Two weeks before her band released their debut EP, Avery Springer found herself on family vacation at Universal Studios dealing with a crisis. The new band she formed a few months prior had just been served a cease-and-desist notice from another band that was also using their name. Springer and her bandmates were in a frantic group chat, trying to come up with a name that they could move forward with, not wanting or able to deal with the time and money it would take to fight it, especially with their first-ever release on the horizon.
So, while Springer was on a two-hour line for the Minions ride, the band landed on Retirement Party, a joke because all of its members are relatively young, but one that feels apt for the sort of music they make, which is nervous and focused on a time when those nerves will eventually subside, when you’ll finally be able to settle into some sort of stasis.
That first EP, Strictly Speaking — which was released in early 2017 — came together quickly and a little frantically, as well. It was Springer’s first time working with her bandmates, lead guitarist Nick Cartwright and drummer James Ringess, both of whom she recruited to play with her right after moving to Chicago and both of whom she didn’t know all that well. That didn’t stop her desire to put a band together pretty much immediately after moving away from home.
Following one fateful practice together, it was set: “I had a bunch of songs already written and our first practice went really well, so afterwards I informed them that I had booked studio time for a month later so we had to get everything right,” Springer tells me. “Things kept snowballing from there and never really stopped.”
The band’s first full-length album, Somewhat Literate, will be out at the end of May. The initial chemistry that was apparent at that first practice has coalesced into a remarkably well-oiled machine. The music is informed by Green Day — which Springer mainlined while growing up in a suburb outside Detroit — and more recent strains of energetic pop-punk, from Chumped to the Anniversary to P.S. Eliot.
Somewhat Literate is breathless and hooky and analytical to a fault, all qualities that can be gleaned from its lead single, “Passion Fruit Tea,” which is about the immense thrill that Springer and the rest of her band gets from making music. “It’s about pursuing music without it being my career, about still having to work a 9-to-5 and go to school,” she explains. “‘I’ll keep drinking passion tea to just get the taste of it.’ That line is about getting just a taste of what it could be like to do this full-time.”
That infectious energy, that feeling of always having to do the most, is apparent throughout the whole album. Retirement Party play big and loose, chugging riffs and erratic drumming reined in my Springer’s strong narrative pull. She has a tendency to stuff an impressive amount of syllables into every nook and cranny of the verses and then go for broke in the chorus, which means that half the song ends up sounding stumbling and insular and the other half feels like it could fill an arena. It’s a best of both worlds approach, which mirrors Springer’s musical ethos.
“I wrote [the album] in five months during a specific time in my life where I was starting to go through therapy and figure out myself, learning how to read myself. That’s where the name Somewhat Literate comes from,” she explains. “Obviously, the songs are really fun and I pride myself on that and I like to have that, but the lyrical content of them is not easy and it does get very personal.
“It deals with mental health, but I like to keep things light and still-fun,” she continues. “What I’m hoping that people can get out of it is that shit sucks sometimes, but it’s not always bad. Things aren’t always terrible. Even if I’m writing a song about my depression, I can throw a little bit of shredding guitars in there and make it a little bit fun. It doesn’t have to be all sad.”
01 “That’s How People Die”
02 “Scene 48″
03 “Shoulder It”
04 “Passion Fruit Tea”
05 “Truck Stop Casino”
06 “Are You My Mother”
07 “Take Your Vitamins”
08 “Grand Am”
09 “The Big Boom”