Punch: Band Of The Day

By on 28 August 2014


Punch may be a new name to most reading this, but the Bay Area band has been living up to their moniker both musically and with regards to the dedication and tenacity required to write and record as much as they have in the face of a seemingly non-stop touring schedule. Back on August 19th, they issued their third full-length, ‘They Don’t Have To Believe’ via Deathwish Inc. so we tracked down vocalist Meghan O’Neil Pennie while she was vacationing in Scotland (nothing like doing more travelling when you already spend the lion’s share of your time on tour…) and threw a few questions at her.

WORDS: Kevin Stewart-Panko

FOR FANS OF: No Statik, Full Of Hell, Cloud Rat
LATEST RELEASE: ‘They Don’t Have To Believe’ (2014)
WEBSITE: Facebook & Bandcamp

Ok folks, what can you tell us about the band’s history? As well, what was the intent surrounding the formation of Punch and how would you say things are different for the band now compared to when you originally got together?
Meghan: “Punch formed in mid/late 2006 as a group of friends needing a new creative outlet. We recorded a demo that December and started touring the following year. Since then, we have toured as much as possible and have put out two 7”s and we have just released our third LP. As much as things have grown and changed, it’s still based on friends making and playing music together.

More fun: “review” your band mates for us.
Meghan: “Keith [guitar] – meticulously hardworking

“Dan [guitar] – a hilarious story teller who never sleeps

“Brian [bass] – equal parts chill and subtly sarcastic”

Punch reminds equally of the likes of No Statik as well as some of the early 625 thrashcore bands. Agree/disagree? What would you say you look up to in older and newer bands in those bands you’d consider influences?
Meghan: “625 was our first label and our relationship with [label owner] Max has always been important to us as his bands are a huge influence. I’d say we look up to bands who are hard working, genuine and pioneering.”

I’ve seen the ‘socially conscious’ description thrown around in relation to you. To me, this can mean a lot of things; what does it mean to you and how do you express that, assuming you’re down with the description in the first place?
Meghan: “To me, it means that the band is about more than just music. We have always maintained that we are individuals with our own beliefs and ideals, but the band can be a great platform for discussion and awareness. Lyrically, I deal with topics including veganism, women’s issues, addiction, loss, self reliance… while I’m admittedly not the most political person I do believe in trying to be your best self to affect positive change. I think it’s important to have empathy, and to stay informed about what’s going on in the world.

Tell us about the writing process for ‘They Don’t Have to Believe’ – how long did it take? Did you go into this album looking to do anything different, out of the ordinary, exploratory or rectify any “mistakes” you made on previous recordings?
Meghan: “I believe Keith started working on riffs late last year. It’s been hard to get us all together to write as we all travel and work a lot. This spring we just really came together and made it happen. This may sound weird, but we came into this one differently by saying to ourselves “this is going to be our best record.” Just believing that and putting the extra time in to practice and tweak the songs. I also slightly changed my vocal approach and was happy with the results.”

What about recording? How long did it take? Was it your initial intention to record with [producer] Jack Shirley as opposed to doing it yourself with a ProTools rig or something similar?
Meghan: “It took three days to record. This is our fourth record with Jack Shirley; he’s a great friend of ours so it makes for a very laid back environment.”

What is the significance of the album’s title? Is there a story behind it, etc.?
Meghan: “I was really inspired earlier this year when I watched ‘The Punk Singer.’ At the end of the film, Kathleen Hanna sums up what, for me, is the message of the movie. She says that she doesn’t expect everyone to understand or believe in feminism or her personal battle with illness, but they should have to stay out of her way. I paraphrased this idea for the shortest song on the record – ‘They don’t have to believe, but they should stay out of my way’. I guess it’s an ode to being unapologetically yourself.”

You’ve done an extensive amount of touring far and abroad. What would you say have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned from being on the road that you’ve applied both to the band and to your everyday life/work/relationships?
Meghan: “Yes, we have played in 22 countries, spanning Europe, Japan, Australia and North and South America. For me personally, it’s really helped me be a more outgoing person. I’ve always been quite an introvert and especially painfully shy as a child and up through my early/mid twenties. Our first couple of tours I literally hid in the van when we weren’t playing. I finally got to a point where I realized I was missing out on a lot experiences and on meeting so many people, that I basically forbade myself from hiding anymore. I started doing merch at every show to give me something to do if I was feeling socially anxious and also as an easy platform to talk to people. It’s really changed me for the better. Touring has also helped widen my world view which I think is invaluable.”

On the same note, what’s the most awesome tour story you have? You know, the one you always break out at parties and always start it with: “Dude, you gotta hear this…”
Meghan: “Wow, it’s really hard to pick just one as we have been to so many places and my band mates can be so hilarious. The first one that pops in my head – I think because I’m actually in Scotland at the moment – was in Glasgow in 2011. The show was running so behind and we were playing last and ended up with maybe like eight minutes to play or something ridiculous like that, as the show had to end right at midnight. We were all really frustrated, but then when we were playing we were getting a great reaction and having a lot of fun. Dan looked up at a wall clock next to him and saw that it was about two minutes to midnight. None of us knew until after the set, but he punched the clock! It broke and it was stuck at 11:58 and no one was the wiser and we just kept playing past midnight! After the set, we saw that his knuckles were bleeding. He took one for the team that evening.”

What’s the plan once the new album is out and available?
Meghan: “In September, we are playing nine shows on the east coast and two record release shows in Oakland.”

About Kez Whelan

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