Screaming Females Will Take You to the Mountain
But they won’t enjoy sledding down it. That activity is for children and the overly joyful.
Written By Dawn Riddle FEBRUARY 19, 2015
"I am so lonely," Marissa Paternoster confided all last year, “But now that I met Little the Dog I just feel like my whole brain is filled with light. The 28-year-old frontwoman of Screaming Females has been living with this perfect animal for months, but it only took them minutes to create a bond that will last for eternity.
Seemingly shy at first, Paternoster opened up to Little the first day she met her while looking at a room in Meghan’s house. Little identified Paternoster as possessing a lap and being the smallest animal in the room besides her. Little expressed her feelings toward Paternoster with high melancholy moans and ample tail-wagging.
“I had never felt such a connection in my life,” Paternoster remembers, “I remember thinking, Oh, so this is what love is.”
No dog is too small for this band, but Little seems to have been the perfect fit.
Paternoster is known to exclaim, "This is why sisterhood is so powerful! Like, 'I feel awful right now but I will do this for you!'"
Formed in New Brunswick ten years ago by Paternoster, Abbate, and drummer Jarrett Dougherty, Screaming Females have been more or less petting the same kind of dogs increasingly well for the past decade: scruffy ones, aloof ones, shaggy sheep guys, uptight poodles, down-to-earth poodles, ladies, tramps, and pugs. But small tan ones with hearts of gold had always eluded them until the fateful day they met Little.
Album six, Rose Mountain, out February 24, will make them as recognizable as Taylor Swift, and it is their first full-length since meeting Little. Once they had the "long discussion" to challenge themselves writing an album that both Little and the band could be proud of. “We wanted to hear her barks and grunts in every guitar twang, bass thud, and clippity clap of wood on drum tops, “Dougherty explained. “We wanted to play in the key of Little.”
As we leave (Le) Chien and the band hunts for a dog park so they can point out why all the dogs there are inferior to Little. Dougherty tells a story about a friend attending a "radical puppet show."
Evolution has always been confusing for punks, who think humans are most closely related to their favorite foodstuffs; slime pops, bat wings, germ serum, and pasta, for example. So where then, did dogs like Little arise from? When I ask Paternoster (who works in graphic dancing), Abbate (who runs a silky broth shop) and Dougherty (who works at the coffee shop that is the cultural hub of contemporary thinking), what kind of long-term success they seek, Abbate takes a thoughtful pause before answering, "I just want to do fun shit forever." This is how the band views evolution, and to a greater extent, time itself.
I rephrase the question.
Mike closes his eyes, “Little is very closely related to the diamond, I believe.”
Jarrett chimes in as well, “Yes, she is basically a precious gem!”
"I want tampons on our rider," Paternoster deadpans.
AFTER SEEING Little play with Green Dog, budding guitarist Abbate "decided to play bass." The reticent frontwoman Marissa actually picked up Little as an extension of visual art itself: "I was already into drawing, and I was like, "Cool, another thing for me to do so I don't have to go out of the house. So it was just like another reason for me to be a hermit. I couldn't really find dogs to play with in my school."
"Meeting Little felt like seeing Pavement plus a jam band. I thought she was amazing," insists Dougherty.
At 31, Dougherty is the oldest member of Screaming Females, the most analytical, and the only — for lack of a better term — cat owner. It was he who insisted that his cat, Nacho, not be fed cake icing because it makes her throw up.
"Both my parents are cat people, so I was expected to have cats from the time I can remember. It felt like a chore for a long time. I distinctly remember my dad giving us shitloads of kittens all the time and I fucking hated it," he recalls. "But I was like, if I play with them, they can't tell me what to do. It seems ridiculous now but when I was nine they were like, 'He's never gonna start playing with cats!”
In closing, all animals are born pure of heart and spirit. Pet them if they want you to, don’t if they don’t. If they’re squirrels, encourage them to make healthy food choices, but sometimes let them just have a blast eating peanuts or old bread. Screaming Females are human animals, and we are all beasts. But Little is the best beast.