Premiere: Choke the Pope - "Barks and Bites"

Ah, Choke the Pope.

Those of you who know them, who have been to their high-energy shows, listened to Emotional Material on repeat, and have had your outlook of Seattle either validated or challenged by songs like “Seattle, CA” and “Crapitol Hill,” know them as a group of nice boys who play deliciously catchy pop punk. They’re self-deprecating, funny, and have a way of speaking to both the angsty adolescent and jaded adult in us in the same breath.

I’ve felt comforted by their music plenty of times, because among dick jokes and the like lives sincere vulnerability. They sing about depression. They sing about anxiety. But these moments of sincerity that live in their songs have really, for the most part, been just that: a moment. A quick mention, and then back to laughing it off.

Sometimes you need to sit with this stuff a little longer, though. That’s where “Barks and Bites,” a single off Choke the Pope’s upcoming album Who Cares, comes in. It’s as if the guys plucked one of those moments and fleshed it out into a whole song, letting it breathe for just shy of two and a half minutes.

It’s not your typical Choke the Pope song: slower tempo, a trashier sound, lyrics that hurt a little instead of crack a joke.

“I think a lot of songs on the new album sound a lot different than the last one we put out,” says Nick Vazquez, the lead vocalist. “Lyrically, this one was a little bit more serious than a lot of Emotional Material and Vanilla Ice Cream.”

“Barks and Bites” is a solid track, but the band wasn’t sure where to take it when they were first writing. The final product is so cohesive, and moves so well, that it sounds like every instinct they had must have come easily to them, but they had to put it on the shelf for a while before it was done.

“We wrote it, couldn’t figure out what to do, and then burned out on it for two months. We came back to it months later, and then just went ‘Fuck it, let’s finish it,’” says Sean Dwyer, guitarist.

And thankfully they did.

Who Cares is being released on August 4th on Den Tapes, and there’s a release show at the Tacoma Dome Wallingford Annex that same day with Rat Queen and Happy Times Sad Times. Buy a cassette, stream it online, and come to the gig to support this absolute gem of the Seattle scene.

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