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Pooneh Ghana

Die Spitz bring wit, humor, and punk ferocity to Marshall Funhouse

I’m sitting on the curb outside of Austin’s beloved Parish, but this week, the week the city is flooded with folks in for SXSW activities, the venue is less than recognizable. It’s been taken over by Marshall, who has erected a three-day, “funhouse”-themed event — and let’s just say they understood the assignment. Overall, Austin was an exhilarating and exhausting experience. After five days, despite leaving Texas disoriented and overwhelmed — having seen approximately 20,000 bands across a slew of showcases — I boarded the plane home, still thinking about a few specific bands on the Marshall bill. One of these sets was Die Spitz

To set the scene, entering the Marshall Funhouse, there’s an immediate sense that the brand has not only built an environment fit for neon cotton candy and ring toss games, but at its core, they’re showcasing, supporting, and celebrating the creative community. Scattered through the circus-like space, organizations such as Women in Vinyl, Queer Vinyl Collective, and the SIMS Foundation offer information and resources for improving the industry — and on the stage itself, the lineup each day is stacked with superb global acts, emerging and otherwise. The diverse range spans icons Dinosaur Jr., rising acts like English alt-rockers King Nun (a Marshall Records signee), and local Austin outfits like Die Spitz.

Read more: 20 greatest punk-rock vocalists of all time

Over the last few years, Die Spitz have certainly received well-deserved attention for their unique, Siouxsie-esque star power — barely into their 20s, they’ve been openers for L7, OFF!, and Sunny Day Real Estate. From the moment the group stood in front of Marshall’s gleaming two-stacks, towering over the young artists while they took to the stage, to 35 minutes later when they joined me on the curb outside, it was clear that Die Spitz, too, understood the assignment, and is well versed in putting on their own punk circus of sorts. Between the four members, childhood friends Ellie Livingston, Ava Schrobilgen, Kate Halter, and Chloe Andrews, their show was wonderfully lawless, unruly, and punk as can be — though they were quick to tell me they’re “not just a punk band.” And they swiftly proved that. In just a half hour, they headbanged like KISS in their hair-metal phase, scrambled onto the rafters and slid down banisters, screamed, growled, and with a tangible sense of uninhibited freedom moved through metalcore, alt-rock, hard rock, and riot grrrl sounds, to name a few. 

die spitz

Pooneh Ghana

In preparing for the interview, before I’d even seen them hit the stage, I got a sense of the band’s carefree, and endearingly quirky, attitude, which would carry on offstage as much as on. They were, according to an internet search, signed to the label “Poopbutt” — which I was later told, through giggles, originated from an inside joke that they hadn’t realized would relay across streaming platforms. Between discussing their forthcoming debut headlining tour, with co-headliners Teen Mortgage, the live sessions they’ve been releasing on AudioStream, and their new music, the Funhouse was in full force. At one point in the interview, Livingston opts for an impromptu “What’s In My Bag?” and spills her comically palm-sized purse, pulling out a tiny toy soldier, green tea mints, a yo-yo, a couple of rocks, a teddy bear-shaped bead, and a very real raccoon tooth. Halter, the band’s cheeky bassist, who wields an imposing Paul Stanley Silvertone, interjected at one point with a joking, “Can you include in the interview that we are sitting next to our van that has a broken window so that it doesn't get towed, because we parked illegally?” Overall, Die Spitz are doing it all right. They’re nailing the apathetic shrug of rock stars, stage presence to match, and are truly making maniacally great music. Read below to get to know the foursome, hear more about the Marshall Funhouse, and unpack how the brand’s support of musical communities is impacting them, among many others. 

So you guys are really from Austin.

AVA SCHROBILGEN: Born and raised, baby. All of us.

How did you meet?

SCHROBILGEN: We met in preschool, me and Ellie, and then we met Kate in middle school, and then we met Chloe a week before our first show, because we needed a drummer really badly. 

CHLOE ANDREWS: And at that time, we were a country band. Kind of.

ELLIE LIVINGSTON: We're still a country band. I got a slide guitar in the next single!

ANDREWS: Honestly, we did make a really good ballad at one point, “The Ballad of Bobby and Blue.” It’s funny, but back at those shows, people would be moshing. We'd just be like, "Why are you moshing?"

Well, after seeing you today at the Marshall Funhouse — I have to say, you put on a good show, and I’m sure that energy stands regardless of the sound. I don't know if you know, but your set today was over capacity. People were lining up and couldn't get in. That's 2 p.m. on Wednesday. 

SCHROBILGEN: I’ll take it!

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Pooneh Ghana

Given we are at the Funhouse, what’s been your relationship with Marshall as musicians? 

ANDREWS: Actually, I said it during the show, but I was kind of pissed when I got here, because they're like, "You can't play your Fender amp at a Marshall showcase." And I'm like, "Oh." Then I started playing the Marshall, and I was like, "Oh." It sounded perfect.

LIVINGSTON: I’ve always wanted a huge two-stack! Half because I think it would look hilarious next to my tiny body, but also, maybe then people would take us seriously. 

Are there any artists on the Marshall bill that you’re excited to see, or be on a lineup with?

SCHROBILGEN: Dinosaur Jr.! And our friends, Farmer's Wife.

ANDREWS: Dry Cleaning.

LIVINGSTON: Our friends Snõõper are in town! They're just the kindest people. I'm not even lying just because it's an interview — but honestly, every band that I want to see is playing at this showcase.

Digging more into your set and sound, what kind of music were you listening to that made you want to be in a band?

LIVINGSTON: Black Sabbath, Nirvana. They're really basic answers, but they're true. I saw Black Sabbath in 2013 when I was fucking 11 or something, and I was like, "This is the best shit I ever heard."

SCHROBILGEN: The Freaky Friday band. The Hex Girls. [Laughs.] No, honestly, for me it was the Pixies. I just love all of their energy and the weird-ass noises that they make. We were trying to be like them when we first started, for sure.

And you’ve shifted since?

LIVINGSTON: Oh, we have a very wide array of influences. When people call us punk, it's really funny because it's like, "Well, some of it is definitely punk... but some of it is very not."

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Pooneh Ghana

That was another thing I wanted to bring up. Listening to you play, I was picking up on metalcore sounds, some glam rock… There’s a lot there.

LIVINGSTON: Exactly. One of our singles coming out soon is literally a metal ballad, but with an acoustic guitar, and I’m also playing slide guitar on it.

SCHROBILGEN: It also has some violin.

LIVINGSTON: Die Spitz is definitely not just a punk band. 

Speaking of punk, or not punk, I have a pressing question that's more for myself than anything — and it’s about Keith Morris. I'm a massive Black Flag fan, and I would see him around LA, but you toured with him! What was that like?

ANDREWS: Actually, Parish was where we met him for the first time, because that's the first place we played with OFF!. He was always just very supportive. We would finish a set and walk back, and he'd go, "Good job girls."

SCHROBILGEN: He was so sweet. He became so proud of us by the end of it. He was going around bragging about us. And after shows, he always made sure we were fed. He'd give us the bread and cheese from their green room and then make our van stinky. It's all just kind of crazy, that this legendary guy believes in us so much. That was the first time I was like, "Oh, if he thinks that we're OK, then I guess we're OK."