"The Prids are not a 'goth' band!" huffs the group's black-clad, eyeliner-sporting frontman David Frederickson. "No one really wants to be called 'goth.' That word implies that there's something spooky about what you do. We're not a spooky band."
Since 1998, the Prids' refined fusion of distressed post-punk and dark, streamlined pop sensibilities have placed it in a category all its own. Rolling guitar and keyboards and introspective male/female vocals set a mood of melancholy, but not without the hint of something brighter looming on the horizon. While the group's sound draws comparisons to gothic-tinged pop and new-wave groups whose influence on the band is undeniable -- the Cure, Bauhaus/Love and Rockets, Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division -- for Frederickson, the goth label is a matter of semantics that has little to do with the music.
"The critics who call us a 'goth band' say the same thing about the Cure and Joy Division," Frederickson says. "We all know it's not true. They're pop bands, but if you want to call the Cure 'goth' because Robert Smith wears makeup and has funny hair then sure, he's the gothiest and I appreciate the comparison. My hair is dyed black and I wear eye makeup. If you want to judge us by outward appearance, then I guess you could say we're a goth band, but there's nothing gothic about the songs we write; I prefer 'post-punk.'"
The Prids' earliest rumblings can be traced to Lincoln, Neb., in the mid-'90s. Just an hour away, a thriving indie-rock community was building in Omaha via groups like Bright Eyes, Cursive and the Faint, yet the Prids found few venues in the Midwest willing to let them play. Frederickson, along with bassist Mistina Keith, drummer Lee Zeman and keyboardist Jairus Smith, sought darker pastures, and they soon found a more accommodating musical terrain in Portland, Ore. There, the Prids self-released its Glide, Screamer and Duracraft EPs and began touring. Soon after, the group signed with Atlanta-based Luminal Records to release its debut full-length, Love Zero, which went on to garner a decent amount of press.
But it was during live performances that the group's true strengths took shape, and as time went on, their shows became even more of a spectacle, boasting smoke machines and row upon row of strobe and multi-colored lights as a regular part of the band's productions. As these visual elements evolved into a sensory overloading white-out, the group's reputation for putting on brilliant live performances grew, which is what Frederickson wanted all along.
"I get sick of seeing groups who just wander onto the stage, and look like they don't care about what they're doing," he says. "When the Prids play, I put on a show that I would want to see: I want to see something that fucks me up in some way. I don't want to wonder if [the band I'm watching] is still sound-checking, and I'm tired of groups who wear shorts."
Furthermore, Frederickson doesn't think you need to have lights or a lot of money to put on a good show. "It's all in how you take the stage and how you engage your audience. When I see a show I want to feel something." Spooky or not.