Pissed Jeans' Matt Korvette: I love anything that involves throwing away money frivolously

Categories: Q&A
Brad Fry
Everything somebody needs to know about Pissed Jeans can be found in their name. The Philadelphia via Allentown quartet's four LPs boast the Jesus Lizard's spiraling discord and lyricism absent of any modern-day decorum. More like their name, however, is frontman Matt Korvette's ability to undercut such waste-laying punk with pressures and pleasures that are often feeble and unadmirable. Since 2005, Korvette hasn't carved out an anti-yuppie manifesto as much he's publicly splayed his own inadequacies.

Their latest record, February's excellent Honeys, carries on their well-lit torch with topics like wishing cancer upon co-workers and doctor-phobias. Gimme Noise caught up with Korvette prior to the group's Friday stop at the Triple Rock.

City Pages: You still work nine to five right?

Matt Korvette: Mhm.

In a perfect world, would you do Pissed Jeans full-time if you could?

Hypothetically, yeah sure. I'd be kind of an idiot if I were like "No, no no. Working in an office is just too good to pass up."

The only reason I ask is because so much of the band's identity is authenticated by this common-man vantage point. Do you think that would be compromised at all if you guys didn't have banal jobs?

Yeah, probably. But what a wonderful position that would be. Now I'd have to write songs about hanging by the pool and how it sucks to get sunburns. I'd be willing to make that shift. We'd have to make a lot of money to do that though. I wouldn't want to be a band that is famous but is secretly barely getting by where we're keeping our stuff in storage lockers for months out of the year.

And keeping up appearances is the best way to spend too much money.

There are so many bands that I will see and think, "Oh, my God. They're huge," on the indie circuit or whatever. But they're really only making like $30,000 per person, you know. It's pretty sweet for being in a band but not for living a life.

And even if you guys were able to make the money you want to make doing Pissed Jeans, I feel like some of the subject matter is relatable across classes. With "Health Plan," you're pretty much singing about going to the doctor the way Keith Morris would sing about cops.

That song's a very personal song. The premise for it kind of came about in talking with my bandmates on the way to practice. We all kind of admitted that we're scared as hell of going to the doctor just because they may find something wrong. And it's such a costly thing with copays and stuff even if you're essentially fine. And usually the doctor wants to see you at the most inconvenient time where you're at work or doing some other nonsense. Then there's just the fear of him saying, "Oh yeah, you have a giant tumor." It's like I'd prefer to not know and then past out one day and never wake up.

Do your co-workers know about Pissed Jeans?

I actually just recently changed jobs. At the old job, people definitely knew, but they were also definitely weird about it. Some people would know, but I wouldn't have any idea what they would know. Then some people who can't even tell you what day it is would seem like they know. No one would come out to me and say anything directly about it, and I was kind of getting skeeved out by it. My new job is more nationally based, so I'm not there with all these pencil-pushing people who live in the same town as me. I have a better chance at being more anonymous.

The lyrics on "Bathroom Laughter" revolve around how any expression of emotion in an office space is only acceptable in these areas that are removed from everyone else. Do you feel the subject matter of Pissed Jeans' records shapes the decision for you to keep this part of your life private?

Maybe a little bit. For the people I worked with, just the concept of an original-song-playing band comes from outer space. These are not like cool office people. They've never heard of Wilco or the Flaming Lips- bands that even most people would consider relatively mainstream. Beginning to try to frame the thought process to all of it was too difficult, you know. I don't even want to get into a position where I have to try and explain it.

Even if your co-workers may be a bit culturally detached, I feel like they may embrace the subject matter of Pissed Jeans more than anyone. I find it hard to believe that they're any happier to be at the office than you are.

I'm also trying to figure a way out of [that life] too though. Not just through music. I'm trying to reprogram myself from what I've learned since elementary school, middle school, high school, college and work. You're dropped on an assembly line when you're like five. I think about how I may be more happy if I spend less money, and it's tough, man, because I love spending money. I love all these things that I was totally set up to specifically want to love. I try to keep it in all of our songs where there's like a struggle. The stuff that's on my mind the most is the stuff I'm struggling with.

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