When Kristina Otero and Matty Studivan decided to start a pop-punk band in 2009, with her on drums and him handling vocals and guitar, there was one pretty significant issue to iron out first: Otero didn’t play drums.
“I had never played anything before,” says Otero over beers in Union Square, recalling her first show with Studivan as Radio Control. “Matty said, ‘I’m going to play music, you should come down’ and there was drum kit and I just sat at it.”
Five years later, their latest release Should We?!, which they’ll be celebrated on a double-release show bill with Future Spa at the Lily Pad in Inman Square on Saturday, confirms that prior musical experience must be completely overrated. With her drums providing the spine, Otero and Studivan produce an EP of noisy, relentless tracks that burn fast, bright and (appropriately) with a healthy sense of fearless energy.
Naturally, there were growing pains along the way. Their early output reflected a band still growing into their own skin. Studivan describes their initial approach as “really twee, more poppy,” while Otero puts it more bluntly: “We were singing songs about kitty cats.”
“We put out a record, and I think every drive to get better was pretty much how embarrassing the previous record was,” laughs Studivan. That meant cutting their teeth at gallery shows and small venues like Charlestown’s Tavern at the End of the World, working out the kinks alongside supportive local bands like Lowell’s The Sinbusters.
Should We?! stands as a mile marker for the band’s progress thus far, coming after a three year gap between releases that was packed with out-of-town tour dates, a pair of live EPs and several singles released on Somerville-based imprint La Parca. The kitty cats are definitely out of the bag here: the six-song collection pushes their song craft to greater heights without sacrificing its primal appeal. “Perfect Love” frames Studivan’s tongue-in-cheek story of infatuation against a noisy backdrop of irrepressible garage rock riffs, more of which can be heard on “My Master.” Meanwhile, “Yer Grudge” shows they’re not averse to structuring a song around a tight, stomping beat a la The Black Keys.
“This isn’t an older version of our band, but the last songs from the old batch,” says Studivan of the EP, compiled of tracks already written and performed over the last years. Their new songs, he promises, sound different.
RADIO CONTROL + FUTURE SPA RELEASE PARTY. THE LILY PAD, 1353 CAMBRIDGE ST., CAMBRIDGE. FRI 5.30. 10PM/$10.