Scream queen

Photo: Christopher Patrick Ernst

Marissa Paternoster, leader of Screaming Females, has a message for all would-be rock journalists out there: actually listen to their music before comparing them to other female-fronted rock bands in an attempt to take a shortcut.

“When we first started playing, critics would often compare us to Sleater-Kinney, a band that I love and a band that definitely changed my life,” Paternoster said. “But I do not think we sound anything like them, and that’s really just lazy music journalism. It’s like, ‘There’s a woman in the band and, therefore, they’re going to sound like this other band that has women in it!’ That’s not true at all; it’s just wrong.”

Instead of subscribing to various labels, Paternoster said when it comes down to it, they’re a “three-piece rock and roll band [that] loves to play loud.”

That notoriety for playing loud has earned Paternoster the ranking of number 77 on Spin’s 2012 list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. But, like any other comparisons or titles she has accrued in her professional career, that’s something Paternoster has shrugged off as well.

“I honestly could kind of care less,” Paternoster said. “Those lists are made probably by some intern who’s getting paid $4.75 an hour to compile a list of bullshit they found on the Internet — and I’m just a nugget of that bullshit they found on the Internet — and they just flopped me up there, some
random number. It doesn’t take away from the fact that it has garnered
me some attention as a musician, which I appreciate. But at the same time, it doesn’t mean very much to me.”

But what does matter to her — along with bandmates Jarrett Dougherty and King Mike — is “playing the best gig possible,” no matter how small the room, no matter how small the town. She said it is a work ethic that hearkens back to the band’s start playing house parties and basement gigs.

“Last night, we played in Laramie, Wyo. We had never played there before, and we played for like 15 people, but everyone was really nice,” she said. “It kind of depends, geographically, where we land. In Laramie, Wyo., we aren’t popular, nobody knows who we are, but there’s still a lot of planet Earth that we haven’t covered, and there are millions and millions of people we would like to play for.”

Unfortunately, their last gig in Oklahoma — the first and only time they’ve played the Sooner State — didn’t fare so well; they ended up in a “cowboy bar” and were quickly shown the door. At a confirmed gig at The Conservatory Wednesday night, they might not be playing for millions and millions of people, but they will happily settle for a roomful of fans looking to do some pre-Thanksgiving rocking.

“Our M.O. as a band is to play as well as we can, play a good set and just sound good,” Paternoster said. “We don’t have any pyrotechnics or belly dancers, so I’m not sure what else we can bring to the table. But I hope people enjoy our music anyway.”

Louis Fowler

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