Screaming Females Stay Fierce After a Decade Together

The Garden State produces a lot of superstar music acts like Bruce Springsteen, My Chemical Romance and Karen O. While they don’t have yet have the same name recognition, The Screaming Females are poised to carry on New Jersey’s musical heritage.

From New Brunswick, NJ, the band met at a high school after school music club. Though the trio grew up within blocks of other, they didn’t connect until they started playing music.

It’s a decade since that momentous meeting but you’d never guess it. This band sounds as fresh and riotous as they did since their first LP in 2006.

“It’s the longest relationship I’ve ever had,” frontwoman Marissa Paternoster tells BTRtoday. “We care about each other and we work really hard on our music, but we also work really hard on our relationships with each other—we just want to be friends and make music for as long as we can.”

Paternoster’s metal-twang and chaotic guitar solos have made a signature sound that is solely Screaming Females. She admits she never thought of herself as a singer and is constantly finding herself critiquing her own sound.

“I’ve never been super confident in it [singing],” she says. “I think practicing by playing so many shows I hopefully would get better at it, and I think I did—it’s definitely a work in progress.”

Drummer Jarrett Dougherty and bassist King Mike create a powerful ocean of rhythm that washes over you with excitement and empowerment.

“I think we all used to play like we had something to prove,” Mike says. He admits that when he plays older songs he wonders “what the hell” he was thinking when he wrote the part. “I think more and more I’m inclined to just lay back and do what I think suits the song. I’m not trying to play to impress anybody.”

Their newest album, All At Once, came out last month after the longest gap the group has had between releases. Their last album Rose Mountain came out in 2015, giving this newer album lots of time to be perfected.

Filled with more instrumentation and backing vocals than any other Screaming Females’ album, it’s their most musically ambitious work yet. All At Once was the groups chance to experiment more with their sound, adding organ, piano, cello, a variety of percussion and even an analog synth.

“Time has been a major role in the way this record sounds,” Paternoster says about their ability to get more dense and detailed. “So I was just thinking about how it would be cool if you could listen to music in the same way that you could view are—you can see it all at once, or hone in on the detail.”

An abstract concept, but Paternoster assures us in no way is it supposed to be an abstract album. “I’m trying to write songs that are more universally relatable and available to anyone who’s listening,” she adds. “That’s way more interesting to me than talking about being sad ‘cause someone broke up with you or something.”

Listen to All At Once and the entire interview with Screaming Females on this week’s The Music Meetup.

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