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Award-winning punk quartet release their new double vinyl EP April 9th
(Scroll down to watch their performance in Studio 1A)
By Jeff McCord
I can’t stop watching this video: Die Spitz, onstage at the Mohawk during Levitation Fest last October. It’s everything I love about rock bands. Feral, primal, relentless. A zero fucks attitude and the rare, lotto-winning magic you get when the precise, exact combination of people get together to play music.
In the case of the Austin quartet Die Spitz (Ava Schrobilgen, Chloe Andrews, Ellie Livingston, and Kate Halter), whose music gelled during the pandemic, there weren’t a lot of options out there.
Ellie explains. “Ava and I have known each other since we were little lads, just four years old. We took ballet together, were in camping groups together, and went to the same schools. I met Kate at the end of middle school and [we] had a strong connection based on our shared taste in music. We’ve all had different friend groups, and different hobbies, but we’ve also been able to stay tight together and connected based on our love for Sabbath, Nirvana, Meat puppets, etc. When the pandemic hit, we made some pretty serious changes in our lives, and were isolated to ourselves for a long time.”
Ellie’s enthusiasm for the band seems irrepressible. She relishes telling their origin story.
“We had started the idea of a band before high school as a joke after feeling so inspired [by our idols] such as Ozzy, Motley Crue, and Kurt. With newfound time, Ava and I went back to our roots after a long pause in that trajectory. Kate [had] a bit of a short-lived violin endeavor [and] made the joke of the four-string switch being just up her alley. We became a real-life garage band. We practiced all the time, mainly just to gonk around and drink beers on the boiling hot silent days of the full-enforced pandemic. We didn’t take it seriously till our senior year of high school when we had actually noticed a difference in our progression. It felt right, it felt fun, and it felt like something we could actually achieve. But [we] needed something else and we didn’t know quite what.”
“We had initially tried writing almost cow-punky antics reminiscent of The Pixies and other less heavy material. Ava had expressed her interest in singing (she was drumming and playing occasional guitar at this point), [and] we would sit up all night and write and sing together, combining our voices and talent to become more of a force.”
Yet they weren’t quite getting there. The voltage they heard in their heads and hearts wasn’t making its way to their ears.
“We were missing a piece,” says Ellie. “We wanted a drummer, someone who could help convey the heavy sound we wanted to achieve. We only had about 1 or 2 friends outside of each other at the time. We were then gifted by the grace of God (our friend Molly from the Austin band Sludge) who let us borrow her absolute machine of a drummer (Chloe). This was the piece we had missed; with her added, Die Spitz became a reality. We’d always had the energy and the motivation, and after the puzzle piece fit, with hours of practicing Sabbath riffs and scales, we were able to get the sound.”
Their sound, in an age when a lot of new bands don’t even have guitars, isn’t exactly contemporary. An act of rebellion? Maybe…
“It’s what I grew up on, [both} Chloe’s and my dads are musicians and they instilled this idea of purity and beauty of hard rocking electric playing. Kate and Ava were close enough to my dad and me, and just cool enough on their own to be immersed in this kind of music as well. Electric guitar bands typically have a sense of rawness that most modern music and production can’t or simply doesn’t want to convey. It makes me sick in some ways, and I hope real instruments can make it back into the mainstream, and a little more raw realness into the lives of our heavily edited, similarly propagated media.”
And the name? It’s complicated. Ellie explains.
“We wanted to have the word ‘spit’ in our name because it sounds epic. “Die” was chosen initially because it’s an article in German. “Die Spitz” Google translated means “the point”. After a long night of pacing the living room with a brown paper bag in our hands we were thinking of “Die Spitz” and “pig pen”. After direct correlation to “The Point”, Ringo Starr’s animated film, we went with the name. I like to imagine a grim reaper spitting when I explain it to people. Later on in our shebang we got a message in the Instagram DMS saying that “die spitz” means “die horny” in German. Spitz is slang for horny. Helps us have a name to stand the test of the time.”
In terms of time, Die Spitz is an infant. But their aural barrage has not gone unnoticed. Barely one year old, the quartet has already won three Austin Music Awards (Best Punk Band, Best Music Residency, and Best New Act). And they are soon off on tour in support of the LA punk supergroup OFF! (May), and another this fall with up-and-coming Aussie’s Amyl and the Sniffers.
“That one is pretty wild for us,” says Ellie, “ ‘specially considering they’re my number 2 Spotify artist, right below the Nirvana boys. Ahhaha.”
You can catch Die Spitz in action at Waterloo Records on April 16th, in support of their new double vinyl EP, released in conjunction with partners Try Hard Coffee, Austin Signal, and Spaceflight Records. So the band might be seeing their own digital streams beginning to flow. All their trajectories are pointed upward.
Whatever their future holds, it’s sure to be electric. I ask Ellie the secret of maintaining such ferocity throughout their live set.
“It’s pretty easy to keep your head screwed on for most of the show. It’s the new ones that will gonk ya during a set. I love playing with energy. It makes our show more enjoyable and gives me empowerment. As Amy from Amyl and the Sniffers said, ‘Energy, it’s my currency’. I feel the same way. Feeding off that energy from the music and the crowds is what keeps me going and keeps me alive.”
April 16th – Vinyl signing at Try Hard coffee followed by a performance at Waterloo Records April 22nd – Opening for Hickoids at Sagebrush
April 28th – MOCO Fest
May 2nd – Opening for OFF! at Parish