Parenthetical Girls' Zac Pennington Learned To Loathe Popular Music While a Music Journalist
It's not easy being beautiful. Just ask Zac Pennington, frontman of experimental pop group Parenthetical Girls, whose vocal strains fall halfway between Perfume Genius and Lightspeed Champion, complemented with the baroque pop stylings of Belle and Sebastian. Pennington, known for his gender-neutral lyrics and his Morrissey-borrowed wit, pens some brutally ambivalent lyrics focusing on lust, identity, and looking good.
We spoke to Pennington -- who's scheduled to stop by the Trunk Space on Saturday, March 9 -- on the phone for this week's issue but ended up with more good stuff than we could fit in print. Here are some choice Outtakes.
New Times: You live in Portland. Is the environment conducive for your music?
Zac Pennington: I guess as much as anywhere else. I'm able to do everything I need to do here in a way that's relatively affordable, which is the main thing that makes it conducive.
So I guess your original band name, Swastika Girls, didn't work out, even though it was a great reference to Brian Eno and Robert Fripp's No Pussyfooting. Did you get a lot of negative reactions to the name?
It wasn't a name for long enough to garner any attention one way or another. That was only the name for a couple of months.
You really made your last release [Privilege] pretty elaborate. Five EPs, released over 15 months, numbered in the blood of the band members. How did you come up with this idea?
The record that we did before Privilege was a record called Entanglements and in its own way, it was very involved process. I had grown weary of putting out albums in a traditional way and really wanted to be sure that we could release music in a more efficient way. We tend to take a really long time to make things, so I really wanted to use our time more deliberately and try to release as much stuff over a period of time instead of waiting a few years to get a record finished. The other aspect of putting the record out that way was mainly about making these items as rarified as we could. They were all released as a limited edition of 500 records each.
So all that was pragmatic to a certain extent, but the idea was trying to make these things as fetishistic as we could. Because it seems like records are increasingly fetishistic anyway. People buy them, wanting things that are very rarified. I'm really interested in that as someone who collects records. I understand that desire.
Do you have any cool records in your collection?
I guess I probably do. I'm not as active of a collector as I'd like to be because I don't have the disposable income to allow it. I've got some things I think are pretty fancy.