Try to envision the ideal pop-punk band and chances are the picture that comes up is pretty close to Chicago band Retirement Party. Fronted by recent Michigan transplant Avery Springer, the local three-piece makes anxious, relatable songs that ooze with energy thanks to boisterous guitar riffs that split the difference between indie rock and emo.
With Springer’s straightforward delivery and her knack for self-deprecating but clever lyrics, the band’s debut full-length Somewhat Literate—out May 25th via Counter Intuitive Records—is one of the year’s best debuts even if you didn’t grow up listening to Green Day. On the heels of the release, Springer, a Logan Square resident, sat down with Chicago magazine to talk about the local music community, keeping it light while writing, and getting a cease-and-desist letter from a Minneapolis dad-funk band.
On immersing herself into Chicago’s music community
I’m coming up on two years being in Chicago. I moved here because of the music. Detroit doesn’t have too much of a DIY scene even though it was a cool place to grow up. I loved bands like Pet Symmetry, Dowsing, and Into It. Over It. And all the emo stuff from Chicago, Champaign, and in between. When I moved here I discovered so many smaller bands. I love that Chicago has so much talent in one city and no one is really competing with each other. They just love making music and playing with their friends.
On the band’s original name
We were called Soap. Before I moved here, my solo project was called Sunglasses On A Plane, so people would call it Soap. Turns out, that’s actually a psychedelic jam band full of dads from Minneapolis. We got a cease-and-desist from them and ended up on Retirement Party. We thought the name was funny since we’re young.
On writing Somewhat Literate
To me, it feels like it’s taking forever to put this album out but compared to other bands the process has been going extremely quick. We released our EP in January of last year [Strictly Speaking] and we only finished recording this one in October. That momentum that we got after our first EP, I had already had written a song for this album, which was “Grand Am,” which is the most like the EP.
We pumped a bunch of songs out and only wrote these 11 songs that are on this album with the last song written being “Seams.” There was no whittling down. We knew what it was going to be. We haven’t really stopped or taken a break since we became a break. It does get tiring but we don’t feel like slowing down.
On not being too serious while writing about serious things
Adding humor to songs is just a part of my personality. When I was in early high school and writing songs for the first time, I’d be really self-conscious about how personal my songs would be. I told my parents that everything was about something made up and that it wasn’t me. I later developed this funny way of talking and dealing with those things in my songs. It’s a reflection of my growth as a songwriter and a person.
On the band’s dynamic
I got extremely lucky with my band. We get along so well. [Guitarist] Nick Cartwright, [drummer] James Ringness, and I vibe really well as musicians as well as friends. It’s crazy because I didn’t know them before I moved and we formed basically right away when I got here and instantly clicked.