‘Eat Snacks and Bleed’ with The Performance-Driven Sound of Egg Drop Soup’s New EP (INTERVIEW)

LA-based Punk-inspired band Egg Drop Soup recently released their new video for “Swamp Ass” and their second EP, Eat Snacks and Bleed, in the lead up to the holidays as a way of making the most of the time they’ve been able to spend writing music and recording. They’ve also been able to build their band family in 2020 as founding members Samantha Westervelt and Olivia Saperstein welcomed new drummer Bailey Chapman and they set out to work together. 

With a very wide range of musical interests and influences evident on the new EP, the band shows off some serious chops as performers in the studio, but you can definitely still pick up on their live performance roots and how important the sheer fun of interacting with the audience is for all of them. All three band members joined me for a chat to welcome their new EP into the world. 

Hannah Means-Shannon: What led up to the timing of the release for the Eat Snacks and Bleed EP?

Samantha Westervelt: Some of those tracks had been done for a few months. One of the tracks is on a compilation vinyl and one track is going to be in an indie horror film. Then we wanted to release “Hard To Hold On” in October. It just seemed like if we could record two other new songs, December felt like a good time. Because of the current global situation, we thought, “Why wait until next year?” We usually release around a tour, but since we don’t know when that may be happening again, why wait?

Olivia Saperstein: There’s so much that we can’t do with this pandemic happening that we’re really focused on what we can do. And what we could do was record and put stuff out, thanks to the internet. 

HMS: I think there’s a real rise in EP releases as bands realize that it may be possible to make them right now. It brings a live feeling home since we can’t party. These are studio recordings, but they remind me of live performances since that’s what you all come from. What was the compilation that you mentioned?

Sam: It’s a Covid compilation from Sweatband Records called Neon Corpse Parade.  It’s a bunch of different LA-based bands and the proceeds are going to Mutual Aid LA.

HMS: Very cool! What was your recording process like for the songs on the new EP?

Sam: We’re super-lucky because we have a great relationship with our producer, Travis Pavur, and he works out of his own space, Golden Beat Studios, so it was pretty standard. Aside from having to get Covid testing and maintaining social distance in a small space, it was par for the course. We all feel pretty grateful for that.

Olivia: Personally, I was able to enjoy it even more, because it was like, “Hey, we’re doing something!” It felt like forward movement in a time when it’s harder to find momentum. I think we enjoyed every second of being in there. It was like, “Do you want me to go again? I’ll go again!”

HMS: The most takes you’ve ever been willing to do! That’s awesome to hear. I’m really glad you were able to have that experience and get an EP ready to go.

Sam: Well, we were supposed to go on a tour, of course, that was cancelled, but Travis said, “It’s okay. We will use this time to record.” And pretty soon after, we went in to record “Hard to Hold On”. Once Bailey joined, we recorded “Rank Heavy Metal Parking Lot” and “Swamp Ass”. 

Olivia: There was another aspect to this: having the time to transition Bailey into the band, write new material, and transition her into our old material. I really feel like we’re going to look back on this time and really appreciate it. We’ve had so much time to solidify our little family as a band and to collab. There’s also the sheer exercise of learning how to do so many different things and learning to adapt to change, like with live streaming. I think that strengthens you as a musician and as a person. 

HMS: Does your setup as a three-piece band influence the way that you write songs in order to be able to perform them live? Or do you just adapt studio songs later to make sure they work live?

Sam: I would say that we adapt them to the studio, actually, because we write with the three piece in mind. 

Olivia: And sometimes things we think of in the studio get added and that, consequently, feeds back into our live performance. 

Sam: It’s also interesting having a new band member that can give a fresh perspective on old songs. It’s like having a new ear in the band and that can be really cool. It reinvents songs we’ve been playing for years. 

Bailey: I just took what the songs were, and I put my style with them, and it’s been really fun. I liked their music before I joined the band and was a fan before I was a member.

HMS: That’s really cool. That’s the best-case scenario because you’ve seen how they are live and how people react to them. Do you all have big differences in musical taste or are you fairly harmonized?

Sam: I’d say we have kind of a Venn diagram of tastes. There is a lot of overlap in some of our influences but there are definitely some outliers, too. 

Olivia: It’s cool though because Sam brings a certain style in that doesn’t come as naturally to me, and I bring in a style that doesn’t come as naturally to her. I think because of that, things end up sounding more original. If we were all just huge Rolling Stones fans and wanted to create a band just like The Rolling Stones, that wouldn’t be very original. But you do see bands like that, who want to do just be one kind of band. Some overlap is necessary, though.

Sam: But to get compared, as a band, to Nirvana and Motorhead in the same breath is cool, because you’d usually not put those together.

Olivia: I love it. 

HMS: I was going to ask how you felt about terms like “Punk” and “Garage”, but given that comparison, which is totally accurate of the new EP, I should also ask you about “Grunge” and “Metal”. 

Bailey: It’s so confusing! Now, when people ask, “What kind of music do you play?”, I just say, “Rock ‘n Roll”. 

Sam: I think that’s more all-encompassing. Because we are influenced by so many different sounds, I’m definitely not offended when people describe us by one of those terms.

Olivia: We get referenced as a Punk band a lot. That’s kind of how we started, with that in mind. But what is Punk, anyway? It’s so many different sounds. There are definitely hints of all sorts of genres, but we make it work.

Bailey: I think Punk is the ethos of the band, but I think that the actual sound really changes from song to song. Or even within the songs, which is something I really love about the band. I love Punk Rock and I love Metal and Grunge, but this band will go further. “Hard to Hold”, for instance, is a sensitive, beautiful song. The band’s not just one thing.

HMS: That totally resonates because Garage and Punk are less confining and ethos and philosophy have a lot to do with it, whereas some of the others are more about sound.

Olivia: Then there are bands like Black Sabbath, which are put into the Metal and Doom category. But there are so many Blues references in their songs and they have so many soft songs. People need to give bands permission to have dimension, I think.

Sam: I think what initially inspired the start of this band was trying to bust through some norms and bust through some status quos. It’s not really surprising that it’s hard to pinpoint a specific genre for us, but what Bailey said about Punk and ethos is true. I think that’s our heart, and everything else is just some weird-ass shit that bubbles out of our brains!

HMS: It’s very impressive, musically, that you can work with so many sound traditions, like on this EP. It’s really wide-ranging. How was it filming the video for “Swamp Ass”? I know that you shot at a location and worked with a great director. 

Sam: There was the added stress of being tested and making sure everyone was safe on set, but that’s just one part of it. We had a skeleton crew, with just a few people, and us. That was a lot of work because you see how beautiful it is, but when you’re just working with three people behind the scenes, that takes forever to set up. There’s so much hurry up and wait, but it’s so worth it in the end when your vision is executed so completely. 

Olivia: I think it helped that we’d actually stayed at that house before, for my birthday, which is when we had the idea for the video. Because we knew the space already, it was easier to plan ahead. You can’t really location scout easily during Covid, so that helped.

Sam: We were so excited planning the costumes and the aesthetic of everything, and the house really helped, too, since it hasn’t really been updated since 1984.

HMS: That’s so true! It’s an amazing set. Getting a live action, scripted music video made right know is a kind of miracle. Tell me about the costumes. Did you find them or have to have them made?

Sam: With a couple of those, I just found them on eBay. I think the one Bailey wore, I won for five dollars and no one else bid on it. It was the purest find ever. I love doing set dec for our videos, and I’ve done several now. My goal is to spend as little money as possible, and still have it look awesome.

Olivia: Of course, my dress was the most expensive, and totally didn’t fit. It’s open in one of those shots, but that’s in character for that character.

Bailey: I had to alter all of the dresses in some way. I had to make Sam’s fit her, I had to make mine bigger, which was really hard. Then, Olivia’s was basically strapped on with some elastic at the back, with some parts open, so we just worked around that with the shots. 

HMS: Everything I’m hearing here is very Punk, I have to say, especially the part about, “I will not spend money, but it will look awesome.”  What happened surrounding shooting the cover and promo images for the EP? That’s a really psychedelic effect.

Sam: I have this old film camera that I’ve had for a long time. I tend to get really into something for a second, then not do shit with it for a while. That’s why I’m shocked every day that I still play bass and am in a band, since I usually cycle out of things, so this is definitely my calling. I had this camera and all this old, expired film. My partner loves to take pictures, and we decided to experiment with double exposures. They are all just happy accidents. The cover, in particular, is almost a quadruple exposure. Part of an exposure from another photo wound up in the frame.

Olivia: I also love that it’s goofy. It’s artsy but not pretentious because we’re just being weirdos.

HMS: With “Rank Heavy Metal Parking Lot” from the new EP, the title makes me laugh pretty hard, but then I laugh even harder when I hear it and realize that it is actually a Metal song.

Olivia: That started with a riff that I have had for years. I wrote that riff when I was 23 and always held onto it. I knew I wanted to do something with it. Eventually, those chords came naturally. It was around the time we played Long Beach, and “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” was on at the venue. 

Sam: Then, when we were with our boyfriends, smoking weed, we were listening to the riffs, and that’s where the “rank” came from and when the chords came together. I think we said, “That’s so rank.” 

Bailey: Heavy Metal parking lots are fucking rank! Delightfully so. I also make them watch a lot of Heavy Metal movies.

HMS: Right on. You have to educate. The recording behind the song is great, too. 

Sam: Travis had just gotten a new console in his studio, and we were able to break that in on that track.

HMS: I was a little surprised when you mentioned that “Hard to Hold On” was an earlier song in terms of songwriting. I was surprised because the lyrics are so direct and relevant to our times. It’s like the theme song for 2020. It’s a pretty powerful song.

Sam: I wrote that around July or August of 2019. This year, a lot of shit has come to the surface, but shit’s been fucked up for a really long time. It’s unfortunate that it took a worldwide pandemic for us to really gather and rally around certain issues, but at the time time, that doesn’t surprise me. The majority of us are overworked and underpaid, but we’re so fucking busy trying to keep it all together that there’s no time to protest or think about how to make the world a better place. You’re trying to figure out how to keep a roof over your head. 

The pandemic hasn’t made any of that better, but that song is almost a weird, psychic premonition. That one was on Travis. I sent him a little demo and he said, “We have to record that one next.” 

Olivia: We definitely released it at the right time.

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