When the Prids’ David Frederickson is asked if there are any overarching themes connecting the 11 songs on his band’s new album, Do I Look Like I’m In Love?, he starts talking about coalescing vibes and collections of things that fit together.
And then he pauses, and Mistina La Fave—the Prids’ bassist/vocalist and Frederickson’s musical partner of the past 23 years—jumps in.
“But what do you feel like it’s about?” she asks.
“Death,” he responds, and the two old friends crack up.
If any band can offer a nuanced perspective on death, it’s the Prids, who formed after La Fave saw Frederickson play a show in Missouri in 1995. They bonded over music, formed a band, and moved to Portland in 1999, where they’ve been cranking away, DIY style, ever since.
Do I Look Like I’m In Love? is the fourth Prids album, and the first since La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage in March 2015, on the night before the band was scheduled to enter the studio.
“The first thing I thought when I woke up in the hospital was, ‘Oh no, I’m gonna die and this record’s never gonna come out,’” says La Fave, who was back at rehearsals within a few months.
Do I Look Like I’m In Love? is also the second Prids album since a 2008 van accident that left Frederickson and La Fave with serious injuries. But Frederickson says his proclivity for death-obsessed lyrics goes back much further than either scary incident.
“That’s just me,” he says. “Anyone who knows me knows I bring it up all the time. Sometimes I’m a little embarrassed about it, like, ‘No one wants to hear that talk, Dave. Shut up!’ Because it’s depressing.
“But when it came to this record, I was a little more open to just putting it out there, and not caring what people think,” he continues. “I’m more comfortable with it. I see it so much more clearly. It’s not as abstract.”
Even when the songs on the new album touch on other subjects—love, life, the meaning of each, or lack thereof—the limits of human existence are always there, framing Frederickson’s words or hanging around in the background, kind of like death itself.
“As you get older, it’s more than just losing a grandmother,” he says. “It will take everything. And I’ve dealt with a lot of it in my life. And that probably started my obsession with it. But there’s always been a feeling that I should keep that in check. I’m just less willing to do that now.”
Do I Look Like I’m In Love? walks a shadowy line between post-punk, shoegaze, and dark pop, driven by the crisp rhythms of drummer Gordon Nickel and draped in the hazy atmosphere created by keyboardist Tim Yates. Songs like “English Treasure” crescendo steadily into a dusky swirl of guitars, while the buzzy, breathy “Lie Here” bops along at new wave’s pace. Always in place: Frederickson and La Fave’s unison vocals and a sense of drama that’s missing from so much indie rock these days.
More than two decades into their relationship—and the Prids—the duo has tightened up and nailed down their sound, while also finding meaning in life through music.
“Appreciate your moments and your people,” La Fave says.
“That’s it. That’s life. That’s my story. And that’s a pretty rad story,” Frederickson says. “Every day, I have to get up and look at myself in the mirror and go, ‘What do you do with this? Just go to work every day and that’s what it’s all about?’ Obviously not. And we’ll do this ’til we’re dead.”