When I saw Proper. at a DIY showcase at SXSW 2019, I found myself enamored with their unique and earnest approach to emo and pop punk. The trio’s new album I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better takes its name from a lyric by punk heavyweights The Wonder Years, and takes the tropes of the pop punk genre to a more original and exciting place.
To celebrate the new LP, frontperson Erik Garlington sat down to talk Tyler The Creator, African pattern jumpsuits, and Always Sunny in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
Black, queer, & sexworker friendly.
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
We want to be remembered as one of the groups that pushed the genre forward and inspired lbgtqia+ and people of color to pick up an instrument or a pen.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
It’s a tie between Paris and London.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
Tyler The Creator. I used to HATE him, and rightfully so, for his edgy lyrics. But he was the first artist that made me realize you can really do this on your own now. From starting a collective of talented artists, filming all their videos to just last year releasing the No. 1 album with zero radio play a decade in his career. It’s mad inspiring, especially since we’re the same age.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
New Orleans for sure. If I could uproot that city and move it to the center of NY, I’d never leave the East Coast again.
What album do you know every word to?
Every album by Kanye and Say Anything, even the bad ones.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
Vince Staples and Kilo Kish. I grew up on random air force bases, which are always outside of small towns, or in the middle of nowhere. So after finally moving to NY my first this was my first big show and it really set in that I live here now. Plus Vince is just dumb good.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
The more ridiculous the better! Huge faux fur coats, extremely short shorts in the summer, full African pattern jumpsuits. If it catches people’s attention we’re gonna wear it on stage.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
Zack Fox. He’s a comedian that I’ve been following from the beginning so there’s an extra layer to it for me. He was the first person I followed when we made a twitter account last year.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
I try not to play the same songs too much on tour for fear of driving the others crazy. I doubt they wanna hear that one good Maroon 5 album 20 times in a row.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
The last thing I googled is “Why is my spider plant dying faq” lol
What album makes for the perfect gift?
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye or Because The Internet by Childish Gambino. The music is A1, the lyrics are even better, but the packaging and design are next level. They really made sure to make the whole roll out for their albums an experience and gifting them to people always yields great results.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
A wheel flew clean off in Kansas City, MO. Luckily I’d lived there for 5 years so I had friends who could help us out!
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I got my first tattoos at 16 or 17. A bass clef with a star on my left hand and a treble clef with a lighting bolt on my right. My dad’s from Florida so while down there visiting family my cousin mentioned they knew a guy who tattoos out of his house. My mom and I thought that was a great idea and went that night to get tattooed. I got them covered up a few years ago.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
I live in NY so I don’t have a car to listen to the radio in. If SZA came up on my shuffle tho I’d never skip her song.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
Eli agreeing to join the band and then wait an entire eight months for me to set up our website, make merch, record, keep everything totally secret, etc. before even playing our first show. I used to move at a glacial pace, so slow that people would quit the band before we even announced we were a band. He’s a real one for sticking with me.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self? What’s the last show you went to?
Save your money and don’t waste so much time in the bible belt thinking you can make it better. It’s okay to leave a bad situation, it’s not up to you to fix it.
What’s the last show you went to?
Bartees Strange, The Muslims, and Loamlands in D.C. AMAZING lineup.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
I cut the cord about 10 years ago! I’ll never not watch Always Sunny tho. It’s pretty much the only reason I have Hulu.
What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?
I’ve been on a Thai and Filipino kick (And I wanna impress him obviously) so I’d make pad see ew with lumpia and sticky rice with some mango.
I Spent The Winter Writing Songs About Getting Better is out now on Big Scary Monsters. Pick it up on vinyl here.