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October 13, 2014
by Rebecca Ungarino

No Other are a two-woman rock band based in Philadelphia with a very well-managed identity crisis. “I play in a rock band. I say rock band because I feel like that’s what my mom would understand,” said vocalist and guitarist Maria Sciarrino in a recent phone conversation.

The band’s single Option C was released last month on Negative Fun Records (Bad Daddies, Positive No) and New Jersey and Massachusetts radio stations have taken notice of the band’s fast-paced guitar riffs and Sciarrino’s clean, concentrated vocals. No Other are a bit like Bikini Kill reincarnated, perhaps just noisier, with fewer ties to Nirvana, and farther east. The duo teamed with Jeff Ziegler at Uniform Recording (Kurt Vile, Nothing) to record the two-song 7-inch.

Briefly looking back, though, the raw, guttural, though bouncy Screaming Females come to mind when listening to No Other’s I Believe in Werner Herzog EP released last October. Second track “Destruction Song” is difficult not to listen to without bopping your entire body along – “I was a perfect bitch / keeping my cards / close to the chest / a non-stop season of the witch / I heard you say under your breath.”

Sciarrino, a New Jersey native and bassist Laura Chance, a Georgia native, began rehearsing together last year after after meeting at a Savages show, introduced by a mutual acquaintance. At the time, Chance was finding it difficult to play with other musicians in the city – “Philadelphia can be a tough nut to crack” – and discouraged, she was ready to sell her guitar. Then she connected with Sciarrino, who had been living in the city since 1996.

“I think we actually were making fun of the opener or something. I mentioned that I played bass guitar for a long time and Maria was like, ‘Do you want to be in my band?’” explained Laura Chance. The two take lessons (separately, they said, rotating biweekly) from local experimental guitarist and instructor Nick Millevoi. Lessons are therapeutic, said Sciarrino, having a place to experience music in a larger context and experiment with abstract ideas, scales, or notes and turn them into realities.

“Maria and I don’t ever talk about lessons,” said Chance over the phone, laughing. “Sometimes what I am trying to achieve is completely different than what Maria is trying to achieve with her songwriting.”

On Men, Women, and Philadelphia

Both Sciarrino and Chance work at universities in Philadelphia – Sciarrino at the University of Pennsylvania and Chance at the Drexel University Library. Chance joked that living in Philadelphia comes with a certain “hazing” period. They say they are an away team band, not a home team band, “and it’s not because we don’t love Philadelphia, but because of the politics of the scene,” said Chance, who spoke about an underrepresentation of females in the majority of the shows she attends.

“The fact that David Lynch gets a lot of influence for his film making from his time in Philadelphia is very telling,” said Chance, 27, who moved to the city three years ago. “It’s a weird little pocket of the United States. It’s very different from where I come from, but I love it.”

Sciarrino was initially involved with music in Philadelphia through booking shows and DJing around the city in 2001, since then organizing local festivals like Lady Fest and Sugartown to support women in music. Sciarrino, 36, has experienced her share of gender discrimination in a male-dominated scene. She said inequalities persist in Philadelphia’s hardcore, punk, and general DIY scene due to the overwhelming ratio of male to female bookers, male bookers seeing their male peers’ interests through, pushing an innate “boys club.”

“Maybe it seems insidious at times because I think the new thing in punk rock is to paint this picture of inclusion, sort of the behind the veil of exclusion,” said Chance.

On Brooklyn and Death By Audio

No Other played Death by Audio, pedal shop-turned DIY venue in Brooklyn, back in April with local bands Radical Dads, Jupiter Boys, and Quiet Down. Death by Audio is set to close this November some speculate as a casualty of VICE’s new office space at the corner of S 2nd St. and Kent. “I really enjoyed that show. The space was so bizarre. I remember thinking, ‘How are we going to get in?’ We all walked away feeling great. Really great energy from the audience,” said Chance. “We played one of our best shows there.” The ladies are less than pleased that the magazine has purchased the space with a recent $500 million in funding and a $6.5 million tax break from the city to remain in Brooklyn instead of growing their Los Angeles offices. “It sucks when any big corporation buys out a space that was previously inhabited by artists. Death by Audio was a great space. They were clearly well-run and welcoming,” said Sciarrino. “New York City loses a great DIY venue. It sucks to see New York become a playground for the rich.”

No Other will be celebrating the release of the Option C 7-inch on November 4 at Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s with Speedy Ortiz and Ex Hex. Their curiosity and eclectic musical capability far outreaches a single genre, sound, or party line. “Sometimes people call us a punk band, but I can’t figure out what about us is ‘punk’ other than our anti-patriarchal politics,” said Chance, laughing. “We’re a lot of different things, and I don’t necessarily want us to be pin-pointed into the punk scene. I want to play with all kinds of people.” 

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