We are very excited to share ‘Like A Drug,’ the new single by Albuquerque, NM hardcore punks Russian Girlfriends and the first song off the band’s upcoming self-titled LP (pre-order). If you have spent any amount of time listening to 2019’s ‘In The Parlance Of Our Times,’ you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect and once again, these guys do not disappoint. ‘Like A Drug’ is a frenetic rager that serves as a release for all our collectively pent up Covid-induced frustrations.
“Like a drug is a weird nightmare dialogue between anxiety and all the pressures of the last year,” says the band. “The music is tense and heavy like you’re being chased or being pulled out to sea. The spider, the predator, the gun toting “peace keeper”, showing it’s fear of a progressing world, is a sad but true theme in a record written during a time of intense isolation and upheaval.”
It is the first single to be taken off the band’s new self-titled EP, their first release since the departure of original lead singer and songwriter Adam Hooks and drummer Sasha Horn. Featuring guitarist Ian Jarrell on lead vocal duties and drummer Carl Wierzbicky (formerly of metal band Huntress), Russian Girlfriends combines the best elements of retro metal, punk, and pop rock’n’roll.
You can stream ‘Like A Drug’ below the Q&A we did with the band, where they get into the line-up changes and their upcoming self-titled LP.
PRT: You've moved from a 5-piece to a quartet for your upcoming self-titled record (due out in January 2022), how did that affect your sound?
Colin Dowell: We were a band of primarily instrumentalists lead by a singer / songwriter. The process was slightly more compartmentalized. Adam took care of the lyrics and vocal melodies and we focused on our respective duties. We had some input about vocal arrangements but it was mostly Adam. We all chipped in with song ideas and instrumental hooks. We still come up with the music first. But, now the vocals are just another instrument- the melody is written before any actual words. Adam was really prolific and new what the song was about almost immediately. We’re focusing on what will sound the best before we decide what the song is about. We definitely have to try a lot harder now.
Jeremy Keith: With Adam departing from the band, we've had to kind of reconfigure how we write and perform songs. But I think in some ways being backed into that corner has made us all get a little more creative and flex some muscles we've always had but maybe nobody knew. We've always had a bit of hard rock influence and we're leaning into that more on this record, but still trying to write hooks that will stay with you. There are some sections where we spread out a little more instrumentally than we have in the past, but we're still focused on ultimately making tight songs that get to the point. Ian has taken over a lot of vocal duties but me and Colin have chipped in more ideas melody-wise.
PRT: What did you expect would change parting ways with your singer and what came as a surprise?
Colin: We didn’t have many expectations. We weren’t getting a long very well because of forces inside and outside of the band. I guess my hope was that a friendship with someone I love and respect would be salvaged. And it was eventually. After the split, I guess the expectation became we would hit the ground running as if nothing ever happened. (Tour etc.) We played a show without Adam right after he split. We pulled it off but it didn’t feel right. We had to figure what our identity was now. Obviously we weren’t going to sound the same. And then a month later, Covid hit. Albuquerque was locked down. 3/4s of us were out of work and stuck at home. Out of necessity, we all became sufficient at recording at our respective homes, passing ideas back and forth. It was a new process for us but I think it made us better and more thoughtful about what we were doing. We’ve never “constantly demoed” before but I think it’s a process we may keep. It definitely helped us fill the void at the role of singer- passing tracks back in forth trying to figure out what the vocals should sound like. I guess the surprise is that we were able to pull it off and write some of the coolest shit we’ve ever written. It’s definitely a departure from the old sound. But we wanted to reshape the band and it’s still very much “us”.
PRT: Are you still working with AF Records for this album? What has your experience been with them?
Colin: AF was awesome. It was a big push for us. We got great press and a lot of new fans. Chris Stowe runs that operation and he’s one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. The pressing plant situation has slowed down a lot of activity for smaller labels so we were originally just going to release this album digitally ourselves. But last minute we caved and decided we couldn’t live without having an actual record in our hands so we hit up a small pressing plant to do a very limited run of 100 LPs. But AF is awesome and hopefully we can do another one with them in the future.
PRT: 'Like A Drug' is a pretty bombastic first single, it leaves a statement. You describe it as a "nightmare dialogue between anxiety and all the pressures of the last year", and that comes across with all the scenes that pop up in less than 2 minutes. What was the creative spark that made this song happen?
Ian Jarrell: When Colin showed the music he was writing for what would become ‘Like a Drug’ to the band it had such a heavy dark theme. It was a perfect release valve for last year. We had been told to stay away from everyone we knew and that we couldn’t trust the police and our government was overrun by morons, so a snapshot of our fears and attitudes was unavoidable and even therapeutic. I was excited to scream my voice hoarse while being a little theatrical; Taking nods from the internet soapbox weirdos and so many great bands that entertained us through an unbelievable time.
PRT: What did Bob Hoag bring to the record as producer?
C: Bob is amazing and he has an equally amazing studio, Flying Blanket- a beautiful house from the 1940s re-designed into a recording studio. It’s hard to describe but definitely worth looking up. It’s in Mesa, AZ.
He specializes in analog recording but it’s all interfaced with Pro-tools so you get the best of both worlds- vintage and modern. He has one of those huge Neve mixing desks from the 70s, similar to what Dave Grohl has in that Sound City documentary. All of his amps and instruments are also from the 60s and 70s. He has any original Fender guitar you’d want to play- we definitely used the hell out of the 66 Jazzmaster and the 74 Tele Deluxe. I can’t say enough good things about that place. Anyone interested should check it out.
Bob has a great ear and an even better understanding of song structure. We had a couple songs with finished parts- and in some instances, too many parts- and the arrangements needed some love.
J: Bob really has an “ideal” sound in his head that he chases after and tries to make things fit. If a part seems too long or misplaced he would find a way to have it make more sense. It’s great to have another experienced set of ears who can listen to something and give you their honest opinion and feedback on it. He also helped us come up with and flesh out some of the vocal and guitar harmonies on the record. And he just has a ton of great gear to play/experiment with to try and get the right sounds.