Spray Paint

Up Next: Spray Paint Just Lets It Happen

Annie Zaleski

By Annie Zaleski

on 09.29.14 in Features

Members: Cory Plump (guitar/vocals), George Dishner (guitar/vocals), Chris Stephenson (drums)
From: Austin, Texas
Sounds like: Scabrous, clanging post-punk full of abrasive anxiety and ominous atmospheres
For fans of: Sonic Youth, Protomartyr, Jesus Lizard

“How many bands can sing about eating pizzas, you know?” says Spray Paint guitarist/vocalist Cory Plump, calling while on a break from his job at the Austin screen printing studio Bearded Lady. The pizza tangent arose from my commentary about the ominous edge to group’s new LP, Clean Blood, Regular Acid. From the twang-pickled drawl of “Texas Talking Powder” to the droning discord of “Rest Versus Rust” and the tense “Rednecks Everywhere” — a song exacerbated by unruly rhythms and lawless shout-singing — Spray Paint’s minimalist, clanging post-punk radiates danger.

Spray Paint‘s ability to harness this anxiety without missing a beat stems from the fact that the trio have history together; specifically, they used to play in the noisy rock band When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. Spray Paint originally came together during casual post-Dinos-practice jamming in late 2011. Things got more serious in early 2012 — when they nabbed a record deal and released their first single — and have gotten bigger since, between tours with likeminded souls Protomartyr, and appearances at Chaos in Tejas, Fun Fun Fun Fest and Goner Records Fest.

Plump expanded on Spray Paint’s origins, being a punk band in Austin today and his unabashed love of Detroit-style pizza.

“Spray Paint just happened.” The three of us in Spray Paint were in [Austin noise septet] When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. We stayed around after practice and kept jamming. I switched from bass over to guitar, and we wrote a batch of songs, just us three. [It was] When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth was still going and we wrote a batch that didn’t really seem very Dinos-y. It was a little wimpier and less sludgy or something, so we just recorded them [ourselves] as a three-piece.
Dinos definitely put our time in. We toured a lot and tried really hard. It was just funny — we always laugh [that] we were trying too hard, you know? Like, Spray Paint just happened. It was a real organic transition, and we’re all still good friends with the Dino dudes.

“We knew how to play those three songs — we’d certainly never played live.” We picked out four labels [to email and send our music to], thinking, “Yeah right, no one’s going to give a shit.” And S.S. [Records label owner] Scott Soriano was like, “Yeah, I love it! Let’s do two seven inches and two LPs.” We were just like, “What?” He was like, “Only if you’re a real band,” and we’re like, “Of course we’re a real band!” I mean, we knew how to play those three songs — we’d certainly never played live. So our very first ever show was actually the 7-inch release show. I’ve been a fan of S.S.’s work for years. Needless to say, I was shocked that he was into it.

“It’s Detroit-style pizza.” [The best pizza in Austin?] Via 313 — it’s Detroit-style pizza. No one fuckin’ knows what it is, and I didn’t either. It started off as this little trailer in front of this bar. We were like, “Oh, Detroit-style pizza, that’s funny,” but it is so, so good. To the point where we’ve eaten at three different pizza places when we’re on tour in Detroit to compare.

Actually, when Protomartyr was in town, I took them to this place to vet it. I was like, “Is this place really Detroit-style pizza?” and they’re all like, “Fuck yeah, it is — this is great!” I guess the guy that started it used to work at Buddy’s, which is the most popular [pizza place] in Detroit.

[Detroit-style pizza] is not like a pizza lasagna or anything, but it’s still kind of a medium dish or something — not deep. It’s so good.

“I think the Butthole Surfers are way weirder than we are.” I think the Butthole Surfers are way weirder than we are. But, yeah, they’re fucking awesome. I grew up loving them and I have a small side project with King Coffey. They’re hugely [influential] — I mean, shit, I love them. To be mentioned in the same breath [by critics] is insane to me. I think it’s a little off-base, but I guess it’s just the Austin thing — there’s not a whole lot of Austin bands that you can reference that do what we do, maybe. I think that’s why it comes up; it’s just kind of like a regional thing.

“It’s not that way anymore — you have to come here and hustle.” Living [in Austin]…I have to fight the urge to go into a negative void of, “This town’s changing, and I liked it better before.” Having the outlet of lyrics for the band is really helpful — it’s real easy to sit back and just say, “Oh my God, it was fuckin’ way better back then.” But I’ve been here for 13 years, and that was what everyone said [when I moved here]: “Oh my God, you should have seen this place in the ’80s and the ’90s, it was heaven! Now it’s fucked!” And that was 10 years ago.

There’s a reason people are coming here — it’s really fun and you can just be a drunken idiot in a band and all of the sudden your existence is not only justified, it’s celebrated. …The most annoying bit is just the cost of living — rents are just out of control.

It’s changing. There’s plenty of towns that you can move to that are not changing that are fucking terrible. With that said, I’m 35 now, and I can’t imagine moving here in my early twenties just to fuck off because it was a fun town. It’s not that way anymore — you have to come here and hustle, I feel like.

“One thing people don’t remember is that Austin used to just be all….not boring rock ‘n’ roll, but just all rock ‘n’ roll.” [The music scene] is so, so strong right now. One thing people don’t remember is that Austin used to just be all….not boring rock ‘n’ roll, but just all rock ‘n’ roll. There was no weird music, really. It was harder to find and no one gave a shit. It was like, you had to play a guitar. And now there’s a really, really vibrant, weird, electronic scene. There’s a label called Holodeck Records, and everything they’re doing is great. So with more people comes more diversity.

I was [talking to] King Coffey, and he was like, “Man, I was here in the ’80s and everybody has this vision of Austin as this punk [city] and there was like one or two punk rock shows a month. There was no venues that would have us and Austin was kind of boring. There’d be a keg party every now and then.” He was like, “There’s parts I don’t like about it, but it’s gotten better.” You just don’t hear someone from that era say that very much, “Man, Austin was kind of crappy.” It’s kind of refreshing.

“Don’t overanalyze, just fuckin’ let it happen.” Spray Paint formed our plan after the fact. We wanted to have [our sound] be a bit more minimal, less heavy and more creepy. But we really try to not overthink things. How the whole thing happened we figured was a good way to roll: Don’t overanalyze, just fuckin’ like let it happen. That’s still to this day how we write. We’ll definitely fine-tune stuff, but whenever we’re writing, we’re pretty much just flying. We work really, really fast. If something’s boring or we don’t like it, [we] just [try] to move on.