The New Brunswick punk band Erotic Novels are from right to left Shannon Perez, Chris Tull and formerly Chris Pierce. Perez and Tull from Erotic Novels and the indie/punk podcast “Weekend Quality” chat about both influential entities. PHOTO BY COOLDAD MUSIC
Influential punk rockers Shannon Perez and Chris Tull of the band Erotic Novels and the podcast “Weekend Quality” are busy AF, but, fortunately, they enjoy spending a lot of time together, which is what the two projects require. Veterans of such kick-ass bands as Don Juan Destroyer, Side Bitch and The Hellstroms, the pair came together via their mutual friend and now sometime drummer Chris Pierce at his Volume IV studio in New Brunswick. There they made their debut full-length and vinyl outing, “There Is No Language in Our Love,” released at the end of the summer by Lansing, Mich.-based GTG Records, also home of Trenton-based Honah Lee.
Like always, Erotic Novels have some great gigs coming up, including Dec. 7 at Cat Farm in New Brunswick with Good Looking Friends, Erotic Novels, Kissies and Ultra Deluxe; Dec. 14, Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market Holiday Show at Mill Hill Basement with Shades Apart, Lost in Society and Crossed Keys; Jan. 18 in their debut at Asbury Park Yacht Club for the Light of Day Festival with Molly Rhythm, Little Vicious and Rachel Ana Dobken, and Jan. 19 when “Weekend Quality” presents its first-ever show at Century in Philadelphia, which also will feature SOLD and Poppy.
In the following all-too-brief chat, the couple share their love of punk rock, their new album, their podcast and the DIY scene. Enjoy!
Question: What bands were each of you in before coming together with Erotic Novels?
Shannon: I was in a band called Don Juan Destroyer, then I Hope You Die, Strange Things Done in the Midnight Sun, Kannon, and Side Bitch.
Chris: The main band I was in here on the East Coast was the Hellstroms.
Q: Had either of you done a previous media project before ‘Weekend Quality?’
Chris: We've both done zines. I started making zines in seventh grade of the comics that I wrote and drew.
Q: How did the two of you meet, how did that lead to forming Erotic Novels and ‘Weekend Quality,’ and which came first, the band or the podcast?
Chris: The podcast came first. I was already doing it when I met Shannon, but it didn't take off until we started working together on it.
Shannon: We met at Volume IV when Chris was practicing with Chris Pierce to do a Halloween cover set.
Chris: We started hanging out after that, but didn't start the band until about a year later.
Q: What do you love most about producing ‘Weekend Quality,’ as well as its live shows, and why?
Chris: I like having a fire under my ass to always seek out new music and new bands. It keeps me on top of things, and I always have something fresh and exciting to listen to.
The good thing about doing the live shows is enjoying the music. Beyond that, it is a real pain to put them together.
Q: What do you love most about ‘There Is No Language in Our Love’ and why?
Shannon: It's the first album I've ever put out that got pressed to vinyl, so it’s exciting to do something in a new medium; one that I respect and love. It’s also the first time either of us have worked with a label instead of doing it DIY.
Chris: It’s definitely the best think I've ever had a hand in making. I think that it’s a great representation of where we both were at that time as a band and as people, which is the whole idea of making art, for me.
Q: What did you like most about working on the LP with Chris Pierce at Volume IV and why?
Shannon: Chris had a lot of pedal options and we got to record in analog, which is the way we both prefer to work.
Chris: And Chris is a whiz at getting good sounds very quickly and making the recording environment fun and stress-free.
Q: Besides making the album there, why is Volume IV important to Erotic Novels and ‘Weekend Quality?’
Shannon: When we lost our spot at the Court Tavern, Volume IV was there to help us host our remaining shows. It's also where our practice space is.
Q: How did you hook up with GTG Records and how has it been working with them so far?
Chris: I've known Tommy, The Plurals, and some of the other GTG people for a while. We played together a lot back in the Hellstroms days.
Shannon: And then Erotic Novels played with The Plurals in a basement in New Brunswick. Tommy from GTG is in that band and decided that he wanted to put out our record.
Q: So it’s been a great year for Erotic Novels, as well as ‘Weekend Quality,’ with an LP on an internationally respected label, a slew of great shows, many of which Weekend Quality produced, and another year of great podcasts. Besides releasing the album and producing the podcast each week, what has been the greatest accomplishment for the band and the show this year and why?
Shannon: The highlight of my year was playing with Weston, which features James Alex from Beach Slang. They're a band that I used to see when I was a teenager in New Brunswick, and it was cool to be able to open for them. And working with Aftermath Collective has been really rewarding.
Chris: I think we got some cool interviews on the air this year, including Miguel Chen from Teenage Bottlerocket, and did some great live episodes, including one with Hospital Job, one of my favorite bands. But the biggest thrill of the year, for me, was Chris Thacker of Sounds Rad inviting us to be a part of the Dr. Frank, Even In Blackouts, Mikey Erg tour. We both love the Mr. T Experience, and it was a huge deal to share a stage with Frank. He'll forever be one of my songwriting heroes.
Shannon Perez and Chris Tull had a sweet year with their New Brunswick punk band, Erotic Novels; their podcast, “Weekend Quality” at http://weekendquality.com/ and its many shows. PHOTO BY CAITY MACLEOD
Q: As great as the year has been for the band and the podcast, it has not been such a great year for the New Brunswick music scene with the closing of the Court Tavern, the lack of a consistent weekend venue within the city, and a decline in the band and show output of the basement scene. Shannon, you’ve been involved in the New Brunswick scene for a long time in several great bands. What do you think of the current state of the scene, what do you think has caused its decline and can anything make the scene strong again?
Shannon: I feel that if you think there’s a decline in bands, you might be unaware of the underground DIY scene that’s alive and thriving in basements and house shows and DIY spaces. Even though there is a lack of over-21 venues and bars doesn't mean there’s a lack of shows. You just have to dig a little deeper to find out where those are. It's not mainstream. It's a DIY subculture.
Q: Chris, you’re from the Philly scene, which, for my money, is the best scene in the Mid-Atlantic if not the Northeast. Will Erotic Novels and Weekend Quality relocate there, and if not, why is it worthwhile to remain based in New Brunswick?
Chris: We love New Brunswick. There’s no reason to relocate. But I agree that the Philly scene is great. Waxahatchee made one of the best albums in recent memory. We mentioned Beach Slang before, and they’re doing their thing. Teenage Bigfoot, Goddamnit, SOLD, Ramona, the Barren Marys, Poppy... Great scene, and we do play there and love it, but we’re not leaving New Brunswick.
Q: You have some great shows coming up, including Dec. 7 at Cat Farm, which I believe is a basement show; Dec. 14 at the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market Holiday Party with Shades Apart and Lost in Society, and Jan. 18, your debut at Asbury Park Yacht Club for Light of Day with Molly Rhythm, Little Vicious and Rachel Ana Dobken. Is there anything you’d like to share about those shows and anything else you have going on and coming up?
Shannon: Speaking of Philly, we’re making a weekend of it and playing with SOLD and Poppy at Century on Jan. 19.
Chris: It’s the first time Weekend Quality has put on a show at Century. It's a great space, and everyone who likes that great Philly scene should check it out.
Q: Are there any specials or other special events that Weekend Quality has coming up?
Chris: We have the fourth annual pair of Weekend Quality Year-End Specials coming up, which is the big two-part extravaganza where we count down our top 10 albums of the year, play our favorite songs, and talk to our friends, fellow band people and see what they got up to and enjoyed in the past year. Subscribe to the Weekend Quality podcast and you'll see that around the last two weeks of December.
Q: Is there anything I didn’t ask on which you would like to comment?
Shannon: We have a batch of new songs, and we’re working with a new label to record one of them for a comp.
Chris: Yes! The future is bright! People will go nuts when they hear what this comp is going to be like. And I love our new songs, and I can't wait for people to hear some of them at our upcoming gigs.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.