A half a dozen emails and a bunch of texts were a waste as tech problems plagued what was otherwise a stupendous party last night at Yotel. There were three DJs. I needed CDs, Roxy Cottontail, turntables, and Guy Furrow just needed a Serato hook up. I was stunned by minutes that seemed like centuries as techies fumbled with wires. My mood reflected in my set; I have to learn not to let the tech problems, the bad song requesters, and other distractions affect me. I am, after all, a professional disc jockey. Lady Starlight was scheduled as well, but a last minute bit of confusion sent her elsewhere. I caught her as she was leaving and I was arriving. She was fabulous head-to-toe and with a brilliant smile. I’m trying to reschedule to spin with her and interview her as well. Patrick Duffy put together last night’s shindig and he is just undeniable. The crowd was beautiful, fun, and dressed up.
Yesterday I told you guys that Tuesdays in this town are off the hook. I can never decide between Frankie Sharp’s Westgay party at Westway and Lyle Derek’s Dropout bash at W.i.P. Westgay is beyond, beyond for those who are in the know – and I guess that now includes you. Tonight, resident DJ maniac Jon Jon Battles is joined by JD Samson. Amanda Lepore is there as well doing…well, Amanda Lepore things. Lyle Derek has Lady Starlight at W.i.P. in her first live show in …well…ever. There will be a DJ set by CREEP. I just must be there or there but alas, I will be elsewhere.
"This night has been a constant work in progress between Raff & myself. We wanted to not only have a reading, but a show. A tribute to the New York EV life, & years gone by, literature, comedy, burlesque with a splash of Rock N Roll all over it. We wanted real talent, which is most of our good friends, so it was hard deciding who we could scramble together to fit in on our bill. I am honored to say that we are truly proud of our all star line up. Raff & I promise you a real outlaw, loud, music inspired, hilarious bunch of performances, really entertaining, & all you have to do is just show up!"
The great rocker/poet Neil Young once offered "Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die.” And he’s right. Rock hasn’t died after 50 years of rolling around and mayhem and scandal and death and reinvention. It still sells out stadiums with this year’s Rolling Stones and Aerosmith tours leading the way. There might be dozens of rock acts that can sell out a stadium, yet in the most financially successful nightclubs in town, rock is a not the go-to genre. House in the form of electronic dance music, and hip-hop often housed in open format or mash-up DJ sets, are far more common. Pop is king with Rihanna and Adele et. all getting requested more often than a hot dog at Nathan’s Famous. The DJs invariably comply.
A good friend who knows way more than I do about this sort of stuff says there are only two, maybe three, hip-hop artists that can sell out a stadium. Electronic dance music (EDM) has its superstars like Tiesto and Avicii and others who can sell out small European countries, but can just-now attract tens of thousands in the US of A to warm weather festivals and such. EDM is growing exponentially and is heard in all the ginormous Vegas clubs and big-buck NYC joints.
Rock – which is heard everywhere in movies, commercials, and hip boutiques, and fashion events – has few clubs that embrace it because the bottle- buying public is thought to reject it. The DJs say that rock is in their mixes, but it’s offered with a new beat a new remix that doesn’t scratch my itch. It is recognizable beneath the bells and whistles but often just as a sample played by someone who really doesn’t understand it. My rock is sleazier, harder, and meaningful. I find it at Electric Room, The Bowery Electric, Hotel Chantelle, and Lit Lounge whenever I can. Rock scenes sometimes seethe just under the surface of a city. Then all of a sudden there is a sound or a movement, and there’s suddenly a dozen or more great bands getting all sorts of attention. It has happened in Seattle, Portland, Austin, and Athens, Georgia, and in NYC a dozen times.
There is a scene bubbling up now and The Dirty Pearls are poising to break out. They have songs that sound like hits and work tirelessly to break out. Photographer Lela Edgar, who I tasked to shoot this image, spent a day rockin’ and rollin’ with them. I caught up with Tommy London and Marty E of The Dirty Pearls.
The Dirty Pearls are making a mark. How do you get from where you are now …call it point A to point C, as in “C the money?”
Tommy London: When we started out, we hit the streets passing out flyers, CDs, and preaching the gospel of The Dirty Pearls. Of course we utilized the social networks like everyone else, but we felt that one-on-one meeting with people out and about was most important. The shows got bigger and bigger, from Arlene’s Grocery to Bowery Ballroom to Gramercy to Irving Plaza! It’s been an amazing climb. We then went for the ripple effect, playing everywhere we could outside the perimeter of NYC. Philly, Delaware, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, etc…all making our mark with our show and songs. We even took a few trips to the West Coast to show them some NYC rock ‘n’ roll. I knew the buzz was getting really strong when national acts started asking us to open for them in and outside of NYC. Artists such as KISS, Jet, Filter, Bret Michaels, Third Eye Blind, New York Dolls, Andrew WK, and many others have requested The ‘Pearls to open the show!
But now our focus is to take this even bigger! We have been concentrating on playing a lot more regular shows outside of NYC, making high-profile venues, like The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, a new regular home base for The ‘Pearls. We’ve received a lot of great press on our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not" from a ton of major music magazine/blog sites, as well as airplay on local, satellite, and internet radio. Most recently we received an email from a radio station in Italy that has us on regular rotation and asked us to do giveaways since the fans kept calling in and requesting The Dirty Pearls. Last year, the now-defunct WRXP 101.9 here in NYC had us in rotation. They even broadcasted our live concert from Webster Hall during primetime radio hours. DMC (of Run-DMC) came and jammed "Walk This Way" with us on stage. We were the first unsigned band EVER in history to get a commercial-free half-hour to broadcast a live concert on the radio. It was truly a magical night.
And of course all these things lead to point C or as you put it "Point C The Money.” Most recently we’ve had our music featured in various television programs and on the new "Tap Tap" video game for the iPhone/Droid that is due to come out this October. We’ve also received a lot of major interest in our new album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” that we recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Kahne. I’m looking forward to seeing where that leads and what heights it will take us to next.
What should people who don’t know you listen to first, and where is your sound going?
TL: You can hear a few of our songs on our website. But for first listen, I’d say check out "New York City Is A Drug". It represents everything we stand for, feel, and our #1 inspiration for music/lifestyle: New York City.
Marty E: I’d say to look no further than our album "Whether You Like It Or Not,” which you can get via our website…if you want a good sample of what you’ll get from that, check out our video for "Who’s Coming Back To Who" on YouTube.
As for where our sound is going, I’d say that we always strive for bigger hooks, bigger melodies, and bigger beats, while still keeping everything rocking and rolling.
Tell me about the NYC rock scene. Where do people find it…any secret spots?
ME: Well, if it’s a secret, why should we tell?
TL: We actually did this interview in a secret location! Shhhh!
ME: Seriously, there are very few places for rock ‘n’ rollers to hang out. We always go to St. Jerome’s, Three of Cups, Motor City Bar, Welcome to the Johnson’s, Manitoba’s, The Trash Bar in Brooklyn, and of course the big rock party on Thursdays at Hotel Chantelle.
TL: I always say you don’t find the NYC rock scene…it finds you! But all the places Marty mentioned are the places to go to really connect with the right people you can vibe with. The rock scene in NYC is alive and well, more than ever actually. All the bands have come together and have their own sound/style but yet still blend together. It’s really a strong tight-knit community and we are really proud to be a part of it. But when I say community I don’t just mean musicians; I mean just rock music lovers in general who love to talk, sing, dance, and party to good rock ‘n’ roll.
On stage you are rock stars… I saw you guys at the Gramercy…sold out, adoring fans. Is it 24/7 365, and when you make it will you change?
TL: Yeah, I have to admit we have the best fans. They come to the shows dressed in their Dirty Pearls swag and singing along to every song. It’s such an amazing feeling. Honestly, it’s the fans who make us feel/look like a rock star when we are up on stage. It’s such an amazing high when you give the energy and receive it right back from them. It’s the reason why we do it. As for us changing, I can’t see that ever happening. Our heads are in the clouds but our feet are always on the ground.
ME: I give rock ‘n’ roll 100 percent all the time… whether that makes me a "rock star,” I’m not sure, but I always hope to shine one way or another. I hope that I never change, unless it involves getting better.
You are a top NYC band…who else is likely to break out?
TL: There are so many bands on this scene who have the potential of breaking out. I don’t want to name any names because if I leave one out by mistake I’ll look like an asshole! But I truly believe that as soon as one band breaks through, the rest will funnel through as well. I think the whole scene kind of believes in that philosophy too. There’s a lot of support and love in the NYC rock scene. Friendly competition too, but that’s healthy and keeps you on your toes to always play your "A" game.
ME: What’s great about NYC rock ‘n’ roll is that everyone is doing their own thing and growing in their own ways. The whole point is perseverance and consistency. I’m proud of everything our band and our friends’ bands have accomplished.
How do you market yourselves?
ME: We pounded the pavement from day one, when we handed out fliers on the street, and it really worked. Lately, it’s been more about social networks, I think. Twitter has to be the best marketing tool I’ve ever seen yet. We’re always looking for new ways. Half the battle is getting the word out!
TL: Yeah, we would hit everywhere and just talk with people, give them info on the band and any gig we were playing. We put our stickers anywhere they would stick, and hang posters all around too. When we first started we felt that everyone relied on the internet to just plug, which we did too. But no one was really giving out flyers anymore because it was just easier to post online. We wanted people to go home and wake up the next day with a DP flyer in their pocket or on their dresser. That’s how we originally built the band. Marty and I would go out and pick spots in the scene and spots outside the scene to hit and preach about The ‘Pearls. It worked!
Unlike many bands, you guys have some really great songwriting. Tell me about the process.
TL: Thanks so much for the compliment. I always feel a band is only as good as their songs. I always said to the band, we aren’t the stars of the show…the songs are! As for the process, one of our guitar players (Tommy Mokas & Sunny Climbs) and I will get together, build a strong chorus, work melodies, hooks, and structure.
ME: Then we all roll it and pole it and kick the shit out of it and mark it with a D-P!
Your new album, "Whether You Like It Or Not" was produced by Grammy Award- winning Producer David Kahne. How did that come about and tell us about the experience.
TL: Our manager had worked with David in the past and sent him our music. He heard the songs and loved them! He reached out and asked if we’d be interested in him producing our album and we were like uhhh…..YEA! I mean David has produced everyone from Sublime to The Strokes to Paul McCartney and more! It was an honor and privilege to work with him and be part of the roster of talent he has worked with. He really brought our songs to life, as well as made us better musicians and songwriters.
ME: Absolutely. Not only did David make us improve ourselves as musicians, but he also made us look at songs and music very differently, especially in terms of arrangements, hooks, melodies, and the way each component of the band contributes to the big machine. It is a very meticulous process, to say the least. I came out of the recording process a much more knowledgeable, well-rounded, and believe it or not, humbled musician.
What’s next for The Dirty Pearls?
ME: The Dirty Pearls are going to save rock n roll and take over the world! So keep checking our website for updates on shows and the latest news on The ‘Pearls!
Yesterday’s article about the club fire in Brazil that killed at least 232 people got some attention. I will be appearing on channel 11 WPIX as a guest of Arturo Chi’en, talking about nightclub safety in New York. I may ruffle a few feathers with what I have to say. For the purpose of clarification, let me declare that I do not oppose universal dancing in New York’s licensed premises. I do, however, believe that places that opt for dancing must make some adjustments for public safety. When people are dancing, they’re often distracted beyond the point where a fire would be noticed in time for them to flee. Large, loud bands also provide such distractions. In both the case of the Rhode Island fire which killed 100 people and Saturday night’s tragedy in Brazil, pyrotechnics lit soundproofing materials, and the patrons didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.
A cabaret license requires a fire suppression system that calls the fire department automatically when sprinkler heads are activated. The fire department, local community boards, the Buildings Department, and even the Health Department get involved and must approve of dance permits. Background checks for security personnel are asked for. More rigid exit strategies and training are also part of it. Proving that the noise from sound systems will not disturb neighbors is also considered. I believe anyone who wants a permit to dance should be able to obtain one easily, but compliance with basic safety procedures is necessary. The large dance clubs all comply. They all have cabaret licenses.
Now that mid-sized venues and even small bars have DJs and dancing, there is a concern that a tragedy may occur. The big clubs have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to comply, while the smaller spots may not be able to afford to purchase all the systems necessary. A happy median must be reached before another Happy Land-type event takes place. The rules are not there to prevent people from dancing but to ensure safety when they do. It’s all fun and games until hundreds of people get hurt or killed.
Tonight I will be at The Bowery Electric (327 Bowery at Joey Ramone Pl.) for Strummerville NYC. Best known as the lead singer of the Clash, Joe Strummer was a large part of the 1980s punk scene. I spent some days and nights with gentleman Joe, and I cherish that time. We spent about a week together back in ’87. I think I lost the virtues of my wife in a drinking game with him. Tequila was the culprit. I saw him waiting on line to pay at a club in London once and couldn’t think of another rock star that would ever wait and pay. Joe wasn’t just a rock star; he was an activist, and his music was not limited to rock. He visited me at a joint I had on E. 2nd St. called the World and came upstairs to see Xaviera Gold sing Ralphi Rosario’s house music hit "You Used to Hold Me.” Joe’s entourage at the time poo-poo’d the non-rock offering, but Joe corrected them. We all hung out with the wonderful Xaviera after the show. His early death in December 2002 didn’t shock many but left us all a little short.
Over 30 guest musicians have signed on for tonight’s tribute:
H.R. (Bad Brains)
Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem)
Ivan Julian (cowriter/musician the classic “Sandinista” Clash album)
Jesse Malin (D-Generation)
Leo Mintek (Outernational)
Walter Lure (Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, The Waldos)
Mick Stitch (the Threads)
The So So Glos
Shannon Funchess (Light Asylum)
Vanessa Bley (Beast Patrol/Twin Danger)
Felice Rosser (Faith)
Aaron Lee Tasjan (Madison Square Gardeners)
Michelle Casilass (Ursa Minor)
Jack Ridley (The Threats)
Mike Montali (Hollis Brown)
Jasno Swarez (The Vandelles)
The Young Things,
and many more.
With a week to go before the big show, clubs must compete with Christmas parties at unique venues where free booze will flow. In fact, it’s pretty easy to get all liquored up in this town without spending cash money as long as you diligently RSVP to the right events. Many clubs are getting people through the doors, but the spend is not there as these holiday soirees eat into revenues and people are hoarding cash for Christmas gifts.
Tonight you can enjoy Russian Standard Vodka at the Bo Concept holiday party at 105 Madison Avenue. This affair is hosted by bon vivant photographer Patrick McMullan, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, Michelle Park, and Niki and Shaokao Cheng. The music will be by Lady Bunny, who is riding yet another 15 minutes of fame after being used by Adam Sandler in a sight gag during his 12/12/12 routine. The party will unveil “the new collection of Swedish Underwear Brand, Frank Dandy modeled by New York Swim Team. You must RSVP. “ After Bingo at Hotel Chantelle, where Stoli will try to sway me, I might head over to the Jane Hotel to listen to DJ Wonder and Bianca Linta as I play ping pong. This is a New York vs Sweden shindig and I may seek out aquavit and such.
Tonight I am desperate to attend Big Sexy Noise performance at The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery at 2nd Street. Big Sexy Noise features the New York no wave singer, poet, actress, and performance artist Lydia Lunch and ex-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds guitarist James Johnston. This is post-punk nirvana and I’m there.
Tomorrow night, an event scheduled for November 2nd but postponed by Sandy will occur at SL, 409 West 14th Street. Amanda Hearst, Georgina Bloomberg, and the Friends of Finn committee will attend The Humane Society of the US’ “To the Rescue! Benefit After Party.” The list of A-listers involved is ginormous. This is a see-how-the-better-half-live event.
Last night, me and mine headed out to Dyker Heights, a Brooklyn neighborhood right before the Verrazano Bridge, to view the holiday lights. There are homes where hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to celebrate the season. We were in awe of these Disney-level extravaganzas. I have to go out and buy some gifts, a tree, and wrapping paper, so I will leave you here.
Typically, the period between Labor Day and Halloween is slow in the club world. People are paying down credit card debt accumulated in a summer of WHEEE! Things like the Jewish holidays, flu season, back-to-school, and a dearth of tourists add to the red ink. The change of weather and the loss of daylight as we wind down to the Winter Solstice near Christmas are all negative factors. The season theoretically begins in earnest on Halloween. Sandy literally put a damp on those concepts, but building for an inevitable future is happening all around.
On a small renovation job, an electrician told me that getting even the most commonplace electrical supplies is becoming problematic as the post-Sandy rebuild is taking everything. I can only imagine what getting permits and inspections will be like from an over-tasked buildings department. Still, I hear of a Frank Roberts’ "mostly-a-restaurant project down in lower Little Italy.” I hear of a redux of GoldBar. Marquee nightclub, for a decade the "in" spot for the going-out crowd, is in renovations that will bring it up to speed with its Las Vegas incarnation.
Meanwhile, that Tao team is inviting peeps to the Thursday opening of their Arlington Club on Lexington between 73 and 74th Street. St. Jerome’s has, of course, been sold to The Bowery Electric crew. That has left the St. Jerome’s "crowd" looking for a new home, and Hotel Chantelle grabbing for that gusto. Chantelle started its weekly Tuesday “Rumors” party last night, going forward with famously ex-ex-St. Jerome’s honcho DJ Luc Carl joining DJ Ian El Dorado.
There’s all sorts of things happening over at Bantam where absolutely nothing to speak of has been happening. A re-thinking is occurring. Construction at EVR on 39th street between 5th and 6th is almost over – or is that ovr? I was there the other day checking out the progress and was very impressed.
On a final note: Friday I will be DJing the late set over at The Hanky Panky Club, up the side entrance of Webster Hall. It is a Sandy-related benefit called “Rock-N-Rebuild.” Acts/bands like Hits, Roma, Wild Yaks, The Netherlands, Outernational, and Kendra Morris will interrupt sets by Djs iDeath, Gavin Russom and, thankfully, Steve Lewis er …me. This shindig starts at 8pm. It’s hosted by man-about-town Terry Casey and the lovely Flutura Bardhi. Please help where you can. While people are ordering $1000 bottles of booze, many are still without basic necessities.
Summer ran howling into the breezy cool air as me and mine took our nightly stroll with fabulous friends to 16 Handles ice cream. After tasting each other’s original tart with coconut covered lychees and coffee with crushed Heath Bar, we settled onto a St. Marks Church park bench and decided whether we’re hanging in BK or Manhattan. During our heated debate, we ran into my favorite misnomers, DJ Miss Guy Furrow and DJ Michael Lily of the Valley Cavadias. They told me about their gigs. Guy is still killing it Thursdays at the Hudson Hotel, and has ongoing gigs at the Ace. Michael (Lily) is also DJing at the Ace on the 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month, and is at Anchor Bar every Thursday, as well as the Metropolitan in Brooklyn on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month. Lily, a performer/DJ/movie star, will also be spinning for the opening of the Cyber/Fetish/Gender-Hacking Party at Santos Party House. He’s also booked for Click and Drag co-founder Rob Roth’s exhibition Back To The Future at the Wild Project on October 13th. That’s located at 195 east 3rd street. He will be DJing at the upcoming Bowie Ball on the 10th of October with Lady Rizo.
This week, Lily will sing at the Howl Festival as part of the production of the Tweed Music Series: Carnaby Street the Sensational Swinging Sixties. I asked Lily why the Howl Festival was so Important, and he replied, “It’s an attempt to bring the East Village back to it’s hey-day, to bring back the creativity which was the reason we all moved here in the first place.” The Howl Festival is upon us, and is a viable solution to nightlife doldrums. The festival will give a much-needed September revenue stream to participating venues, which includes the Bowery Poetry Club, Ella Lounge, Bowery Electric, Gallery Bar, The Poetry Project at St Mark’s Church, and many others.
The Howl Festival was inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, “Howl.” Since 2003, it has celebrated the vibrancy of East Village artistic culture. From their website:
“For more than a century, the East Village has been home to poets, jazz musicians, Vaudeville and Yiddish theatre, artists represented by blue chip galleries, and those painting in the subways, rock stars, and performance artists. Building on this tradition and inspired by long time East Village resident Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem, HOWL! Festival was founded in 2003. The mission of HOWL! Festival is to honor, develop, create, and produce. With an estimated 100,000 visitors last year, the many performances celebrate local cultural icons, and lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.”
I will also be attending Thursday night’s Howl event for Facebook friend and fellow Stuyvesant High School graduate Richard Lloyd. Yes, that Richard Lloyd, who’s band Television shape-shifted the whole CBGB scene. The bill, which includes Richard Lloyd, Band of Outsiders, and the Deans of Discipline, is a can’t-miss fun for all. There are also Howl Charities attached to the events, which run through next Wednesday. Check out their website for a complete listing.
Jamie Burke is a rock star waiting to happen. His charisma, his gracious presence, and his (sorry to compare, but) Johnny Depp-ish looks, have him traveling in all the right circles, all of which circle back to catch him when he plays out. The crowd that caught his new act Delilah at the Bowery Electric a couple weeks ago was simply delicious. With more hot girls than a George Michael video and the hipsters/rockers, movers and shakers who follow such gals and the downtown rock scene, Delilah seems poised for stardom.
Jamie’s new band seems tighter and in possession of more real material than his previous go, Bloody Social. Bloody Social was the go-to act when a joint wanted that looks-like-a-rock-band-and- their-groupies-in-an-MTV video crowd. Jamie has been romantically linked to Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Lindsay Lohan, Courtney Love, May Anderson and a slew of others. I’m not going to tell you any more about his love life, as he doesn’t talk about mine. He played Sid to Bijou Philip’s Nancy in cult director/genius/neighbor Abel Ferrara’s flick Chelsea On The Rocks. For a bit, Calvin Klein had his gorgeous puss plastered on a billboard on Houston and Broadway. He was as big as King Kong, but with his head so large and so high he always remained so humble and down to earth. To know him is to love him. He is a gentleman and in my world that’s just about the highest accolade I can offer. Everybody wants him to make it. Everybody see’s him as Mick Jagger. Teen Vogue once named him an “It Boy” and we all want him to become an “It Man.” Delilah looks and sounds like the real thing. Burke has shorn off his trademark long locks and now sports a faded short punkish ‘do. Everybody discussed it. Sides were taken. Maybe this is how it happens. Maybe a time comes when the talent, the street smarts, the worldliness, the music, and the industry converge and a star is born, a legend is created. The rockers in the crowd at Bowery Electric clutched their motorcycle helmets under their arms oblivious to the swaying beauties around them. They were absorbing a moment that they may recall in years to come, when they saw Jamie Burke play in that small club. Maybe this is how you get from here to there. To us on the sidelines, it seems inevitable. I caught up to Jamie via modern technology and asked him a few questions.
Is cutting your long locks tied in with the name Delilah? On the surface no, but sub-consciously it may well have been. I was seeking a new persona for this project as well as this part of my life. When the hair became a thing I was known for it had to go.
Tell me about playing Sid opposite Bijou Phillips’ Nancy? It was great working alongside Bijou, Adam Goldberg, and Giancarlo Esposito, not to mention my favorite director, Abel Ferrara. He was a trip and I’d work with him again anytime. Bijou was great, we had a cool chemistry in the way we portrayed Sid and Nancy in quite a fresh light, vis-a-vis the storyline, and to do all this within the building itself, well that was a trip.
I believe you’re 25 now. Tell me about being close and what you think you need to break out? I think what I’ve learned through past endeavors is that you have to be ready and that your art needs work and nurture before you or your management can even start thinking about business. I would like to see this band go out on the road with a big act that we respect and will allow us to perform to their fan-base
You were on a billboard with your face 25 feet wide, yet you always remain a gracious person. People like you. People want you to succeed. How will you define success? When I can pay my rent on time! I have too many goals to ever feel like I’ve succeeded. There’s always something else to do.
Bloody Social drew a very sexy crowd, but now you are lead singer of Delilah. Was Bloody more hype than substance ? What changes in your approach have you made to not be a scene band but a band seen by many more people? Bloody Social was a period of time spent with some of my favorite human beings on this earth. However, yes there was a lot of hype surrounding it which may well have led to its demise. I was on that billboard, had a famous girl, and there were a lot of fashionistas hangin’ out, and I’m not knockin’ them because they came to the show, but like I said, a band needs time to work itself out. You can’t just stick four long-haired guys who’ve been playing for three months on the roof of Macy’s with Broadway shut down, 1000-plus spectators, and expect Pink Floyd. However, we didn’t mind the cheques. Delilah is taking her time. The band is for the people. It’s modern rock for a new Bowery generation. We will play to whoever wants to listen and we hope they enjoy the show.
Where are you now and what’s a day in the life like? Right now I’m taking a few days of surfing, before we fly to Germany for three Berlin shows and then to the U.K. for two shows including the Virgin Festival, which I’m psyched about. A day in the life generally consists of waking up in the East Village, coffee, banana, gym, grab a sandwich, meet my sleepy-eyed friend Mikki, then over to Brooklyn to our rehearsal space where we play from 2pm to 6pm, four times a week. Following that, a smoke and a beer, and then work out what the night has in store for me. Who are you influences and idols? Joe Strummer, Herman Brood, Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain, and Jim Morrison.
A couple of Mondays ago, the Bowery Electric was jam-packed for a secret Minus the Bear show in promotion of the band’s new album, Omni. The crowd was filled with loyal fans, sweaty and singing along. Recorded by famed producer Joe Chiccarelli (who worked with Frank Zappa, Elton John and Radiohead), Omni departs slightly from MTB’s math-rock past, incorporating more harmonies and poppy refrains. In a scratchy, romantic voice, lead singer Jake Snider speaks of love—the kind that’s short but intense, that leaves you with a lot of questions and lovesick lyrics. Soon after the New York show, we caught up with Jake about the new album, the band’s Facebook page, and what he dislikes the most about doing interviews.
I went to your show on Monday and noticed that most of the fans were big, burly men. How would you describe the typical Minus the Bear fan? The ones that I notice are usually cute girls, in the front of the audience, usually with a burly man resting their arms on them. A lot of couples, and a lot of jocky dudes, for sure. A lot of people who’ve heard our music on their college radio station with their backwards hat on.
Are you a fan of the backwards hat? I’m not a big fan of it. I think baseball hats should be for baseball players.
This is your fourth record. Is it the best? I think it’s the best, yeah. The latest is always the best, for me. It’s the one that’s always the most exciting. It feels a little warmer. You’re accomplishing new things.
Is there a theme or inspiration for this album? The theme that I’ve been going with is kind of like a summer affair, the short love affair that starts, is over quickly, that’s intense.
Why the switch to Dangerbird from Suicide Squeeze? We were out of contract with Suicide Squeeze after Planet of Ice came out, so we really didn’t have a label at the time. We worked with David Dickenson at Suicide Squeeze for our whole career and wanted to take that opportunity to see what having a different relationship would be like. You know, we left Suicide Squeeze as friends, we see David all the time and he still promotes the hell out of our band and record.
Who is your favorite Dangerbird artist? Oh, I’d have to say probably The Dears right now. I love Darker My Love.
How was working with Joe Chiccarelli? It was great, it was intense as well. It was our first time working with someone who wasn’t Matt Bayles, the producer that we always work with. We wanted to find somebody who had the ability to get amazing sound on the record. And after hearing a lot of the records he’s done over the years that’s kind of his forte — big, powerful records. After getting him on board he pretty much whipped us into shape, made us play our songs a million times until he had what he wanted, made me write lyrics over until he liked them, all that stuff. It was a really all-encompassing recording experience.
What are you listening to these days? I’m listening to a lot of Steely Dan, kind of my go-to what I listen to lately. Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Donovan, quite a bit of old stuff. I really like Diane Birch’s new record, Bible Belt. But not a hell of a lot of new stuff, not a lot of contemporary bands.
Lady Gaga or Beyonce? Beyonce.
Best live show you’ve seen? That’s a good question. Best live show I’ve ever seen, either Roger Waters at Coachella a couple years ago, that was fucking phenomenal. We just played a festival and one of our old tour mates, this band Piebald, they’re like a pop punk band from Boston that we went on tour with when we were just starting out, they played a reunion show at the Bamboozle festival. It was pretty fun to watch.
Any pre-performance rituals? I’ll usually have a Jack Daniels of some kind, chill out, just relax. And then we all put our hands in the middle of a circle and do some kind of cheer.
Where do you like to hang out in NYC? Well last time we were there we hung out at Union Pool. Union Pool’s got that great taco cart.
What’s on your rider? Usually I think its four cases of beer, two bottles of Jack Daniels, a bottle of tequila, pound of turkey, orange juice.
Does it all get consumed? The booze usually does, the beer has staying power depending on the city. Depending on the guests. But we usually get rid of the bottled liquor pretty easily.
Best and worst things about doing interviews? I like the fact that people are interested in talking to me about my band and what I do for a living. It’s a pretty incredible thing to have people interested in what you do and that people want to read that article when it’s published. My least favorite thing about doing interviews is usually simple inconvenience, being pulled out of my normal routine. Sometimes you’re going through your day and you want to have a cheeseburger or something, and you have to do an interview.