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Indie Mixtape 20: Pinkshift’s Roaring Debut Album Is Empowering Pop Punk

Pop punk is having a bit of a moment lately. Not only has the buzzy When We Were Young festival sparked a resurgence of early aughts pop punk nostalgia, but popular bands like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, and even Blink-182 are reuniting and hitting the road to remind emo millennials of the good ‘ol days. But established pop punk bands aren’t the only ones contributing to the genre.

Enter Pinkshift, the Baltimore-based band — composed of vocalist Ashrita Kumar, guitarist Paul Vallejo, and drummer Myron Houngbedji — who grew up listening to classics like MCR and Pierce The Veil are now putting their own spin on the oftentimes white and male-dominated pop-punk sound. Not only is their newly released debut album Love Me Forever brimming with killer hooks and thrashing guitar solos, but their songs also carry an impactful message. Tracks like “Nothing (In My Head)” take aim at politics and social media addiction, while others like “Trust Fall” get real about the impacts of being an abusive relationship.

To celebrate their newly released album Love Me Forever, Pinkshift drummer Myron Houngbedji sits down with Uproxx to talk Pokémon, My Chemical Romance, and the magic of castor oil in our latest Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Angry, cathartic, relatable, relevant.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

I want people to remember it as the music that let them feel what they needed to feel. I want people to be hit with waves of nostalgia as they remember the catharsis that we helped provide during some of the most confusing and hopeless years of our lifetimes.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

It might be a tie between Baltimore and Philly.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Josh Dun made me want to play drums in the first place. He made it look really fun. Tyler Joseph and Gerard Way made me want to be on stage and share the world that I’ve created with my bandmates. I love how dramatic and intentional both of them are.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

In my own house.

What album do you know every word to?

I don’t know about every word but I do know a solid 85 percent of I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love by My Chemical Romance.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Maybe my first concert ever, Twenty One Pilots in 2016.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

I get super sweaty during every show but I do like wearing sweatshirts or hoodies while playing. Something about the irony and doing physical activity in warm clothing is appealing to me.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

Not sure if I have a true favorite, but I love seeing skate clips from the @berrics Instagram page. I also love seeing @hate5six content.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

Depends on the tour, but probably “Father Time” by Kendrick Lamar. Or “Prince” by Deftones.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Entergalactic (that new animated movie made by Kid Cudi on Netflix).

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Thriller by Michael Jackson.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

We’ve only gone on like two proper tours so we haven’t crashed in too many crazy places yet. I will say that in the UK we stayed in this cute little house and it was only weird because we got there early in the morning after driving all night so everyone was a bit delirious and our tour manager wasn’t sure whether or not we’d be able to actually get into the house beforehand. I don’t know if it was an AirBnB or not. It was just someone’s house but they weren’t there. It was nice.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

When we went to the UK for the first time, we stayed in London and our tour manager said that his girlfriend is a tattoo artist and was willing to come to the hotel room to give us tattoos. That’s where Ashrita and I got our first tattoos.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

Doja Cat.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

When I was 10, my friend took my Pokémon Diamond game and used his action replay and cloned a bunch of hacked Darkrai’s and Mew’s into my game because they were my favorite Pokémon at the time.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Stop wearing those cotton beanies and stop picking your hair out while it’s dry. Also moisturize your hair. Additionally, stop shampooing your hair every day. Also buy castor oil.

What’s the last show you went to?

At the time I’m writing this, it was Pierce The Veil opening for I Prevail. (And I’m seeing Turnstile/Jpegmafia/Snail Mail tomorrow!)

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

The Incredibles for sure.

What’s one of your hidden talents?

I draw on occasion!

Love Me Forever is out now via Hopeless Records. Get it here.

Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.