Lexi Funston talks unity and nostalgia with debut album, ‘Carnage Bargain’

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The Paranoyds isn’t your run-of-the-mill jaded pop-punk group. This Los Angeles quartet values taking time to perfect its discography, drawing upon a wide variety of musical influences and perhaps most importantly, establishing a sense of togetherness amongst its members. Its September 2019 debut album, Carnage Bargain, shows the effects of care mixed with the rowdy sound that hearkens back to early 2000s bands playing in garages.

Just because you did it in one take doesn’t mean it’s cooler or better. Sometimes it’s cool to spend a lot of time and care about things,” said vocalist and guitarist Lexi Funston in an interview with The Daily Californian. “We spent a lot of time recording (Carnage Bargain). We all kind of work full-time jobs, so we’d just pick weekends here and there.” 

The Paranoyds have been playing the songs on Carnage Bargain for four years, releasing various selections on EPs before finally consolidating its work in a full-length album. “What was great about playing (our previous songs) for so long was we really knew them really well,” Funston said.

The group’s hit song, “Girlfriend Degree,” has spawned much acclaim for its breaking down of female stereotypes and its hilarious music video. Funston explained that each girl had her own verse in the song and corresponding Barbie dream sequence in the video, likening the process to the Foo Fighters’ music video for “Everlong.”

“We thought it would be kind of fun to have these Barbies re-enact some of our worst nightmares,” Funston explained. She also emphasized that the video is a reinforcement of the band’s identity. “We wake up in ourselves, we’re not having weird nightmare Barbie stuff, we’re just the Paranoyds.

Most importantly, “Girlfriend Degree” is a result of the Paranoyds’ ability to creatively produce music as a singular entity. “There’s the cool guitar solo, the bass is slapping, the keys are hard, the drums are solid,” Funston said. “It’s a song that highlights everyone’s skills.” 

As for the videos for songs “Face First” and “Carnage Bargain,” the group channeled its inner 2000s “MySpace-style digital camera” character, as Funston explained, hoping to make viewers reminisce back to the days of low-quality film and raw music recorded in their parents’ basement. 

The Paranoyds have undoubtedly drawn from a diverse collection of music as inspiration for Carnage Bargain. “Carnage Bargain has punk elements, there’s also a lot of pop influence, there’s a song that sounds kinda country,” Funston said, before outlining the artists whose influences are clearly reflected in the group’s album. 

When we were first starting out, we were really into DEVO and Television and Wire. A lot of these bands, obviously, they’re great, and it’d be beyond awesome to even write one song that sounds remotely like them,” Funston quipped with a laugh. “They were able to write catchy music, but also there’s something kind of zany where you’re like, ‘Oh, I didn’t expect them to do this weird guitar lick or that drum solo is so weird but somehow it’s still catchy.’

Funston mused about the current infatuations of her fellow band members, spanning not only genres but decades. “Some of us are listening to more contemporary things,” she explained. “Our drummer is really into, I wanna call it jazz? Our bassist Staz is going through a country thing, like Hank Williams” She suspects the next sound of the Paranoyds could be “very soft and R&B, kind of  like Crumb,” but still staying true to its punk foundation

There’s also the possibility the Paranoyds could shake things up, depending on where its creative process takes the group members over time. “It’d be boring to just write one kind of song 10 times and put it on an album,” Funston said. The future likely holds a larger incorporation of different styles of music, with an effort to keep on track with a signature sound the band is working to lay down.

For the rest of the year, the group is promoting its new album in a tour that’s making its way around the west coast. As for the Paranoyds’ next album, Funston speculates its songs won’t follow a stereotypical punk rock chord structure. “Maybe individually you’re like, ‘I don’t know what genre this is,’ but as a cohesive thing, you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, this makes sense,’ in context with everything else,” she said..

The Paranoyds are making a name for itself with its energetic yet eccentric music style that hearkens back to classic 2000s indie punk known and loved by many, with a seemingly modern twist. And although it’s difficult to find a sound that’s not only unique, but encompasses the voice of every member in the band, the band has proven it has mastered the art of inclusivity — both in regards to the creative ideas of each of their members, but also the array of influences they incorporate into their music.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected].