NYMN Interview – Petey Dammit of Thee Oh Sees

Photo Credit: Kristin Klein

Want to remember when to replace the batteries in your smoke detector or schedule a dentist appointment. Simply perform these tasks whenever Thee Oh Sees releases a new album. The prolific musicians have just released a new EP entitled Putrifiers II and start a busy tour with an upcoming show in Brooklyn. We talked to guitarist Petey Dammit to get a sense of his knowledge on demolitions, goat and human interactions, and going ape butt bonkers.

NYMN: This upcoming tour is in conjunction with your soon to be released album, Putrifiers II. I heard the single “Flood’s New Light”, when Pitchfork named it a Best New Track a month ago. In the article, they talked about how “the song is proof that their upcoming album has the band tightening their focus and cleaning up their sound.” Do you feel like you’re more focused and playing a cleaner sound or is that just where you are right now and that on your next album you might play xylophones and scream into bullhorns?

Petey: On this record, it was mainly John recording everything by himself, with some guest additions by friends of ours like Mikal Cronin and Chris Woodhouse. I think this record might have had a bit more attention to details in it, which is why it is more focused or cleaner sounding. Or, maybe the reviewer had been smoking a little something something and just perceived it to be more focused and clean.

NYMN: PS – I hope you perform that song at The Goat Farm in Atlanta because the “Ba Ba Ba” refrain in “Flood’s New Light” might get you some new background singers as that venue has a very accurate name.

Petey: We unfortunately haven’t learned Flood’s New Light as a full band. We will be playing a couple songs from the new album, but not that one. I think some goats would fit in nicely with the chorus of “Goodnight Baby”. I’m also hoping its possible to get a goat to stand on top of my amplifier the entire set.

NYMN: Thee Oh Sees release albums at what other bands might view as breakneck speed. About every six months it seems another album appears. What is it about your band’s psyche that allows you to confidently release albums so quickly?

Petey: We work hard. I think it seems strange for us to release so many records because of the tradition in the recording industry to do things a certain way. For decades it has been months and months in the studio, one release a year, tour this, tour that, do this, do that… We just do what we want to do. Most of the songs have been worked out by the time we get to the studio so we can record them all live in two days. The other two days in the studio are having fun writing on the spot and having fun.

NYMN: And do you get that itch a month or so after you’ve released a new album like you have to make another one or does it happen more organically?

Petey: It happens more organically. For a long time we were ahead of ourselves with songs we know vs. songs that have been recorded. I think we’re pretty much up to date now. In December we’ll go back into the studio and already have most of that session written.

NYMN: Imagine if you will, a pack of dynamite attached to a long fuse and one of those detonators that looks like a box with a T coming out of the top that was used most notably by Wile E. Coyote. Sitting on top of that dynamite is the label “garage-rock band”, meaning that you have the power to blow up that moniker. Therefore, when people write about Thee Oh Sees they can no longer use that phrase when describing your band. Do you swoop in like the Roadrunner and rescue your garage rock status or do you find some ear plugs and blast it to bits?

Petey: I don’t think I would do either. I would either grab a lawn chair, a beer, and sit and wait for someone else to come along to press the shiny red button. Or, just walk away and go watch cartoons on my couch. In one hand, I feel honored to be called a Garage Rock band because in my mind that puts us in the same genre as bands like The Sonics, The Mummies, The Novas, The Rip-Offs, and countless other amazing bands I’ve enjoyed listening too. On the other hand, it’s just a word and doesn’t really mean anything at all. It’s Kamelåså… If someone wants to blow it up, that’s fine with me too.

NYMN: I lived in San Francisco for two years and thought I’d never leave. I did eventually, but I still love that city. The band seems to feed off San Francisco and vice versa. Obviously, friends and family keep us in locations, but what peripheral benefits do the city provide you with?

Petey: I like that fact it is very culturally diverse. Walking a few blocks down the street you can overhear different languages, and sort of travel the world throughout the different neighborhoods. I think in this current day and age, traveling and embracing different cultures, countries, ideals, and enjoying differences in humans in general is an extremely important thing. If you stick to the same square mile of the planet you were born on and never experience anything outside of that, you are more likely to become a Republican presidential candidate.

NYMN: You play in NYC on September 22nd. What do NYC shows mean to you? Are they unique or special or are they just as important as any other show?

Petey: Oh man, it’s hard to choose one baby over another, they are all important. But NYC shows have amazing crowds!! I really look forward to them, you kids go absolutely ape butt bonkers!! I love it!! And, if I may say, we have some quite good looking fans in New York!

Thee Oh Sees play September 22nd at The Well in Brooklyn with Ty Segall.


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