"I'm working at the moment."
Pissed Jeans' frontman, Matt Korvette, is on break at his office workplace in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- you know, the kind of 9-to-5 job that you and I will probably work for the rest of our lives. I briefly wonder if I called midway through his TPS report. Should I make with the "Office Space" jokes? I do a mean Milton. Nah -- no one's got time for that. After all, I called about his other job.
On the phone, he comes across as mild mannered, polite, calm and soft-spoken -- although he can, and will, get slightly excited by topics that matter to him. In other words, he's quite the normal fellow. Just goes to show: Never underestimate the power of the music. His everyday demeanor is the farthest cry imaginable from his onstage persona that routinely finds him lurching, crawling and prowling stages in a microphone cord-strangling whirlwind of sweat, screams, shouts and howls. It's one explanation why Pissed Jeans don't tour the world constantly.
"I love performing," Korvette told me. "You know, if we were using a USB stick or playing acoustically and sitting on stools, it'd be way easier, and we'd be more predisposed to touring longer. But our show is pretty physical; we get beaten down. We just don't have the stamina."
His equally ferocious band (which headline the Casbah on Nov. 6) got their start in 2004 and released their debut studio album, "Shallow," the next year. Even though they've got three more albums under their collective belts since (including 2013's "Honeys" -- listen here), Korvette thinks they're not all that removed from their original full-length -- which was just reissued by new home and iconic indie-rock label Sub Pop in early October.
"I don't feel that we're that distant from that album. We still play songs off it, and we're still proud of it. I feel pretty connected to myself at that time. I feel that 'Shallow' is kind of the one where we put the template together for what we do. We were still figuring out the guidelines for Pissed Jeans. When we write songs now, we can tell when a song sounds like us. On 'Shallow,' we hadn't established that yet. But I think with all of our records, you could swap out songs from any of them, and they'd still make sense. There's a common thread."
Indeed, Pissed Jeans' ruthless brand of in-your-face hardcore and punk-style aggression has never faltered over the years. They know what they do and they do what they like. Minor Threat, Black Flag and Husker Du (among many others) have all furiously assailed audiences with a similar rock fury, but the Allenwood, Pennsylvania, quartet (which is rounded out by bassist Randy Huth, drummer Sean McGuinness and guitarist Bradley Fry) has taken those recipes and added their own twist. Korvette admitted that they were inspired by the sound of those bands when they began playing together, but it grew into something else very quickly.
"We were meant to be a response -- to what was going on in music and in ourselves. We grew up playing hardcore and punk and had been friends forever -- two of us since elementary school -- so we've been playing in bands for a really long time. Throughout high school, you keep getting better at your instruments and songwriting. At 21 and 22, you want to be a virtuoso. Then you want to play something new, get more technical, more precise, play faster. I think hardcore and punk were, at that time, fast and really thrashy. But at some point we were like, 'Let's write the worst riffs we would never allow ourselves to play anywhere.' So we did that and thought, 'This is way more fun and fulfilling!' Your personality starts to come through. And people do connect more with something that's simpler."
While a lot of bands and musicians love to perform onstage -- when something inevitably goes wrong -- living the dream can turn into a waking nightmare. However, for Korvette and Co., that's what they hope for.
"We want to give solid performances but also leave room for the delivery and the energy. We're entertained by being in the band. Something breaking on stage is a joy. That's exciting. Because then it becomes, 'How do we pull this off now?' We're like the creepy firefighter just waiting for a massive blaze so he can rush in and deal with all the carnage. That nervousness is exciting. It's fun."
Pissed Jeans headline the Casbah on Nov. 6, with Stickers, Teenage Burritos and Keepers opening. Tickets are available online.