The first time I saw SSDD, frontman Kennedy Carda (formerly of Monogamy Party) stuck the microphone down his throat, climbed the back wall, and began to beat his chest like King Kong. Sweating through his collared shirt and emitting muffled screams, his face started to turn beet-red as guitarist Kimberly Morrison (Universe People, The Dutchess and the Duke) and bassist Erika Mayfield (Le Cancer) plucked out searing Dead Moon-style riffs in front of him.
“What we do onstage for 30 minutes is a Dionysian performance,” Carda tells me calmly. He is wearing a straw sun hat and sipping a pink drink, surrounded by his bandmates who are, appropriately, all drinking glasses of rosé. “Those ancient wine ceremonies weren’t super-fun all the time,” he continues. “People were puking on each other. But it’s necessary to do that on a Friday night sometimes.”
SSDD walks an interesting line. The band’s name, an ominous acronym for Steal Shit Do Drugs, might suggest it’s one of the legions of hedonistic punk bands who started shredding simply in pursuit of free drink tickets. But as Mayfield will tell you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The band, only a year old, practices all the time, constantly workshops songs with one another, and industriously reaches out to local bookers to score high-profile shows, like a recent opening Neumos slot for blistering Danish punk stars Iceage.
“You can play in a band and party and have nothing to show for that,” she says. “We like to party—we are maniacs, but we are maniacs because of this, because we have something to present, something to say. We work really fucking hard at it. We’re diligent, and we do our homework.”
But the group is called Steal Shit Do Drugs, and they aren’t afraid to own that too. The band’s sneering debut, First Comes Money, out July 15 on Help Yourself Records, was recorded in a bank vault under a Bank of America in SoDo, adding to the illegal-heist vibes.
“You close the door and it goes ‘kachink,’ ” Mayfield says.
Lyrically, the songs also speak to feelings of being locked in—stuck at burnt-out parties wondering why you haven’t left yet. Standout track “Braindead,” Pussy Galore-inspired, details a lurid night on the town in a less-than-flattering light. “Feel like getting wasted, so much celebration, so much degradation,” Carda moans as a shambling bass line stumbles behind him.
“Getting fucked up in the beginning is a celebration,” Carda explains. “But by the end, it’s like, ‘What am I doing? It’s 2:30 in the morning.’ ”
On the menacing, Stooges-styled “Silence,” that desire for alone time bites back. “Wanted silence for so long, but I’m a diva and I never trip the light alone/All the sudden we're in a room and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Carda seethes. He can’t stay out, but he can’t stay in either.
That tension between intentional, focused energy and discordant debauchery is what makes SSDD a captivating group both on record and in person—like that college friend who perplexingly managed to black out five nights a week and still make straight A’s. It’s fitting that Jean Genet, the French writer who vaunted “evil” characters, reframing their sordid acts in a positive, moral light, is a chief influence on the band.
“In a sense, we’re very nihilistic,” says drummer Pete Capponi (Coconut Coolouts, formerly of The Intelligence). “It’s like, yeah, steal shit, do drugs, because this world is fucked. That’s something I think we all believe in to a certain degree... but we also all take care of each other and we all want to be as ambitious as we can with this project because we all really believe in it.”
SSDD Album Release Spin Cycle, 321 Broadway Ave. E., 971-0267. Free. All ages. 9 p.m. Wed., July 15.