Peter Hayes Of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Talks Rebellion, Rock, & Their New LP

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Peter Hayes is no stranger to the turbulence synonymous with a long career in rock. The band’s 15-year run seems to have entertained an ever-shifting balance of the good and bad – from great reviews touring the world, to bored critics, substance abuse, and everything between. The band’s most recent hurdle came with the devastating loss of Michael Been, founder of The Call, father of bandmate Robert Levon, touring sound manager, and overall inspiration.

However, light shines in with Specter at the Feast, the band’s sixth studio LP and arguably best work since Howl. We were lucky enough to encounter the soft-spoken wisdom and unaffected perspective of front man Peter Hayes backstage before their show at Terminal 5 to talk about the new album, rebellion, his thoughts on American Idol and The Voice, and the current state of rock.

Specter at the Feast is a welcome departure from a sound beginning to get stuck in a genre that was no longer necessarily exciting, but this album still has those psychedelic and sentimental elements so essential to your sound. Was this shift intentional or part of a natural progression?
It’s always intentional to try and do something different. We don’t want to repeat ourselves, and at the same time don’t want to be too concerned with sounding new because that’s a whole other world of bullshit.

One thing I love about this album is it functions as a unit, like a journey, something commonly forgotten amidst a landscape of disjointed mp3s, Pandora, etc. Is the album as an art form dissolving?
All we’ve got, really, is an album. We don’t have singles that last for too long as far as radio goes. It’s something that you think about in the process. If you happen to have a single, it has to be a certain time, a certain length, blah blah. If that happens to happen, then great, if it doesn’t, you still just want to write a good song. As far as putting it in an album, that’s the fun part of it, to try to make it have a point and have a song movement rather than just slapping songs together. But I guess it doesn’t particularly matter anymore, I can see how people don’t give a shit about it. I guess it’s unfortunate, but that’s their choice. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea to want to get involved in music on another level. It’s not for everybody.

You were in the rock band Brian Jonestown Massacre. How did the transition happen from BJM to BRMC?
Well, we already had this band going. Rob and I were playing music together, and we were fans of that band. I was floating around and saw it as an opportunity to see if I wanted to see what could be done with music, to see if I really wanted to do it. I took it as an opportunity to try and learn a little bit. And I did; I learned a lot. I went on their first US tour, did a bit of studio stuff, and then left when I didn’t feel like I was learning anymore. The transition was really that they were moving to Los Angeles [from San Francisco] at the time and one of their guitar players wasn’t willing to move, so I tried out.

Is Anton [Newcomb] really as crazy as he’s portrayed in Dig!?
(Laughs) No, no. I’ve met a lot of weird people. He’s a lovely dude. I think the girl that made that movie got a little too personal. She wanted to be friends and she crossed that line a lot. Then when she’d get angry, she’d… I mean, the shit happened. It’s on tape. You can’t deny it. But she missed a lot. She missed a whole big portion of how that whole tour ended. She kind of had to piece that together in a whole different way because she wasn’t there.

The band suffered a devastating loss with the passing of Michael Been, father of Robert Levon Been and former front man of The Call. How did this shape the album?
It’s a life experience, really. That’s all. We’re all going to have it, if we haven’t already. We tend to come at it more talking to the listener, with the idea being that the listener has already had the experience or is having one similar. It’s not about “here is us and here are our woes,” or my woes. It’s more “here’s ours, so let’s talk about it together.” It’s not about specifics for us in terms of music. But shaping it, yeah. He’s been involved since the very beginning when we were playing in his living room.

It’s been three years since your last album. How much of that time was spent writing and recording, and has the band’s process evolved through the years?
I guess about a year and a half or two of writing and recording. It was off and on. We went from rehearsal to try and piece it all together, throwing around ideas for a long time. Then that turned into picking songs. From there, we went into the studio, put down a few songs, 10 or 12, pieced together another 13, went into the studio again, put those 13, 14 together. We usually just go into the studio to do drums and take it home and do the guitars and vocals. Studios are pretty expensive. So that was LA, then we went to Santa Cruz and did a bunch there. As far as the process evolving, not really. Hopefully we’ve gotten better at recording a little bit. Really, you’re just hoping to write a good song.

You guys experienced a more methodical rise to notoriety, the opposite of Internet where seemingly anyone can pop overnight. How do you feel the Internet has affected music?
It’s a little bit of a confusing mess. On the one hand, there’s a lot you can discover for free or not free, whatever, it’s all open. The reality is, as much as people say they love music, that version of love is very different from person to person. There’s a community thing about it too. Like when somebody says “I love this,” you think “oh, I love it too,” or “I don’t.”  When you’re looking at it from the perspective of fame, it’s great because that’s gone, and that’s a good thing to me. That’s where music, rock n’ roll or whatever, lost its point and credibility a long time ago. Now that that’s not there I think it’s a great thing, and the Internet has kind of made it that. There’s no latching on to one thing anymore.

Do you think rock is being created or appreciated anymore, now that rap and electronic are so dominant? Or is rock always going to be created because it can really only be defined as rebellion?
I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think it’s been a worry for a long time that it’s going to go away, or the hope of a bunch of people that it’s going to die out. It’s not going anywhere. But the culture – there are going to be less and less people that give a shit about it maybe, but that all depends on how it’s presented, and how the band presents itself too. I really believe that there’s a reason why it’s kept in a particular place. I subscribe to the following: if you control the arts you control the people. Rebellion is just fucking thought to me. So anything that’s sparking that is not wanted. It’s not going to help with what those folks want. So it’s nice to have things all scatterbrained on the Internet. Keep things this and that. And keep people away from it. Keep people voting for the next American Idol or whatever the fuck, Dancing with the fucking Stars, The Voice, you know. It’s all there for a purpose and its purpose is fucked. You just have to be aware of it and not support it.

Just don’t get cable.
(Laughs) Yeah.

So what’s next?
We’ve got another four weeks of a US tour and we got offered some festivals over in Europe, five or six. Then after that, who knows. We could be gone in a week, then have to figure out what to do with life after that. 

Listen to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s music, & read more on Lindsay MaHarry here

Kreayshawn Opens Up About Fame, The Game, And Growing Up Punk

Kreayshawn is no stranger to controversy. The 22-year-old Oaklandite, who rocketed to fame with her 2011 viral smash "Gucci Gucci," has always had more detractors than fans. Whether she’s being celebrated as a sub-genre pioneer, trashed as a phony, championed by girls around the world, or panned by the blogosphere, one things for certain: she’s doing something worth talking about. 

The Group Hug tour, a nation-wide jaunt promoting her first LP, Something ‘Bout Kreay, pulled into Irving Plaza on Thursday. The result: one big room full of excited little girls. The show was fantastic, cute, and fun, like a revival of ‘90s Girl Power with more eyeliner and swearing. 

Having always found her oddly polarizing, I was interested to meet the girl who so famously called out Rick Ross for being a phony and dissed Nicki Minaj on her first mix tape. I was expecting someone brash, loud and opinionated. But who I met was soft spoken, thoughtful, and unaffected. Kreayshawn just knows her audience. The music she makes is for young girls to bounce to, not for Pitchfork to analyze. She has remained in many ways a positive figure for girls who are constantly subjected to the slutty party songs. They’re better off wearing a beanie and hoop earrings than trying to pull off Rihanna-sized shorts. You either get it or you don’t. Kreayshawn doesn’t care either way. 

We spoke with her backstage her before her set on her past, her new album, and everything in-between. 

What was it like growing up in East Oakland, and how “hood” was it?
It’s really ghetto, but at the same time there’s a sense of community. It’s not like everyone’s out to get each other. There’s the dangerous stuff like drugs, like pimps and hoes and gangs and stuff. If you’re trying to get into the wrong stuff it’s really easy to do that. 

Growing up in that setting, do you find it insensitive when people assume you’re a faker because you’re white?
Kind of. They don’t know what I’ve seen. They see a white girl and they say, "Oh she’s rich, her dad probably bought her a car," or some ridiculous shit, and it’s just not true. A lot of people that came from Bosnia look white as hell and over there they have nothing. It’s not fair to condense people into categories like that. 

You’re mom was in The Trashwomen. Was your house a punk house or did she keep it separate?
Oh yeah, it was like leopard-print everything, Elvis posters, Virgin Mary decals….

How do you think that influenced you in the long run?
It made it normal to be weird. Everything that I do is normal to me; anything that comes of weird or quirky to me is just normal. 

How did the transition from directing videos to rapping take place? Did you set out to become a famous rapper?
It just kind of happened. I had been making music forever, but I never made music with the intention of getting a record deal. I never thought of that. When it happened I was just like, woah. People are always like, "So, what did you do to get to this moment?" I don’t even know. It just kind of happened. 

This tour has a great line-up in that it seems to be pure you, like you basically brought your girlfriends on tour. Was this your decision? Was there any pressure to link up with a bigger act to ensure the success the tour?
My main goal was to have it be an all-girl tour. I saw Rye Rye before through watching M.I.A.’s stuff. Me and Chippy have known each other; I directed a video for her and she’s on my album. Honey Cocaine [is someone] I’ve always been a fan of. So yeah, it just happened that way. 

Your album released to less-than-ecstatic reviews, but it seems to me they’re just taking it too seriously. What’s you’re response to them, and how seriously do you take your work?
It’s just for fun. It’s always been my way of having fun. I’m the one who got signed for that kind of music, and Columbia was like, "Do whatever you want." I wasn’t really making the music to impress the blog community, because then all my fans would be like, "You’re boring now." There wouldn’t be lines of thirteen-year-old girls outside my concert; it’d be hip hop-conscious guys or something. 

You broke out really fast through the Internet, and through that you got a record deal. Do you feel popularity on the Internet’s sufficient enough to make it? Do people even need record deals any more?
It’s hard because on the Internet something is forgotten in 24 hours. A video might be cool and get a hundred thousand views, but in two days you’re like, "Complex tweeted my thing! Awesome!" and then, like… that’s it. But it’s all about personal levels. I’ve already exceeded my personal level of success. It’s more about how high you set your goals. 

Do you feel your extremely rapid rise to fame will affect the longevity of your career?
On my own, directing and stuff, I’ve been slowly building and releasing stuff online. I don’t know what my peak is, I don’t know if my peak happened already, or if I’m in it now, you know what I’m saying?

Do you think the total accessibility of your material hurt your album sales?
Yeah, that, and they only stocked the album at Hot Topic…

Yeah, what was up with that?
I don’t know. The label thought it would be a good idea or something. It sucks because my manager, he puts out records for all kinds of Bay Area artists, and he was saying I could have gotten more records sold knowing his connections at Amoeba and Rasputin and stuff—just local stores. So it just sucks because people still hit me, like my mom doesn’t have a copy… I just got a copy. And on top of that they only stocked five every time. So people would be like, "Oh, I finally made it to Hot Topic, but it was sold out." 

Fame now seems to be about dissolving the barrier between you and your fans. Does it ever get tiring, constantly sharing yourself with the world like that?
Yeah, I’ve kind of fallen back from being a constant presence because that’s how I’ve gotten myself in trouble a lot with shit-talking or beef where it’s just misunderstandings on the internet. 

Is the Rick Ross beef still a thing?
No, definitely not. (laughs)

Your new album is more poppy than previous releases. This seems to be an emerging trend in rap in general. Where do you see the intersection of rap and pop laying, and is it dissolving?
For me, every song was supposed to be a popular version of a sub-genre that I like. There’s a New Orleans-inspired track, but it’s, like, the safe version. A lot of my stuff is dancier because I was working with one person at the time and he loves dance breakdowns. I’m all down for the dance breakdown until I’m on stage and I can’t dance and I’m just like, heyyyyyyyy

With this current intersection of hipster culture, pop music, total materialism, and rap, do you think gangsta rap is even being made anymore?
It is somewhere, for sure. Maybe the definition of gangster music might have changed also, but there’s always going to be everything being recorded. 

Being so West Coast, how do you feel about New York? 
I’m a real California girl. It’s really hard for me; I get anxiety in the streets. But driving around right now, it’s super nice, all crispy and wintery. It kind of reminds me of San Francisco, but times a million. 

Photo by Brooke Nipar

New York Rock Trio Skaters Are Ready for Their Big Break

New York-based trio Skaters are about to explode. With members from L.A. bands Dead Trees and Little Joy, and the guitarist of U.K. phenomenon The Paddingtons, the three chose to meet in the middle, geographically and stylistically, to record an EP in New York. They never left.

The result, Schemers, is available for free on their website, providing a refreshing contrast to the $1.29-per-track iTunes deathtrap or the virus-ridden MediaFire shot in the dark. They’ve been steadily gaining momentum, playing at least one show a month and premiering videos and promoting shows on places like Interview, Vice, and Nylon. This week’s New York Times profile and a headlining show tonight at Webster Hall Studio mark a new high for the band. 

I spoke with singer Michael Ian Cummings on living in the city, preparing for the show at Webster Hall, and what we can expect from Skaters in the coming months.

So Skaters is from New York. How do you feel the constant onslaught of stimulation affects your sound?
It’s probably the reason we can’t write slow songs. The energy of New York is totally inescapable—you can’t fight it. It’s better to roll with it. You go hard ‘til you crash in New York City. 

How would you describe your music?
I try not to as much as possible. In my slightly biased point of view, I’d say we are like a modern punk band with eclectic and somewhat esoteric influences ranging from ska to tropicallia.   

What are your influences, musical and otherwise?
I’m influenced a lot by the city and its people. Walking down the street here is like going to the theater. There’s never a dull moment, and I find myself constantly gaining new insight and inspiration from being around the people. Musically, I’m all over the place. I have my go-to records, of course, but I also keep up on modern pop and new rock acts. Sometimes it’s just as important to listen for what not to do.

You’re starting a zine. Can you talk a bit about that?
We are releasing our first zine called “YONKS” tonight at our show at Webster Hall. The zine will be a way to showcase our favorite artists and friends work to our fans. Many of the people in the zine have done a lot of work with the band already. We really wanted to recognize our community of super talented friends.

You guys gave away your first EP, Schemers, for free. Why?
We just wanted people to hear it. No one is getting rich here. It’s better for us to keep control and give it away openly then force people to download it illegally or through the iTunes middleman. More people will hear it this way, and that’s what really matters.

How is your headlining show at Webster Hall going to differ from your frequent monthly shows around the city?
It’s going to be our biggest show to date. We’re pulling out all the stops. I guess you will just have to show up and see for yourself!

What can we look forward to from you guys this year?
A new record, many music videos, our first tour, a few more zines, and a lot of partying.

Are you skaters?
Figure skaters, maybe. Nope, can’t do that either!

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: A Dive Grows in Clubland

Legion straddles the line between dive bar and a club by the area’s standards. It pops off on the weekends, dance floor and all, but still works as a slightly depressing daytime joint. On Metropolitan towards Bushwick, it’s one of the last bits of hipster before Williamsburg fades into projects and 99-cent stores, making it convenient to both areas.

With exposed brick, wood floors, and appropriately dark lighting, it’s a solid space. A side door leads to an outdoor smoking area, perfect for cooling off or sneaking in. The giant front room segues into a thin hallway, and then there’s the back room. It’s private and windowless, perfect for shows. They used to book local punk bands in the back there, but it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. I’m pretty sure it’s mostly used for their weekly ‘90s sing-alongs. I’ve heard they’re fun. 

The crowd can go really any which way. As I said, it’s kind of clubby, so it depends of whether there is a promoter and a DJ with a name or if it’s just a normal bar night. Yuppies mix with punk kids, local weirdos, and hipsters. Everyone generally seems to have a good time, but it does harbor its share of douchebag lay-hounds so ladies, beware.

Best part: cheap drinks. Drafts run from $3 (Atomic) to $6 (Guinness). There’s no normal cheep beers on tap, which I find questionable but one with a more developed pallet may not. Sols are $5, Buds are $4, Rolling Rocks are $3. They boast the obligatory dive special: $5 for a beer and a well shot. With dirty bar prices in a pretty nice spot, one can’t complain. 

Go on the weekends when you don’t really feel like "going out" but still want to have a good time. Don’t forget your ID as they door guy’s a bit of an ass, and it’s cash only so no tabs—which is probably a good thing. 

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Dive Meets Class at The Midway

The Midway is a hipster dive, meaning that though it’s aesthetically intentional and void of death door alcoholics, it’s still dark and cheap. The crowd generally falls somewhere between indie kids and yuppies dressed up as hipsters, which fits perfectly with its Grand and Roebling location, a strip where after downing a three-dollar Highlife you can go next door and have a hundred-dollar dinner. It’s a great place to grab a drink before a meal when you don’t necessarily have the funds to spring for a $15 cocktail. 

While the outside isn’t much to look at—a stone facade with a large dark window and a door that’s always open—the inside is really quite nice. The front room is has dark wood floors and walls. Thick Christmas lights string around onto the exposed brick to break up the darkness. A line of vintage arcade games sit opposite the bar, with everything from standbys like Ms. Pac-Man and Buck Hunter to Galaga and whatever Bugs is.

The bar is backed with mirrors and retains class with its absence of annoying kitsch, only adorned by a line of one-dollar bills, three fake daffodils, and a small wooden dinosaur skull. There is almost always a seat open, even later at night, and the drinks are modestly priced; five bucks for a Highlife and Old Crow or Tecate and tequila, three-dollar Highlifes all the time, five dollars for Guiness, Brooklyn Lager and the like, and six dollars for Smutty Nose pints; pretty average dive prices, but especially good for a neighborhood with a high tolerance for smugness. 

The elevated back room is a nice mix of sketch and class. Chunky rainbow lights fade into small red strands that undulate above dark leather booths lining the wall. Candles burn in the corner of every surface. Graffiti picks up considerably in the back room, but most walls remain clean. A large pool table sits in the center of the room and always seems to spark the only conflict plaguing this otherwise mellow establishment. The only issue I’ve had despite a few game-related arguments is that there is terrible cell service in the place and basically none at all in the back room, which can pose some problems. 

Overall, it’s a great bar for the neighborhood. For the area, the prices are fantastic and it’s calm enough on a party block that it can be enjoyed even on the weekends. There are a lot of private little nooks to sit in making it a great date spot or a place to simply catch up with a friend. Go in the winter or the summer; its dark insularity makes it work for both. And, most importantly, they have great AC!

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Cool Off at Coal Yard

With black walls, cold air, and people you don’t necessarily want to fuck with, Coal Yard Bar is aptly named. Despite being relatively new, it feels like it’s been there forever and works as a great First Avenue get-away. No one’s there you don’t want to see and neither is anyone you do. It’s almost worth a duck just to avoid the Indian Food Row hecklers across the street.

Coal Yard’s the sister establishment to International Bar, located a few blocks up the street. The resemblance is palpable, mostly in that the drinks are cheap and the place is not that dirty—at least it seems that way, as most everything inside is black. There’s no TV, no games, no alternate forms of entertainment besides the jukebox, so it’s really up to you to have yourself a time. The bar takes up most of the space, though the room is quite large. It lines the right side, wrapping into the wall towards the back. There are few alternate seats. It is a bar, after all. The vibe is pretty no-nonsense. 

And so are the prices! Their happy hour is killing it. Four bucks for a shot of Evan Williams and a Rolling Rock, and the same for most fancy drafts. On any given hour it’s $5 for said shot/beer combo and drafts. Three dollars for only Rolling Rock and other cheap American beers—most on draft are $2 before eight, and $3 after. Wells run around $4, neat.

Basically Coal Yard is a great anytime bar. In the summer, it’s cool. Winter, warm. The backyard is kind of prison-like (gravel and cement-block square with lots of backward ventilation, which is a little weird), so don’t expect too much. What you should expect are big drinks, cheap prices, and funny people. Go before you go out. It’s perfect for the novelty of hanging out with creepy old bikers and kids wearing band shirts all at once. Plus, if you get hungry there’s always the McDonald’s next door. 

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Take Your Chances at Second Chance Saloon

Grand Street’s Second Chance Saloon falls on the nicer side of dive with a punky twist. Animal skulls, drink specials, and a general lack of pretension make it a great low-key hang out for any time of the day or night. Its vicinity to many Brooklyn venues deems it a known after-show hangout, so go grab a beer after sweating in a mosh pit. 

Living up to the name, it feels very much like a saloon. Clean maroon walls are adorned with only a few choice pieces: a mounted wooden eagle, some antique mirror, skulls and a Melvins poster. The room is quite large, with the bar stretching down the left side of the space just past the dart alley. Big black booths line the left, dispersing into chairs and tables as they near the pool table. Pool is cheap, but it’s usually surrounded by regulars whom I assume are responsible for the number of pool trophies scattered about, making it difficult to sneak a game. No worries though; there’s always Big Buck Hunter. And if big game shooting isn’t your thing, the jukebox is very good and some social oriented board games are available. 

Even aside from the autographed Dick Dale photo fondly scrawled to Second Chance Saloon, the bar is awesome. They have a fantastically extensive tequila selection, and very modest prices. Two bucks for a Rolling Rock at all times, $5 for a shot and a Highlife, and $6 for a shot of Jaeger and a Budweiser. Most drafts, of which they have a large array, are $5. Their house beer, Second Chance Lager, goes for $4, and a lone Highlife is $3. It’s the type of place you can walk into with some pocket change and then have a tough time walking out of. A lot of drinks end up on the house.  

The gravel back yard is perfect for summer. Picnic benches and a shaded round table provide a lot of seating, and they’re known to throw impromptu free BBQs when the weather’s especially nice. You can even bring your dog! They have toys, treats, and plenty of room to fetch. So, go! Especially if it’s your birthday because with ID you’ll drink free all night. It’s great in the days and evenings. Depending on what you’re into, the nights are fun and just a little rowdier. And if you really want to see what the place is all about, go after a metal show when it’s totally packed.

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Summertime at the Bushwick Country Club

The Buswhick Country Club‘s got it down. Having just celebrated their 15th anniversary—a feat for a Grand Street bar—there’s no better place to loll away the summer. Their mixture of fun, cheap drinks, and silly activities can’t be beat. It’s the perfect place to cool off with the "slush du jour," have a hot dog, and lose a game of mini golf.

The motif can best be described as a haggard spoof on a country club with all the fun with none of the snoot. Inside, it’s divey without being filthy. The walls are a mix of red and exposed brick, the ceiling’s antique tin and the floor’s a beautiful dark stone. Sheer retro curtains and mismatched furniture add to the flavor, and the accumulated trinkets are fitting. An old box of cereal, lava lamps, a three-foot plastic snowman, one grape Four Loko: all appropriately kitsch and not at all contrived. 

Speaking of what’s behind the bar, their number of drink specials is ridiculous! They take the beer shot deal to the next level: $6 for Tecate and tequila, $7 for Fernet and highlife (classy), and $6 for a 16 oz. PBR and a show of Old Crow whiskey (add a pickle back for $1). They’re all good deals. Then there’s the funny stuff, like $8 for a carafe of sake, $9 for a 17 oz. bottle of gluten-free beer (hipsters rejoice!), and $6 for an alcoholic slushy (the staples are Jim Beam and Coke and sweet tea and vodka, but there’s also a "slush du jour" which seems to be whatever the bartender feels like slushing together that day). 

But what really makes BCC the ultimate summertime bar is the backyard. The front area of it is cemented and lined with elementary school desks, plastic chairs, and a wall bench upholstered with AstroTurf, which is surprisingly pleasant to sit on. Two hulking barbecues sit, used for their famous daytime cook-outs. Sections of shade are provided by dangling willow branches that become denser over the decrepit mini golf course. It’s free to play and impossible not to cheat. The balls are hollow plastic and the holes are extremely ambitious. One involves going through a windmill made of flattened PBR cans, and at another you have to make it into a tiny hole up an old kiddie slide then come out an old metal freezer full of leaves. Yeah, right. But it’s totally fun nonetheless, and its impracticality eliminates competition so everyone wins. 

Overall, it’s just a great bar. The location is central to all relevant areas of Brooklyn, there are games, and free cheesy poofs. Go in the day or the night, but definitely make it before summer is over. It’s cheap as hell, humorous without being corny, and kitschy without being forced. What more could you want?

Dumps, Dives, & Holes: Only the Brave Make It Out of Blarney Cove

Walking into Blarney Cove is like entering some sort of beer-soaked, ashy twilight where everyone is old and baseball is always on. While this description fits countless dives around America, for this to exist in the current state of the East Village is, to say the least, increasingly rare. 

Located on 14th street just off Avenue A, the bar serves a staple for the area’s dwindling community of aging day drunks. All the regulars know each other, and whether they get along or not depends on the topics at hand and the amount consumed. As an insular community, their bickering functions as collective entertainment. It’s when the hipsters and yuppies try to blend that they begin not taking too kindly, aware of the invasion of those who’ve transformed the area from a neighborhood (however sketchy it may have been, it was still home to many) to what it is today: boutiques and cocktail lounges with rent pushing $3000 a month. It’s not that you can’t have fun at Blarney—some of the people are great and you can have an amazing time—you just might find yourself in some sticky situations as night begins to fall. 

The bar is extremely narrow—a hallway really, and it becomes very dark in the back due to some broken lights. Besides the juke box and ATM at the front area, which could serve as a tiny dance floor if everyone gets drunk enough, there’s just enough room to squeeze behind bar stools. Except for on weekends, people don’t really stand near the bar; if you can’t find a seat, I suggest you head out. The walls are paneled wood on the bottom with thick green and cream stripes on top—very Irish. Behind the long linoleum "wood" bar sits liquor amongst numerous patriotic decorations (Fourth of July is approaching, and their decorations remain holiday appropriate) framed by lacquered stone and mirrors. 

Blarney Cove is pretty cheap, but not cheap in the way that draws in an unwanted college crowd looking to experience a piece of Old New York. I once asked if they had a shot and beer special and the bartender said sure, for nine dollars—four for the beer bottle and five for the shot. Generally drinks run around four or five dollars, and the pitchers that come in thin plastic buckets are about fourteen, more or less depending on what you get. They have all the regulars on tap and in bottles—pretty much everything you would expect that’s not fancy. 

But don’t go to Blarney just for the cheap drinks; go for the unbelievable cast of characters. Everyone in there is hilarious, creepy, terrifying, or absurd (or all of the above). When you combine all this into one dark and drunken hallway, crazy things are bound to happen. Even the bartenders are quite the bunch. So far I’ve encountered an Irish broad with a bad dye-job who tried to overcharge me for almost every drink, this cool old guy named Popeye who encompasses everything you want your dive bartender to be, a tough chick from South Brooklyn who dresses like a tween and loves "club bangas," and my personal favorite, a witchy woman who must have been pushing eighty shrouded in various black garb with lightening bolts coming from her eyes drawn in eyeliner. 

However eccentric the bartenders may be, they don’t hold a candle to the customers. Here’s the line up last Monday evening: a middle aged Irish guy with his girl grinding to the Three Six Mafia he played on the jukebox, a stoic and at times sleeping ninety-year-old woman in the far dark corner, a fat guy trying (and failing) to chat up said Irish guy’s girl when she grew tired from dancing with her man, and finally the creep directly to my left in a news cap and horn-rimmed glasses who whispered, “My son’s school costs five hundred thousand dollars a year," among other things, only becoming animate when Derek Jeter messed up the Yankees game. While I have no qualms with the weird or insane, I call the latter a creep because when a psychotic prostitute, who I’d recognized from when she tried to fight me for brushing against one of her customers last summer, burst in and bee-lined him, proceeding to hang all over him until they disappeared to the bathroom ten minutes while the bartender watched her purse. Charming! But that’s what you get when you go to the Blarney Cove, and that’s why people love it. It’s a no-frills dive, a peek into the area’s past, which is why so many people flooded the area to begin with: to experience New York’s unadulterated grit. If you can’t take the heat, stay out the cove!