The trek from Pittsburgh to Greensburg takes less than an hour, but when Suavity's Mouthpiece band member J. Trafford relocated from the ‘Burgh to his hometown in 2014, it caused the band to go on a hiatus.
“I had to move out of the city for personal reasons,” says Trafford, “and that sort of puts a damper on things when you’re trying to coordinate something and one person’s not living in the city.”
For the past few years Trafford and the rest of Suavity's Mouthpiece — Meredith Bigatel (bass), Nicholas Bigatel (guitar), and Brian Zalewski (drums) — either worked on their own projects or joined other bands. However, 2018 marked a monumental occasion for the group: its 10-year anniversary.
“It seemed liked the time was right [to reconvene],” says Trafford. “[We] missed doing that sort of work together.”
Last August, Suavity’s Mouthpiece played its first live show together since the reunion at Howlers, which coincided with the release of Support Your Local Library (via Seer Records), a 14-track compilation album featuring popular and previously out-of-print songs.
“Seer Records was willing to put out the compilation retrospective to add to the anniversary,” says Trafford. “It was all sort of a right time kind of thing.”
Since the reunion show, Suavity’s Mouthpiece has been doing a lot more live work than prior to the hiatus, but on June 14, the group drops “Nerdflesh,” its first studio release in five years. True to the band’s experimental roots, “Nerdflesh” is a layered, genre-bending track floating between folk and art-pop. The song has an old fashioned, European-folk sound to it, thanks to the minimal production, stomping rhythm, and acoustic instrumentation.
“['Nerdflesh'] is based around a Russian instrument called a balalaika. It’s like a Russian mandolin; it has three strings," says Trafford. "So, I played that on the recording, and it’s based around that. It was an interesting way for us to get started on something new.” (The song will be performed on guitar for upcoming performances.)
Trafford purchased the balalaika a few years ago, and it had just been sitting around his house. “Nerdflesh” is the first melody he wrote using the instrument.
The group will also be releasing remixes of "Nerdflesh" by their favorite Pittsburgh producers — including Swampwalk (Anna Hale), Brian Howe (from Greywalker, Sikes and The New Violence), and another to be announced — throughout this summer. In August, the remixes and original single mix will be collected on a physical CD release with additional new material that will not be available otherwise.
“We’re working on more than just this, but [“Nerdflesh”] is the first thing that came together,” says Trafford.
Still engaged in projects other than Suavity’s Mouthpiece, June is a busy month for the rest of the band. Trafford will be performing solo sets at Club Cafe with Cooking Vinyl Records artist Lucy Spraggan (June 17) and at a songwriter-in-session series at the new venue You Are Here 406 in Jeannette (June 27) to promote the new single. The next time Suavity’s Mouthpiece will perform as a whole band is during the 2019 Deutschtown Music Festival.