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Volume profile: Seattle’s Chastity Belt gets even more personal on third album

UPDATED: Thu., June 1, 2017

Seattle’s Chastity Belt brings new record “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” to Volume 2017. (Conner Lyons)
Seattle’s Chastity Belt brings new record “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” to Volume 2017. (Conner Lyons)

As a rock band from Seattle, Chastity Belt is often met with certain expectations when on the road.

“Everyone expects us to be so grunge!!” singer and guitarist Julia Shapiro said in an email.

OK, not exactly.

“Ha, no just kidding,” she continued. “I don’t think people have certain expectations because we’re from Seattle. If it’s not a nice day out sometimes they’ll say ‘Oh, you brought the weather with you!’ ”

Even if they do bring Seattle’s weather with them, fans won’t mind, as the band is also set to bring tunes from its new album “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” to Spokane for its show Saturday at the Steam Plant as part of the Volume music festival, which runs Friday and Saturday.

“I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” is the band’s third album and second release on Sub Pop offshoot Hardly Art.

The quartet – drummer Gretchen Grimm, guitarist Lydia Lund, Shapiro and bassist Annie Truscott – teamed up with Wire’s Matthew Simms to record “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” at Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland.

Simms, who also mixed the band’s sophomore release “Time to Go Home,” had a lot to do with the variety of guitar tones on the album, which range from fuzzy to fiery.

“He had a lot of great ideas of what pedals we should use to get certain guitar tones,” Shapiro said. “We did a lot of overdubs and layering to get the guitars to sound really full.”

Following its usual recording process, the band tracked “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone” live. As a result, the record is pleasingly rough around the edges rather than polished to perfection.

“It just seems to work well with our band,” Shapiro said. “It feels more natural. I guess we’ve never tried it any other way though, so I am a little curious to see how it would sound to record a different way.”

Similarly, the band has always had a sense of humor.

See: Shapiro’s grunge joke, the title of Chastity Belt’s debut album “No Regerts” and the music videos for “Cool Slut,” a sex-positive song from “Time to Go Home,” and “Different Now,” the lead single from “Time Alone,” which parody the opening credits of a ’90s-era sitcom and pay tribute to Temple of the Dog’s video for “Hunger Strike,” respectively.

But this time around, Chastity Belt’s typically cheeky lyrics are replaced by those that are more vulnerable and introspective, yet also more relatable.

“I’m pretty into songs that feel both melancholy and happy at the same time,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro sings about searching for real connections and real conversation after a party on “5 a.m.,” and on “Stuck,” Grimm (who also wrote the song), sings about the need to confront change.

Shapiro seeks to find balance between her introverted and extroverted sides on the title track, singing “My doubts are all gone and I’m having a pretty good time/Feeling like a real champ, but for how long?/I used to spend so much time alone,” and tackles heartbreak on “What the Hell.”

“If I look at my phone again, I’ll just wanna die/Aside from that, I feel alright,” she sings. “I know myself when I’m by myself/But I’d rather be around you.”

This isn’t a departure from previous material but an evolution. Chastity Belt has always sung about important subjects, using humor to hide its depth, but on “I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone,” the quartet does away with the jokes and gets even more personal.

As Shapiro sings on the title track, “I wanna be sincere.”

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