Back before I had any form of musical self-awareness, Dave Grohl made some joke. Researching “Fresh Pots” or whatever it was that he said has proven itself to be a trying experience—looking back at an era where meme culture had just been starting is my personal equivalent to reviving someone long-dead who I did not particularly like. Alas, doing so was a must because I wanted to write about a band that never went anywhere and has certainly ceased to be, a duo whose music stands out amongst the rejects of Bandcamp in the early 2010s. Here’s my eulogy to “The Fresh Pots”.
Guitarist Jackson McDonald and Drummer Josiah Tobin first stole away my attention when I was browsing an indie rock subreddit. Whether or not it was one of the two or a total stranger promoting their then-new music video for the “University Girls” single doesn’t matter, because it ate me right up regardless. Nothing about the video thumbnail stood out and there was nothing flashy in the title for the post, but I still ended up clicking on the link. Cue surprise.
As my first foray into literal independently-produced music, I learned a lot from this song that I instantly fell in love with. The guitars are chunky and distorted in a way that sounds signature to the project and, even now as my musical library continues to grow, I have yet to find something to compare it to. When I say “chunky and distorted”, maybe the first thing you’ll think is “that must mean punky” or “wow, Milo found another White Stripes rip-off” but no, it goes deeper than that. The guitar is not bright enough to be considered punky, and it is not distorted enough to be White Stripes-y; in whatever way The Fresh Pots recorded “University Girls”, the end result is a series of thuds where a strum pattern would normally be. It’s almost like McDonald had been furiously tapping his thicker strings in rhythm to Tobin’s drums with a flat open hand instead of a pick. That may come across as ludicrous but an answer still escapes me after all these years spent continually viewing the music video/live performances. Maybe McDonald had a petal. I don’t know.
What I do know is that the lyrics were surprisingly gripping. Pop-culture references within a song were a new concept to me, especially when a lot of McDonald’s words stab at college culture, too. I had no idea who Arcade Fire were, why they were popular between the indie-girls at Universities, I didn’t even know what these girls looked like, and yet coming into university myself really threw me off balance because McDonald was almost exactly right about his subject (speaking as one of those that fall under this). The anger with which he sang his words felt reserved for stadium-accustomed mega-anthems at the time; McDonald completely did away with that dishing out light to small-town sensibilities, indie scene realities. It was all a big sound for something so unimportant or niche, but McDonald’s gripe came from an annoying problem in his daily life that was prevalent enough for it to become worth writing about. Songs didn’t need to have vast scales of view attached to them anymore. Your daily functioning works around various constants that’ll badger you without end and it is with that continued interaction that you can possibly learn more about an issue and write about it. Because of “University Girls” I can now write about anything, no matter its global occurrence. These are my words, my subjective experience, my music.
On that note, I would like to mention that The Fresh Pots have not made music in literally 5 years. If someone reading this knows those dudes, please ask them to get back together for my sake. Thank you!