Recorded in their DIY studio in Williamsburg, the album from the “silly queer emo punk band” is about how we deal with change
If asked to appoint a mascot for metamorphosis, many of us would choose the butterfly.
After all, it’s a good story, right? A creepy, crawly caterpillar takes a little nap and emerges a gorgeous, colorful winged creature. Sure, that’s a simplistic view of an obviously complex, and pretty miraculous, natural process—we specialize in bands not biology here—but you get it. In a culture obsessed with makeovers and fixated on before and (happily ever) afters, the caterpillar-to-butterfly pipeline is the ultimate example of the ~glow-up~.
However, I’d say there’s another creature that illustrates the complexities of transformation more accurately, and more effectively, than the butterfly. Not to get all Magic School Bus on you on a Thursday afternoon, but there’s perhaps no animal more symbolic of change than the frog, which goes through a series of lifecycles, transitioning from egg to tadpole to two-legged tadpole to four-legged tadpole to, eventually, its final form: the hopping, croaking, occasionally singing and dancing creature we know and love, as hormones from the thyroid prep the aquatic organism for terrestrial life.
Unlike the butterfly’s metamorphosis, undergone behind closed doors (in a cocoon), the frog’s is a public process. No privacy is afforded the creature as it undergoes this transition out in the open, interacting with the elements and, amongst other animals, fighting for its survival and living its life out in the world. That said, this transformation is also natural. The frog doesn’t fight its development; it embraces it. It’s inevitable. Integral to what and who it is. And it adapts along the way, slowly evolving into its final form and fulfilling its destiny.
So, hate to break it to you, but: Humans… probably more like frogs. We’re always undergoing the process of becoming something else. And that’s a good thing. As voiceover in the intro to Uncle Pizza’s “leo corillo beach” reminds us, “Change is essential.” And in their new album, the self-described “silly queer emo punk band” explores how we, as people, deal with it.
From Uncle Pizza, this is Frog Era.
Beyond being about transformation, the album was inspired by personal change, and even written and recorded after the project itself had experienced a significant shift, growing into a full-on grouth. Ahead of the record’s release, Nicole, the band’s founding member, expanded on the context in which Frog Era was created and the process of bringing it to life:
“Frog Era has been a little over a year in the making and is about how we deal with change. It was written as I moved across the country, started HRT, and expanded Uncle Pizza from a solo project to a full band. We recorded it in our little DIY studio in Williamsburg all last summer. We would invite friends in whenever they had time to pitch in and slowly the project took shape. It’s definitely my favorite thing we ever made. It’s the most collaborative project I’ve ever embarked on and I that makes it special.”
The DIY and collaborative elements come through in the album—a set of eight songs that expand with every listen, each one incorporating a wide variety of ideas, featuring an ambitious, and often surprising, combination of sounds and serving as an individual sonic collage that simultaneously, and seamessly, fits into the bigger picture. Jazzy breakdowns meet fuzzy static and futuristic beeps and boops; conversational clips, confessions and poetic recitations are incorporated throughout, while a variety of sound effects—including ribbits—are also interspersed. Vocals vary widely in volume and delivery while swinging across the emotional spectrum, from raw screams to sweet and soft harmonies. Particular portions feel frantic; certain parts are drenched in desperation; some bits are sweet and even a little silly. As a work of art, it comes across as honest, as truly original, and an undeniable current of humanity runs through it all.
As it was truly a work of collaboration, the other members of the band also offered their thoughts on the making of the record and their experience being part of the band and what it’s meant to them.
“This album was a beautiful capture of the beginnings of Uncle Pizza in its band form,” Ob shared. “We’ve been through several metamorphoses since then, but the Frog Era was the beloved baby stage of our weirdo punk emo group.”
“I never recorded an album like that, where i would just come in when I could and record some guitar, record some vocals, maybe just give my thoughts on the songs, and then I would come back and so much would change and there’d be so many new ideas to talk about,” Cam said. ‘Frog Era is special to me also because it’s the first project as a member of a band that wasn’t me writing the songs. I’m super proud of it.”
“Frog Era came to me in a time where I was kinda lost in the way I was doing music and I what I wanted to do with it,” said Juan. “I met everyone and we got into the studio like a month later. We started playing and it was sounding really good and before we knew it everything became magical. After Nick finished mixing it felt unreal that that was what we made. It defined a new era in my life when I needed change and that’s what the albums about.”
Frog Era is out everywhere tomorrow, and the more you dig in, the more you’ll discover. Listen to it over… and over… and over… then head to Purgatory for the band’s release show on March 11th, hosted by Evangeline and featuring Crush Fund, Pop Music Fever Dream and Kissy Noises. Grab your tickets here.
Feature image provided by the band.