There's a 26-year-old girl onstage at Brooklyn's Palisades. Her name is Robin Edwards, but at this moment -- with a guitar strapped to her glittering prom dress, bright lights shifting between her and the massive, sold-out crowd -- she's Lisa Prank. As a helpful reminder, she's wearing a cartoonish crown with "PRANK" scrawled across the top. She sings of love, loss, and heartbreak with a pure, charming abandon that swallows the entire room. She's giving it her all, and she is impossible to ignore.
After her set -- in which she's opened for close friends and tour mates Tacocat -- she finds me offstage. "I should be a feelings correspondent," she jokes. But actually. Immediately, she pulls out her phone and changes her Twitter bio to just that. (Honestly, somebody give the girl a job.)
The night before, during our sangria-fueled MTV News interview, Edwards reveals her magical gift, the driving force behind her enchanting debut LP, Adult Teen: her ability to feel deeply. And, of course, her ability to translate those feelings to a practically perfect brand of jubilant pop-punk.
On Adult Teen, luv is dumb, but it’s the key to literally everything: good feelings, bad feelings, and sometimes, that lovely, murky mixture of both. It’s like at the show, when the whole room sings along to her cover of “Dammit” by Blink-182 — obviously they know every word and aren’t afraid to scream lyrics ecstatically into the faces of friends and strangers alike. They're having fun, and they're making a connection; in other words, they're feeling something.
It’s just what Lisa Prank does, and she does it better than almost anyone, and ultimately, everyone can relate.
When did you first start playing music?
Robin Edwards: I had an acoustic guitar when I was in high school, but didn’t do much with it except strum some chords to Jimmy Eat World songs. I didn’t take it seriously.
Then when I was 19, I messaged the coolest girl I knew on Myspace and asked her if she wanted to be in a band with me. We started this two-person band called Lust Cats of the Gutters. We learned to play music together. We practiced once a week in this space in Denver, where I’m from. That’s how I learned to write songs.
When that band broke up — because my bandmate moved away — I really wanted to play music again ... It’s hard to be the leader of a band, at least for me. I wanted to do a project where I could just go on tour and do whatever I wanted to do. So I bought a drum machine off Craigslist from this weird dad.
Eventually you moved to Seattle and moved in with Tacocat. How did that happen?
Edwards: I knew Tacocat from playing shows in my old band in Denver. They were always like, “Move to Seattle! Move to Seattle!” Two years ago, I was out of a relationship and I didn’t have a band. I booked a show for them, and again, they were like, "Move to Seattle!” And I was at a place in my life where I was just like, OK!
They have a giant punk house that they’ve lived in for many years. Three members of Tacocat currently live there, but all of them have lived there at some point. I lived in a tiny little closet room at first. Now I live in a bigger room upstairs.
What’s it like to live with other musicians you admire? Do you collaborate on stuff together?
Edwards: Bree from Tacocat and I have a band together called Gutless. It just started as our bedroom jam band, because our bedrooms are right next to each other. Our friend Julia, who plays in Chastity Belt and Childbirth, plays drums. Eric from Tacocat recorded Adult Teen in our house.
Everyone is just friends and hangs out all the time. It’s special to have a creative community, especially for me, because there’s no one else in my band. All my friends are like my peripheral bandmates.
Did you always know you wanted to play pop-punk?
Edwards: That’s kind of just the music in my heart. I think there’s something really special about the music you listen to when you’re like 12 and 13. That music gets so stuck.
I did the thing that I think a lot of people do, where I was really into bands like Jimmy Eat World and Blink-182, then I got too cool for it and divorced myself from it. I was only into “indie” bands. But then I had a revival when I started listening to it again, and it was a different experience being the same age that those people actually were when they were writing those songs.
I felt like I related to Blink-182 love songs when I was 12 and had never been in love before. It kind of made me ache to be in love, and to be heartbroken. So it was a different experience being in my twenties listening again like, Wow, now I relate on such a different level.
Your cover of “Dammit" really struck me. I have a strong personal connection to that song thanks to a very specific memory with an ex-boyfriend. Your version is so emotional and relatable.
Edwards: That’s so funny, because so many people come up to me after I play that like, “That cover made me so sad!” The lyrics to that song are actually super intense.
It’s sad, but it’s also nice to relate to those feelings through an actual experience.
Edwards: It’s really profound having something emotional and musical that you’ve had a connection to for so long.
So here’s the big, loaded question: Which Blink record is the best? I’ve had several fights with friends over this.
Edwards: Oh, I have been through it all! I really have a hard time.
It’s important to note that "best" and "favorite" are two different things. Like for me, I think the best is Enema of the State, but my personal favorite is Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.
Edwards: Yeah, I would say Enema of the State. It’s a perfect record. I think the sequence of “Adam’s Song” into “All the Small Things” is the best transition … of ever. They just bring you down to the depths and then all the way to the top. It’s amazing.
“Adam’s Song” is a perfect song.
Edwards: There was a time that I skipped it because it’s a downer. But then I really started relating to that lyric, “I couldn’t wait 'til I got home / To pass the time in my room alone.” That’s exactly how you feel on tour. You just want to go home and sit in your bedroom.
I did have a real resurgence with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, though. With Dude Ranch, cool people can like it. They can be like, “I like Blink, but only Dude Ranch.” But Take Off Your Pants and Jacket is great. The singles are great.
How do you feel about the self-titled record? Lots of people say it’s the best one.
Edwards: I like that record, but I don’t have the same emotional connection to it. Best record has got to be between Enema of the State and Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, although I really love Dude Ranch. For a while I wanted to call my album Mood Ranch. I wanted to tell people it was a song-for-song response to Dude Ranch.
You’re getting a lot of press centered around the fact that you’re a female voice in pop-punk. What do you make of all that attention?
Edwards: I think there are a lot of female voices in pop-punk. Upset is one of my favorite bands. But when I was a kid, there probably weren’t a lot. Or at least not that I knew of. Not on the level of Blink-182. Because when you’re 12 and 13, you’re not gonna find out about alternative bands.
When we were that age, the Internet wasn’t really a resource for discovering underground music. That came a bit later.
Edwards: When we were 10, 11, 12, we had Blink-182 and New Found Glory videos. There was Avril Lavigne, but she was a pop star. I didn’t realize that I wanted to hear women sing about the same feelings the dudes were singing about. I feel like now you can hear women singing about those feelings.
Speaking of feelings, most of the record is about your reactions — positive or negative — to love. One lyric that hit me hard was: “Another face that I will spend another year just to forget.” There are intense high moments and very low moments, but ultimately, you’re questioning whether love is actually worth it. So what’s the verdict?
Edwards: I’ve thought a lot about this because of a lot of the songs are really a bummer. I ended the record with the song “I Want to Believe,” and that was intentional. That’s a song that isn’t really about anyone -- it’s just about me wanting to believe in love. Even though all of these terrible things can happen, and it can totally blow up in your face, and you can feel so awful, I’m still hopeful about love.
I’m super in love with someone right now, so that helps. But that only happened after the process of writing this record. The timing is related. I needed to get out a lot of these feelings.
But deep down, I totally believe in magical love. I feel very hopeful about it. I think there’s something even more special about choosing to fall for someone after you know what the bitter end can feel like.
I wouldn’t say the songs are a total bummer. I’d say you’re hitting on something that’s really relatable, and that’s incredibly poignant.
Edwards: I really wanted to end on an optimistic note. And is it worth it? Yeah, I really think so. I think it’s always worth it to be able to feel something intensely. I really value all the experiences that have made me feel a lot. Because not everything is going to make you feel so deeply.
Adult Teen really highlights the intensity of that. The music is bright despite its complex subject matter. It’s hard not to feel personally connected to it, and write about it from a personal perspective.
Edwards: I love reading anything that’s super personal.
Since you mentioned your ex, I’ll tell you a story about one of my exes. We dated twice -- we dated, broke up for a year, and then dated again. But the way that he won me back was that once I had told him I had always wanted someone to cover “Going Away to College” and dedicate it to me, and he did it! I couldn’t say no!!
How do you say no to Blink-182?
Edwards: You can never say no to Blink-182.