Sacramento's So Stressed are just rock 'n' roll fun
The members of So Stressed take it easy with Perfect Pussy singer Meredith Graves
Dozens of Sacramento bands could benefit from learning how to secure a record deal with a reputable indie label, but the following is not a how-to lesson. Local labels are on the endangered species list, while the sort with connections to major media outlets to merit the pressing of 1,000 copies are mostly extinct.
Morgan Fox of Sacramento’s So Stressed lucked out, however: his band cruised past the road block of pressing and distribution conundrums by befriending Perfect Pussy lead singer Meredith Graves.
So Stressed, a post-hardcore three-piece, went to work on a follow-up to its 2012 self-released cassette Attracted To Open Mouths in February 2014; recording once again with Patrick Hills in his bedroom studio Earth Tone in Roseville. Singer Fox, alongside drummer Andrew Garcia and guitarist Kenneth Draper, had few definitive plans that winter beyond finishing the record and finding a label.
“We certainly were not going to self-release it,” Fox said. “I wanted to see this album on vinyl. If we couldn’t find someone who would do that, then we were not going to release it.”
While the band had correspondence with a Bay Area label, ultimately there were no visible leads to bankroll their vision. Thus begins the cosmic alignment which led to the fortune of The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art receiving a proper release this past week.
“Before she knew I was in a band, we’d been talking [on the Internet] and becoming friends,” Fox said of getting to know Meredith Graves, singer for the acclaimed New York-based band Perfect Pussy.
It all began with the success of Perfect Pussy’s Say Yes To Love LP. Captured Tracks indie label founder Mike Sniper had put the idea of starting an imprint in Graves’ head, with the intent for it to exist under the umbrella of his Omnian Music Group. Concurrently, Graves discovered Fox’s now defunct Tumblr and the site struck a chord with her. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Graves, So Stressed was in the midst of mastering its debut album. Then, Graves decided to move to Brooklyn, as suggested by Sniper, to launch Honor Press and Fox eventually revealed to her that his band had a completed record.
Graves, according to an interview she did with the Village Voice, listened to 10 minutes of the record and decided it would be her first release.
The members of So Stressed were more than open to this idea.
“Knowing that she’s a cool person and works incredibly hard, she’s constantly busy, but she puts her full attention into everything,” Fox said. “It seemed to us that as soon as that was even a glimmer of an option we all wanted to pursue it.”
Through email Graves said the immediacy of Unlawful Trade lit a fire to start Honor Press sooner than intended.
“There’s something so special about an album that almost never saw the light of day,” Graves wrote. “To me, this album is like a news story about someone taking a vase that’s been sitting around in their basement for years to be appraised and finding out it’s rare and worth millions.”
Debuting on a label that lists “No Snobs. No Phonies. No Shitheads” as its manifesto, So Stressed’s Unlawful Trade has found its rightful home, as there isn’t an inkling of hauteur in the LP’s battered and bruised duration of post-hardcore mania.
“So Stressed is the first and likely the ultimate act to represent what I see as the motto and eventual legacy of Honor Press,” she said. “Unlawful Trade is an album that was made out of the pure desire to make exactly that album—and that desire drives the album sonically. That bloodlust is what made me beg Morgan to let me put it out.”
Meanwhile Fox in his ever-humble outlook toward the intent and trajectory of So Stressed, offered, “We wanted something weird and noisy.
“We just wanted to write rock ’n’ roll songs that are fun to play and make them sound really bad, harsh and ugly—just tough to listen to.”