Tag Archives: Twin Peaks

The New Face of Power Pop

power-pop-600

By the early ’70s, the Beatles had become something of a whipping boy amongst more experimental rock bands. Groups like The Stooges and The Velvet Underground favored raw riffs over layered harmonies and, in direct contrast to the sumptuousness of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, kept production minimal and gritty.

But despite this growing insurgency, there were still a number acts who fondly remembered the Beatles’ mop-top era. Badfinger, The Raspberries, and Cheap Trick all worked Who-style riffage through their early-Fab-Four template, and while they all netted some radio play for their songwriting prowess, they too were nonetheless often tossed off as “throwbacks” both by critics as well as stadium rock-oriented FM programmers. But by the end of the decade, those three bands—along with Big Star’s slow-burn influence—had sketched out the template for power pop, creating a light at the end of punk’s increasingly dark tunnel for bands who didn’t join hardcore’s macho march into the Reagan years.

The Knack were arguably the best known of the bunch, distilling the ’70s neo-Help! twists into tight, two-minute tunes with just the right amount of lyrical naughtiness. They had the sole huge hit of the first wave of power pop with “My Sharona,” in 1979. Toss in the Flamin’ Groovies, The Romantics, and then a hefty pile of awesome also-rans (the Shoes, Dwight Twilley, Paul Collins Beat, Holly & the Italians), and sure as hell shoulda-beens (Real Kids, The Nerves, Niki & the Corvettes, Milk ‘n’ Cookies, Shivvers), and the industry had itself a certifiable trend from about 1978-81.

That moment came bubbling back in the mid ’90s, in the midst of grunge’s big, moaning moment. As an antidote, loads of garage bands started turning to power pop reissues, like Rhino’s excellent DIY series, as well as the more accessible late ‘80s bands that sprang from the original trend. It was easy to find used copies of ‘80s major label power pop acts like the Go-Gos, the Plimsouls, the Bangles, and the Smithereens, and soon, The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, Lemonheads, Matthew Sweet, and Weezer were bringing a jangly sound to predominantly heavy alternative rock radio playlists.

Today, power pop’s influence continues to be felt in a host of new bands. Despite varying production budgets, all these artists stick to power pop’s basic themes: the timeless desire to get over that missed kiss, that jerk math teacher, or the waning weeks of summer. All of them specialize in under-three minute tunes, with three ringing chords and gum-chewing beats.

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Daytripper: Taking Lisa Prank to Twin Peaks

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

Lisa Prank, a.k.a. Robin Edwards, has a new album out this friday on Father/Daughter Records, a sweet pop-punk ode to adolescence called Adult Teen. To celebrate we decided to take the Seattle resident for some cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee at Twede’s Cafe, the local location used in the show Twin Peaks as the Double R diner.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

On the way she read my tarot in a moving vehicle and we talked about Lisa Frank, the psychedelic brand of school supplies adorned with kitties and dolphins popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s from which she borrowed her band name. Stream Lisa Prank’s new record Adult Teen now.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

How did you come up with the name Lisa Prank?

I first wrote it as a graffiti tag. I’m not, like, a crazy graffiti artist, but while I was on tour I was writing on walls. When I decided to do a band by myself, it was the only thing I could think of. I wanted it to not just be Robin Edwards. I feel like that sounds so singer-songwriter, coffee-shop-like, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not what I sound like.

Did you own Lisa Frank items?

Oh yeah. I had stickers, binder, folders, I had so much stuff. I love her imagery a lot.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

Do you know what she’s up to these days?

Actually, yes. There’s a really intense article about the seedy inner workings of the Lisa Frank empire. There’s just a lot of cocaine and scandal. She has headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. I really want to visit. Apparently there are giant statues of all the characters all over the factory. My friends from the band Upset snuck in and took a bunch of pictures and it looks amazing. It’s not open to the public. Oh also, there’s a really beautiful Lisa Frank tarot deck that someone made. They did all the major arcana with Lisa Frank characters. A banana is the devil, it’s a really beautiful thing. The day that happened, so many people sent me a link and I felt very understood.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

Can you read tarot?

Yes, I do it at shows sometimes, at the merch booth. I do an intuitive feelings tarot. I always tell people they are amateur tarot readings, but I guess I’ve been doing it long enough that I feel confident in my readings.

What makes it amateur?

I don’t know, actually, maybe I have gone pro. I know so many people who read tarot who are on a different level. I have a friend in Denver who knows so much about all the cards and the mythology behind them. There’s a deeper meaning of the cards.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

I’ve never had a reading done.

Oh really? I’ll read yours right now. I started doing it on tour and I had read tarot just for friends before but I wanted to get better at it so I just started doing $5 readings at the merch table.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

Wow, you picked the sun. Drawing a major arcana card is very rare. Big things are happening in your life. This is a big moment for you.The sun is all about basking in the glow of natural light that you deserve after a long night, usually a dark period. It’s about finding the joy in everything around you. One of the things that I always look for in the cards is what kind of growth there is. In this one there are all these beautiful sunflowers growing so these are like the seeds you’ve been planting for a while that are blossoming and flowering and you’re in a place where you can enjoy them. One of the other things about the sun is that everyone can enjoy it. In your success and your happiness at this place you don’t have to worry about your happiness detracting from anyone else’s. You’re just soaking up what is rightfully yours. This is the Sheryl Crow card.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

So, what are your favorite Seattle venues?

Black Lodge is really cool. And fitting for this Twin Peaks trip. The Vera Project is a great space. I played with PWR BTTM there and it was such a magical and fun show. They gave me some glitter but it spilled in my purse so now the bottom of it is just filled with glitter. Every time I reach in to get something it’s like a glitter bomb. They make their own glitter.

Lisa Prank
photo by Kelly O

So you’ve been working on Adult Teen for a while?

Yeah, we recorded it at my house. Eric from Tacocat recorded it. We’ve kinda just been working on it one song at a time like in the living room. We did some of the vocals in the bathroom. Acoustics in the bathroom were supposedly better. I hope it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a punk house bathroom. It took a little time because we did it when we had time. There wasn’t, like, a set time. We didn’t set out to say, ‘we’re gonna record this in three days because I’m paying for studio time.’

So have you been watching Twin Peaks while making this record?

My roommate gave me the first season on VHS. But I’m watching Season 2 on Netflix. My boyfriend that I’m watching them with right now was like, ‘there’s a spoiler in your house.’ It’s a picture of Leland with his face half-bob. Half crazy-eyed and half-normal. I live in a house with like nine people and there are all sorts of crazy things on the walls and I barely notice a lot of it. It’s a lot to look at.

Ally-Jane Grossan