Chastity Belt “OK, that’s cool, our picture is in The New Yorker.”

For Chastity Belt, a band out of Seattle who first buzzed the hive mind with 2013’s No Regerts, the recent explosion of success surrounding their latest album, Time to Go Home, isn’t measured by having signed to respected label Hardly Art or by glowing reviews and features in several publications (though those things sure as shit don’t hurt), but rather in the support they’ve been receiving from their friends and fellow musicians.

For most up-and-coming bands, expansive attention received almost out of nowhere (and with no end in site) could mess with the mind and introduce questions and insecurities like, “What’s next?” And: “Why me, and not them?” Chastity Belt have felt this storm coming on for awhile though, because they are, as one would suspect after hearing them, not new at this. Rather than freak themselves out on the why’s and when’s and how’s, they’re simply enjoying it. And for fans of their music, watching them enjoy it is part of the fun.

We spoke to guitarist and singer Julia Shapiro as the band headed out in a van to Portland. Our full convo touches upon topics such as their upcoming show with Courtney Barnett at One Eyed Jacks on June 7 (tickets here), horrifying bug experiences, and how being referred to as a “girl band” is disgusting. (Seriously, stop saying that.)

Self promotion is a difficult thing. Do you find it difficult to talk about your band without shit-talking yourself?

Yeah. I’ve never really been good at self promotion. I feel like the only way I can do it is if I’m being sarcastic. Also at the same time I don’t wanna be down on myself at all, or my band. Sometimes I get pissed off when people say we all didn’t know how to play our instruments when we first formed, and it’s, like, I’ve been playing guitar since 7th grade. Things like that I feel like, I’m gonna stand up for myself. It’s a weird talent because you don’t wanna come across as super-cocky, which I don’t think we do at all, but I have trouble, for sure, talking up my band.

In a city like Seattle that’s over saturated with bands, is there the unspoken pressure from your peers to kinda keep tight lipped about all your successes, or do you feel free to be as openly excited as you are?

I feel like with certain people I don’t like to talk about it, or like shove it in their face. But with other people, I’d say most people, they’re so supportive and are excited for us. I don’t think we need to go about bragging about it, but if people are excited, then we’ll be excited about it with them.

Sometimes I feel kinda offended by the people who come up to us after shows like, really? Like if THEY like our music what does that say about us?

There’s an ongoing debate in the music industry about the importance of being on a label. To what degree do you think signing on to Hardly Art affected your success?

I think for us it did, because with our first record, even getting a few write-ups was surprising. I think being on Hardly Art has definitely helped, and I think that’s mostly because the people we’re working with actually really love our music and you can tell that Jason Baxter, our publicist, is being truthful when he promotes us. We’re good friends, and he gets our music and how to promote us. I think it’s a really good fit for us.

What was the signing process like? Did they contact you and say “we’ve been watching you” or something?

It was funny for us because they got in touch and said that Jonathan from Sub Pop wanted to meet for ice cream and we were like, that’s cool, I guess he meets every band that they sign, but that’s not the case. [laughs] We didn’t sign the contract there together; we did it with our lawyer, but we did have a celebratory dinner at The Rainforest Cafe.

Just thinking about success, and what that means, like having a lot of it, or wanting it, what does success mean to you? How do you measure it?

It is weird because you kinda become used to it in a way, so you’re a little bit jaded by it almost. To me, our success happened pretty gradually, but looking back on it, it happened really quickly. It seems like overnight we got in The New Yorker, and then we got asked to go on this tour with Courtney Barnett, but it’s like everything we’ve done has led us here. When we got asked to go on the Barnett tour, we were so excited. Things like that, more so than getting in The New Yorker, I think that’s a better measure of our success. Just the fact that another musician we’re all really excited about asked us to tour with her was just so cool. The New Yorker was also really cool, but I’m not even sure what that means. We were all just kinda like, “OK, that’s cool, our picture is in The New Yorker.” [laughs]

When something happens like you get an article in The New Yorker and the title is “Girls Rock,” is it kind of like a shitty massage? Like in the sense that it should be good, but really it just hurts and is annoying?

That was really annoying to me. Thankfully that title was just online, and when we saw the copy in print, it didn’t have that and we were really glad. But yeah, that’s the first thing I noticed.

That same New Yorker article mentions you being a hit with the party-fraternity crowd, which is hard to imagine being true, but if it is, do you ever find it annoying that you can’t control who your fans are?

Totally, yeah. It doesn’t bother me as much any more, but sometimes I feel kinda offended by the people who come up to us after shows — like, really? Like if THEY like our music, what does that say about us? But at this point, if they like our music, that’s great. Cool. Maybe we’ll convert them and they’ll be more open to stuff like this. And I don’t think they get it just yet, but maybe they’ll start to get it. That fraternity thing was funny too because the formation of our band kinda has that story, and a lot of reviews just take that story and run with it. It’s like a game of telephone and then the story becomes a totally different thing. But it is true that we played our first show at a fraternity’s battle of the bands, and then we played another frat house, but that was just kind of a joke.

It was funny for us because they got in touch and said that Jonathan from Sub Pop wanted to meet for ice cream and we were like, that’s cool. I guess he meets every band that they sign, but that’s not the case.

Why do you think that the everyday person is constantly shocked to find that you guys have a great sense of humor? A lot of press about you seems to include something about the band being “tongue in cheek,” and it’s like they don’t quite know what to make of you.

I think maybe there just haven’t been that many successful women in music who are also funny. Maybe it’s just because they haven’t been allowed to be that way. I think it’s still shocking to people that women can be funny, because all my favorite comedians are women. But it’s still a thing where people are like, “Women can’t be funny.”

So you guys are playing In New Orleans soon, have you played here before?

It’s about to be a really hot tour. I’ve actually never even been there before, so I’m really excited.

I think you’ll really like it, the food is really good and the people are cool. They’re kinda like educated carnies. So listen: What’s the last really terrifying bug experience you’ve had?

That’s a good question. I can think of a terrifying reptile experience, but there aren’t that many bugs in Washington, so I don’t really have any issues with bugs. We have fruit flies.

What’s the last Anne Rice book you’ve read?

Um, I haven’t read any. Maybe we should get an Anne Rice book on tape or something.

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