Bryn Mawr's Post Post are more than just another up-and-coming young garage band.
“We're actually more of an attic band,” says front woman Michelle Zauner with a chuckle, Friday night at Lunt Basement, Haverford College. “Right now we practice in an attic.” She grins. It's about 9 p.m. and already a few eager fans have filtered into the DIY space to catch Post Post alongside bloggy chillwave band Toro y Moi.
Yet Zauner, a junior at Bryn Mawr who books shows at Lunt (Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore colleges often bond together for extracurriculars like this)—hardly seems nervous, as she chats eagerly about making music.
“You definitely get more attached to it, because you put so much effort into it,” she adds, discussing Meta Meta, the band's debut EP released in 2009, and recorded at the Haverford student center using Garageband. “You’re involved in every aspect, from song-writing to booking to merch. Our shirts were designed by Marisa (Helgeson, keyboardist and vocalist) and screen-printed by Kevin (O'Halloran, bassist) over winter break.”
“The thing about DIY is you have to be committed,” says O'Halloran with a nod.
And committed they certainly are—since forming their freshman year, the quartet (Zauner, O'Halloran, Helgeson and drummer Casey Sowa) has played an impressive number of live shows—and won over peers and critics alike with their earnest, rough-edged indie pop, with driving beats, shimmering synths, and Zauner's impassioned vocals.
“Our songwriting process is pretty varied,” says O' Halloran—“generally, Michelle will bring a song skeleton or idea to the table and we’ll all pull it apart and see what happens.”
“Lyrically, I'm really influenced by songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, and the Beach Boys,” she says. “I'm really fascinated by Brian Wilson in particular, and his ability to convey the deepest emotions in a simple context that everyone can feel. It's like...anyone else would say it in 20 words, and he says it in 5. I think every songwriter aspires to that.”
Once the idea is developed, everyone writes own parts. “Everyone has their own things,” says Zauner. “Marissa and Casey are both into current indie pop, and Kevin is the wild card.” She smiles.
“I was in a hardcore band before this,” he admits.
So he should be more than familiar with things accidentally being broken.
“I'd say pretty much every one of our shows something breaks,” decides Zauner.
“I'd say our show here [at Lunt] opening for Vivian Girls was definitely one of our best,” says Zauner, reflecting. “It was an end-of-the-year show, and we hadn't played for our friends since the beginning of the semester. So it was kind of a display of how we had grown as a band. We were tighter, and more experienced.”
“I play music because I enjoy it, and because I want to be a part of the local music scene,” says O'Halloran. “I think the best shows are when the audience wants that too, and you can feel the exchange of energy between you.”
Now, while not busy with school—the band is hard at work on a new EP, due out in April, and has already booked an East Coast tour during their spring break.
Still, that doesn't mean they don't encounter their fair share of challenges...especially being a mostly female band in a male-dominated scene.
“You know, it's interesting,” says Zauner, who honed her skills as front woman for acoustic act Little Girl, Big Spoon before Post Post. “Growing up, I was always the girl in the band, and I ALWAYS got compared to other girls, like Kimya Dawson or Joanna Newsom.” She pauses. “But with this band...not as much. People have really been all over the board—we've gotten everything from Joy Division to Belle & Sebastian, in addition to—you know, Tegan and Sara and the Breeders.”
So does the band find these comparisons to other girl groups flattering or limiting?
“Honestly, I think it's flattering,” says Zauner. “I think a lot of bands might say they dislike it, but I don't feel like it stifles us or anything.”
“There's a fine line between gimmick and empowerment,” adds O'Halloran. “I mean, I'm sure there are people who might come to our shows and say “wow, this band is so good BECAUSE they're women...and what are you going to do about it?”
“It's hard to say either way whether it helps you or stifles you,” says Zauner. “Sometimes people don't take us seriously because we're a bunch of girls—like sound guys. And that's annoying. But we never really set out to become a girl band or anything—it just happened. I mean, 3 of us went to Bryn Mawr, a school with 2000 girls. What did they expect?”
So what do Post Post want fans to take away from their shows?
“A tee-shirt!” says O'Halloran grinning. Everyone laughs. “No, seriously,” he says. “I just want kids to have fun.”
Zauner agrees. “I like to think of us as pop music with substance. I hope people see us and are inspired to get involved in the music scene themselves—especially girls! And especially people like us. We're all so short and twerpy-looking—it's kinda cool to see a bunch of dweeby-looking kids play in a band and have a good time.”
Catch Post Post live this Friday, March 5 at Danger Danger Gallery. With McKenzie, Many Arms, Bees and Eddie Sids.