Marissa Paternoster is most popularly known as the guitarist and singer of New Brunswick punk rock trio Screaming Females. But that group is only one of her various artistic outlets. In addition to her work as a visual artist, Paternoster has also been recording solo music under the moniker Noun since her teenager years.
Previous Noun releases include a 2012 7-inch and a 2010 full-length Holy Hell, both via Don Giovanni Records. Now the label is re-issuing her first tape, 2008’s Forgotten Grin, an originally self-released 34-song release compiling four years of home recordings. Below, stream “The Weekend”, a cut from the tape that sounds unlike anything we’ve ever heard from Paternoster before, with a punchy drum machine beat, hand claps, bells and a huge hook. (Though the lyrics are paradoxically pretty dark.) Also read on for a quick Q&A with Paternoster discussing the tape.
Stereogum: How/when did you start recording the songs on this tape? Did you ever plan to release them?
Marissa Paternoster: I began recording on my own around somewhere towards the end of high school, around 2004. I used my Father’s laptop and recorded everything with a Yamaha keyboard my friend left in my basement and the built-in microphone on the laptop. I was too embarrassed to sing in front of people, and I didn’t have anyone to play in a band with, so I just sat in my Grandma’s basement for hours and hours writing and recording songs. I never had any plans to release them officially, but I used to send out CD-R’s to people who emailed me asking for the songs.
S: What sorts of themes and ideas are you exploring with these songs?
MP: Well, I was in high school so I’m sure a lot of the content revolved around my home life. I wont get too into it, but it was a bit of a rough time. What I really wanted was a band. I think I recorded a lot of these songs so I could prove my worth to potential bandmates.
S: How do you differentiate Noun songs from Screaming Females songs?
MP: Most of these songs were written before I was playing in Screaming Females. I never sit down and think, “I’m gonna write a Noun song now”. Honestly, I’m not really sure why I reserve some ideas for Noun. I suppose it’s a gut feeling.
S: What is appealing about playing songs like these as opposed to more explosive/higher-energy SF songs?
M: I don’t play as Noun very often, but when I do, it’s really strange. It’s weird to play songs that are mine and mine alone. It’s actually sort of a lonely feeling. I don’t have that same feeling of kinship or camaraderie that I have when I play with my bandmates. I think there is something really special about an artist who can get up on stage alone and take full responsibility for their performance. I’m not sure if I’m really cut out for that sort of thing.
Forgotten Grin is out now via Don Giovanni.