“For the queers by the queers — no sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, apologist bullshit will be tolerated,” reads the Bandcamp page of Get Better Records, an independent label that was founded by Alex Lichtenauer in 2010 as a means to, in their words, “reverse the constant underrepresentation of the city’s Queer arts community, with a specific focus on punk, hardcore, and alternative rock music.”
The Philadelphia-based Get Better is fast developing a reputation as one of the more important indie labels in the country. They won’t release music by bands solely consisting of straight, white men, as they strive to give a voice to those whose voices have been silenced. It’s a valiant endeavor, and Lichtenauer’s partner is Ally Einbinder, bassist with Massachusetts pop-punk band Potty Mouth.
“Get Better Records is a DIY, independently run label with political ideals that match our own,” says Einbinder. “That is part of it — further aligning ourselves with our ideals. And then having a maximum amount of freedom or creative control as far as the release goes. I talk to Alex every single day as it is, so to be releasing this record as a team effort — it doesn’t feel like work when you are involved in the process and the output at some point.”
Lichtenauer, Einbinder says, works on the label all the hours god sends, with Potty Mouth’s sophomore SNAFU, the follow up to 2013’s Hell Bent, released on the label in March.
“We’re just really proud of it, and I’m really proud that we are releasing it through Get Better Records,” says Einbinder. “Independent labels are playing a bigger role and a different kind of role than they did even six years ago when our first album came out. I think that there are so many bands out there and so few of them get signed to a major label or even a bigger indie label, and yet there are all these people with music that they want to share with the world.”
SNAFU is a tremendous piece of work; back in March when it was released, L.A. Weekly’s Falling James described the song “Smash Hit” as “another song from the new album that has an infectious melody, but it’s charged with more of a punk-rock drive,” and that about nails the vibe. There’s tons of punk rock ‘tude, derived from the aforementioned frustrations. Under the current administration, those have been amplified. At the same time though, the hooks are undeniable. There’s as much pop as punk in this pop-punk, and that’s ultimately to the benefit of the music.
The album came to the attention of John Hill, guitarist with Denver indie rockers Dressy Bessy, which led to the two bands embarking on a tour together. It’s a perfect match too; Dressy Bessy had been on a hiatus for a number of years before the results of the 2016 presidential election prompted them to get back to work.
“The political climate as it is, it’s just the right time to do this again now. I’ve been home for a month or so, and with the current state of the world, I’ve become inspired again, and there’s another album on the way,” singer Tammy Ealom told this writer in 2017, a year after the KINGSIZED record. “I personally love [Obama] as our president, and I did feel comfortable living life. Isn’t that something? It felt wonderful to live under his administration. Phew, we can breathe a little bit here. I’m not one to sit down and say, ‘OK, we need to write songs now.’ I let it come to me. When it comes, then it’s a big relief. If I have some sort of turmoil, whether it’s personal, political or whatever, it just needs to come.”
So politically, it’s clear that Potty Mouth and Dressy Bessy are coming from the same side of the aisle. The Denver band has about a decade and a half of experience over Potty Mouth, though their collective fingers are very much on the pulse.
“We were excited because we knew of them from the songs on the But I’m a Cheerleader soundtrack,” says guitarist and singer Abby Weems. “It’s great when older bands, who have been around a while, are still in touch with what younger bands are doing. Because it’s so easy to slip out of that.”
This tour, which hits the Moroccan Lounge this week, is Potty Mouth’s first major run of shows since we spoke to them in March, and Weems says that the response to the record has been gratifying. “People really seemed to connect with it,” she says.”
“We’re so excited to finally bring the songs from our new record SNAFU on the road and play them live for people!” Weems wrote in a statement. “This tour is going to be especially fun because we already love Dressy Bessy and Colleen Green. Plus, Colleen is going to be riding with us in our van! Look out for the party bus coming through your town this summer!!”
Yep, L.A.-based indie-punk singer/songwriter Colleen Green is opening for Potty Mouth and Dressy Bessy on the tour, a third reason to get there. And Potty Mouth will get to L.A. on the back of a new single, “I Wanna,” which isn’t on SNAFU. To old heads, that seems like a strange approach given that they’re still promoting that record.
“That’s just because of the way streaming is now,” Weems says. “It made sense to put that track out.”
Meanwhile, they recently put out a video for the song “Plastic Paradise,” which sees director Will Duncan cutting up plastic shopping bags, receipts, etc., scanning them using a standard scanner and green-screening them.
“That’s because the video is about mall culture in the U.S.,” adds Weems.
According to Weems, Potty Mouth will be fully warmed up and tight by the time they reach Los Angeles, having played so many shows prior to that. After that, they’ll be touring pretty much constantly right up until the holidays. Meanwhile, Get Better will be releasing material from an L.A. band soon, The Groans. That’s a lot of great, important music to look forward to.
Potty Mouth plays with Dressy Bessy and Colleen Green at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 19 at the Moroccan Lounge.