Priests’s style of protest embraces complexities, lyrically and musically; while Nothing Feels Natural builds on melodic hooks (see: the stormy “Leila 2.0"), it’s most rewarding to listen to when you’re willing to interrogate alongside them. Anthems and catchphrases aren’t part of their vocabulary here, in part because the music is such a conduit for internal displacement—exacting descriptions of emotions that are abstract yet so familiar. On the title track, over another moody set of guitars, Greer sings about a time or place or thing that we can’t quite identify—religion, maybe? It’s abstract. But one line in particular we can all recognize, and it hits in the gut: “Come on, please/ Work for something/If I walk a hundred days does it mean I get to say you can’t talk to me that way?”


Nothing Feels Natural is an album about power dynamics, whether the band’s politics are as subtle as that line, or more explicit—on “Puff,” Greer screams “Munayyer says Netanyahu’s actually the best thing/ ‘Cause so much hate can only mean we’re accelerating/ Accept the triumph of the machine!” This manifested in their sound, as well, which incorporated the idea of a producer, and production, as another instrument, explains Daniele, rather than a sound-warping force.

“Being antagonistic was really a guiding ethos at the beginning,” she says, “and I think we really rode that out of like, we’re going to be as abrasive as possible. It was part of the joy, and I guess it still is, but I think this album was more about giving ourselves permission to not be confined by what you do live. We wanted to make a beautiful pop album, but it was more like not feeling like we had to abide by peoples’ preconceived notions of the type of band we were, and really be a more expansive creative project.”


But preconceived notions are the core of what the band rails against, anyway, which is partly why it works. “Going from what Katie has said, the lyrics are about the frustration of the creative process in an interpersonal way but also in a larger critique of capitalist society,” says Mulitz. “And how it’s unsupportive of artists, and how it can be really hard to find the time or have the means to be creative in the first place.”

All four musicians keep day jobs when they’re not touring; Greer and Jaguar work a dog-walking service, which Jaguar says gives them an interesting perspective into the pet lives of the rich and powerful. Daniele and Mulitz work at Buck’s, a restaurant next door to Comet Ping Pong, the pizza joint/music venue now best known outside of D.C. for being the site of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. A few weeks before Priests spoke with Jezebel, Daniele showed up for work and the parking lot was cordoned off, after one of those conspiracy theorists showed up with a gun. “I’d been getting death threats every day on the phone,” she said (Comet owner James Alefantis also owns Buck’s). “I’ve had friends that never used their real names associated with their performance, and it always seemed a little paranoid to me, but now I just think, you had a toe in the water to feel the temperature rise. I didn’t take it seriously enough, and I feel really silly. It’s just crazy.”


But who better to combat it than artists in proximity to it? Priests are inquisitive, are solid and brave, in the tiniest big city in the world. And owning your means of production, as well as being integrally involved in your local community, has been and is now D.C. punk’s ultimate antidote to the monoliths surrounding it.

Priests are currently on tour in the U.S., U.K., and Europe through the summer. Nothing Feels Natural is out now on Sister Polygon.