The members of The Angry Lisas all originally hail from small towns in Oregon and Alaska.
“Growing up in small towns bred a DIY ethic in all of us,” tells singer-songwriter Sean Taylor. “Where we all grew up there was nothing going on so we had to teach ourselves how to record music, throw our own shows, make our own fliers; anything we thought up, we had to go do ourselves.”
Drummer Jason Howe came down from Wasilla, Aka., (the same place that Portugal. The Man and Sarah Palin call home) while Taylor, bassist Dan Marcus and lead guitarist Cody French grew up in the shadow of Mt. Hood along the Sandy River. Never knowing anything else, doing it themselves is exactly how their debut EP, All That Went Wrong, came together.
Self-funded, self-recorded (with some help from friend Elly Swope), and self-released (including limited-edition, colored vinyl), “We didn’t want to ask for help and we didn’t want to crowdfund, so we just did what we’ve always done, and jumped into the deep end,” Taylor says. “There is something terrifying about going all in on things, but we are all the type of people who thrive on that. We always joke that we know we are doing something right when it feels like we’re barreling down a mountain on a skateboard without shoes and starting to get speed wobbles.”
“The theme of this record is really about losing faith in things, whatever they are,” he continues. “For me it was realizing that the ideas I had in my head about what the perfect relationship, friendship, band, or job looked like were all pretty much bullshit. So this EP is really about those fears, and also trying to look at them objectively.”
The record’s art juxtaposes an idyllic ‘50s photograph of Taylor’s great-great-grandfather holding up his infant father, a visual that’s “so innocent and everything looks perfect” contrasted with the present-day, downer reality check of All That Went Wrong.
But don’t think that this story has a sad ending. Music is the great therapist for artists who can’t afford therapy (not to mention listeners too), and All That Went Wrong is The Angry Lisas processing life—plus the making of it also transported them back to some simpler times.
“The four of us ended up going to a secluded cabin in the woods on Mt. Hood with our gear, sleeping bags and our N64 (you never know when this will come in handy) and spent the weekend tracking these six songs,” Taylor says. “It just felt right going to a place that helped shape us, taking the reins, and doing everything ourselves just like when we were kids.”
Another beautiful part of the process is creating space for and finding empathy. We can relate our experiences to what we hear in the music, and the song “Sirens” was an exercise in empathizing for Taylor. “Written about someone very close to me who had lost someone, I was trying to put myself in their shoes and understand what that must have been like,” he tells.