I would never say Porch Wine’s four song EP Twelve Minutes is the best local music you will hear in 2018 because local music doesn’t mean shit. Porch Wine is from Lansing and that doesn’t mean they’re inherently worse than groups so amorphously famous they only exist in the celebrity bardo. Which I like, because bands from physical places who exist in reality are tight and I hope you think so too.
But that’s a conversation we can’t really get into right now because you’re reading this on the internet, and if you were to object or even agree in a vocal sort of way I wouldn’t be able to hear you. So I’ll just say Twelve Minutes is the best music you’ll hear in 2018.
Ryen Reynolds, Porch Wine’s bassist, vocalist, and lyricist will undoubtedly disagree with me that Twelve Minutes is any good because she’s real humble. She’s also a goddamn liar. But who are you going to trust, a musician or a writer? Don’t answer that out loud because you’re still on the internet and either way you’re shit out of luck.
So, here’s a conversation with Ryen from Porch Wine who, along with guitarists Nick Holcman and Jory Green and drummer Brandi Thomas, made the best EP of 2018 and are soon to be CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD. Thank you and enjoy.
Do you have any advice for people making a band?
I’m still kind of learning to navigate being in a group of people who are all really excited about making music. We all wanna say something but there are so many of us and there are conflicting things, so I would just say really be communicative with the people you’re in a band with, that’s the most important thing.
Also, it’s a group effort. I would say Nick is our driving force though. I just picked up bass a few months ago and Nicks been really good about teaching me how to write bass parts and helping Jory. And Brandi is the coolest drummer I know and she just started like 6 months ago. The evolution of everybody’s skill level is really cool to watch [Laughs]. And becoming really close friends with these people I didn’t know very well eight months ago is the coolest thing.
What do you think of the bass guitar? Do you think it’ll stick around or do you think it’ll fall by the wayside? It’s like 70 years old, it could go at any moment.
Yeah [Laughs]! Ya know, I like the bass. One of my favorite qualities about it is it’s the easiest thing to play. It has posed challenging to play and sing at the same time but I really like it and I’m excited to keep learning about it.
Lansing is kind of a dude-bro scene, there are a lot of bands with just sad boys in them singing about whatever they sing about. Do you ever get really tired of that?
Yeah. And I also sometimes forget that this is kind of a nonconforming band; It’s female fronted, there’s a female drummer, Nick is queer, and so it’s really sort of different but I always forget about how different it looks.
Do you ever feel any pressure about that, like you have to write about certain issues or be some sort of role model?
Sometimes I feel the pressure in my writing because I’ve written all the lyrics for this project, and sometimes I feel the pressure to write feminist driven songs in order to be where I am or that I need to stray away from writing really emotional lyrics because that’s not the narrative of female fronted bands right now. But that usually just strains my writing way more and I can’t really get a good feel for it.
Thinking “these are the type of lyrics I have to write” strains your process?
Yeah, like if I have to force a song with a particular message instead of just writing whatever I’m feeling or whatever works for that song. I sat down and tried to write something about sexual abuse and it just didn’t flow very well.
The record sounds kind of like a break up record to me, but I think it would be more accurate to call it a coping album. Each song seems like a step in grieving after leaving someone. Was that intentional?
That’s definitely exactly it. It’s a coping record and it’s definitely working through grief. Not a whole lot of the songs are about break ups. Like Pup is about missing my friend who moved away. I think people listening to it can and will project whatever they’re feeling onto it and that’s what’s so cool about it.
There’s a lyric in the first song “Pup” that goes “Chasing fast cars at slow speeds.” How does that imagery coincide with loss?
That lyric came from a poem that I had written a while ago about this person it was about. We would be driving around not caring about how fast or slow we were going or the impending change that was happening, like high school ending or people moving away, the relationship sort of evolving.
“Quits” seems like the song when you actually do the breaking up, it’s the verb in the album.
That song is definitely the breaking up song [Laughs], it’s quite obvious, but ya know, I wrote that right as it was happening. I was just struggling with melodies and fumbling with old lyrics that I had written trying to match that feeling I was in then. We’re calling it quits, this is done, but there’s this yearning. Like, hear me say it’s done, and tell me that it’s done for you, I need that mirror ending from you.
I feel like Pine is the perfect song to follow that, it’s the resentment that comes with a relationship, but also the acceptance there at the end with that lyric “I’m not sad that we were wrong/You will always call me home.”
That song is why I don’t feel to far away from that whiny boy trope [Laughs], it’s something I felt that needed to be said, at least for me, and that’s all this entire project was for me. I needed to get this out and there had to be a different way to do it. [“Pine”] came out as “Fuck this, you’re not hearing me but you’re gonna!”
I don’t think that song sounds like a whiny boy-band at all. In fact, it’s the song on the album that most reminds me of Alice in Chains, with that sick phaser on the guitar.
Do you think it’s uncool to like Alice in Chains? I think a lot of people might think it’s uncool.
I don’t know where that comes from, honestly. I’ve always been under the impression that Alice in Chains is the band. That band is the best. I can see how people may think it’s kind of uncool to like them, like how some people think it’s uncool to like Pearl Jam, but that’s another thing. I don’t see how that’s an uncool band at all.
I don’t understand that either.
Yeah, right. I don’t know.
Hmm. Anyway, I think Undertow is a great way to end the album because it cycles back to the beginning of the album. Did you think about sequencing it like that?
It kind of just ended up being the last song because it was the last song we wrote. “Pup”, “Pines”, “Quits”, all of those are about throwing those emotions out into the air and kind of knowing what you’re doing, but even though you’re done with it I still can’t quiet hate you, you’re not the needle in my side. “Undertow” is being confused if you’re over the hill at that point. It was a good way to end that tangle of emotions.
Can you tell me about the album artwork?
Yeah, when I started this, I thought, “whatever we put out, I’m having my friend Michelle Facer do the art.” She is my favorite visual artist and it’s cool I can also call her a friend, and Nick has been friends with her since they were kids. Jory has two really cool dogs, a Great Dane and a German Shepard, and we wanted her to incorporate the dogs. She gave us a lot to work with and gave us exactly what we wanted.
Where is Porch Wine headed, are you playing some shows soon?
Yes, we definitely want to play some shows, it’s a little hazy on how often it will happen just because we’re all miserable nine to fivers. It’s going to be kind of interesting to figure out how we’re going to play shows over the winter, but we’re definitely game to do it and excited.
Are you going do a full length?
We’re writing more now, but taking our time to flesh things out and putting less pressure on ourselves to put something out.
Stream Twelve Minutes here: https://porchwinemi.bandcamp.com/releases
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