The Austin Chronicle

Die Spitz Cut Their Hard Rock Teeth

Childhood friends-turned-bandmates recap "the best year ever"

By Genevieve Wood, January 20, 2023, Music

At a dingy West Campus co-op show last April, I first came face-to-face with the chaotic brilliance of Die Spitz, who incited the mother of all mosh pits upon a crowd of unsuspecting, slightly drunk twentysomethings. When one bandmate tackled another, sending an entire drum set flying like bowling pins, I knew I was in the presence of something beautiful.

Their first year of official bandhood has seen the Austin natives establish themselves as one of the city's most exciting new acts, making a splash with their riotous live shows and head-banging brand of grunge-y hard rock à la Mudhoney. Kate Halter delivers thunderous basslines with a mischievous swagger, while Ava Schrobilgen, Chloe Andrews, and Ellie Livingston (whom the band affectionately refers to as the "Boogeyman") rotate drum, guitar, and vocal duties in a dizzying display of musical multitalentedness. Their name pays homage to garage punks the Spits, whose DIY origins and onstage antics find new life in the group of 19-year-olds.

I caught the quartet at the home/practice space they share in a quiet corner of North University to discuss their second EP, Teeth. The concerningly pleasant 80-degree January weather found us sitting in a summer camp-esque circle in the front yard, carefully avoiding a pile of freshly dropped dog poop. "It's actually mine," quips Schrobilgen.

"[Schrobilgen] and I met in ballet class when we were 3, and we've both known [Halter] since we were 14," explains Livingston. "The three of us were really good friends in high school, and during our junior year, we said, 'We should be in a band,' as kind of a joke. Only when the pandemic hit did we start to get more into it and play every day."

Schrobilgen says: "We just needed a reason to hang out with each other. We had to convince our parents that it was okay. We were like, 'We'll be socially distant in Ellie's garage!'"

The band hosted an EP release party last Friday with Sodomy Cop and Grocery Bag at Hole in the Wall, also the site of their first-ever performance. The night coincided with their one-year anniversary of meeting Andrews, when the band asked fellow hard-rockers Sludge to borrow their drummer for a night.

"I thought I was agreeing to play one show. Now, a year later, I'm not in college anymore!" says Andrews, who is taking time off from studying psychology at UT-Austin to focus on the band.

After inviting her to permanently join the lineup, Die Spitz as it exists today was born, thus launching a yearlong frenzy of show-playing and songwriting that included highlights like opening for Aussie stars Amyl and the Sniffers at Hotel Vegas in April and alt-metal legends L7 at Mohawk in October. "It's been the best year ever," Halter confesses. "I wouldn't have thought we'd be here a year ago."

Late July saw the arrival of their first EP, The Revenge of Evangeline, recorded at Austin Signal Studios with financial support from Try Hard Coffee Roasters. In comparison to their earlier output, the group says, Teeth presents a more polished, intentional body of work. "Our first EP was recorded live over two days, and we really liked that because we're such a live band," explains Schrobilgen. "[Teeth] was produced piece by piece over two weeks, and we were worried that it might sound too pop-y, but the live energy is definitely still there."

"Plus, you can actually hear that there's two guitarists this time," Halter adds.

Livingston continues: "It's a very versatile album, but it also all goes together. Chloe's songs are the catchiest, Ava's more straight-up punk, and I'm a bit more metalish. We all have different writing styles, and that makes everything more open."

Despite their cross-genre experimentation, Die Spitz is often pigeonholed as a purely punk band, a move they feel diminishes their musicality and careful song composition. "It's complicated for me, because I actually like punk music a lot, but most of our songs just aren't punk – they're getting more melodic," explains Schrobilgen. Even worse, listeners all too frequently draw comparisons between Die Spitz and well-known all-girl groups.

"We're literally called riot grrrls all the time. I'm like, 'What about us makes us riot grrrls?'" groans Livingston.

In spite of these semantic frustrations, Die Spitz remains unbothered. When Schrobilgen recalls one especially heinous gendered comment – "People always say that we're the self-proclaimed 'boy band with tits,' but we never said that!" – the group erupts in laughter. The phrase sits in the group's Bandcamp bio as a sort of tongue-in-cheek reclamation of the remark.

After spending 2022 ticking off accomplishments, what items still remain on the band's bucket list?

"We're hoping to do a West Coast tour later this year. I think another goal that I have, even though I kind of hate it, is I want to play ACL, just because it would freak out everyone. We all grew up here, so everyone's like, 'Oh my god, ACL,'" gasps Schrobilgen. "We'd scare all the people from high school we don't talk to anymore."

"I want to play a sorority party and ignite the feminine rage in these women that I know exists," laughs Andrews, but I have a feeling she isn't joking.

Following the Jan. 13 release of new EP Teeth, Die Spitz jumps on another Austin record celebration for EVNTYD’s downcast indie rock this Friday, Jan. 20, at Empire. Sad Cell joins. A Die Spitz light roast adorned with Ellie Livingston’s image is also available via Try Hard Coffee Roasters.

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