Interview: Human People Discuss ‘Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears’
Posted: by The Editor
The quartet known as Human People have released their debut LP titled Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears.
Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears is an amplification of what Human People have already designated as a supreme blend of 90’s punk influences as well as melodies that make every song feel like it’s a poppy-punk like anthem. Tracks like “Jenny” which was previously released as a single is a star track on the LP. Showcasing Hayley Livingston and Marisa Gershenshorn’s abilities to create guitar parts that hold the goofy lyrics up to gold status. “Radiator Water” and “Bottle” also come off as story-centric and image-based tracks that round the quirky and fun album’s sound to fit the women’s personalities.
Human People’s sound previously defined by their two releases Sleep Years and Veronica carry a punk attitude with lyrics that shine light on personal contemporary issues. Songs like “I Don’t Want to Go Outside” off of 2016’s Veronica showcase the bands attention to sticky melodies that keep your feet tapping while also delivering story type-lyrics of not wanting to leave their house.
We were able to chat with singers and guitarists Hayley Livingston and Marisa Gershenshorn talk about making the album, their influences, and their introduction to music.
The Alternative: First off, wanted to congratulate you all on Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears, the album is awesome! Take me through the experience of how you made this album.
Hayley: First of all thanks! We wrote a lot of these songs pretty long ago. We always kind of wanted to do an album, I think. But for a while we were all spread out as far as location, and that made it hard for all of us to learn all the songs. So we made shorter things like the two EP’s we put out and singles.
Marisa: Yeah and also the recording of the album was pretty spread out. Cause we recorded some things separately, before we recorded the rest of it.
H: Yeah even when we recorded the rest of the album, we recorded the instrumentals in August of 2017 and we didn’t do the vocals till like January of 2018. So start to finish it took us about a year and half. Then mixing takes some time.
The hard work definitely paid off. The album carries a lot of 90’s influences such as Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. Can you speak a bit about bands that have influenced your sound and maybe some bands you grew up listening to that you want to attribute to how you got into music?
H: For me, I think like when I started writing a lot of these songs, Vicky our drummer got me into The Breeders. So I feel like I was really excited about them.
M: I don’t know specifically what I was listening to when I was writing these songs. But when I got into writing music, it was like, The Smiths, and further back, The White Stripes, The Killers. Obviously, Sleater Kinney. The Pixies…
H: The Pixies too were great in terms of songwriting.
M: I really like older proto-punk.
H: I also love and was inspired by, The Ronettes and other girl groups around that time. The Crystals, The Shirelles. They didn’t affect me in a huge way. It was there in like “Black Flowers”, we originally pictured a 60’s girl group, Phil Spector-type song.
Cool, you both do songwriting on the album. How do you choose whose songs to use and how do you collaborate on the album?
M: We both kind of write songs separately. We both will come up with vocals and basic melodies first and then write the other parts. Often times Haley will write the drum parts.
H: I love writing drum parts. A lot of the songs either one of us will write the melody or both guitar parts. Sometimes we will just have the chorus and the other one will write the other guitar parts. For everyone else, like Abby our bass player, she will write her bass parts. I feel like a lot of the time; we will write songs almost in its entirety.
So a lot of the lyricism has this narrative quality to them. What is your writing process when it comes to writing lyrics?
H: Well for me, I definitely come up with the melody first. I will have one lyric or line stuck in my head and circle the song around that. Like for “Radiator Water” I just really liked the phrase radiator water and tried to build everything else around that. That started to turn into less of a narrative and more into imagery, I guess.
M: Yeah, I think for me as well it’s kind of similar. Where the first thing I come up with is a snippet of a lyric because I already have the melody. From there its just filling it in.
How did you both get into music, what was your introduction?
H: My introduction was Green Day. Love, Green Day. It was the only band I listened to for a full year when I was 9 years old. They were just the first band I ever got into.
M: Again the White Stripes and The Killers, but also 3 Doors Down. Also, the All American Rejects.
H: I definitely think the first song I ever wrote was a rip-off of an All American Rejects song.
M: Which one?
H: “Dirty Little Secret” We actually did a Green Day cover set a couple Halloweens ago. Three years ago, it was amazing.
I’m very sad I missed that, that sounds awesome. So premiering this album on Exploding In Sound, what has been your experience working with the label?
H: Dan is so dope. He’s awesome. We both, especially you [Marissa] were big Exploding In Sound fans for a really long time. It’s really cool to be working with a label with tons of bands that we like.
From what I understand Exploding In Sound has kind of brought this aspect where they let bands do their thing and work independently so I feel like that comes across in how Human People works.
H: Yeah I mean, they’re great about that and you can tell they care about our music. They always are great with communication and it feels good.
Always feels good to work with people that you like. So you all put out a music video for “Radiator Water”. What was your experience putting out a video and production and all of that?
H: It was fun, really fun. Marissa masterminded the whole thing. It felt like it was a lot of prep work to put all of the pieces into place.
M: Well we basically did all of that. It was shot and then I edited it.
Wow that’s cool that you bring other artistic talent to the table. So there is a resurgence of bands like yours that springing around the Brooklyn scene. Bands like THICK, and High Waisted. What are some of your favorite bands in the Brooklyn scene, and how you all feel like you work your way through a scene like this?
M: I honestly feel out of the loop right now. I mean we love Washer and BIG UPS. Fern Mayo.
H: We just played with Fern Mayo and Long Neck. They’re so good and so fun.
M: Yeah, I feel like there’s so many different factions. So many bands within their own little groups.
H: I feel like a lot of it has to do with venues and stuff. A lot of the bands we play with play at The Glove. It’s cool that there’s all of these cool bands popping up. Decisions are another band we really like. There’s too many good bands. A lot of the time, we don’t put together the shows we play.
M: I like local bands a lot more than any other popular band. That’s always the case.
What have been some of your favorite shows you’ve played. You’ve played with some of my favorites like Prince Daddy and the Hyena and Washer. Any shows that stick out to you?
M: I think my favorite was the BIG UPS release show.
H: My favorite was the Shonen Knife show. That was just so cool. We played that and they’re total inspiration. A couple years ago we played with Mitski at a college in Vermont and that was super special. We played this show with Boston with Fern Mayo and it was a great line-up.
Any bands or albums you’ve been rocking out to in 2018? Besides your own.
H: Yeah we’re just rocking out to our own album all the time. No, but seriously Sidney Gish is great. Amazing album. Also Prior Panic just had their record release show. They’re very cool and interesting sounding and they’re super nice people. Also the Parquet Courts album this year. Also Water From Your Eyes.
What do you hope people get out of listening to Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears?
H: That’s a good question.
M: I hope they have a good time. I hope they hear something that they can relate to or something new.
H: Something new and something old.
M: I hope they get married to this album.
H: I hope they get a dog because of this album.
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