The Brooklyn punk band’s debut record is scuzzy and sordid.
I have a confession: Long ago—well, last week—I imagined that I would introduce the self-described “noise goth skate punk” outfit Grim Streaker’s debut record, No Vision, by pointing to its angstiest track as an example of the band’s scuzzy, thrashing sound. But then I listened to the record, and my plan was ruined. Why? Because every track on the record is the angstiest track on the record.
There’s the lead single “A.D.D.” which opens the album with equal parts giddy excitement and pent up annoyance. “This thing’s taking way too long!” frontwoman Amelia Bushell shouts over nervy strings and smashing cymbals. This thing’s taking way too long? It only began 15 seconds ago! “On the count of three,” Bushell barks to nobody in particular. “One-two one-two!” She never gets to three, but she does contemplate cutting her hair and quitting her job. We’ve all been there.
Next up is the second single, “Today in New York,” a frenetic, confrontational number that’s heavy on guitar shredding and general distress. Bushell delivers her lyrics with thumping, shrieking vigor: “Chasing my dreams / I’m excited but I’m scared / Wanna lose control and go nuts / But I can’t end up there again / Been told I need to grow up.”
In “No,” Bushell spits, “No! / I said ‘No!’” This lyric and song as a whole both feel like an act of empowerment, as Bushell rejects conditions that she will no longer tolerate. Here, she isn’t defiant for the sake of being defiant (though the record has plenty of that too)—her defiance serves her indignation.
Over the next six tracks, Bushell continues to lash out at authority figures, men, babysitters, partners, and herself. Along with bandmates Daniel Peskin (guitar), Micah Weisberg (guitar), Bill Dvorak (bass), and Piyal Basu (drums), she’s crafted a tight, urgent record that honors the playful energy the band has cultivated in their live shows over the last few years.
“Trying to capture the live show on record was the goal,” Dan tells AdHoc in an interview. “We had more songs than what ended up on the record. But it was good, in a way, that we sat with the record for as long as we did, because we realized [which] songs actually needed to be on the record and which ones didn’t.”
“I didn’t want to hold back on saying things,” Amelia adds. “Things that I wouldn’t talk about in everyday life came out in some of these songs, which was a nice outlet.”
We recently spoke to Micah, Dan, and Amelia over the phone about No Vision. Read the interview below, and catch Grim Streaker at their record release show at Alphaville on May 16, with support from Cold Fronts, Big Bliss, and Flexi.
No Vision is out May 17 on Local Fun Boy Records.
Your new record is coming out soon. I’d love to hear from each of you about your experience putting it together.
Dan: In terms of writing, this album [has] been about a year and a half in the making. We recorded it last February, so it’s been something we’ve had to sit on for a while. We’re already working on the next thing, but it’s exciting to get [this] out there.
There [were] a couple phases of us writing and revising. [We had to say] “no” to a lot of things. [We’re] talking about personal experiences and just dealing with daily life in New York. A lot of the lyrics speak for themselves. And in terms of actually tracking the record, we worked with my friend Mike Kutchman who’s done a lot of stuff for Wharf Cat [Records]. Me and our drummer have worked with him in the past, and he’s based out of Greenpoint. He recorded our first single, “Guts,” too.
Micah: We just wanted to do something where we felt at home. It was pretty DIY. We live-tracked everything. We did it in like three days.
Dan: Trying to capture the live show on record was the goal. We had more songs than what ended up on the record. But it was good, in a way, that we sat with the record for as long as we did, because we realized [which] songs actually needed to be on the record and which ones didn’t.
Micah: And the title—Dan, you came up with the title a long time ago, and I think it fits really well. It has that double meaning to it. [More on this later.]
Dan: I tend to bring a lot of the instrumental ideas to the table, but Amelia writes all the lyrics. It’s, “How do we like take lyrical concepts and create something that’s a little bit more cohesive from a message and artwork standpoint? And how do we put all the songs together?” That was something [that] went through iterations. [We] sat on the songs for a while.
Micah: We’ve played all of them live for over a year now.
I was going to ask about that.
Dan: We’ve gone through iterations, in sets, of swapping out a few here and there.
Micah: Fine-tuning the live show.
Dan: We’re even starting to play a couple new ones past this album. For the release show we’ll play the full album, and we’ll play a couple new ones and old ones.
Micah: For the first time, I think, we’ll play the whole record straight through, which will be fun. It’s been great playing these for as long as we have over the past year. We played them at SXSW [and] got a great reaction to the songs.
Were you there in 2018, 2019, or both years?
Micah: Both, but this year was really special. We played ten shows. We had one of them live-streamed on Facebook—there were motorcycles, like Harley Davidsons. Anyway, it was really fun. The Scoot Inn [is] such a great venue, too.
What made it so special compared to last time?
Micah: I think we knew a little bit more about what to expect, and we’d been in the band longer.
Amelia: We’d just been playing our songs longer. All of us are so much more comfortable on stage, and I think that people could see that. We got a lot more reaction, which was really good.
Do you have any plans to tour?
Micah: We’re going to do a few out-of-town shows in June [in] Jersey, Connecticut, and Boston.
Amelia: Honestly I’m just ready to tour! I’m ready to hop over to Europe and tour the whole thing.
Dan: We’re planning something for October. We’re itching to get overseas for sure.
It seems like the live shows are a big part of what you do.
Micah: For sure. That’s what we all latched onto at the beginning. We all felt like there could be something to this after we played our first show. And then the crowd reactions just got better and better, and Amelia just goes nuts on stage, so that’s always fun.
More so than everyone else?
Micah: I think we all sweat it out, but you never quite know if you’re gonna get a mic cable strangled around you, or she’s crawling through your legs. [Once, at] Silent Barn, Amelia disappeared for like five minutes during the song and we realized she was under the stage. A brave, brave soul.
Amelia: It was nasty.
But you lived to tell the tale! How’d you guys start doing this together?
Micah: [We] started quote-unquote “jamming,” [in] October [or] November [of] 2016.
Dan: ’17. ’16?
Amelia: What year is it?
Amelia: Was it 2016?
Dan: We put out a record in July of 2017.
Amelia: So we’re like two and a half now.
You’re well into your toddler years. How did you get connected to each other?
Micah: Let’s see… Bill the bass player and I shoot videos on the side—music videos—and Dan was in another band called Dinowalrus. [We were] shooting their video, and we started talking about punk and how we all wanted to play that kind of music outside of our current bands. And Dan knew Piyal, our drummer, from a previous band. We were like, “There’s something to this, but who’s gonna sing?”
Amelia: And then BOOM! I walk in.
How? Where did you come from?
Amelia: I knew Dan. And through Dan I met Piyal, Micah, and Bill, and I was like, “I want to get in on this!”
Were you singing before that?
Amelia: Yeah, I was in a band called Belle Mare, which was [a] dream-pop [band].
Amelia: Totally different vibe, but I knew I needed to do something other than that. So this was the perfect opportunity to pounce on.
Micah: We wrote out first single, which was the first song we ever jammed on—“Guts”—and then we kept going.
I want to go back to something you said earlier, Micah. You said Dan came up with the title, and there was a double meaning to it.
Micah: Well, there’s actually multiple meanings. I get a kick out of the fact that [in] this awesome photo that our friend Rick Perez took of us maybe a year ago, Amelia was blindfolding Dan on stage. [This photo appears on No Vision’s cover.]
Dan: She’s covering my mouth.
Micah: Yeah, but it’s like your whole face. That’s how I interpret it. I [love] the pun [there], where you literally have no vision. Dan?
Dan: I’d just say the more liberal primary meaning is really around a concept that kind of flows through the songs lyrically and in the emotion we’re trying to convey, which is really around female empowerment. We’ve talked a lot about issues in the band scene, [such as] gender discrepancies [in] a male-heavy band scene. That was something we touched on with the EP, and this is more broadly about the world we live in. [It’s] from Amelia’s perspective—and she can elaborate on it a bit more. [It’s about] taking back her voice and being able to project something. Hopefully it resonates with other people out there, especially aspiring musicians.
Amelia: Dan pretty much said it all. A lot of it has to do with the female perspective.
Micah: I think you wrote a lot of cool lyrics on this record, even more than [on] the EP.
Amelia: Yeah, I think it was more thought-through and a lot more personal. I didn’t want to hold back on saying things, even if they didn’t even seem appropriate to say. Things that I wouldn’t talk about in everyday life came out in some of these songs, which was a nice outlet.