Looking backward is a funny thing for Naomi Punk. The Washington State-based three-piece has only been playing together since 2009—when drummer Nick Luempert and guitarist Neil Gregerson were still in high school—but their year-old second album The Feeling was just rereleased, thanks to Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. For Gregerson, who band his band mates through the suburban Seattle DIY scene, the journey’s already been epic.
“The other night I was watching a live video of us playing in 2010 and I realized it was the song ‘Burned Body,’ which we still play every show,” he says. “It was really interested seeing the 2010 incarnation of us playing that and how different it is and how much more developed it is now that we’ve been playing it for two years. We understand so much more what we’re doing with it.”
Not that the guys were off the mark back then. Gregerson and Luempert were high-school freshmen playing in a band called Masters & Johnson when they met Travis Coster, who plays guitar and sings in Naomi Punk. “Nick and I played in Masters & Johnson, and Travis played drums in a band called the Last Slice of Butter,” Gregerson says. “We all grew up in the same area and got to know each other through playing music. In 2009, Travis had been on writing songs and playing guitar, so he approached us to play as part of his live band.”
The three started playing together as Naomi Punk—a name Coster says, “was kind of like a drag name concept of mine, an alternate identity”—going on a 2010 U.S. tour and recording what would become The Feeling. Transitioning from a band playing Coster’s tracks to a collaborative group, Gregerson says, was seamless. “We were really honed in on how we work together as musicians and it was pretty easy for us to get on the same wavelength with Travis,” Gregerson says. “We were playing similar music styles and were interested in the same things. Touring a lot before we started writing these newer songs helped us because we already knew how to play with each other.”
The resulting album is a mélange of heavy drums and shambolic guitar that’s garnered plenty of comparisons to the group’s Pacific Northwest forbearers, but isn’t at all a throwback. Despite the punk attitude and aversion to precision, Naomi Punk’s approach is still exceedingly fun.
As of now, the band writes songs in pieces. Gregerson and Luempert are attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. and Cosert is in Seattle. While he plans to move to the indie mecca in the coming months, for now Naomi Punk songs come together as they can. “It’s a lot less playing the three of us, it’s working in pairs a lot and then adding on the third person,” Cosert says. Even the recording process for The Feeling, originally released on Couple Skate, was far from polished.
“We recorded all the drums on a cassette player and then added guitars with a computer and did a lot of layering,” Cosert says. “We couldn’t capture the energy of three people rocking because we didn’t have the equipment to record that and we weren’t very good at recording anyway. You can’t record a Nevermind kind of record with a four-track.”
Winking Nirvana references aside, after The Feeling’s reissue release, Naomi Punk is looking decidedly forward. “We’re definitely going to take some time,” Gregerson says of their plans for an album of new material. “We’ve started working on a few songs and we’re going slow, making sure we put a lot of attention into what we’re doing. We’re trying to figure out where we want to be as a band.”
Naomi Punk’s The Feeling reissue is out now via Captured Tracks.