Hanging out at Primavera with La Sera
“We wanted to write songs that are high energy. And there’s nothing quite as high energy as a ‘fuck you’ song”, Katy Goodman explains, referring to the new found ferocity in La Sera’s otherwise tender indie pop. Since forming the project as a part-time solo pursuit alongside her main band – the now sadly defunct Vivian Girls – Goodman has primarily used La Sera as a platform for a particular artform: the break up song.
After a cloud of feedback settles, La Sera’s latest album Hour of the Dawn kicks in with a minor key, punkish tune that’s aimed at Goodman’s douchebag ex. “How about you have another drink so that you can pass out in the backseat of my car?”, she snarls sarcastically in the opening verse.
“I think this was the record where I made myself feel angry, angrier than I’ve ever got before about things that had taken place years prior”, she tells us during our meeting at Primavera Sound. “The other albums were a bit like ‘Ohhhh, we broke up, things are sad… but I’ll but be OK’. But this one is more like ‘Fuck you, aaarrrgh!’, she growls with a gnarly expression and her middle fingers raised. “It’s about new beginnings and starting over. It’s like, if the other albums were about breaking up, then this one is like ‘Now we’re moving on, the next stage begins’.”
But it’s not like the album is all about malicious texts, awkward encounters and clothes thrown out onto the street. “There are songs like ‘I’m stoked, life rules!’”, Goodman insists, ‘“so the whole spectrum of emotion on this album is a little wilder”. The album’s title-track also channels a sense of bittersweet nostalgia (“summer time was the time of my life, now it’s the hour of the dawn”, goes the chorus) that’s presumably inspired by memories of ￼￼growing up in Ridgewood, New Jersey – a town which also homed members of Real Estate, Titus Andronicus and her former Vivian Girl bandmates.
Speaking of the Vivian Girls, how was the vibe at those farewell shows earlier this year? “It [splitting up] was a decision we made over like two years. So it was good, celebratory but, y’know, kinda sad.” From 2007 onwards, the Vivian Girls were seen as a primary force in the wave of late-00s lo-fi indie rock. But despite their absence, their spirit lives on in vintage shops across the land, and Goodman assures us that the girls are still buds. “I mean, Cassie lives in New York and I live in LA. But Ali lives in LA so I see her all the time. So yeah, we’re still all friends. Who knows, at some point maybe we’ll all play together again.”
In contrast to Vivian Girls’ distortion-smothered guitars and breezy harmonies, La Sera’s music has always sparkled with clear, bright melody. Hour of the Dawn bears influences of 80s new wave acts like The Pretenders, The Cars and Blondie, and there’s a healthy number of guitar solos thrown in for good measure. It’s a sound that Goodman credits to La Sera’s guitarist Todd Wisenbaker. “Yeah, Todd’s a shredder, he helped a lot in terms of the writing and production. And since we self- produced this album … oh wait, there he is!”. Sure enough, Todd himself walks past the press area, and Goodman beckons him over.
“Todd, you just came up in the interview”, she tells him. “Oh cool” he says, before enthusiastically bounding onto the flimsy chair, smashing it and tumbling to the floor.
“AAAARRGGH SHIT… ARRGGH MOTHERFUCKER”, he groans.
Everyones looks around awkwardly, unsure of whether to laugh or offer him a hand.
“My … butt”, he croaks, still lying spread-eagled on the ground, mangled chair beside him.
But, eventually, Todd picks himself up. He’ll be fine, he assures us, their next set at Primavera is an unplugged show – he can play sitting down if needs be. There’s a lot of people out in Barcelona tonight who’d like to feel the charm of Katy Goodman’s songs. And so for La Sera, the show must go on.
Hour of the Dawn is out now via Hardly Art