To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of Ponytail’s death have been greatly exaggerated. The Baltimore-based experimental art-punk quartet is very much alive, and drops its third album, “Do Whatever You Want All the Time,” on April 12.
Following a sweat-drenched performance at last summer’s final Whartscape festival in Baltimore, guitarist Dustin Wong announced that Ponytail would be taking a break from live shows. Various music blogs heard that as a death knell, and the rumor spread quickly. According to Ken Seeno, the band’s other resident guitarist, the group just wanted some time off stage to work on other projects.
“But we also knew that we wanted to record and release some music we’d been working on for like two years and playing on tour,” he adds. “We wanted to record; we just didn’t want to play shows for a while. That’s really where we’re at.”
Seeno says Ponytail “doesn’t know yet” if it will tour behind the new album, which was produced by J. Robbins, former bassist for legendary D.C. hardcore first-wavers Government Issue. Seeno walked Express through the tracks on “Do Whatever You Want All the Time.”
» Easy Peasy
Justin and I use loop-based software and stuff when we’re recording on our own. [Singer Molly Siegel’s] vocals sort of float on the song and are not really tied down.
It’s an outer space love story. The title comes from when Dustin called J.’s cat “flabbermouse” in the studio by accident. We like happy accidents — we like chance occurrences. We just let things ride, and I think that’s where we were at when we wrote this.
» Honey Touches
This is kind of like a pop song, and it felt really out of place for a while. It never felt out of place for me, because I like Fleetwood Mac and ska music as much as I like anything else. I remember people being confused by that. But I’ve also been told it’s kind of like our anthem or theme song. I had fun writing it. It’s innocent but it’s kind of sexual.
» Beyondersville//Flight of Fancy
On this song, I used an analog synth. I didn’t play guitar; I just played synthesizer. It’s a completely unedited studio jam. We didn’t go back and mess with it at all. The other band members didn’t even know we were recording.
This is an extremely hard song to play. I don’t know if that comes off on the recording. A lot of our recordings are live. We go back and edit them, but it’s almost all done live. The second half is Dustin going out on a limb a little bit and creating a lot of loops. When we were touring, he was really inspired by Molly’s singing, and when he was really feeling it at a show he would just start making similar noises to her and it became part of the set.
Another jam, but a jam we hyper-edited. [The lyrics are about] screwing with ideas of sexuality. Molly is really interested in gender and ambiguity and I’m interested in ambiguity in artwork.
» Music Tunes
My brother was in Egypt and he got me some albums off the street there and the label that released them was called Music Tunes. We thought it was a funny name. We used to open shows with this song for a long time. The intro is Dustin’s pedal wizardry. He’s tweaking a delay pedal off of a loop he had and it sounds like an airplane taking off.
Written by Express contributor Tony Sclafani
Photos courtesy of Ponytail