. Said record is terrific, a compelling selection of brooding postpunk songs that hit the right marks both for heaviness and for musical and lyrical smarts. And thus, he and I talked about the making of the album, the way his approach to singing has changed since the days of his last band, and more.
From what I understand, Publicist UK wasn’t intended to be a full-on live band at first. At what point did you realize that, yes, this was a band that would be playing out?
Not till we realized that there would be an album out that people who were not us spent money on and therefor we would be, in the parlance these days, “bad people” if we didn’t tour. Initially it was just a lark between myself and David Obuchowski, a way to fill the hours till the sweet release of death. Then Brett and David W. joined and it became a larger, more ambitious way to do the same. Or possibly to become immortal through art lol.
Do you feel as though your onstage presence in this band is different from what it had been in Freshkills?
I drink less so I move around less. I don’t lose my breath and I largely remember all the lyrics. I also realized that an onstage persona that I considered caustic and thrilling was merely alienating. So I talk in between songs less. Unless I have a very good joke or an uncontroversial progressive platitude that I think will go over well with a particular crowd.
You wrote lyrics for most, but not all, of the songs on Forgive Yourself. What was singing words you hadn’t written like, in this context? And how did the lyric-writing get broken down?
For the most part, it’s left to me. The band is extremely kind and supportive about lyrics. they trust me. In the same way, I trust David O and when he had a few songs that had written lyrics that were important to him, I was happy to sing them. I always liked the lyrics in Goes Cube so it wasn’t too hard. He’s very good at it and is nice enough to realize I am NOT good at guitar playing so he generally lets me hog the lyrical spotlight. The only problem is that, yes, I do have a bit of difficulty memorizing my own lyrics, let alone anyone else. But that has more to do with me spending more time on Twitter than practicing. And that’s not a situation I see changing in the foreseeable future.
You just did short tours with dälek and Young Widows. How did each of those go? And how were the audiences for each?
They went fine. Both those bands are good as hell. And extremely kind and funny and therefor ideal touring companions. Young Widows ate more of my pills, which is probably to be expected. Crowds were biggest in NYC and Richmond because we are very popular as human beings in both those towns. Which is understandable as we are fucking delightful human beings. Especially Brett. In terms of how delightful we are I guess it would go: Brett at Number 1 (just because he’s friendly to the point of incredulousness), closely followed by Dave and Dave in a dead heat, and with me in distant last place. That should not be taken as an indication that I am NOT delightful, I fully am, just, in comparison to the other three, I’m…less so.
The audiences for both ends of the tour was similar, veering towards older and tattooed. Pretty diverse in terms of sex and ethnicity. Reasonably tall. Probably a little heavy set. Seemed like good people, but who knows what they’re like behind closed doors. Band t-shirts galore, but it was summer. I bet all our audiences clean up real nice.
Is there anything that the band experienced, either in terms of making the album or touring, that you feel will have an influence on subsequent songs?
That’s a tough one as nothing terrible has happened and I don’t know that we’re inclined to be influenced by reasonable level of contentedness. I think on a basic level, we discovered that we can write songs that we all love together and therefore we can do it again and maybe be a bit more ambitious the second time around.
You also write extensively about music; has this band had any effect on how you’ve listened to music in the last year or so?
I have to be a lot nicer in case I end up playing with a band I badmouth and they’re my size or bigger. Or small but wirey.
Seriously, now that I’m back in a band it’s just a good day to day reminder of “would I want this said about me?” so I am maybe more empathetic? But not so you’d notice probably.
In terms of actually listening, just being in a band with dudes who really understand metal and heavy music in a way that I perhaps didn’t is of course a gift. I get to hear all these bands that I’d previously just thought of “pretty cool” with new ears. Turns out I like Dying Fetus and the last couple Alice In Chains albums. Who knew. And I def wouldn’t have heard, in any real way, great bands like Call of The Void and True Widow if I weren’t in PUK. So I’m grateful for that.
I still don’t enjoy the genre of “Slam” but that point of view is solely held by me and is not at all reflective of Publicist UK as an organization.