Some bands are critically lauded, others get by with a heavy dose of blog bozz. But Speedy Ortiz? They're a band's band. The type of group you first hear about from your friend--whose band is opening for them and is letting the Northampton, Massachusetts four-piece crash on her couch. And really, that's how the band started: Over iced teas, singer-guitarist (and the band's main songwriter) Sadie Dupuis recounts meeting bassist Darl Ferm in North Carolina while their bands at the time were touring. "[We met] just from liking all of these musicians, from playing shows together, respecting their bands, knowing that we had taste in common," she notes in between sips.
By January 2012 they went from friends to bandmates (along with guitarist Matt Robidoux and drummer Mike Falcone), writing discordantly melodic, '90s-tinged rock tracks with the eloquence of a punk writer (no surprise, since Dupuis herself is in the midst of a poetry MFA at UMass-Amherst--although as she notes, "I've been playing music a lot longer than I've been writing poetry"), and becoming entrenched in the East Coast DIY scene, booking shows in basements and bouncing between New York and Boston.
Of course, with songs as raucous and a live show as primal as theirs, band fans became blog fans became journalist fans (ahem, this one among them), and in the lead-up to the release of their debut album Major Arcana, out July 9 on Carpark Records, the band acknowledges that they're in that transition phase from do-it-all road warriors to a band that might even--gasp--actually cover expenses.
"We were so used to doing everything ourselves until a month or two ago," notes Dupuis, "We booked everything ourselves. It's kind of a relief to have someone deal with it. I think we still think of ourselves as a DIY band, but we're not anymore. Shed a tear for that." "Shed a tear for all of DIY Boston," adds Ferm.
But give the album a listen and you'll be wiping away those tears; Major Arcana is like a big blender filled with the best bands to come out of the early '90s, from Pavement, Dinosaur Jr. and Polvo to--yes--No Doubt. "I think I have a vibrato that I can't get rid of from listening to No Doubt when I was, like, six," says Dupuis. But would Gwen Stefani deliver lines like, "My mouth is a factory for every toxic part of speech I spew," over a dizzying swirl of guitar, all while balancing teaching undergrads about couplets?