Music & weed have a long history together. On today’s episode, we talk about cannabis and music with the all-women band Potty Mouth, who started playing music for fun and turned it into a career as professional musicians. They share insights into what actually makes music more fun with weed, plus we offer 5 ideas about cannabis and creativity.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.
Abby Weems: When we have played the Girls Rock Camp shows, we did a few of them in the summer of 2019, and those were so fun, because the kids were just screaming and dancing and they were so into it. It was so fun. And also when we opened for the Go-Go’s the same year, that was also really fun. And it was almost the opposite side of the spectrum, where it was all these older people who are Go-Go’s fans and they were seeing us and they’re like, oh my God, it’s like the mini Go-Go’s. And that they were really into it. That was a really good show.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Welcome back to How to Do the Pot. I’m Ellen Scanlon, the co-creator of the show. You just heard from Abby Weems, the singer and guitarist in a band called Potty Mouth, who started playing music for fun and turned it into a career as a professional musician. Today, we’ll talk about cannabis, creativity, and music, and share some insights into what actually makes music more fun with weed.
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Ellen Lee Scanlon: Music and weed have a long history together. The first weed-based hit songs were by jazz greats like Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong in the 1930s, bands like the Beatles and the Grateful Dead in the 60s, Bob Marley and other reggae stars in the 70s, and hip hop’s massive popularity in the 90s. I can’t think of a type of music that hasn’t been influenced by weed, but what does it bring to music? We’ll have more to share about cannabis, music and creativity in the coming months. And today we’ll start the conversation with the LA-based all women band, Potty Mouth, and their bass player, Allie Einbinder.
Ally Einbinder: I grew up going to local shows in Albany, New York, where I’m from. And music was always a passion of mine, but always just as a listener or as an audience member. And then when I was a senior in college, I got my first bass and started teaching myself how to play bass just for fun. And then when I graduated, I joined my first band. And once I started playing in a band, really, I mean, I had just been wanting to do that sort of thing for so long, but I just really never had the confidence to do it or thought that it was too late to learn an instrument. But I was having so much fun finally playing music, finally doing it.
Ally Einbinder: The first band I had joined was with two of my male friends, who had been playing since they were little kids. And it was really just someone else’s project that he needed a bassist for. And it was definitely a good way to learn, but I really wanted to meet other women who just wanted to learn in some sort of a low-pressure open environment where we could just encourage each other and support each other.
Ally Einbinder: I knew Abby as this cool high schooler, who was going to my old band shows. My first band once played a show at the library where Abby’s mom used to work. She would come to our shows and had been wanting to play guitar. So I figured better to have two inexperienced guitarists than just one inexperienced guitarist.
Ally Einbinder: So we started the band 2011, 10 years ago. We never had the goal of taking it to any sort of professional or career level. I actually got a scholarship to pursue my PhD. It was just money that I had been awarded from the Sociology Department of Smith. And it was to be put towards a PhD program of my choice. But the caveat was that I had to use it within two years of graduating.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Abby talks about how Potty Mouth went from shows at the library to LA.
Abby Weems: It kind of just snowballed, in a way, because when we started the band, it was purely just for fun and pastime. And we wanted to play music and jam and just have it be a casual experience and maybe play some basement shows in Western Mass where the band started. And then we just kept getting asked to play more and more shows in Boston and New York, and then started touring around the country. And eventually, a few years into it, we were like, okay, we could probably do this. We could make money doing this.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: How to do Abby and Allie consume cannabis when they’re making music?
Abby Weems: It definitely helps with writing. I find that being high and writing, or just writing melodies, or working on a demo, the time really flies by. I just feel so much more focused on what’s in front of me when I’m in that zone. It definitely is a focused relaxation, I feel like. I really love getting high and painting, too. It’s definitely harder to be a singer and get high before a performance because I feel like it really dries your throat out and it’s not great for your lungs. In the past, I don’t smoke before we go on stage, but now I want to, because now that I’m more of a stoner, I’m like, that sounds fun. I just got to figure out how to sing through it.
Ally Einbinder: For me, bass is all about the rhythm and I say bass is the heartbeat of a song, with drums obviously. And bass is one of those instruments that I feel like it already helps to be in your body, sort of, when you’re playing it. Less in your head, more in your body, because then you can really feel the rhythm more. And for me, that’s what cannabis helps me achieve, is that deeper bodily connection. I am such a cerebral person that my default is to be stuck in my head. And so it really helps me connect my head with my body better.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Ally prefers edibles when she’s performing.
Ally Einbinder: Even though they can be a little bit more challenging to dose correctly, they do help me achieve that bodily high that I don’t always get from vaping or smoking. And I just feel less tight in myself and more able to relax. I feel like we just go about our lives not even realizing how much tightness we carry everywhere because we get so used to it. For me, I’m always tight in my shoulders. I’m always tight in my jaw. And I find that edibles and the bodily high that I get just help me loosen up overall.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Cannabis has also helped them with the emotional ups and downs of the music industry.
Abby Weems: Getting high makes you appreciate music for what it is, and it’s less about comparing yourself and how being a professional musician, it can suck all of the life out of music sometimes, because you’re just listening to other artists and you’re like, this is so good. They did it like this, and this is so cool. And I just feel like we’re always over analyzing other music and comparing ourselves. But then when you get high, you sort of are released from that and you’re able to re-appreciate something and make it less personal, in a way, or just sort of get lost in it.
Ally Einbinder: When we started 10 years ago, we started from such a pure open and honest place. We didn’t have any big aspirations or career goals. And I love how that is what got us to the next level, was we just approach things in the only way we knew how, which was just to teach ourselves and do it together and kind of trust our intuition.
Ally Einbinder: And through the last five or six years of being in a band, our experience has been very much an industry experience. We went from being a scrappy DIY band that played our first show in a friend’s basement to flying out to LA to play a showcase for a major label, signing to a major label for a little while, working with celebrity managers, everything. And I don’t regret those experiences because we learned so much. But there were lots of growing pains involved and lots of aspects of the journey that do really suck the creative soul and energy of what brought us here to begin with. It’s easy to lose yourself in that.
Ally Einbinder: And it was honestly hard for me to listen to a lot of new music for a while without hearing it in this very relational way of, oh, this is a contemporary artist to us. How are they doing it? Why are they getting good reviews? Why do people like this? I don’t understand what they’re doing and we’re not doing.
Ally Einbinder: Being high and listening to music is just helping me love it again. It takes me out of the ego mindset that makes me compare myself, or it makes me feel yucky things, jealous or whatever. And it’s just all about getting that joy back of appreciating it for the art that it is, and not just the career that it became for us.
Abby Weems: We’ve been a band for 10 years now, and we’ve kind of been on this hamster wheel of being a working band and writing music, and then recording it, and then planning a release, and playing shows, and touring, and then doing the whole cycle all over again. And it was wearing on us. And I think we didn’t even really realize it until COVID happened and everything got shut down. And it was like, oh, wow. We actually really needed a break. And it sucked because we had a lot of really cool tours planned for 2020. And it kind of felt like, okay, 2020 is going to be our year. We got all these amazing tours, and we released a record, and everything is getting revved up to promote it. And then it all just got canceled, and we were so worn out and needed to reevaluate or just get some new perspective on our relationship with music.
Abby Weems: So it’s been hard to not be able to play music and not tour and perform for fans, because I feel like that’s primarily how our band reaches people is through our live show experience. And I don’t know. It’s been also a healing time for us as a band too.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: You’re probably curious now about what kind of music Potty Mouth plays. Definitely check them out wherever you listen to music. And Abby gives us some insight.
Abby Weems: So our musical influences would definitely be Juliana Hatfield, Veruca Salt, Liz Phair, Garbage, and then Hole, Weezer, Nirvana. We just definitely are influenced by the 90s grunge rock.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Live performances have been on hold since the pandemic started, but Potty Mouth can’t wait to get back to playing, hopefully soon.
Ally Einbinder: It’s never a good idea to get too high and play, especially live, because then you have the whole element of the audience. Without an audience, I feel like it’s fine, because then you can just be in your own little world. But when you’re in front of an audience, you can backfire and cause some anxiety. But if you’re at that… What do you call it? The pleasure zone of a high, it really does help me be more present with the rhythm of a song.
Abby Weems: I miss playing shows. It’s such a [crosstalk 00:13:00].
Ally Einbinder: Abby And I were starting to get really good at doing crazy moves where she would crawl between my legs while I was still playing bass. And she had her guitar-
Abby Weems: You were doing backbends.
Ally Einbinder: I would do a backbend while playing and she would give me a kiss on the forehead. We were just having a lot of fun and there’s nothing like it, nothing compares. When you do live stream, it’s not the same energy because you don’t have an audience in front of you physically. So much of the live [inaudible 00:13:34] experience is when that energy from the stage feeds onto the audience and their energy feeds onto you, and I miss it so much.
Abby Weems: And I feel like we were getting so good at getting into a groove and being goofy on stage. And I’m really excited to get back into that and also be high for that. One of the hardest parts about being on stage is talking to the audience. And I have a feeling that being high will help with that, at least for me personally. Because I feel like my style of talking to the audience is kind of trollish. It’s so hard for me to take it seriously when I’m looking out into the crowd and all these people are looking up at you, and it’s like, what the hell am I supposed to say right now? I’m just going to goof off and make a little joke or something. I’m definitely looking forward to that more. I think that people are kind of craving that from music anyway. But I love playing live.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Are you missing live music? Check out the Groove Therapy podcast, a show that dives into the science of listening to live music so people can better understand the importance of the experience. It’s hosted by health experts, Dr. Leah Taylor and Taraleigh Weathers, who link the live music experience with living a healthy lifestyle. The show gives tips for how to incorporate the live music fields into everyday life, and talks about how to hear live music in a conscious and informed way.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Live music and consuming cannabis can have similar effects, relaxation, stress relief, helping to get us out of the default mode network in our brains. On the show, they interview musicians, industry professionals, and health and wellness experts. Check out Groove Therapy wherever you listen to podcasts.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: For today’s high five, cannabis, creativity and music. What do experts know? Number one, what is creativity? The most popular Ted Talk ever is about creativity and its creator, Sir Ken Robinson, believes that creativity is putting your imagination to work. He defines it as applied imagination. I loved a book called Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley, founder of the Design School at Stanford, that talks about creativity as a mindset we can all practice. I’ll link to both in the show notes.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Number two, science and weed. Since cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, most of the research that’s been done is focused on its harms. As we talked about in episode 60, hopefully the rapid pace of legalization will open up more opportunities for research, and studies on the plant that focus on things like the links between cannabis, music and creativity.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Number three, symptoms of creativity. A 2012 study focused on cannabis and creativity showed that cannabis produces “symptoms” considered primary to creative thinking. What happens? Cannabis use can lead to connecting seemingly unrelated concepts, which leads to breaking free from ordinary thinking, which increases the likelihood of generating novel ideas or associations.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Number four, stay present. Studies going back to 1970 show that cannabis enhances the appreciation of music. People consuming cannabis focus more on the sounds, and this attention requires less mental energy, so it’s easier to listen, to focus and to relax.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Number five, try this at home. What are your favorite songs? Take a break and listen while you consume your favorite cannabis. What seems different? We’d love to hear your favorite music and weed story. So DMS @dothepot or email email@example.com.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Today’s strain pick is Bubblegum. Bubblegum is a moderately intoxicating strain that helps you feel more present, as well as happy, uplifted and relaxed. Try it while you listen to some music. It’s considered one of the best tasting weed strains, with sweet and fruity flavors, but it can bring on dry mouth and dry eyes. It was also one of How to Do the Pot’s 12 essential strains for women, so check out episode 34 to learn more.
Ellen Lee Scanlon: For today’s podcast racks. I like Popcast, hosted by New York Times music critic, John Caramanica. The telling of DMX’s life story, a conversation about the intense potency of the rapper’s music and religious fervor, and what it was like to interview him. How to Do the Pot. On Something, hosted by Ann Marie Awad. The Creative Brain on Drugs. Does cannabis make creative people, well, more creative?
Ellen Lee Scanlon: Thank you for listening to How to Do the Pot. You can find us on Instagram @dothepot. And for lots more information and past episodes, visit dothepot.com. Thanks to April Pride, Madi Fair, our brand manager, and our producer, Nick Patri. I’m Ellen Scanlon, and we’ll be back soon with more of How to Do the Pot.
So you must be legal, too. Age 21+ invited to continue.