Photo by Christopher Patrick Ernst

Screaming Females
The Mercury Cafe

When I talked with Jarrett Dougherty, the drummer for New Brunswick, New Jersey rock act Screaming Females, he was being a little mysterious. While asking him about the band’s process going into their fifth full-length, this year’s Ugly, he mentions other “projects” the band is working on.

It might be an EP or a single or a split — Dougherty can’t say. He did go so far as to say that the way these songs were produced was a new way of working for the band.

“It was a challenge for us not to do what we always do, which is just get together and play, and instead try to start with an idea and create something out of that,” he says. “It’s much more difficult for us as a band than it probably is for a lot of other people.”

Ugly definitely sounds like the product of a band willing to build up from a solid riff. Guitarist and vocalist Marissa Paternoster shredding abilities are extremely formidable and, together with Dougherty and bassist King Mike, she’s more than earned comparisons to the virtuosity of bands like Dinosaur Jr.

While building the record might have been an organic process, they still worked like hell to get right. They recorded extensive demos and prepped hard, especially since they’d be recording with engineer Steve Albini.

“We definitely prepared ourselves a lot to make Ugly and we knew that we had the opportunity to make this important statement from our time as a band. To work with this world famous engineer like Albini — we knew we had the opportunity to do something really big here. It was like, ‘Let’s be prepared. Let’s practice these songs.’”

Now, they’re in the process of touring the record. They’re a big variety of venues, from house shows to the Mercury Cafe in Regina to theatres and the like on tour where they’ll be opening for Garbage.

It doesn’t matter much to Dougherty where he’s playing as long as the crowd is right.

“If people are calculating buying a record versus how many more drinks they can get at the bar, that’s the only kind of show I don’t like playing.”

Screaming Females are playing tonight, September 20, at the Mercury Cafe. Homo Monstrous and Robin and the Hairy Bats will be opening.

UPDATE: Originally, I wrote “tonight, September 19” above. That’s goofy! Tonight is going to be September 20.