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If you look up the Wikipedia page for The Electric Grandmother, a 1982 made-for-TV movie starring Maureen Stapleton as a robotic grandmother, there’s a section titled “References in Pop Culture.” Under it, there appears to be only one reference: “Noted electro-pop/comedy musical duo The Electric Grandmother took their name from the film.”
That duo, comprised of husband-and-wife team Pete Faust and Mary Alice Hamnett, are the self-proclaimed inventors of the genre “Sitcom-Core,” and over the past decade, they’ve made a name for themselves through their ironic blend of cheeky pop culture conceits and catchy-as-all-hell electropop. Their latest album Cancelled, which drops September 6, is “the story of one man’s descent into madness after his favorite cop-drama gets cancelled.”
It’s a heady and impossibly catchy concept album that Hamnett tells City Paper she and Faust had the idea for “after a difficult out-of-town show that neither of us nor much of the audience seemed all that thrilled about.” After 10-plus years of playing shows, Hamnett says it was that show that “was really just the catalyst that lead us to have the difficult conversation that … we were both fairly bored with the formula.”
They wrote “Cry in Your Mouth,” one of the album’s singles that we’re premiering, well before the concept of the album came about. The song marked a kind of new sonic direction for the duo—and it would turn out to be the catalyst for The Electric Grandmother’s new direction, both in sound and substance. “Pete had been working on some of the Act Three, post-cancellation songs and over dinner he mentioned how he was hesitant to really put himself into the album,” Hamnett says. “Those familiar with our catalog probably know us more of silly pop songs about TV and movies, with some love songs and other more earnest moments sprinkled throughout, but Pete has never been really upfront about his mental health struggles. Our friends encouraged him to really go for it, and he really did.”
And thus the idea for Cancelled was born, which uses the story of a man’s struggle to cope with the cancellation of his favorite TV show as a metaphor personal struggle and loss. The couple says that Faust “drew inspiration specifically from a bout of depression that hit him so hard (and lasted so long), that he was worried that his time as a happy person with a nice life was over for good.“In short, the album us about finding something that makes you happy and complete, then losing and feeling powerless to hasten the loss,” Hamnett says. “We are so excited to share this story and the emotion wrapped up in it with our friends and the community as a whole.”
The Electric Grandmother will present “Cancelled” on Wednesday, September 6 at the Black Cat with Stronger Sex and Catscan! 7:30 p.m. $10.