In March, 2015, just before her band was to head into the studio to record their fourth album Do I Look Like I’m In Love?, The Prids bassist/vocalist Mistina La Fave suffered a brain hemorrhage and had to be rushed to the hospital.
“I remember the first thing I said to David [Frederickson, guitarist/vocalist] when I saw him after I woke up in the ICU, and that was ‘all our work!,’” she says. “I was so upset that we were about to go into the studio and now I was laying in a hospital bed with a drain in my head removing the blood from around my brain, not sure if I was going to survive to put out the music we had worked so hard on.”
The shoegaze/post-punk four-piece—which was formed by La Fave and Frederickson in Saint Joseph, Missouri, in 1995 before relocating to Portland, Oregon in 1999—have been through many ups and downs together over their career, and La Fave says those moments in the ICU were significant to her in showing how much the band and their music still mattered to her after so many years. “Our band has always been my life and his, so for that to be my first concern shows my love and support for this thing we created together as well. We’ve always been there for one another. We talk on the phone like ten times a day, no exaggeration. We have a very deep, connected friendship—which for me is the only type of friendship worth having.”
La Fave began playing bass again just two months after leaving the hospital, and nine months into her two-year recovery, she returned to the studio. “Neuro-fatigue was the biggest issue, and still is to this day. Basically anything that takes a lot of concentration will make me dead tired in a way most people don’t experience. That made recording long hours a bit surreal. But we were recording at a studio where we were also staying, and I had my own room so I could just go lay down when I needed to and that was helpful,” she says.
Though much of the material had already been written, La Fave’s illness and recovery show up in the lyrics on “I Remember Everything.” “Considering what a remarkable recovery I made, and having had a massive brain bleed occur and then no deficits from it—I am beyond lucky I didn’t have to relearn to walk, or talk. And I didn’t lose my memories, which I am thankful for. So the lyrics always make me a bit emotional to sing,” she says.
Inadvertently, La Fave’s illness and recovery, and the strong relationships of the bandmates through the process gave new resonance to the album’s title, which comes from the name of its lead single. “David writes about our lives. If you were to listen back over our discography there are a bunch of stories going on whether they are his, or mine,” La Fave says. “Do I Look Like I’m in Love? is a question, a struggle for meaning as you grow up. When you’re young so much can be simplified by the fact that you love someone and they love you back. As you grow up it’s harder to be reassured simply by the love of another person.”
Despite what La Fave refers to as the band’s “heavy-handed lyrics,” The Prids decided to show their more playful side in the video for “Do I Look Like I’m in Love?” Directed by Shaine Edwards and filmed at Portland’s The Lovecraft Bar (where La Fave and Edwards host a monthly dance party), the video is a response to the changing atmosphere of their city. “Shaine said hey, we’ll have this punk find some fog juice outside Lovecraft and then go around Portland fogging up all the lame trendy spots and turning them into an old school PDX dance party,” she says. “It turned out it was harder to do a guerilla shoot outside these places with a fog machine than we thought.”
That concept turned into a short introduction to a Prids live show, though the “fog” lingers in the club’s pink and purple lights that seem to surround the band and their fans in a warm embrace. “The lighting worked out perfectly to represent what we wanted to portray which was being in a comfortable place. Which for a lot of us old Portlanders is a wacky place like The Lovecraft,” La Fave says.
Watch “Do I Look Like I’m In Love?” now. The album is out October 10 on This-A-Way Records.