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In late 2011, Speedy Ortiz quietly released an initial album called The Death Of Speedy Ortiz on the independent streaming platform Bandcamp. Written and recorded entirely by the band’s frontwoman, Sadie Dupuis, in her cabin at Buck’s Rock Performing and Creative Arts Camp — a music camp in Connecticut where she worked as a counselor teaching songwriting — the songs were fresh and hooky, puzzling and immediately compelling.
That early album was mixed by Julian Fader of Ava Luna, a friend of the band who stayed involved enough to record their latest album, and who has been part of Speedy’s larger sphere in various capacities over the years. Meanwhile, a smattering of other early releases from the fledgling group trickled out around that same time, the Cop Kicker EP, two early singles, “Taylor Swift” b/w “Swim Fan,” and 2012’s Sports, released on the independent punk label Exploding In Sound.
Even on these early skeletal tracks, the unexpected serpentine bent of the guitar lines and Dupuis’ incisive, sometimes stunning lyrical insight immediately took hold. Those angular, riffy tracks gained even more weight as Dupuis expanded her early demos into a full-fledged band. Two years later, with the release of their proper studio debut Major Arcana on Carpark Records, Speedy Ortiz was already on the radar as one of the most important rock bands of the era. And with the release of the Real Hair EP in 2014 and 2015’s Foil Deer, their trajectory only continued to grow.
In the meantime, the band opened for the likes of The Breeders and Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks, along with organizing safe space hotlines at their own shows, to make sure fans — particularly female and queer/non-binary ones — felt secure in the DIY spaces they frequented. “I’d like to imagine Sadie Dupuis leading a long train of pre-teen and teenagers out of the pre-fab cultural theme park and toward something more spikey, individual and real,” wrote Jennifer Kelly in an early review of the band’s oeuvre for Dusted magazine. In 2018, as the band gets in gear to tour behind their third full-length album, Twerp Verse — out this Friday — it seems clear that she’s done just that.
Between 2016’s solo debut as Sad13 on Slugger and a raging new Speedy album, Dupuis hasn’t shown a single inkling that she’ll be slowing down anytime soon. And though it may be seven years since she and her band first burst on the scene, it’s easy to feel like this veteran indie rocker has only just begun to hit her stride. Twerp Verse was recorded at Silent Barn in Brooklyn with the aforementioned Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez (also of Ava Luna), but, much to Sadie’s delight, it was and produced and mixed by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis) at his studio in Omaha.
Recently, Sadie and I met up at the bar and club Resident, in downtown LA, to discuss things like Mogis’ involvement with her new album, what spurred her songwriting, and why she scrapped the first version of Twerp Verse.