Several weeks ago, Worriers released their latest album and first for Side One Dummy, called Survival Pop. We caught up with singer/guitarist Lauren Denitzio before the band’s recent show at Township and discussed the record in detail. We talked about its writing process, what inspired some of the songs and about their experience in the studio. Survival Pop is very much a comprehensive work, filled with cathartic songs that address topics like intolerance, homophobia and even heart surgery. Its lyrics are decidedly personal, written from a reflective, experienced perspective and often wrapped inside crafty melodies and huge hooks. In short, it’s an album that’s especially uplifting and one that finds Worriers further refining their sound and doing much more than merely surviving.

Bill – How would you describe the writing process of Survival Pop? A lot of the songs are extremely personal, but don’t necessarily seem like you wanted them to be that way. In other words, it almost seems as though these songs were written out of necessity.

Lauren – Yeah, I feel like that’s one good way to put it. I try to universalize things a lot of the time because I like writing about really personal things without it being so personal that no one would get it. I try and write from a perspective where I’m processing a lot of things too. Even if songs are telling a story in a certain way, I don’t like being so specific with it that it’s only specific to me. In that way, the writing process starts with me kind of putting myself in certain situations to write a song and I think that’s how a lot of things came together.

Bill – I feel like there’s also a strong sense of empowerment in these songs. Where do you think that comes from?

Lauren – I think that attitude about myself comes from kind of not having another choice. I feel like when the world comes at you, especially these days if you’re a left-leaning person at all or a radically-minded person, you just keep getting bombarded with ways that things are terrible or ways that you don’t matter. I think that sort of thing is almost just a coping mechanism. I don’t think I could exist if I didn’t have some level of empowerment or that attitude of like, “Come at me.” If you don’t have that these days and are a certain type of person…it’s just a necessity.

Bill – Absolutely. What’s interesting is that while a lot of these songs deal with previous experiences, they’re by no means stuck in the past. Was that something you tried to stay mindful of?

Lauren – Sort of. I actually don’t think it was necessarily that conscious. I think that’s maybe just who I am. I can get stuck in the past, but I don’t want to. I think a lot of the songs are maybe a way for me to detach from those things or a way for me to let go of certain things. I don’t like listening to songs that are overly idealizing past times or anything.

Bill – Where did you record Survival Pop and what was your time in the studio like?

Lauren – We recorded it in Fenton, Michigan with Marc Hudson and he also recorded our first LP, so we knew that someday we wanted to go back and work with him. We had demoed everything and everything was pretty solid when we went into the studio. We were there for a couple weeks, we lived there and it was really a lot of fun. He obviously already knew what we were going for, what kind of sound we were into and I think we were all speaking the same language a lot of the time, which is really helpful. He’s really fun and he’s one of my favorite people. Any excuse to go there and hang out with him, I’m like “cool.”

Bill – Survival Pop is very much a complete album, with the songs working together to tell a larger story. Was this something you intended to do from the beginning?

Lauren – Not necessarily from day one, but I do think that with records in general I tend to write as a full body of work. I don’t just pick like 12 of many songs that I’m writing at the time. I let it kind of go wherever it goes. After writing a few of the songs it was clear what the record was going to be about and how I was going to approach the songs.

Bill – Tell me about the decision to end the album with the song “Open Heart.”

Lauren – Sure, I think that’s maybe one of the more hopeful songs on the record, so in a way that was kind of the note I wanted to end it on, just like the general mood of it. And that song does the most recapping of the things I was thinking about, in addition to I just think it sounds nice at the end of the record. That’s how a lot of it ends up coming together at the end of the day when it’s not specifically written as like one long song. I think it sums up a lot and it just makes sense in that spot.

Bill – What aspects of Survival Pop are you most proud of?

Lauren – I think I’m most proud of the range of the songs. I think I’ve learned a lot as a songwriter over the past few years and I wanted to try to push myself in different directions and kind of direct people in a certain way. I think I’m most proud of my bandmates really, like us all kind of finding our own voices in it. Just that kind of writing process and being able to try some new things was really exciting for me too.

Bill – What do you like best about being a part of the Side One Dummy roster?

Lauren – I think it’s really exciting to be a part of the history, because they have been around for so long and they’ve put out records by some of my favorite bands. To have them be really supportive is really exciting for me, especially because I feel like if you want to be on a label that has some more resources, it’s entirely possible that you end up there and then you find out that you don’t get along or maybe it’s not the right vibe. Years ago, I never would have thought that we’d be on Side One Dummy and it just turns out that we’ve been a good match so far and it’s been great to be in that context.

Bill – What does the band have planned for the rest of 2017?

Lauren – We have this current tour through early November and then we’re still sorting out some shows, some East Coast stuff later on in November. After that, just keep touring and just keep being on the road as much as we can.

Bill – Have you started thinking about writing new material yet or is your focus more on supporting this album?

Lauren – My focus kind of has to be on this album right now, but I mean the minute we were done recording Survival Pop I was thinking about writing new songs, just in like a learning process kind of way. It’s like, “Oh, now that we’ve done this I want to try these other things next.” I’m definitely already thinking about new songs and the next record, but that’s just me getting ahead of myself. We’re going to be on the road for a while. I’ve got some time to think about it.