Where there’s unhappiness, there is art.
This Friday, Lunch Duchess will release their debut album, Crying for Fun, a bare-faced gallop through frontwoman Katharine Seggerman’s tremendous internal life that serves up catharsis without a thought to collateral damage. But now Seggerman is wondering: What happens after all your sadness is purged?
“This record, and the way that I’ve been writing pretty much forever, is all emotional exorcism,” Seggerman says. “I write the song, and then I realize what I’m feeling. And maybe I act on it. But unfortunately I’ve been really emotionally stable lately. It’s awful. It’s such a cliché.”
It’s hard to say how serious Seggerman is about this. She does appear happy—even-keeled, at the very least—but conversations with her are unpredictable; she’s simultaneously stone-faced and utterly uninhibited. Maybe it’s the Boston in her veins (Seggerman moved here from Massachusetts in 2013), but she somehow divulges her every insecurity while making you feel like you haven’t gained an inch with her.
Crying for Fun is this paradox manifested as music, a byproduct of her mishap-laden journey to happiness. Seggerman has always used her instinct for self-sabotage as the catalyst for her art—her songs bubble out of the cauldron of her mind, spilling everywhere—but Crying for Fun advances the garage-made confessions of Lunch Duchess’ 2016 EP My Mom Says I Have a Rich Inner Life into full-on theatrics. The lyrics are completely upfront—yup, she’s singing about shitting on “Better”—but you still feel like she’s hiding something more in the peppy show-tune embellishments.
Seggerman links My Mom with Crying for Fun through the opening song, “Cry Pt. II,” a sequel to the EP’s first track that begins “I like crying for fun/You know I've said it before/I bet you thought I was done.”
“It’s me turned up to 11,” Seggerman says. “That’s just kind of how I deal with stuff. Like, ‘This is extremely painful, but I’m just gonna add a joke at the end.’ Then I can deal with it a little better.”
The dysfunction parades on from there, Seggerman drawing buckets of angst from her longterm off-and-on relationship with her ex. “Lust/Love” is trapped between trying to move on and being petrified of commitment (“Said I was your best, that’s super nice/But I prefer some strife/Is that what I call love?”). “Creepin’” is the doubt-stricken sendoff that comes after the final final try.
“There’s a test you can take online that will tell you your attachment style. I think I took that test somewhere in the middle of writing this record, and I got ‘avoidantly attached,’” she says. “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me—it’s that sort of thing.”
Though unflinching, Seggerman’s lyrics are all retrospective: You’re looking at her life through the rearview. The fanciful tryst on “‘Chicago’” has long since lost its novelty. The nightmare evening of “Wisteria Boys” is only a sickening memory. The political disgust of “Body” lives on, but the point of exorcism is that you evict your demons, not that you reconcile with them.
Lunch Duchess has become known for the fact that Seggerman plays drums while singing, like some kind of frank, millennial Levon Helm. In the band’s three-year tenure, she’s been supported by a cast of friends that’s liable to change tour to tour, but Seggerman has always been there, providing the emotional and rhythmic core. After Crying for Fun, that all changes.
Founding member Nicky Steves (who moved with Seggerman to Minneapolis back in ’13) just left the band. Taking Steves’ place is Ranelle LaBiche, Seggerman’s former bandmate in Bae Tigre, who will fill in on keys and backing vocals alongside Sam Frederick and Matthew Sandstedt. And Seggerman is handing her drumsticks over to drummer Jeff Marcovis.
“Drumming and singing is fun, and I feel like I’ve mastered it, but it’s a pain in the butt,” she says. “We played this one acoustic show at the Aster where I didn’t drum, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is fun.’ I can move around the stage, I can connect with people a little more.”
Stepping out in front of the drum kit means Seggerman will perform exposed, venting her inner turmoil directly to the audience. But still, she’s unafraid. Those things have expired. She’s content for maybe the first time in her adult life. So what’s the point of hiding?
“I’m in a very happy, stable relationship, which is extremely unusual for me,” she says. “It’s blowing my mind.”
Seggerman also recently started grad school to become a therapist. After years of belting her therapy into a mic in front of local scenesters, she’ll soon begin coaching others on how to productively work through traumas. After that, she questions if she’ll need music at all.
That’s probably dramatic. One good relationship and a positive career prospect probably isn’t enough to resolve all that’s wrong with your brain chemistry, but Lunch Duchess was born in that nexus of drama and hope. In the band’s brief mythos, you’re always just one good, big cry from setting yourself right for a while.
Still, Seggerman sounds resolved. “I think I’m out of the doom cloud,”
When: 9 p.m. Sat. Aug. 31
Tickets: 21+; $7 advance, $10 at the door: more info here