PERFECT PEOPLE (ST. LOUIS, MO)
St. Louis’ Perfect People got their start in January of 2012 and consist of Darrell-guitar, Drew-vocals, Finney-bass, James-guitar and Travis-drums. The band has played approximately 20-30 shows during their time together and have released 2 separate 6 song demos… one in 2012 and one in 2013… both were later compiled together onto a self-released cassette and is currently available via Bandcamp. Travis, Finney, and Darrell all played previously with Sore Throat Syndrome, James was in Lethal Enforcer and James and Drew both played in Can We Win as well. Drew also sang and played bass in a punk band called The Deficit. Currently Perfect People’s members also play in: Cardiac Arrest & Lamentors (Travis), Tensions Rising (Travis & Finney), Resolve (James & Drew) and Darrell currently plays in a Saves The Day tribute band called Daves The Say.
A FEW WORDS WITH PERFECT PEOPLE’S SINGER DREW MAXEY:
IE: So what’s up Drew? The first thing that jumped out at me was the name Perfect People. How did you guys come up with this name and now that you have been around for about 2 years what are your thoughts on it?
Drew: Our name came about after none of us could quite agree on a name that fit the band. We each compiled a list of names we liked, and after not coming to a consensus, we started talking about fun songs to cover. One of us mentioned “Perfect People” by Pennywise, and it sort of clicked.
Naming a band is a strange concept because you're essentially titling something you're still not familiar with, ya' know? When you're first beginning, you're not quite sure what kind of band you'll be years or even months ahead, so you're basically projecting and guessing. Our name really didn't have a specific meaning at first, but I've come to attribute a few ideas to it. First of all, every show we play I announce, “We're Perfect People,” I'm totally lying; it's a fact that no person is perfect. I now think of our name as a commentary on that, as if we're making the point so blatantly obvious. It's also somewhat sarcastic from a personal position. Many of my lyrics focus on totally accepting the flaws and imperfections I've accrued throughout the years, so I'm clearly not “perfect” in any sense of the word. That's my take on it anyway.
IE: I am sure many people reading this have heard of the Gateway To The West Festival which is held in your hometown of St. Louis. Outside of that though what can you tell us about the current state of hardcore and punk rock in your hood?
Drew: Gateway to the West Fest has become a point of hometown pride for me, and that's something I haven't been totally familiar with prior to Gateway's return. Our good friend Donna is the woman behind that fest, and watching her organize it every year is always very exciting. Outside of that, we have a ton of great bands and venues. I don't know if this is how it is in other cities, but around here, it's like there are two scenes: one is the bands like us who play in bar venues with bands you'd associate with Bridge 9 or other hardcore labels, and the other scene is more “punk” influenced. They play a lot of basements and more DIY spots. It's always great to see people transcend these two scenes and come to both shows.
The good venues in town are: Fubar, Blank Space, CAMP (a community center), Bonerville (a house venue), The Demo—lots of places accommodate music like ours, and that's great.
For record stores, there's Apop Records, Vintage Vinyl, Euclid Records, and Record Exchange. Most people forget that St. Louis is, historically, a music town (there's a reason our hockey team is called The Blues), so we've got all these great stores for audiophiles.
Everyone should check out the following bands: Everything Went Black, Ruz, Out of Time, Life Like, Anodes, Dissention, Resolute, and probably a ton I've left out because I'm not smart enough to remember them. In short, if you find out a band is from St. Louis, listen to them because you won't be disappointed.
IE: Can you talk to us a little about the lyrics you write? I have read over them and I gather you have a pessimistic take on some things you write about but at the same time they don’t always give everything away and may leave the listener trying to interpret their exact meanings.
Drew: I wouldn't say I'm pessimistic exactly, but I do like to write about things that bother me. I don't quite share in the whole “positive mental attitude” that a lot of bands like to promote. Don't get me wrong; I'm not an unhappy person—although I have had my bouts with depression in the past. My favorite writings of any medium tend to be those that inspire typically “unwanted” feelings. If something makes me sad or angry, for example, it leads to a happiness simply because it moved me to feel, if that makes sense. The way I see it, it's easy to write something meaningful about being happy, but if you can inspire the feelings people are trying to avoid, then you've achieved something to be celebrated. So that's why I'm more prone to channeling those “pessimistic” feelings.
As for specific meanings in my lyrics, I don't want to give too much away. I try to write from a personal, autobiographical perspective while including universal themes or messages. In that regard, I think my lyrics are relatively accessible to most people, and they can possibly attach their own meanings.
IE: Do you think people these days pay enough attention to song lyrics?
Drew: I'm not sure if people do or not. I think with hardcore and punk there's more of a direct relationship between the lyrics and music; both absolutely influence the other, as opposed to other genres that place an emphasis on one or the other. In hardcore specifically, lyrics are a huge part of the live experience since bands usually encourage audience members to participate by taking the mic and singing along. And with the speed and aggressive delivery of many hardcore songs, the lyrics often have to be read in order to effectively do that. Then again, it's easy to know the lyrics to a song without giving them much thought. I don't know the answer to that question, but those are some thoughts.
IE: It is obvious you put a lot of thought into what you are writing. Who do you look at in the hardcore/punk community (past or present) and say that guy/girl writes/wrote great lyrics?
Drew: I tend to identify with bands who are actually saying something, ya' know? Bands with particular messages or agendas are my favorites—classic bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Circle Jerks. Dead Kennedys were one of the first bands who made me sit down and pay attention to lyrics. I loved Jello Biafra's ability to write horror stories about the real-world political climate. More contemporary bands like Paint it Black, Lovechild or Dangers are also writing some fantastic lyrics about the current state of affairs.
I also really dig bands who can write lyrics that are honest about certain aspects of the human condition. Ruiner, Last Lights, Blacklisted and A Wihelm Scream are the first bands that come to mind that can do this very, very well, and those bands particularly made me rethink my approach to writing.
As a side note, when you asked this question, you included “guy/girl,” and it bothers me that I'm having trouble naming female hardcore/punk singers whose lyrics made an impact on me other than Exene from X. I'm going to have to do some research so I can fix that for the next time I'm asked a question like that.
IE: What can people expect from Perfect Peeps for the rest of 2014?
Drew: We are currently writing a new 7” that will be out later this year. Hopefully we'll be doing some longer tours, but we will definitely be heading out on a few weekends and playing some one-off out of town shows. We may be doing a few things with our other projects, too.
IE: The best part about living in St. Louis is….?
Drew: I'm going to let James answer this one because his is very similar to what I'd have said: “The local bands we have. There's such a broad range of punk and hardcore. Bands like Lumpy and the Dumpers, Out of Time, Doom Town, Rüz, Cardiac Arrest, Everything Went Black, Lamentors and Life Like. All of them bring something different and it's so cool to see those bands progress and be able to be a part of that progression.”
IE: The worst part about living in St. Louis is…?
Drew: For me, the isolation from anything really natural is a huge negative. I briefly touched on this in one of our songs called “11th & Bleaker”. I'm jealous of other cities that are so close to the oceans, the desert, forests, or whatever else you can think of. Here, however, the scenery is architecture, buildings, the Arch—all man-made structures. And while there's a certain testament to man's will in all of those, it's difficult to get very excited about the world when you don't get to experience much that occurs naturally…and James wanted me to include, “The fucking winter.”