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Interview & Photos: Mary Shelley

Interview & Photos by Keira Zhou

When did you start playing music? What inspired it?

I [Sam] started in middle school with guitar and clarinet. I grew up surrounded by music. My family was always going to concerts or talking about the latest album release. Being the youngest of four, I kind of just thought that’s what everybody cared about.

Charlie started in high school. His dad always loved playing the drums and would show him all his favorite tunes.

I [Jackson] started in elementary school with the piano, added the drums in middle school, and finally branched into the guitar in high school. Inspired a lot by my dad’s love of music.

How did you all meet?

Jackson and Charlie met in college at NYU. And after their first gig, met Sam at a bar through a mutual friend.

When was the first time you guys all practiced together?

First time all three of us played together was December 2019 right before we all left for the holidays.

What are some musicians you loved growing up and what are the acts that have influenced you together as a band?

We’re all influenced by IDLES, The Clash, Talking Heads, Nirvana, Patti Smith, the list goes on… Separately we have influences from acts like Radiohead, The Sword, Devo, and Shannon & the Clams that inform our individual playing when we come together as a band.

Any fun memories to share during your rehearsals or shows?

We played a show at this DIY space last time. Seriously thought the floor was gonna cave. Is that fun? Some might argue.

Could you tell us a little more about your song “The Nursing Home Jig”?

The song is all borne out of this super groovy bassline Sam came up with at rehearsal one night. And we placed it in a basic blues chord progression and it gave it this feel of a classic, country jig or hoedown. And I [Jackson] was always inspired by the duets that Jack White used to sing in later White Stripes records heard in songs like "It's True That We Love Another" where he'd put electric guitars over these very classic sounding duets. And the angry delivery of the lines comes from trying to emulate the empty yelling that Viagra Boys front-man Sebastian Murphy–where he yells very dumb and empty aphorisms trying to highlight the pointless of some of his declarations. and that kind of gave the song the emotional structure.

Nursing Homes are places where the purpose is to wait for the inevitable. It's a place designed to remind you every day of what you're waiting for. And it's also about the loss of independence that these people who have lived long, storied lives have now been reduced to being treated like children again. It was something I witnessed in the waning years of my own grandmother who abhorred the home she was put in. They’ve done all this work, lived all this life, and in the end are treated like they don’t know any better. I’ve had nightmares about when I’m old in a home, and my daughter and her grandkids are visiting. And they ask me how I’m doing, and I say I’m fine, and they just pause for a moment. And then they just start laughing. That moment where I’m so old I’m not self-aware of what I’m doing, that there’s maybe drool hanging from my mouth, or I don’t know, that I said the word “basketball” when I meant tree, and they just go along with it. That lack of self-awareness of the world around me absolutely scares and depresses hell out of me, but what can help with such a depressing environment and final stage of life is companionship. Someone to weather the storm with. The song is about a man losing his mind in a nursing home and he’s starting to physically act out, and his wife trying to calm him down. But sadly, he’s forgotten who this woman who’s trying to ease his pain is. And when he finally notices her, he treats as if she’s a new, striking, beautiful woman at a party. And he asks her shyly to dance with him. The wife accepts this and takes on this artificial narrative - as it’s the only way she’ll be able to spend her final days with her beloved.

Do you think growing old alone will be a very depressing thing?

Only if it’s alone. I mean, you could stay young forever and be alone and that’d be just as depressing. Luckily for the male character in “The Nursing Home Jig,” even though he’s forgotten who his wife is, everyday he thinks he’s just met the most wonderful person, and gets to dance and be with them, so that’s kinda sweet. And for the female character, although the love of her life has no memory of their life together, that doesn’t mean he’s not still the same good man she fell in love with all those years ago. Life has just as many sweet moments as it does depressing ones.

You mentioned in your song “Bourgeois de Ville” that you often find yourself turning into someone you dislike at parties. Do you think pretending to be someone else is inevitable in social situations? How do you resolve the conflict between who you really are and who you act as in circumstances? Do you think people can stay who they are and still find community in the society?

Big questions on identity here. At parties people say stuff and we respond. There’s not a whole lot of time to think out every thought before we speak it, so sometimes we say what we mean and sometimes we just say what we think we’re supposed to say. So yes, inevitably from time to time we’ll pretend to be someone we’re not, and we’ll stand outside of ourselves thinking “How do I work this? Where is that large automobile? This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife.”

As for the second and third questions here, you resolve the conflict by spending some time with yourself every once in a while. See if all those things you do with your friends is still what you’d do by yourself. Community is essential to being human, but try not to need it so bad you end up drinking the Kool-Aid. It’s also about finding the people that you can be that true self around—surrounding yourself with the people who make you feel like you when you’re with them.

Is there a new single coming out this year? Could you tell us more about that?

We’ve got one more single coming out before we release the album. It’s called “Goodnight, Goodbye,” and we’re really excited about it. It’s the last song on the album and probably the song that’s most different from all the others. We wouldn’t even call it a punk song. It deals with alcoholism and manipulating loved ones, and uh yeah it’s probably better we don’t try to explain it to death.

Could you tell us more about your upcoming album next year? What should people expect?

The album will be coming out in April 2022, or as it’s now called “2020 2: The Rise of the Omicron,” and it’s gonna be a wild DIY punk ride start to finish. We started recording back in November of 2020 so you’ll get to hear how our sound and ability has evolved over all that time; kind of like a timestamp of us learning as we go. Undoubtedly fast and loose, and hopefully captures that energy we try to put into our live shows.

Any upcoming shows in the new year?

We’re excited to play at the New Colossus Festival March 9-13th!


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