Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro On “I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone”: BUST Interview

by Sarah Sophia Yanni

“I’ve had a drink and ate some stuff, now I’m already bored, a couple of bros said some shit I’m choosing to ignore, I’m not okay, I want to complain,” sings Julia Shapiro in the fifth track, “Complain” of her group’s latest album. Unapologetically honest when it comes to feelings and the fact that, a lot of the time, people kind of suck, Chastity Belt has gifted us with another glimpse into the minds of twenty-something-year-old women with their latest release, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone.

The band’s four members – Julia Shapiro, Lydia Lund, Annie Truscott, and Gretchen Grimm – formed the group in Walla Walla, Washington when they were attending Whitman College. The foursome has spent the last several years creating honest and sometimes snarky music via their witty and feminist writing with an ever-present touch of self-deprecation. The band’s first musical release (ironically titled Fuck Chastity Belt and described by the members as “the worst music you will ever hear”) is only a small fragment of the songwriting that has given the group notability since 2010, featuring track titles like “Nip Slip,” “Pussy Weed Beer,” and “Cool Slut.” Shapiro’s vocals croon long, drawn out notes that gives them a unique sound, from more upbeat ones like “Seattle Party” to slower and grittier tracks like “Time To Go Home.”

Now, they’re back with their third full-length album, recorded last July at Jackpot Records in Portland, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest has gifted us some of our favorite moody bands like Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie (who Chastity Belt opened for last year). Much like these groups, Chastity Belt has taken their confusion, personal anxieties and desires and belted them out on their latest release. When listening collectively, the thirteen tracks show two sides of Chastity Belt. One one hand, there is a definite coming of age. The opening track, “Different Now,” tells the story of realization and change: “You can’t always be right…Take away your pride and take away your grief, and you’ll finally be right where you need to be…yeah it’s different now, you’re old.” Other tracks, however, are decidedly emotional and almost adolescent. In “5am,” Shapiro sings, “It’s 5am and I’m full of hate.” And in “This Time of Night,” she perfectly captures that nighttime sadness: “Fucked up, anxious, full of fear…how do I get out of here…pull the sheets over my eyes.” The album as a whole is a testament to the fact that even with maturity comes the same instabilities and weird emotions that we’ve always felt. But as we get older, we can learn to just accept all that weirdness and its presence in our lives. As the closing song says, “now I see the problem has always been me, but at least I’m happier, now I’m fine.” Arguably their strongest collection, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is Chastity Belt at their best – kind of sad, kind of sarcastic, and constantly creating a personal narrative that a lot of us can relate to.

I had the chance to chat quickly with Julia of Chastity Belt. Here’s what she had to say.

What’s the biggest shift from making music in college to now?

We know what we’re doing. Haha, but yeah in college we had no idea what the fuck we were doing.

Piece of advice would you give to college students in bands with their friends looking to keep playing after graduation?

Don’t put too much pressure on the band, just have fun with it and see where it leads. Friends first, bandmates second. *wink*

Different music sites describe you as indie rock, pop punk, garage rock, etc. What genre do you say Chastity Belt falls under?

Whenever people ask me I usually say “rock n roll,” because I don’t really know what genre we fall under, and I usually feel stupid no matter what I say. We’ve also started telling people that we sound like Coldplay.

Bands you think are super rad or are bands that you’d like to emulate?

Not trying to emulate anyone, but I’ve always looked up to Elliott Smith’s songwriting. Radiohead is a great band. We just saw Built to Spill the other day, they are great.

City you’re most excited to visit on this upcoming tour?

New York is always fun. I’m excited to visit Asheville, NC cause my friend is from there and we have a day off for her to show us around.

Dream band to tour with?

Trying to make a tour happen with Garbage.. that would be cool! Also, would love to recreate our tour with Courtney Barnett cause it was the best time.

Find all of Chastity Belt’s music on their bandcamp.

Top photo: Facebook/Chastity Belt

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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