Californian band P22’s latest release Human Snake is an exciting, offbeat, underground post-punk offering, a collection of songs written between 2017 and 2019. The band – Sofia Arreguin, drums; Nicole-Antonia Spagnola, vocals; Justin Tenney, guitar and Taylor Thompson, bass – collectively answered our questions in isolation.
P22 are from Los Angeles; tell us about where you live? Did you grow up there?
P22: We all grew up scattered across Los Angeles County. Now we each live at the foot of different mountains around the city, Glassell Park, Hollywood, and Mt. Washington.
How did you first come to punk rock?
P22: As adolescents. We’re all around the same age but occupied different spaces in different scenes prior to this band, so there’s a real mix of histories that are somewhat unique to LA—the power-violence contingency of the early to late 00’s, the Smell, bands at Calarts, East 7th, etc.
Why is it important for you to create?
P22: Everyone’s always making things in one way or another. This project is probably more invested in thinking about how things are created or how certain methods, like punk, can be worked through differently.
Who or what inspired you to make music?
P22: We are united by an interest in creative practices that operate communally. The band’s namesake is a mountain lion that gained notoriety for his dispersal across the major freeways of LA. He survived a bad bout of mange and is always ending up in inopportune places. Animal liberation remains the main underlying incentive.
How did P22 come together? You started in 2015, right?
P22: We (Justin and Nikki) started the band as a recording project in 2015, during some sweltering months in a garage in Val Verde. At that point, we were still working up the courage to ask Sofia if she wanted to play drums. Sofia introduced us to Taylor, who had just moved back to LA, and we commenced in a practice space in Vernon, next to the infamous Farmer Johns slaughterhouse. The pungent odour helped drive the song-writing sentiments. We played our first show as P22 in 2016.
What inspired you to call your latest release Human Snake?
The title was lifted from a painting titled Human Snake, by the German artist Sigmar Polke.
How would you describe it?
P22: Protest tunes sung in punk’s tomb.
The EP is a compilation of materials written between 2017 and 2019; can you tell us a bit about what was inspiring your writing for this collection of songs?
P22: We often work at a glacial pace because there’s not one person guiding the writing. There are instances where it takes months for a song to come together, even though it’s like 80 seconds long. There are some songs that yield more hastily. We really adore each other’s company which feels integral to the songwriting structure. This collection of songs wasn’t produced with any overarching thematics in mind; it was more of an opportunity to assemble something with sensitivity to each of our different perspectives while playing with the limits of a genre.
What do you feel was one of the most experimental things you tried musically while recording the EP?
P22: Sofia and Taylor’s harmony at the end of the EP.
The artwork for Human Snake reminds me of when I was a kid and I’d find interesting coins or embossed things and I’d take a piece of paper and rub a crayon or pencil over it to replicate the pattern/image/object on the paper; what’s the story behind the art?
P22: Exactly, it’s a rubbing of an etched block. Justin made the album art, the rubbing on the front, and the drawings on the back. The design riffs on the sanctity of different punk emblems and their homespun means of distribution.
Who are your creative heroes?
P22: Japanese pufferfish. Unfortunately, they are also a delicacy.
What are you working on now?
TAYLOR: Writing new music with a different project, sitting on an unmixed album, and working on my new bicycle.
NICOLE: A dissertation, making some videos, and spending more time with inter-species companions.
JUSTIN: Making cyanotypes in the garden.
SOFIA: My physical health.