Q&A with T-Rextasy, sophomore LP "Prehysteria" out in January

Dashing dino dames talk techno-condescension, the shifting DIY scene, and new album

By: Sara Nuta

November 16, 2018

"We gotta burn our iPhones. We gotta return to the land."

NYC’s T-Rextasy are thinking about the end of the world, and the primordial beginnings of it, too. The punk four-piece have been shredding sugar-rush punk with a socially conscious twist and a Lisa Frank vibrancy since they were seniors in high school in New York City. Their excellent debut Jurassic Punk––where they sing about everything and everyone from cafeteria ladies to gap year boys—came out in 2016 on Father/Daughter records. Since garnering a cult following and going off to different colleges, T-Rextasy has continued to tour and gain momentum for their anticipated sophomore LP, Prehysteria, which is out in January.

Comprised of Lyris Faron on vocals, Annie Fidoten on bass, Ebun Nazon-Power on drums and Vera Kahn on guitar, the band has put out two criminally catchy singles “Girl, Friend” and “The Zit Song” so far this year, plus some accompanying visuals. We caught up with T-Rextasy to chat about the new album, representation in the shifting DIY music landscape, and techno-condescension. Be sure to catch them on their upcoming tour and at their record release celebration on 1/19 at Trans-Pecos, playing alongside Zenizen and Human People.

Prehysteria is out January 3, 2019, you can pre-order it here. Be sure to catch T-Rextasy on their upcoming tour

What people, records, events and/or feelings influenced you while you were writing and recording your new album Prehysteria?

Lyris: Thinking about technology/social media and the end of the world. We gotta burn our iPhones. We gotta return to the land.

Ebun: I second what Lyris said. I also was just influenced by the notion of not giving a fuck about people thinking I’m crazy or “hysterical” and living in the body as I am as a black femme.

Vera: The feeling of “wow we’re grown ups!” mixed with “wow I still live with my parents and worry about how I look!”

Annie: Thinking about inevitable graduation (which has now happened), coming out as gay, feeling like an adult and also a leetle bitty baby all at the same time.

“The Zit Song” is the second single (after “Girl, Friend”) that you’ve released off the record. Can you speak a little bit about those songs and decision to release them first?

Vera: "The Zit Song" is one of my favorite songs to play. While working on it, I was trying to channel the clash’s “lost in the supermarket.” I think that the excitement we all felt when writing it comes across in the recording, and we wanted to share that with the world. It also is in classic T-Rextasy storytelling songwriting form: full of childhood reminiscing and a host of fictional characters. At the same time, it shows our development as a band, in terms of harmonies and instrumentation (we added horns on this track). 

Annie: I think we decided to launch with "Girl,Friend" because after we started playing that song live, people would come up to us to ask where they could find it online. I think that’s because the content is very relatable, and also explicitly gay in a way that gets people excited (because it can feel like there’s a lack of love songs outside of the heterosexual experience sometimes!). I wanted people to hear it and know that we were thinking, talking and writing about things we hadn’t necessarily had a chance to explore on our last album. 

You all grew up in New York City and have since gone off to colleges spread across the map. When you come back to the city, do you sense any differences in the music scene, and if so, what sorts of changes have you observed?

Vera: I honestly just don’t know the cool spots anymore. All the places we played in high school have closed, and we haven’t had a chance to play a lot of the new spots yet. In terms of changes, there’s the geographic shift from east williamsburg to ridgewood. DIY venues are both precursors and contributors to gentrification and rising rents that displace historically poor, black, and brown neighborhoods. Therefore, it is unsettling to watch the venues popping up deeper and deeper in Brooklyn/Queens.

What do you think it is about pre-history that draws you to the imagery of dinosaurs and extinct creatures? Is it an aesthetic that continues to inform your overall vibe as a band?

Ebun: The dino theme is the theme that keeps giving. Not only that, but I also think that it is generally not a racialized, gendered, or sexualized theme. Working through that neutrality we are able to instill humour as well as slip in our political agenda to take over the world! 

Vera: We love nostalgia. Pre-history gives us a double whammy of that. Most people go through their dinosaur phases in childhood, so it lends itself to a fun asthetic. Also, pre-history is such a long time ago! It’s the ultimate in nostalgic fantasy.

Annie: Also, dinosaurs are so good for merch imagery. Just kidding. But you have to admit that they are aesthetically rich beings!

A lot of times the moniker of “girl band,” can come with a sort of tokenization in the music industry, how do you navigate that and have you seen any changes or progress within that realm?

Lyris: I think more space has been made for “girl bands” over the past few years which is very important and exciting. However, the visible “girl bands” can still predominantly be white, straight or benefit from other privileges. What can sometimes be missing from this conversation is prioritizing other marginalized folks such as POC as well.

It’s also beyond one-time “inclusion” or “representation”- are we paying people fairly and transparently? Are we sneakily talking them up to our music writer friends? Are we cultivating a community of ongoing relationships in which we are lifting them up or do we think our work is done?

Vera: Along with tokenization comes disrespect and assumptions that we don’t know how to use our own gear. I combat/navigate that with education! I refuse to let dingus soundmen cramp my style with technocondescension. I’ve learned so much about music technology in the past couple years. I have found it super empowering to be able to confidently assert what I need from stand offish dudes who assume I don’t know how to turn on an amplifier. I have a zero-tolerance policy for even vague implications thereof. I agree with Lyris as well. It’s easy to feel like I’m doing political work just by being a female musician. But it’s not. I’m a white woman, so there’s a whole world I have access too, regardless of being female. The comfort that I feel at shows is in part a product of my race. I would say that a change I see is perhaps a certain comfort that indie rock’n’roll is becoming less dudely. But who are the new female faces of rock? Are they cis and straight and white? Are music reporters doing the work to report on bands that don’t look like them?

What bands did you dream of playing with when you first discovered your love of music?

Ebun: I definitely wanted to play with The Julie Ruin or Speedy Ortiz.

Vera: Reel Big Fish 

Annie: Sleater-Kinney and They Might be Giants. 

Who are you listening to when you’re on the road?

Weaves, blankat, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Popiya, TC Superstar, Sammus, Cardi B, Ko Takasugi-Czernowin, Emma Lee Toyoda, Blacker Face, Xango Suave, Francis Bebey, Shannon and the Clams, ESG, St. Vincent, Sleater Kinney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Charly Bliss, Honey Cutt, Orange Juice, IGBO, Yaeji, Drake, Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Rihanna.

Where and how was Prehysteria recorded?

Ebun: We recorded this album with Salvation Records up in New Paltz, New York. It was created with a whole lotta dino blood, sweat, and tears. 

Vera: It took us about a year to record the album. 

Are you all familiar with the 1993 VHS masterpiece of the same name called “Prehysteria!” ? 

Lyris: Um, no. Hoisted by our own petard yet again. Like “inventing” our band name, we thought we were being terribly original...To anyone reading this: please note we are not the T-Rex cover band of middle-aged Englishmen (we are on amicable terms with them, though.)

What other like-minded local acts do you guys like to play with these days?

Lyris: Awksymoron, Zenizen, The Great Wight, Human People, Deer Scout. We haven’t gotten to play with them yet but I’d love to play with Juan Wauters, Water From Your Eyes and Straw Pipes.