For a band that identifies as “bratty snot rock,” the Lopez sure covers some seriously deep, dark stuff. The local husband-wife duo’s new 7-inch EP, brilliantly titled Kill Yr Selfie, sounds like a kegger in your parents’ basement, but feels like waking up.
Steph and Jesse Flati, who’ve been playing music together for the 10-ish years they’ve also been a couple, say that the fun part is trying to get serious messages into melodic, synth-punk tunes.
Kill Yr Selfie opens with “Cubito Aequat,” a fuzzed-out sing-along about how social media destroys us all, then moves into the crusty, spiraling “Slaughterhouse” (takeaway: hospitals really suck), and “What I Say” which makes pointed jabs at a transphobic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column from last year. Steph sings, yelps and demands, “Call me by my name, call what I said / Call me by my name, is it so hard to relate?,” and directly lifts language from the op-ed, which repeatedly referred to Caitlyn Jenner as a “he” and, yup, a “bearded lady.”
There’s also a cover of the 1988 Beat Happening and Screaming Trees collaboration “Sea Babies,” for which Steph got direct approval from Beat Happening frontman and K Records founder Calvin Johnson. She recalls dialing a number she found on the K Records website at 3 p.m. on some random Thursday. “Hello,” a familiar voice answered the phone. “Is this K Records?” Steph asked. Slowly, it dawned on her that she was speaking with one of her biggest creative inspirations. Johnson told Steph to cover as many of his songs, as many times as she’d like. “Best day ever,” says Steph.
Kill Yr Selfie is the Lopez’s third release. It follows the three-song 7-inch “Fur,” which the duo released in 2013, and a full-length cassette, Travel Fast, which came out in 2014. The Lopez recorded Kill Yr Selfie last year with locally based audio engineer Madeleine Campbell, who they met through Girls Rock Pittsburgh. “They are just so connected and locked in to what the other one is thinking and feeling,” says Campbell. “They’re two people playing like a five-person band.”
At one point, years ago, the Lopez played with a live drummer and bassist, but now they’re committed to a drum machine with synthesized bass and multiple guitar tracks. The sound is layered and loud with touches of riot grrrl and prog rock. Vocals are intentionally buried — just another texture in the distorted, dingy collage that Jesse calls a “sonic clusterfuck.” Steph references the Breeders and Babes in Toyland, which she discovered as a kid thanks to Beavis and Butt-Head. “We learned more from Beavis and Butt-Head than we ever learned from school,” agrees Jesse.
Speaking of school, Steph is an art teacher at one, so the upcoming summer break is prime time for touring. The Lopez is planning two separate tours — one to New England, one around the Midwest. Other warmer-weather plans include getting back into the studio with Campbell as soon as possible. They plan to put out a new single by the end of the year, and will be releasing a video for Kill Yr Selfie’s “What I Say” this spring.