Interview Exclusive: So Pitted Talk New LP ‘Cloned,’ Share Video

From the growing social divisions, political polarization, stratification between rich and poor, and fragmentation that social media and other evils have thrust upon us, everyone can agree that we’re living in a mad, mad, mad, mad world. It’s true in both senses of the word: anger and insanity are at previously unimaginable degrees, and there appears to be no end in sight.

Also running rampant, and tearing us apart, is bullshit. Our collectively response to all the irrefutably clear and present dangers plaguing the globe? Sickening, counterproductive amounts of cheap talk and platitudes whose rising levels could pose an even greater existential threat to humanity than rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Music is hardly immune from these potentially incurable and intractable maladies. Duplicity has always permeated the music industry. But whereas it used to be disproportionally prevalent among corporate major labels and the artists who sold their souls by signing to them, the nefarious tendencies have trickled down and infected independent artists too, in a way that Reagan’s economics never did. Artists of every stripe talk about their “brand.” Due to economic constraints, they’re often saddled with having to market their art in order to become viable.

Exceptions to these frightening trends are few and far between. When truth-telling, trend-bucking artists do crop up, though—or, better yet, take a public stand against the powers that be, even at the potential expense of their career—they remind us that all is not lost. Among the bands that deserve to be lauded for speaking out, even if their music doesn’t have particularly broad appeal, is Seattle’s most snarling, skronk-alicious exports: So Pitted.

The trio’s release of multiple singles in 2015 and their debut full-length on Sub Pop the following year introduced a gnarly sound that called to mind both the grunge greats of yore and contemporary, fuzzy trouble-makers Metz and Helms Alee.

Back then and in the years since, So Pitted maintained a shadowy, enigmatic persona that contrasted sharply with their immediate, searing songs. Some considered the uncompromising approach to be aloof; others viewed it as keeping alive the punk-rock tradition of putting art above artist. The group led by Nathan Rodriguez proved that integrity still matters.

It’s been seven long years since the release of that debut album, Neo, leading many to wonder whether we’d hear from So Pitted ever again. They recently answered that question by announcing a second LP, Cloned, along with a smattering of live performances. The album will come out March 8 on another Seattle label, Youth Riot Records.

Late last month, New Noise reached out to So Pitted about their new record. To our absolute and humble delight, Rodriguez gave us his first—and, as of the date of this story’s publish, only—interview surrounding Cloned. He also let us exclusively premiere the band’s second Cloned video, for “Muse”:

“I never imagined making a record like Cloned,” Rodriguez says during our conversation, which took place on streaming video in late January. “This is the first time one of our recordings features us sounding the way we sound live. That’s the representation we’ve been fighting to get.”

For all the attention and applause that Neo garnered So Pitted, it didn’t succeed in accomplishing Rodriguez’s stated goal.

“As much love as we have for that record, it still fell flat of (capturing) our live experience,” he adds.

Ironically, So Pitted won’t sound or look the same when they start touring behind Cloned, which was finished and mastered two years ago but sidelined due to COVID and other issues. They’ve grown from a trio into a quartet; after lineup changes, So Pitted now consists of Rodriguez; Liam Downey (who writes and sings lead of some of the band’s songs); Jagger Beato; and Rodriguez’s sister Lauren.

“I don’t think we ever had any intention of quitting,” he shares of the evolving group.

Rodriguez cemented the new configuration after recording and mixing Cloned, which actually boasts some tracks on which he doesn’t even perform. So Pitted’s members switch off handling instruments throughout the new record and will do so as well in concert.

“We’ve reached our new dynamic where no one has a permanent role, especially with me and Liam swapping vocals,” Rodriguez says. “I think the only thing that’s somewhat permanent is I’ll always sing and play guitar.”

Astute observers will notice that Rodriguez didn’t mention drums, which he had played until recently.

“I have retired,” reveals the musician, who struggles with a longtime, worsening ear canal injury. “It’s a little harder to hear in my left ear. I would love to figure out exactly what’s going on with that, although I need to get this album out and do the tour first.”

Along with the changes to So Pitted’s makeup, the band attracted a particularly impressive collaborator to produce Cloned: Tad Doyle.

“Yeah, the legend!” Rodriguez confirms. “He was so much fun to work with.”

Rodriguez recalls telling Doyle going into the recording of Cloned that So Pitted “aren’t necessary a metal band—but I want us to be a metal-sounding band, with metal-ish tones and a lo-fi sound.”

Rodriguez also explains that So Pitted’s bottom-heavy, infectiously sinister sound—anchored by low-end guitar—wasn’t created by design. It’s the natural result of the band employing inexpensive gear, such as amps that cost as little as $200.

In addition to roping in Doyle to produce Cloned, the band tapped him to appear in the video for “Muse” that is presented above.

Rodriguez notes that the first Cloned single, “Parasite,” has the highest tempo and energy level of the 12 tracks that comprise the record.

“I love how hard and tough ‘Parasite’ is,” Rogriguez says of the song, adding that it’s loosely based on the soundtrack to the PlayStation video game “Parasite Eve” from 1998. “ ‘Parasite’ is a pretty good insight into So Pitted.”

Meanwhile, one of the Cloned selections that most candidly reveals the musicians’ state of mind is “Interpol”—which, like “Tool” (and “Muse”), nods to bands So Pitted admire (hence the Cloned album title).

Here’s a generous excerpt from “Interpol,” which features unsettling, processor-enhanced vocals: “Find the will to find something simple/ The stuff normal people do to stay alive/ I can’t keep up with the hive mind … Technology is too exponential/ It’s moving faster than time.”

The straight-shooter vocals go on: “It’s our duty to keep on spending/ Relying on technology to save our lives/ I’ll be a slave to a corporation/ ‘Cause I need insurance to stay alive/ The corporations are giving us cancer/ I have no time for exercise/ The good food is too expensive/ The 1 percent took all the money/ The white old men remain in charge/ Why do they want to remain in power?/ They want to party while the rest of us die.”

That’s a mouthful, but it’s true. All those lyrics considered, we were relieved to learn that Rodriguez and his band mates are doing well, regardless of some fluctuating mental health concerns. So Pitted have an exciting year ahead and seem well-primed for it. 

“We’re all in a pretty good place now, pretty stable,” he says. “I’ve raised my quality of living, and once you do that for yourself, the world opens up to you. … I feel recognized for what I’ve done, and I’ve gotten enough personal recognition that I’m very happy.”

Photo courtesy of So Pitted.

Go to Youth Riot Records’ website for more on So Pitted.

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