A few weeks ago, before Jenn and I both had to bike off to our respective classes, we met at SweetArt cafe to talk about the show (one of the newest on KDHX), Jenn's brief stint as a musician and the power of punk.
Brian Benton: When did you come up with the idea for "Non-Alignment Pact"?
Jenn DeRose: I've wanted to do it since I was like 16. I used to listen to the previous punk shows that were on the air -- The Super Fun Happy Hour and Scene of the Crime -- and I used to think "Oh, I want to do that, I could do that." But really I thought I was too shy, and I didn't know if I could do it. I work with Doug Morgan [host of the Record Sto' on KDHX] and he kind of pressured me into it, and eventually I decided to give getting a show a shot.
And then once I decided to go for it, it only took me like six months to get a timeslot. It's been nice because I get a lot people who say that they missed having a punk show on KDHX, and they're glad that my show is on the air.
Could you summarize your show in a sentence or two for someone who's never heard it before?
It's a collection of early '70s punk, proto-punk, post-punk, new-wave, no-wave, roots music and a little bit of weirdness thrown in. That's maybe the best way to describe it, but it's basically whatever I feel like playing. (Laughs.)
Are there two or three artists you'd recommend someone new to punk start by listening to?
Well, I guess the Clash and Iggy and the Stooges. The Clash especially, because they span [genres]. There's Clash music that could be played in dance clubs and there's Clash music that's really abrasive. I think they might be the best punk band to start with. And then Iggy and the Stooges. I feel like if you don't like them you're not going to like anything else. I think they're a good litmus test.
Are those the two that you first started getting into punk by listening to?
I'm kind of lucky because my parents loved good music, things like the Velvet Underground, and I got exposed and listened to a lot of that when I was really young. And then I think I kind of got into punk in an embarrassing way, which I think is the way a lot of people did, which was through radio punk, like Rancid or Green Day and things that were really popular in middle school. But from there I found all the other stuff.
How do you make a playlist for a show?
I play mostly vinyl, so I'll go through my collection and pick a few songs I really want to play and then I basically see what fits together with those songs or what would work before or after them. I can pick two songs and the whole rest of the show will just come together. I also, and I don't tell my friends this, but sometimes I'll try to pick specific songs for my friends that I know they love. I kind of view it the same way as making a mixtape.
I also go to the library at the station sometimes, just because it's really great. And also trying to pack all these records onto my bike can be hard. I've tried to fit 40 records into my bike basket and it just dumped and the records went everywhere.
Punk songs also tend to be pretty short, so you can fit a lot in, right?
So short. It's usually 30. 30 punk rock songs can fit in a show. During my first show, I totally panicked because I didn't have enough music because I didn't know I'd get through the songs I had so fast.
What's the time slot [3-5 a.m.] like?
Oh, it's horrible. No, some things are nice. I ride my bike to the station and that early in the morning the city is deserted, so that's kind of fun and a little exciting. My boyfriend is Bobby Analog, and he's got a similar timeslot, and one time I was going to the station with him for his show and we were biking, and we had these two people chase us down the street on the way to the station. It's definitely spooky at night, and I like how quiet it is in the city and at the station.
But otherwise, it affects your mood the next day, or the next couple days actually, so that took some getting used to. But I'm getting there. It's hard to decide if it's best to sleep before, to sleep after, to not sleep at all.
Which do you usually do?
I've tried both before and after and both are equally horrible. I haven't tried doing the show without sleeping yet so that's next. And that actually may be best. When you sleep for like an hour or two before or after, it's cruel. I think it actually makes you more tired.
And you're going to school right now too, right?
Yep. I'm finishing up at Forest Park and then I'm going to be going to WashU [Washington University in St. Louis] to study sustainability, and I'm really excited about that.
Besides KDHX and school, how do you spend your time?
I ride bikes a lot, all the time.. I really like going to shows. I'm really big into nature, like hiking or camping and that sort of thing a lot. And I work at a record store, Vintage Vinyl. My life is pretty much totally jam packed with activities, write my paper for me school, work and getting ready for the show.
What is it about punk music that makes it your favorite genre? The emotion, or the sound, or something else?
There's no way to discuss this that isn't going to make me sound like an idiot, but I think it's because it's so raw and unpolished and therefore honest. It's very what you see is what you get. It's very barebones. It's music in its purest form, and I love that. But also, in St. Louis, I love the community around it. I think that's influenced how much I like the genre.
Could you talk about what the punk scene in St. Louis is like?
Oh, it's wonderful. It's a great community. It's weird because everyone is in everyone else's bands, but that ends up creating this brotherhood across the scene which is really nice. And also, the same people who when I was 16 were in punk bands are still in punk bands now, so they're really good. They've been practicing for 10 or 15 years so they're amazing now.
I really think that we have one of the best scenes in the country. No one really makes it big in St. Louis, but I think we definitely have better music. I've known the same people within the same scene for so long. And it's cool to see new people come in and get really excited about the music.
Are you in bands yourself, or were you when you were growing up?
(Laughs) I was in a band for about five minutes when I was 15. It was called Live Nudes. I screamed; I was the singer. We played one show and it was a total catastrophe, but it was fun. I was so shy that I couldn't even look at the audience.
But you got an audience?
We did! And it wasn't even just our families and the other bands.