Pop punk gets a short shrift. The genre combines the messy fun emotions of youth in a beautiful way. Sure, its target demographic may be teens wanting to dip their toes into the pool of rebellion without fully diving in, but that's a legitimately useful pop culture corner to occupy. Pop punk offers a low bar of entry for so many kids' first band, and allows songwriters a place to get a bit emotionally melodramatic without being so self-serious. But it's a genre that society dictates we're all supposed to grow out of as adults. It's supposed to be for Hot Topic-shopping high schoolers, not anyone that has to pay their rent by working an office job. Still earnestly loving pop punk (beyond a faint tint of nostalgia) anytime after your early 20s is considered downright uncool and weird. Thankfully for uncool weirdos like me, artists like Lisa Prank simply don't care about any societal scorn.
Since moving to Seattle in the summer of 2014, one-woman pop punk band Lisa Prank (aka Robin Edwards) has established herself as the city's colorful crown-wearing princess of pop punk. With the aid of her drum machine and a few power chords, Lisa Prank continually delivers sweet and sappy songs that feel like they're pulled straight from one of those fancy diaries that has a little lock on the front. The 27-year-old kid at heart further cements her reign with the release of her new album Adult Teen (out June 24). The record buzzes with sugary energy on fittingly titled songs like “Luv is Dumb” and “Baby, Let Me Write Yr Lines.”
On Saturday, June 25, Lisa Prank heads to Capitol Hill record store Everyday Music to host a free all-ages show celebrating Adult Teen's release. Dogbreth and Hoop join the festivities as opening acts. Pop punk grown ups welcome.
For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with Lisa Prank about the continued pull of pop punk, being kidnapped, and all-ages shows.
What aspect of Adult Teen are you most excited about?
I’m excited for it to be finally out in the world. I feel like I’ve been working on a lot of these songs for a long time. I think “Baby, Let Me Write Yr Lines” is the oldest one. That was from I lived in Denver. I think a few of them were from when I lived in Denver, and then probably like 75 percent are from Seattle. I’ve been playing them for a long time so it’s exciting to finally have a real recording of them. Now, I’m most excited to write new songs.
I vaguely know the story, but how did you end up in Seattle?
Tacocat likes to say they kidnapped me, and I think that’s partially true. I knew Tacocat and Pony Time before I moved here, from playing shows and stuff. Whenever Tacocat would come to Denver, they’d always be like, “Move to Seattle! Move to Seattle!” They were on tour in Denver, saying it all the time, and I was like oooo, maybe I will. I was in a place where I was doing freelance writing and working at a movie theater that was very flexible, and I didn’t have a band, and I wasn’t in a relationship. And so I got a job working at SIFF for a few weeks in the summer to kind of try out Seattle, and I just ended up staying here. It’s so easy to live here.
What keeps you attached to pop punk? Why do you think it’s a genre that people seem to so easily grow out of as they get older?
I kind of abandoned it for a while, probably when I was like 16. That was the height of my abandonment for pop punk. I got really into Saddle Creek Records: Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Azure Ray, Cursive, all those bands. I was obsessed with them. So that was kind of a divergence. And then I was really into grunge: Nirvana and Hole. And then riot grrrl too.
I feel like the reason I abandoned pop punk is because I no longer really saw myself in it. There were a lot of really emotional dudes singing about their feelings. And I think I just felt too cool for it for a while. [Laughs] But then later, when relistening to pop punk bands that I loved when I was like 12 to 14—Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World—I felt like I could relate to it again. I felt like I was finally the age that these artists where when they were writing the songs. And when you have an emotional connection to something that goes back that far, it really sticks with you. Like Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American was was the first burned CD I ever got. I was 12 when that came out, and that’s a really long relationship to have with a band.
One of the things that took me away from pop punk was that I didn’t see anyone that is like me playing mainstream pop punk. After kind of finding a community of people that are like me—seeing my points of view being represented in that art and culture—it was more acceptable for me to listen to pop punk again.
Also when I was listening to it for the first time, I had never been in a relationship or anything before. So like listening to Blink-182, it sort of gave me this ache like, I want to feel heartbroken. Which is just such a weird desire. It’s the same as like I want to have braces or I want to have to use the acne medication that I see in ads on TV. It’s a perverse ache. [Laughs] But that’s what I felt listening to Blink-182 as a young child. And then after having been heartbroken, relistening to it just felt cathartic in a different way.
Do you think you might outgrow pop punk again?
Maybe. I used to feel like when I outgrew something I had to completely divorce myself from it, and I don’t feel that way anymore. I can still love all the things I’ve ever loved and coexists with the past versions of myself. Whereas when I was younger, when I out grew something I was like over it—that’s not my identity anymore. I listen to a lot of other stuff besides pop punk.
Like your country bent.
Yeah, I’m country now. [Laughs]
What led you to using a drum machine as backing for Lisa Prank instead of doing the full band thing?
I wanted the autonomy of not having a band, because I wanted to be able to go on tour whenever I wanted, independent of anyone else’s schedule. I had been in bands before where people moved away or sort of lost interest, and it is so heartbreaking and devastating for a band to end.
It’d be pretty bad if your drum machine abandoned the band.
I basically wanted to get into a relationship with someone who couldn’t breakup with me. [Laughs] My drum machine!
I wanted more than just me and guitar. I feel like maybe someday I will get a band to do all the songs. Childbirth backed me up on some songs, when we toured together. Bree from Tacocat and Childbirth has backed me up on a few songs that I play live without the drum machine, when she’s around. And I just played a festival in Missoula where Dogbreth backed me up on a few songs too. It’s really fun to play with other people, and it makes me wanna have a band.
Why did you want to do the Adult Teen release show at Everyday Music as opposed to a more traditional club show?
I feel really strongly about all-ages shows, and I wanted it to be accessible to everyone. I remember being a teenager and that ache of not being able to see a band because the show is 21-and-up. It sucked. It sucks that liquor is so tied up in the music biz. I dunno… it bums me out. I think about it a lot.
Like I love Vera Project shows. I love walking to the fancy market [Metropolitan Market] and getting a snack. It’s the perfect thing to go to when you’re feeling awkward at a show. I was joking with some friends a few weeks ago that we should make a zine of venues across the country paired with a place within walking distance where you could go to be alone with your thoughts and chill out; just a guide for touring musicians.
I play 21-and-up shows sometimes, but ideally I’d like to just play all-ages shows all the time. I wanted the record release for sure to be all-ages… and free! Which is nice. Everyone loves something free.
Lisa Prank: Adult Teen Release Show
June 25 at 7, Everyday Music, Free