Electro-Pop Group Priory on Being a Voice for Today’s Youth
Since we last spoke with Priory earlier this year, the Portland electro-pop outfit have been on the road gathering fans wherever they go and making an impact on the festival circuit. On their sophomore album, Need to Know, Priory showed fans they're about more than just partying on the weekend with their socially aware single, "Put 'Em Up." Earlier this month, songwriters Brandon Rush and Kyle Sears took a few moments to talk about how they've been doing since the release of the album in April, the story behind their upcoming video for "Put 'Em Up" and what it's like to be a voice for the youth of today.
What have you been up to since the release of the Weekend EP was released late last year?
Brandon Rush: It's been a whirlwind. We've been working nonstop. Kyle and I have been continuously writing on the road fairly nonstop. It seems the response to our shows has been getting bigger and we've been getting better opportunities all the time. And now we're playing main stage festivals. So life is good.
Kyle Sears: We recently finished a six- or seven-week tour with Kaiser Chiefs and then we were home. We were in the studio writing.
Which do you prefer: touring or recording?
Sears: I like both.
Rush: Yeah, there are two sides to what we do and we're both wired this way. Being in the studio and creating something new is just hanging out and being super-nerdy about gear and song structure and all that stuff. That's a portion of our brains. Then there's another thing about getting onstage and playing in front of thousands of people. That's the most exciting thing we've been doing, and that's the best feeling.
What's the story behind the song, "Put 'Em Up"?
Rush: That's actually going to be our next single. We did a video, and it was amazing. We worked with the LGBT community and rented out this warehouse and got naked together – but not in a sexual way. It's about stripping away all of our barriers and all the things keeping us separate from one another.
Sears: It's very exposing.
Rush: Yeah. When you strip it all away, we're all just people.
Sears: In 10 minutes, you forget. You really forget. I think it was the best kind of therapy for everybody. We all gave each other hugs at the end of the day. It felt good. We sat in a bar afterwards and were just silent for 45 minutes, just thinking about the day.
Rush: Right now it's the great social injustice of our generation. It's funny when you think about 50 years ago in our country, there was hormone therapy for being gay and castration. It's just insanity. It's amazing that we've come so far…
Sears: But we've got a long way to go.
Rush: But at the same time, it makes you realize we have this extreme capacity to hurt one another. Until we figure out the rottenness that's inside of us and address it – and it's each one of our responsibilities to do it – then we're always going to be stuck. We're always going to be stuck in this place where you can't really move forward.
Priory's music has always had a feel-good vibe about it and has an uplifting message. Why did you decide to go that route?
Rush: We have song structures that are really positive and pretty happy and then our lyrics are pretty candid. We try to talk about real things and real issues in simple ways. It's things that affect our lives and actual feelings about this. And, a lot of times, when you read the lyrics to our songs, there's one meaning that's straightforward, but there's something else there. These things come from personal experiences. Like, on the song "New Things," [the lyrics] "Bears give hugs / lovers make love / kids do drugs / and we act like it's the new thing," – that's talking about society as a pattern and the things kids are doing. The higher-ups use these things kids to do to push their own agenda and, you know, it's kind of gross and cyclical. And it's like, "No, this has always been. Address the real issue."
You tend to draw a lot of younger crowds. Do you feel that you have a responsibility to spread these kinds of messages in your music?
Rush: Kyle and I have spoken about the opportunities we've been afforded right now. It's a little soap box, and it's not like we're changing the world. But we have a voice when a lot of people don't. We have financial budgets to do things like make music videos. People are actually listening to the things we say. We do as much as possible, and that's why this video for "Put 'Em Up" is important to us. Because if we can look back on our careers and look back on that fact we had the opportunity and the label is going to spend money on a video – whether it's cheesy or narcissistic or it was something that did good – we chose something that could make a difference in society. It may be benefitting our residual self-image, but it will hopefully benefit culture, too.
Sears: We want to be a positive force in society instead of being a a negative. We're telling everyone we can all do this together.