Earlier this month Atlanta-based punk rockers Upchuck released their excellent second album Bite The Hand That Feeds. In just under half an hour the band rips through thirteen extremely high-energy tracks that will have you dancing, moshing, and looking for a shopping cart to crowd surf in within seconds. Throughout the album, you can hear elements of doom, garage rock, and psychedelia interwoven with punk rock which makes their sound that much heavier. Bite The Hand That Feeds is out now via Famous Class Records and Upchuck are currently on the road with Faye Webster.
Punknews editor Em Moore caught up with lead vocalist KT and guitarist Mikey over Zoom to talk about the new album, filming tour documentaries, paying homage to Pee-wee's Big Adventure, and so much more. Read the interview below!
You recorded your new album Bite The Hand That Feeds with Ty Segall at Harmonizer Studio. How did you decide who to work with? What was the recording process like?
Mikey: We went on tour with Fuzz and Cyrus, who runs our label, has known Ty for a while. We are big fans of his work and Cyrus kind of hooked it up for us. The recording part was awesome. Ty was really good at making the environment super chill and relaxed. It’s easy to knock out songs when you’re working with somebody like him who’s really good at making the environment fun and easy to record in.
KT: Yeah, cozy.
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Mikey: I will usually start with a riff and then we just kind of jam it out. Usually, KT will come up with lyrics on the spot.
KT: Yeah, I just kinda start writing because they’re going to play it over and over again. Throughout that process, even if it shifts, I’m just writing. I’m usually done by the time we finish practice.
What do you use for inspiration for your lyrics?
KT: Literally whatever I’m feeling at the time, honestly. Sometimes I’ll go in my notes, like notes I have written at whatever point I’m at. Mikey does a good job of somehow knowing exactly what I need to write comfortably and smoothly. It’s usually just a feeling. Whatever riff Mikey makes and whatever it makes me feel, I’ll kinda go off that. It’s just a feeling, it’s kinda hard to explain.
Your song “Freedoom” originally appeared on your debut self-titled EP. What was it like to re-record this song? Has it changed since 2020?
Mikey: No, it’s pretty much the same. It was really fun to re-record all the old songs with Ty. It’s cool.
Mikey, you sing lead vocals on “NYAG”. What was this like?
Mikey: It was cool. My band in high school wrote that when we were like 16 so it’s kinda cool to use it ten years later. [laughs]
KT, on “Freaky” you talk about leaning into your alter-ego and celebrating that. How did your alter-ego come about?
KT: I’m not gonna lie, it’s literally as I say in the song. It’s really just me being lit, maybe having a little too much to drink, being loose. It’s literally letting loose and just being like, “Man, I really just don’t give a fuck about what y’all are going to think about me right now”.
Is there something in particular that helps you tap into that?
KT: Nope, it just happens! [laughs] It’s literally still me, it’s just kinda a little hidden I guess.
In the video for that song, you’re recreating a scene from Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Why did you choose to recreate this scene in particular?
Mikey: It’s really our homie, Ian Cone, that came up with the concept. It’s really crazy because he came up with the concept before Paul Reubens passed away and the day he passed away it came out. It’s kinda wild that that ended up like that.
KT: Paying homage. It’s wild.
What impact did Paul Reubens have on you?
Mikey: Not that much. It’s really our friend Ian, he had a big impact on him. That’s how the concept kinda came about, through him.
Earlier this year, you released a mini tour documentary on YouTube. How did the idea to film a documentary come about?
Mikey: That was also Ian Cone.
KT: Yeah! [laughs]
Mikey: He thought it’d be funny to pretend to be a French guy who comes over and documents us. He’s a really funny guy. [laughs]
KT: He’s hilarious!
What was the filming process of it like?
Mikey: Raw. It was basically just us and a camera. [laughs] It was basically just us on tour. It was fun.
Are you going to be doing more?
Mikey: Oh my god, yeah!
KT: Of course!
Mikey: We’re going to try to do a bunch more episodes. We have unlimited footage because we did OFF! and Subhumans in Atlanta. We did a Snooper tour. It’s all on film. Right now, we’re trying to decide what to do with all this footage. I think we’ll make something of it.
You’re currently on tour across the US (and will be playing one date in Toronto) with Faye Webster. What has your favourite part of the tour been so far?
Mikey: I think our favourite part of the tour is being with our friends. We know Faye from Atlanta so it’s kinda nice to already know somebody rather than tour with someone you’ve never met. It’s very comforting.
KT: It also feels like we’re at home again. It’s like we never left at all.
Have shopping carts made any appearances at any of the shows?
Mikey and KT: No.
Mikey: I appreciate a shopping cart in the audience.
Mikey: We got put in time-out a few times on this tour. The dynamic is insane because the tour was sold out before Upchuck got put on the bill so they were coming to see a Faye Webster show and then we come out. People are either like, “What the fuck is this?” or they’re like, “What the fuck is this??”
KT: Exactly! [laughs] It’s a crazy dynamic for sure.
Mikey: It’s fun!
KT: The Barbinheimer tour. [laughs]
Have there been cities that have been more receptive than others or does it depend on the crowd?
Mikey: I think Boston was pretty fun. Boston was crazy. Philly was kinda mellow. But yeah, Boston was a good one. Brooklyn last night was cool also.
KT: Brooklyn was good! I liked the Brooklyn shows for sure.
You’ve mentioned before how all of your songs change when you play them live. Is there one that changes the most?
Mikey: I don’t know. I think now the songs haven’t really changed anymore, we kind of play them a certain way. I guess the solos might be different and some parts might be different but that’s it.
KT: They’re pretty much the same. Maybe my cadence might be different or something.
Do you have a song that’s the most cathartic to play live?
Mikey: I think the last song is the one that’s the most fun to play because that’s when everybody gets really hyped.
KT: Yeah, it starts off slow but at the end, it comes back up. I feel like they’re pretty all upbeat. [laughs]
There’s not a lot of slow moments.
KT: True enough. Even on “Facecard”, it’s only for so long until it picks back up.
How would you describe the punk scene in Atlanta?
Mikey: There’s not much of a punk scene really. There are a lot of different scenes though. What do you have to say KT?
KT: I would say the same. I feel like it’s kind of like a melting pot of scenes in Atlanta. We all coincide with one another. So it’s like motherfuckers are hanging with rappers, motherfuckers are hanging with hardcore bands, punk bands, indie bands. The way we got on tour with Faye is we be hanging with Faye in Atlanta. We all just kinda melt together for the most part, I’d say.
What does the future hold for Upchuck?
Mikey: Well, hopefully, we’re going to Europe in May. That’s going to be our first time in Europe. Starting to write some new songs and hopefully touring a lot next year. That’s what we’re getting ready for. That’s really it. Just trying to get to Europe, that’s our main goal.
Do you have a city in Europe in particular that you really want to play?
Mikey: I don’t know, where do you wanna play KT?
KT: Europe! [laughs] The UK. Trying to go overseas, honestly.
Mikey: I think I’m just hyped to go on the whole trip.
|Oct 27||History||Toronto, ON|
|Oct 29||Riviera Theatre||Chicago, IL|
|Oct 30||First Avenue||Minneapolis, MN|
|Dec 02||The Eastern||Atlanta, GA|