Thursday, May 29, 2014

Interview with Liz Panella of Earth Girls

It's not an original thought, but it's accurate - Earth Girls are a great summer band. Combining a punk ethos with take-up-lodging-in-your-head hooks is a surefire way to ensure warm-weather-rockin. Bands like the Marked Men, Mind Spiders, the Exploding Hearts, and the Ergs are always be easier to reach for when the sun's out. Earth Girls continues the tradition of dead-aim pop-punk.

I've gotten to see the band a couple of times, including their first show at the Engine House in Chicago, as well as their show with Cracked Vessel at the Mothball. Earth Girls shows are as fun as expected - it's impossible not to dance (or at least headbob) - I found myself smiling like a dog being fed. The band has a few dates coming up, including a show tonight with Swearin', that you can check out on their Facebook Page.

I got to catch up with Liz Panella (Libyans, Broken Prayer, Siamese Twins) about Earth Girls, in which she is queen songwriter. I had previously seen her as a solo performer, which is when I got an idea that she wrote pop songs, but I was used to her more hardcore project. Make no mistake - Liz writes incredible pop songs. The Demo that Earth Girls just released is the definition of "all killer, no filler" and is totally essential for Summer 2014.

Jordan: Where did the name Earth Girls come from? I primarily think of that old flick Earth Girls Are Easy, but I have no idea if that had any influence.

Liz: We just thought it sounded cool. Joey came up with it. The Earth Girls Are Easy jokes are inevitable and never-ending, and I guess we deserved that.

J: I only personally know you and Joey in Earth Girls and you guys have been in some great bands like Libyans, Broken Prayer, and Boilerman. How about the other members? Have they been playing in bands for a while?

L: Jeff Rice is our other permanent member, as we've had a revolving cast of second guitarists. Jeff has been in a million bands, including Ottawa, Punch in the Face, Daylight Robbery, etc etc. He was also in a band with Andrew WK at some point in the 90s. He still plays Andrew's drums. 

J: How did you guys decide to make Earth Girls, a much more pop-song oriented outfit than some of your other bands?

L: Earth Girls is a more pop-song oriented band because I'm the one that writes the songs. Every band I've been primary songwriter for has been poppy as fuck. I love hardcore but I suck at writing anything other than gooey pop songs. Luckily I think I'm pretty decent at writing gooey pop songs, so that's what I give to the world. 

J: You guys kind of started out with a bang - playing a bunch of shows and opening for Swearin' and Radioactivity soon. Do you think that there is more importance to playing live than having a recording?

L: I think it depends. For this band in particular, the recordings have been more important at the get go, because we posted the demo online before we'd played a show. In the age of the internet, I think the majority of bands get their initial exposure through recordings. This is the opposite of how it was when I got into punk, when touring constantly was the only way to ensure that people would hear your band. I don't mean to downplay the importance of playing live however. If a band totally sucks live, people aren't going to like their recordings as much. I think the difference between a good band and a great band is the ability to both write excellent songs AND be able to totally sell them in a live setting. 

J: When did you guys begin writing and recording songs for the Earth Girls cassette? Do you primarily write the songs?

L: We've been practicing with the current line up since early 2013. I attempted several incarnations of this band before the current one stuck. Joey was in Embarrassed Teens with me as well in 2011, and a few of the Earth Girls songs are left over from that band. I write all the songs. I'm a total dictator. 

J: You also have a 7" coming up on Grave Mistake, correct? What was the process of writing, recording and teaming with Grave Mistake?

L: We recorded the demo and 7" at the same time. I was going to self-release the record, but when Alex heard the demo he offered to put it out. We've known each other for about a decade and this is the first time we've worked together so I'm very excited about it. 

J: I also heard you guys are already writing songs with an LP in mind? Pardon my brusqueness, but how are you writing so many songs so quickly? Are there any duds that you have to cast off?

L: I'm never not thinking about music. I sing to myself when I'm riding my bike and record voice memos on my phone constantly. I'll have productive bursts where I'll write 2 or 3 songs in a week sometimes. There are always castoffs. Our songs are relatively simple but I actually spend a lot of time on each one, making sure the structure is exactly right. If I can't get a song idea to fill out as I want it, I'll throw the ideas away, or sometimes set them aside for revisiting in the future. I like to think that this band doesn't have any filler. If our songs aren't catchy enough to get stuck in my head, why would anyone else want to listen to them?

J: I know you guys are playing with Swearin' at the Sub T soon, and then with Radioactivity and again with Night Birds. Are there any other shows you're particularly excited for?

L: Obviously we're very excited about these shows. We're also playing Dumb Fest in Springfield in mid-June. We're going out to Western Mass to record with Will Dandy in July, and will play a few shows on the way home. 

J: What's in the future for Earth Girls?

L: In a perfect world, I'd do this band full time. As you mentioned, we're working on an LP and will tour to support it. 

J: Anything else you'd like to say?

L: Totally off subject: I'm involved in opening an all ages show space called Pure Joy, and I'm very excited about it. We're looking for volunteers in Chicago, so if anyone wants to volunteer, email Thanks!

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