Interview | Pornography (Leah Hennessey, Ryan Adams, and Johnny T. Yerington): “I don’t think it’s any more of a joke than the rest of our lives.”

Leah Hennessey, Ryan Adams, and Johnny T. Yerington have formed a new punk band, Pornography, and their first release is a special 7″ via Pax Am Records to celebrate Record Store Day. It’s called 7 Minutes in Heaven, and its first single is “Last Nite at the Opera.” Let’s have a listen.

If you have a list of Record Store Releases you want to purchase at tomorrow’s event at record stores across the nation, well, you now have a larger list. We recently talked to Leah Hennessey by phone.

So, the first release is coming out on Record Store Day.

Yes, Record Store Day. And I’m not even going to be in the country (for it), which is so shitty. I’m going to be in Mexico for a minute, which happens to be the same minute that this comes out. I’m very excited about it anyway.

Are you in New York right now?

Yeah, I never leave. I grew up here, and I hardly ever step out. Johnny is here and Gus is here, and Ryan is in L.A., and he just comes here to do stuff with us. Percentage-wise, the band is based in New York, and that’s where we record everything. And we have a lot of material recorded, too — this is just the tip, this is like a million years ago, to me. That blip when we first met.

So, this is one of the first sessions. Listening to it now, how does that feel?

Well, listening to it is great. I’ve been listening to it since we made it, just one more thing on my iPod, you know? But, learning to play the songs, and practice them, that’s really fun. Because it’s like these songs were very unconscious, and they were just sketches, and we were like, “that’s done.” But now, I’m revisiting them and singing them and getting more into them. I’ve never done that. There’s really no line between finished and unfinished with this band. Hopefully, we get to play them live some day.

Have you known Johnny T. and Ryan for a while?

No, I just met them — just met them all at once, in one moment. We kind of knew some people in common, but it was just coincidence that we met, it wasn’t through anybody. I think I met Ryan one time when I was kid, for a minute, or maybe that didn’t happen. (laughs). I think I met Johnny one time…I don’t know, we kind of pieced it together, but I’m not sure if we’re lying to each other or not.

But, we met this time, and the next day they were like, “oh, hey, you want to come sing in our punk band?” And really, any other day, I would have said no, just cause, you know, normal, social anxiety — why do something new? But, I was just in one of those moods, where I was going to say yes to almost anything.

So, I went in, and they were in the middle of recording all those songs that are on 7 Minutes, and they were half way through, and they were like, “oh, you want to make up some words to these?” And I immediately did all of them. So, that whole thing was recorded the second time we ever met, let alone the first time we ever played together. It was kind of amazing…it felt very destined. I t felt very faded and simple, and I didn’t question it.

What’s it like working with Ryan and Johnny? Any moments stick out for you in the heat of the recording?

It’s all kind of like one big blur. I mean, I guess this is more about me than it’s about Ryan or Johnny, which is funny…I remember the first time we made all this music, and I remember telling them about how I had just had this weird experience going to the opera with this kid, and they were like, “oh, you gotta write a song about that!” And I said, “okay, whatever.”

But, I couldn’t tap into the ideas of what I really wanted to communicate, and they said, “well, you gotta write a song right now.” So, I just took the nearest the closest experience at the front of my brain, which the band collectively refers to as the stupid part of the brain, which is a bonus song that will someday be released in Japan only. (laughs)

But, I got into the stupid part into the brain, and the reason why the songs are so repetitive is just because I write two lines, and they say, “let’s record.” So, they had the track for “Last Nite at the Opera,” and that was my favorite of the songs they recorded musically, and I just actually sang what I had experienced at this weird time I had at the opera the day before.

It was really huge for me, because I had been in a band before for a few years, and I never wrote lyrics, and I always felt like I had so much bullshit to say. And then I kind of end up in this band, and I’m saying something more stupid than the last band, but it’s my stupid. They just kind of turned on that switch, and that was very generous of them — to say, “just get into this stupid thing.”

I read where you said you originally were interested in some sad-bastard stuff.

Yeah, like wordy, more wordy storytelling. But, yeah, this is not that time! (laughing) I think that this band is going to continue to surprise people with how just honest we’re being. There’s a funny element to it. There is a joke, but I don’t think it’s any more of a joke than the rest of our lives. It’s like everything is a perpetual joke, and this is just one more part of that.

What do you think a Pornography show would feel like?

Oh, I don’t know, I’ve never done it. I have no idea. I know it’s gonna be great. I’d like to play in a space station or something. I don’t know who I need to talk to to make that happen, but that’s the idea. (laughs)

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