Every so often a new release will come across my desk and I am reminded why I started Innocent Words. This was the case in 2014 when Innocent Words received a package from the Pittsburgh based band Fist Fight in The Parking Lot.
Coming off their 2012 self-titled debut, Abby Krizner (vocals, guitar), Jason Sochi (guitar), John McCallough (bass), and Chris Ruane (drums), put together one of the best EP’s of the year with their 5-song juggernaut ‘Year of the Ox.’ The album pulled no punches with its guitar-driven hard rock showing influences of 1970s Black Sabbath, 1990s Soundgarden, and 2000s Tool.
“[The first album] was the sound of us trying to figure out what the hell we were. In between the debut and ‘Year of the Ox,’ I think the writing style became very cohesive and we found that groove we were looking for,” front woman Abby Krizner said. “We rehearse and record in the studio that our drummer owns and operates called the Leaning Studio of Greene, so we had the advantage of taking more time on the record. I think that allowed the album to collectively breathe.
Three years after ‘Year of the Ox,’ Fight in The Parking Lot return with their latest effort, the 7-song barn burner ‘714.’ Not only did Fist Fight in The Parking Lot add a smoking hot groove to their already blazing sound on the new songs, but Krizner added a new addition to the family. She had her first baby.
We sat down with Abby Krizner to talk with her about the ‘714,’ motherhood, serial killers, and Boba Fett.
Innocent Words: Congratulations on your baby. Were you writing and recording while pregnant, did it pose any problems?
Abby Krizner: Thank you! I don’t think I heeded the warnings that it gets a little tough to breathe when you’re pregnant. That made demoing vocals on a few tracks a challenge because I felt I knew what I wanted to do in my head, but I just didn’t have the power to sustain certain notes. It absolutely created some suspense for me on the days I was ready to start laying down final vocals. Outside of that I’m sure there are hilarious pictures of me trying to play guitar over a gigantic belly. The band was very patient and supportive as I think they knew this was a really important time for our family.
Innocent Words: Tell me about the title, ‘714,’ does it have any special significance?
Abby Krizner: It was an important number to Jason as he was writing a lot of these riffs. It was one of those numbers that you see once and then you start to see constantly. I think he felt like it was following him everywhere and when he said that’s what he wanted to name the record I never questioned it. And now I see it everywhere too.
Innocent Words: When I interviewed you last time you said your first album was to find out who you were as a band, then ‘Year of the Ox’ saw you come together as a group. What did you learn about the band and yourself with this new album?
Abby Krizner: Continuing that trend, we’ve become a singular unit and I think this album and the ease of completing writing and recording showed us that. It’s been about eight years together so it feels like we know where we’re going when we’re jamming and we know what we want to hear. It makes the process fairly pain-free when you don’t have to explain yourself to the room.
Innocent Words: The lead track, “Miss Emma” reads like a murder mystery. Were you watching a lot of the ID Channel or maybe “River’s Edge?” Side note: any time you can use the word “caper” in a song, you won me over.
Abby Krizner: You’re very astute actually and quite close! It’s actually about Robert Durst, who I suppose now qualifies as a serial killer, correct? There are certain lines that were a nod to the HBO series, “The Jinx” which truly shook me in terms of real life horror.
Innocent Words: Is “Downward Sampson” a yoga position?
Abby Krizner: It should be now, right? Most of our song titles have nothing to do with the lyrics and we’re very laissez faire about assigning names to songs. I usually remember that when we’re getting ready to print the album and we’re looking at the song titles wondering what the actual hell is wrong with us.
Innocent Words: I can’t say for sure, but you might be the first hard rock band to use Boba Fett, in a song lyric.
Abby Krizner: Seems like that’s an untapped market, Boba Fett is a badass. Our bass player has a Boba Fett helmet as one of his volume knobs on his bass so he was particularly stoked when he finally heard the lyrics during mixing.
Innocent Words: Your lyrics are poetic and could be construed in various ways. Do you intend to be mysterious when writing or do you have a songwriting process?
Abby Krizner: I do love that plenty of lyrics seem to fit multiple scenarios but it’s never my intention. I’m fairly open about lyrics if asked, normally because by the time a song is finished, I’ve already processed and worked through whatever personal experience may have inspired it. I’ve heard some other songwriters say things like they didn’t know what the song was about until it was finished and that happens from time to time too. It really is its own therapy.
Innocent Words: This really isn’t a question, but you and Jason Sichi’s guitar playing on ‘714’ is mind blowing.
Abby Krizner: Thank you! Jason has been one of my favorite guitar players for a very long time, I’ve always loved his style, his tone, and his songwriting. There’s some incredible solos on this record and he knows when to hang back and when to shred. Getting to play and write with him in this band has always been easy. I used some different gear on this record but if we’re being honest, I just want to impress Jason.
Innocent Words: Olivia Gatwood reading her poem “Ode To My Bitch Face” at the end of “What About Drugs” was a cool way to end ‘714.’ Did you write the song with her in mind or did the poem just fit?
Abby Krizner: It actually just fit. The song was already finished and there’s a long musical outro that we assumed Jason would solo over, but I heard her poem and it brought me to tears. The song was actually inspired by getting cat-called while I was walking to a doctor’s appointment with some jackass yelling, “hey baby, turn around, let me see you,” from his car. I’ve never had much tolerance for that but even more so now that I have a daughter. It enraged me. A few days later I heard Olivia’s poem and it was exalting, cathartic and this perfect amalgamation of that feeling; of being expected to be a possession, of being told you’re prettier when you smile, of being fearfully conscientious of an everyday task. She’s an incredible writer and performer, I’m excited for a new audience to hear what she has to say.
Innocent Words: Now that you’re a momma, have the new record and a full-time job as the music director and DJ for The X (105.9 FM), how do you find the time to relax?
Abby Krizner: What is this “time” thing you speak of?