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An Interview with the Sigmund Frauds

An Interview with the Sigmund Frauds

by Isobel Abbott-Dethrow

Isobel Abbott-Dethrow sat down with the members of St. Louis band the Sigmund Frauds: Natalie, Peter, Scott, George, and Danny.

Isobel: How did the band come together?

Scott: Natalie and I met on a retreat for church. We started playing acoustic covers together. It slowly evolved over the years until we got to our current lineup, which we have had for a year and a half.

George: I met you guys when Natalie was about to go to school, about to lose a guitar player. It was at my cousin’s graduation party, and when I heard Natalie was about to leave, I went, “Oh! I play guitar, and I would love to be in your band!” There was a different bass player and drummer. Then we got a new bass player, then a new drummer and a new bass player.

Scott: Then we got a new drummer, then another new drummer, and now we’re here.

George: This feels like The Frauds lineup.

Peter: I met Scott at Marty’s graduation party. Scott was like, “Oh, you have microphones and an interface. Can you record an EP?” I did, then told you guys it sucked.

George: Because of Pete being bad at recording and us being bad at playing, we told Pete he should be in our band now. He knew all of the bass parts.

Peter: And record our next album, which was a lot better. It was mediocre recording and playing, then it worked out.

Natalie: Danny has been with us for about a year.

Danny: I had left my old band. I came to the Frauds house and saw the Public play and it was so cool. I love the Public, we played with them a lot of the time. I had a falling out with my old band and posted something about it on social media, then George reached out to me.

George: I was like, “We need a drummer, and you play drums!”

Danny: I said we should jam and see what happens.

George: And Danny was perfect and everything we needed on the drums.

Isobel: Are you/have you been a part of other projects besides the Frauds?
I was in a high school jazz band, then I was a part of Lobby Boxer for a hot second before I moved to Texas for college. I came back from college after the first year; I didn’t have a band, so I did a handful of recording projects. Even now, I’m in a lot of recording projects for Frankie Valet, the Snapchettes, and American Poetry Club, along with the Public and the Slow Boys at times. I did Eugene’s Preference for Lobby Boxer. I don’t play for other bands, but I am associated with them. I work as a music teacher sometimes.

Danny: I was in a few good bands that progressively got heavier, music-wise until now. It totally changed when I got into this band. My most recent band before the Frauds was Underground Lemon Experience. It started out as punk rock, turned to metalcore, then it became death, progressive doom. It was a lot of fun.

George: Danny was also in pre-Big Tobacco for a practice or two.

Scott: And I’m trying to get into post-Big Tobacco, that’s my plan.

George: I was in a band called Peach Fuzz in high school. I did that for a while… it used to be a two-person thing, which was terrifying. There was a lot of noise you have to make on your own. I played a couple of shows with Sparring for a while. This has been the most ongoing thing I have ever done, as far as music.

Peter: One time I wrote a song, “Wind Up.” It was an experiment; we were about to record “St. John’s Tree.”

Isobel: Are you currently working on any new material?

Natalie: No. It’s all old material.

George: Define “new material.”

Peter: If we ignore the three-month hiatus I forced you to take, “Georgietta” is a fairly new tune.

Scott: It’s about six months old.

George: That’s not the name of that song. I wrote it, and there’s a part that sounds a bit like “Marietta.”

Natalie: It’s a really cool title.

Scott: It is the best title of any song. Write that down, say it’s the best song title.

George: We cannot have a song with my name in the title. But yes, we are recording songs right now. They are songs we have been recording for two years.

Scott: We are about to put out an album. Hopefully, in February.

Natalie: We wrote “St. John’s Tree” while recording the EP that’s on Spotify, Good Evening, Good Evening, and that was three years ago.

Peter: The album will be engineered by Aaron Fisher.

Isobel: How does your current work compare to Good Evening, Good Evening?

George: It’s very different.

Scott: I think it sounds exactly the same.

Natalie: I think it’s different.

George: Since we’ve been taking so long with this album, we have gone through a lot of different phases on how we write songs and what we wanted to do. You can group songs together and be like, “Oh yeah, we were into [this].” It gives it a lot of variety that makes it work well. With the EP, none of us were really proficient musicians and songwriters at the time. We were good and getting better, but we hit our stride with the stuff we have been making recently.

Natalie: We were still finding ourselves as musicians. For me, I know that all my parts on that EP probably were horrible.

George: I hate most of the things I wrote on it, because I thought I could have done so much better, but I was seventeen, so I have to cut myself some slack.

Scott: I definitely think that “St. John’s Tree,” which was the first song we wrote with Peter on bass, was the first time where we felt we were writing really interesting songs at this point. Afterwards, we got around to our song, “Consequence of Space.” It was those two songs where we were clearly pushing into emo stuff, much to the dismay of Peter. But it was also more interesting. Now I feel that we are popping back out of that tail end; we are still writing emo and interesting stuff, but it’s sort of getting its own voice.

George: We are not trying to pigeon-hole ourselves, which I totally was back then. I totally idolized Foxing.

Scott: “Georgietta” is unmistakably an emo song. But it is a Sigmund Frauds Emo song.

George: I like more emotional music and always have. My favorite compliment I get from people is that our set was emotional and that they feel something when we play.

Peter: The set is the point of the band. It’s a shame we stall so hard on recording, but the point has been developing our live set, what we do live, and how we make the audience feel.

Scott: One time, somebody at the Sinkhole said that she saw God during our set.

Danny: For me, the recording process has been a breeze so far, for the single and the album, in comparison to other projects I’ve done before that didn’t work out.

George: With Aaron, we have very capable people recording us. With Peter, it was harder because he’s also playing with us.

Danny: In the past, I had to take it to somebody else. We didn’t know what was going into it.

Scott: Aaron knows our sound real well. I’m not worried about it. Before our previous Foam gig, he came and said, “I like seeing you guys, but the only reason I’m here is because I don’t know what your vocals sound like on any of the songs I’m recording.”

George: We have definitely found our own voice and are not trying hard to do just one thing. We know what we are going for and it’s about how we should sound.

Isobel: Do you have any influences?

George: One of the coolest things about our sound is that we have a lot of influences, but they are very different.

Natalie: Who I’m listening to now does not relate to our music at all. It at least contributes to my synth parts.

George: It all becomes a weird conglomeration of all these things we like.

Peter: The bands I channel when I think of the Frauds are not hip. I listen to art rock. I’m definitely more on a shoegaze trend, just because I’ve been working with Frankie Valet for so long; J Mascis is programmed into me.

George: When I was into that emo revival stuff, you were vehemently against it that it made us sound not like that. Foxing is the biggest influence.

Natalie: The Districts are another one.

George: As Peter said, we were very live oriented. I saw the Districts as a kid, and they were crazy on stage. I thought it was the most fun thing in the world; I wanted to run around with my guitar and throw it way up in the air.

Peter: I’m the one who first started throwing guitars around.

George: We work very hard on having a stage presence. It’s so much fun moving around on stage.

Natalie: It’s one thing to really like a band, but it’s another whole thing to go see that band perform and have the time of their life.

Danny: The crowd reacts how you do. My old projects also focused on stage presence.

George: Peter and me kissed with tongue on stage once. So, we really get into it.

Scott: The most important thing to me is following bands who really want to make that connection with the audience. As much as I’m dying to put out an album, there is definitely nothing like getting up in front of people for twenty-five minutes and going, “This is how I feel. Can you relate to it?”

George: I also love bands who will just stand there and play. The type of music I have wanted to play is always so much more in your face, explosive, and emotional. It makes you want to act like that.

Scott: And that’s how Foxing is.

George: No matter what point in my life, I will always say that Foxing is my favorite band in the world. Eric Hudson is the best guitar performer. It’s fun acting like an idiot on stage in front of people.

Danny: I was super into CHON when I first joined.

Isobel: What was your first show like?

Peter: My first show with the Frauds was the first one of Good Evening, Good Evening at the Duck Room.

Danny: I first played with the Frauds at Foam with the Florists. I had only joined two weeks prior. We practiced a lot to get me ready for that show.

George: We had the Webster show after, but that’s when the lineup really clicked. That was the night of the first Big Tobacco reunion with Handsome Boy, Thames, and Bleach.

Scott: Noah Gregory is the love of my life.

George: First shows are always hard, I don’t like them. They are like a first date. It’s really uncomfortable and you are not ready for it. A little while later, you kind of stride a bit. You have to get comfortable with a set in order to play it well. I have way more fun now.

Natalie: I feel comfortable that I have my setup in place. I was constantly struggling with my keyboard and guitar parts. Now I have my keyboard that I love.

Danny: I was constantly borrowing people’s kits. I’m so used to it now that I can set up anybody’s kit and do whatever I needed to it.

Isobel: How did it feel to release your latest single, “St. John’s Tree,” after nearly two years since the release of your EP?

Scott: Bad. I felt terrible and so sad.

George: It felt like showing up to class two months after an assignment was due and going, “I got it done!”

Scott: We announced that we had a new song and everybody who gave a **** about us having a new song were like, “…This is not new. We can already sing all the words to this.”

Natalie: We said we were releasing it in preparation for an album coming out in a few months…

George: Then we had to figure out new recording stuff. It was really fun to put it out because I like that song and the recording a lot. It was the first time I put out music I’m happy with.

Scott: “St. John’s” is a solid song.

George: Peter put a lot of reverse in the song. We are the most sarcastic and reverse-delayed band in St. Louis.

Isobel: Who are your favorite STL musicians/ bands to listen to?

Natalie: Big Tobacco is my lord and savior.

George: Big Tobacco is consistently one of my favorite bands to listen to live. We’re all really good friends and have been playing forever. Seeing your old friends for the first time in a while is really nice.

Natalie: They are incredible songwriters.

George: They have gotten really dang good now. Coleman is an amazing singer.

Scott: I am at the point where I think Lobby Boxer might be my favorite band, period.

Danny: I was going to say the Public, but I have been listening to Lobby Boxer a lot more on a regular basis.

Scott: Larry Claudin opened for us recently. He’s about to put out an album in a couple months. I have been listening to the demos, and I swear to God, it’s such a good album. If he actually gets serious about playing shows, it will be a big deal.

George: When I got out of high school and dropped out of college, I started going to shows all of the time. I totally fell in love with the local scene. It’s such a nice community and things to go do. That has always been a huge influence on me–the bands I’ve been seeing in St. Louis. I’m super into Jr. Clooney, which I believe is the most talented band in St. Louis. One of my favorite shows was MAGMADIVER, which got me into hardcore music.

Peter: I like Frankie Valet a lot. I also like looking at Andy Lewis (of the Snapchettes).

George: The Washington University scene is really cool, too. Those shows at Beef o’ Brady’s are some of my favorite shows I have ever seen. Frankie Valet got me back into indie music. Motherbear is one of the coolest things I saw. Does Foxing still count as a local band?

Peter: Yuppy is very good, like really good. This is Pete in the corner requesting that Yuppy be put in this article.

Isobel: What has been your favorite show you played of all time?

George: The Big Tobacco reunion show on October 25 at Foam.

Peter: I thought some of those Webster gigs were really good. The Peoria gig was really hot.

Danny: The Bottle & Barrel gig in Alton was my first out of state show. I was telling everybody that all night.

Natalie: Our first “tour”.

George: All Webster shows are usually very fun.

Peter: When Adrianna booked the Webster shows, they were really good.

Scott: My favorite show was the second Webster gig. It was Bleach, Handsome Boy, Thames, then us. Big Tobacco played at our house afterwards. People were in it at our set. Everybody in the crowd was super locked in.

Natalie: I broke my glasses that night.

Scott: I’ve been talking about this recently with people: the issue with trying to decide the best show, for me, is that the Webster one was where I felt the best. But with the nature of our music, the times where I felt so emotional and putting my best performance, is when I feel the worst. So, our past two gigs, the Big Tobacco show was good and I felt good, but it was because I saw friends I didn’t get to see a lot, like a comradery thing. This most recent show, I felt super depressed and not good at all. I was in my head, but I had a better performance than the week before.

George: I definitely play my best when I feel the worst.

Scott: Which sucks, but that’s the way it works. I blew my load too quickly this past show, I cried halfway through “Consequence.” I was so emotionally drained after and it was our second song.

Danny: I played a lot of different venues before I joined the Frauds. I got to play in Eminence, Missouri at this festival in the woods. It was a whole bunch of hip-hop and rap artists. There was a rave that started at midnight. The first day, I passed out from heat exhaustion because we played earlier in the day and didn’t get to finish our set. I woke up afterwards feeling amazing. No show I will ever play will be as hard as that was. The next day, they threw a paint war while we played in the evening and it was even better. That was a big impact on me.

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