Thursday, September 18, 2014

Square Zeros #27: GYMSHORTS (Sessile, The Unwritten End, Hayworth, Thee Yo-Yo's, Jonee Earthquake Band, Seaborgium)

"Nine songs. We wrote them very quickly. And we recorded them very quickly. And we just wanted to get an album out and then travel. So that's what we did."

That's how Gymshorts Telecaster wizard Devin pithily summed up his scuzzed-out surf-punk outfit's origins. And it's perfectly accurate. The four-piece has been on top of their game since day one. But at the same time, it totally undersells what Devin, singer-guitarist Sarah Greenwell, drummer Chris Faulkner, and bassist Chris Annunziato have accomplished in the year or so since Gymshorts formed.

It started as a bit of a gag — Devin and Sarah initially wanted to write punk rock for kids and tour elementary schools — but it quickly evolved into something snottier and more dangerous. From their home base in Providence, they banged out a batch of songs for their debut record No Backsies, which they released on cassette, digital, and CD in February (it comes out on wax next month through Manimal Vinyl). From there, things really took off. They've maintained an almost constant presence on the East Coast DIY circuit, sharing stages with an array of other great bands in Brooklyn, Boston, Philly and elsewhere. If you live anywhere in the mid-Atlantic or New England, you've probably had at least one opportunity to see them in 2014. If not, don't worry, they recently hit the road on a seven-week cross-country tour — go support them!

Also, did I mention Gymshorts' album is a driving, disgustingly catchy rock n roll adventure that fucking rips? And that their live show is noisy, beer-soaked punk bliss? And that they're a friendly group offstage? Consider it mentioned.

Square Zeros had them over to the studio to get a sense of what they did long before they converged into the four-piece they are now. Jon was out, so I flew solo on this episode, which is packed with music from their younger, sloppier, NOFX-tinged years.

Bassist Chris, like a lot of us, used music to help escape the hateful tedium of high school. He started a band called Sessile (later Full Of It), which his father, himself an accomplished musician, recorded and produced when he was a teenager. Sessile cut an impressive, if innocent, cover of "Runaround Sue" by Dion And The Belmonts that's part doo-wop, part Me First And The Gimme Gimmes. He also brought in one of their more Fat Wreck Chords-influenced originals, "In Vain." Classic.

Devin was reared on the over-the-top shredding of Van Halen, Scorpions, Warrant, and the other gods of hair metal, and you get a touch of that in his wild riffing in Gymshorts. He brought in "Punk Rock Love" from his high school band The Unwritten End, which features some of his early attempts at lead lines. They definitely would have played with Sessile at the local American Legion. Devin also played bass in the Fall Of Troy-esque (remember those guys?) project Hayworth. Their choice cut is "My Leg Got Bit Off By A Shark," which contains some of the longest pauses we've ever come across, as well as maybe the most creative use of a film quote we've heard.

Drummer Chris was cooler than all of us as a kid. One of his early bands, Thee Yo-Yo's, drew from the garage revivalists of the 80s, and had a mutual love for The Stooges. The first track he shared is an airtight cover of "Search And Destroy" — kinda mindblowing that a bunch of 16-year-olds got it so right. Chris also played drums up until recently with the underground garage legends Jonee Earthquake Band. They've been around since 1979 and they're a bit like New England's Dead Moon. Chris treated us to a song called "Where The Wild Things Are," which marked his first appearance on vinyl.

Finally, we got a really nice artifact from Sarah's musical past. While she was attending school in New York, she spent some time busking in subway stations, playing on the platforms almost every day for an entire winter. Fortunately, she recorded some of her experiments from the time under the name Seaborgium (a synthetic element whose symbol in the periodic table is Sg, which happens to be her initials). "Litmus Paper" is a beautifully haunting track.

Huge thanks to Gymshorts for spending a sweaty, boozy afternoon in the studio!

New Yorkers: Gymshorts are coming to Don Pedro on Oct. 10 to play with The Mad Doctors, The Rizzos and Big Huge. Talk about a stacked bill. DO NOT MISS THAT SHOW. Everyone else: check out Gymshorts' tour dates to see when they're playing near you.


ZeroFest Show Profile #3: Sat., Oct. 4 @ Shea Stadium

Each Thursday in September, Square Zeros will profile one night of ZeroFest, our four-day, twenty-band festival running from October 2–5 at four Brooklyn venues.

So So Glos at Shea Stadium. Photo credit: Maverick Inman

The venue:
Are you really going to make us tell you about Shea Stadium? How about this: since its founding five years ago, Shea Stadium has become one of a very small handful of DIY spaces by which the Brooklyn music scene is judged, and to a lot of people (and for a lot of reasons), it's the gold standard. If you haven't been there, you've been asleep. Located at 20 Meadow Street (between Varick and Stewart Aves., just south of the intersection of Grand Street and Metropolitan Ave., Shea owns a unique place in the music community due to its emphasis on all-ages shows and its dedication to making those shows even more accessible by recording every show held in the space and streaming them online. Beyond that, it's just a great place to play and hang out — well-laid out with excellent sound, and located in a largely industrial area where you won't get complaints for rocking out late.

The bands:

ZeroFest: All The Bands, All At Once (Music Embeds)

Shoulder-to-shoulder, we got all your bands on the ZeroFest lineup right here. Check them out, and you're sure to start getting excited for the shows. XOXO, Derek + Jon

Human Head, Thurs., Oct. 2

Bermuda Triangle, Fri., Oct. 3

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Square Zeros Show Listings, Weds–Sun, September 17–21

Square Zeros Show Listings, Wednesday–Sunday, September 17–21

[[WEDNESDAY, September 17:]]

Have we interviewed Philly fuzz punks Mumblr? No. Did we contact them to be on ZeroFest? Not directly. But did they wind up on night three of ZeroFest at Shea Stadium on Saturday, October 4 for the better? Yes. Are they Fleeting Youth labelmates of Clouder (Jim Wood, SZ #19)? Yes. Is their music totally rad? Yes.

One of us, one of us, gooble-gobble, gooble-gobble w/ Whitewash (EP release), The Britanys at Knitting Factory 8pm $10 LINK

Mumblr. Photo credit: Michelle Rose NJ

[[THURSDAY, September 18:]]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Picture Dump 9.16.2014: The Rizzos, Crazy Pills, Greasy Hearts, BIG HUGE, NANCY

The Show: Crazy Pills (Amanda B., SZ #9 and Jim Wood SZ #19) and Greasy Hearts (Joey Farber, SZ #23) at Union Pool w/ BIG HUGE, NANCY, Saturday, September 6, 2014.

Also featured: Taco Party 2 presents The Rizzos (SZ episode forthcoming, Season Three) at Don Pedro w/ The Mayberries, Mindtroll, Brokyn Lands, Chloe Sunshine, Friday, September 5, 2014.

Depicted below: The Rizzos, Crazy Pills, BIG HUGE, Greasy Hearts, NANCY.


— DJH + JM

Friday, September 5

The Rizzos:

Monday, September 15, 2014

In Defense Of: Dexys Midnight Runners

This In Defense Of was contributed by Stephen Coleman, a physicist from Boulder, CO who wanders the streets naked underneath his overalls.

I’ve long had a soft spot in my heart for “Come On Eileen,” and it was for this reason that I wound up queuing Dexys Midnight Runners’ 1982 Too-Rye-Ay in Spotify during a late late night at work. “Eileen” is the only song most Americans know from Dexys Midnight Runners, who, like many popular UK bands, had their US invasion advances largely rebuffed. This is a strange band that deserves a listen, and is more than a footnote in the history of disposable 80’s pop.

Don’t get me wrong: I could write this entire article with nothing but single-entendres. Blurt out the name of their most famous song, without context, in front of a group of friends, and the majority are going to chuckle. But Dexys Midnight Runners are more important than that, and definitely shouldn’t be dismissed as just a one-hit wonder.

Oh, but what a hit they had. Fun fact: that song you just laughed at — “Come On Eileen” — had enough pop power to best the King of Pop himself, historically knocking “Billie Jean” off the top of the US charts in 1982. This fiddle-filled folksy sing-along was the antithesis of pop music at the time, and must have seemed like a breath of fresh air (I can’t speak from personal experience — I was just a fetus). It was sentimental and sincere, and in 1982 at least sentimentality hadn’t yet been destroyed by the The Bodyguard soundtrack. It didn’t last long at the top, as Michael Jackson regained his crown one week later with “Beat It”; however, it would be the crowning achievement of any band to go toe-to-toe with nearly any song off of Thriller, let alone to win.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Square Zeros #26: Jonathan Daily (The Black Black, Vansanity, Little Red Mittens)

I can't do that, man. The really early stuff? It's just way too embarrassing. I've got some stuff from a few years ago, from an early version of The Black Black — I could bring those, but those early recordings...I don't think—

...Yeah, alright, I'll do it, you're right, let's do this. Let's do this, this sounds awesome.”

— Jon Daily, having been asked after a few drinks to come on Square Zeros at Louis Ramos (SZ #13) of The Amputees' birthday show at Don Pedro, April 11, 2014

See also: Square Zeros, literally everyone's first reaction.

But for a real lifer musician like Jon Daily of Brooklyn noise-punk band The Black Black, the opportunity to delve into your own creative inner workings is too tempting to dismiss. And when you're sitting on a great record (The Black Black will be releasing their new album Boogie Nights in mid-November), and you're working with a terrific, supportive label (Brooklyn-based rock imprint Money Fire Records), circumstances allow you a certain leeway in letting people hear some early recordings you might normally relegate to the back of mom's closet in Suburbia, U.S.A.

ZeroFest Show Profile #2: Fri., Oct. 3 @ Bermuda Triangle

Each Thursday in September, Square Zeros will profile one night of ZeroFest, our four-day, twenty-band festival running from October 2–5 at four Brooklyn venues.

The venue:
Bushwick's Bermuda Triangle opened this spring as an art and performance space in the Tea Factory Lofts at 175 Stockholm Street (between Wilson and Knickerbocker Aves. Helmed by co-curators Stephanie Browne and James Watson, Bermuda Triangle has carved out its space in the local DIY community, hosting a roundtable discussion on alternative art curating during Bushwick Open Studios and a series of art and music shows across the summer. It's quickly become one of our favorite places to catch a show, see some art, or just grill out and drink beers with James and Stephanie. ZeroFest hits Bermuda Triangle on Friday, October 3, but you won't want to miss their music curator's panel on Saturday, September 27, featuring contributions from Chris Carr of Brooklyn Wildlife (SZ #22), Lani Combier-Kapel of Silent Barn, Danny Krug of 1.21 Gigawatts, Win Scarlett of slackgaze (SZ #18), and yours truly.

The bands:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Square Zeros Show Listings, Weds–Sun, September 10–14

Square Zeros Show Listings, Wednesday–Sunday, September 10–14

[[WEDNESDAY, September 10:]]

Not a rock and roll show, necessarily, but still a great time: Sara and Tyler Villard (Bezoar, SZ #24) open Horses and Fuzzy Stuff, an art show by Shannon Shaw (Shannon and the Clams, Hunx and His Punx) at their vintage store Worship 7pm LINK

Tyler and Griff and Sara's legs

[[THURSDAY, September 11:]]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Picture Dump 9.09.2014: BIG HUGE, Party Lights

The Show: Popgun Booking presents The Jeanies (Joey Farber, SZ #23) at Glasslands w/ BIG HUGE, Party Lights, Tyburn Saints, Sunday, August 31, 2014.

Depicted below: BIG HUGE, Party Lights.


— DJH + JM


Thursday, September 4, 2014

ZeroFest Show Profile #1: Thurs., Oct. 2 @ Human Head

Each Thursday in September, Square Zeros will profile one night of ZeroFest, our four-day, twenty-band festival running from October 2–5 at four Brooklyn venues.

The venue:
Brooklyn's Human Head Records just celebrated its one-year anniversary on Friday, August 22nd, and it has already become a staple of the East Williamsburg/Bushwick music scene. Located at 168 Johnson Avenue (at Graham Avenue), Human Head supports a community of local musicians by carrying their records on consignment, and a community of music-collectors with its well-curated selection of new and used vinyl from a multitude of genres. It's a great place to stop in and check out some records or just to grab a beer and relax. With Human Head, owners Travis and Steve and the rest of their team have really created an environment where any music lover will want to hang out.

The bands:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Square Zeros Show Listings, Weds–Sun, September 3–7

Square Zeros Show Listings, Wednesday–Sunday, September 3–7

[[WEDNESDAY, September 3:]]

Start your weekend early with noisy rockers The Black Black (Jonathan Daily [Season Three debut episode] SZ #26, forthcoming) w/ Molly Thomason, Servant Girl at Knitting Factory 8pm $10 LINK

The Black Black

[[THURSDAY, September 4:]]

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Picture Dump 9.02.2014: BIG HUGE, Hector's Pets

The Show: King Pizza presents Sunset Guns (Derek Hawkins and Jon Mann, SZ #10) at Rippers w/ BIG HUGE, Hector's Pets, Friday, August 29, 2014.

Depicted below: BIG HUGE, Hector's Pets.


— DJH + JM


Thursday, August 28, 2014

See ya, Season 2

Dear friends,

Today, Square Zeros is closing the books on its second season. Season One was an experiment and a blast: unveiling the concept, bringing in a host of bands and musicians, and to a certain extent finding our voices as music writers and interviewers — none of which we could have done without the brave souls willing to dig around in their closet for some old songs that no one ever wanted (until now).

With Season Two, we really wanted to tailor Square Zeros to the audience we established early on, and to broaden that audience with a focus on musicians and bands who also actively work to build a musical community. We had Jimmy Doyle giving us the unabridged history of Long Island ska-punk; Win Scarlett explaining the theoretical underpinnings of slackgaze; Seth Applebaum and Greg Hanson of Ghostload Sound and King Pizza Records; and Chris Carr (aka Stonehenge Parnhashnakovsky), whose organization Brooklyn Wildlife fosters music, the arts, and many other types of performance in Brooklyn and beyond. We also unveiled the new feature Know Your Record Store to delve into the spaces that buttress our musical communities.

But hey, we also had a good thing going before all that, and we weren't about to short you Square Zeros purists on the bread and butter. Uproarious group interviews with Mayor Creep, Noxious Foxes, Bezoar, and Vulture Shit gave insight into the often hilarious chemistry developed between band members, while one-on-ones with Polly Watson, Jim Wood, and Joey Farber allowed us to dig deeper into the work of lifer musicians.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Square Zeros Show Listings, Weds–Sun, August 27–31

Square Zeros Show Listings, Wednesday–Sunday, August 27–31

[[WEDNESDAY, August 27:]]

Providence, RI punk rockers GYMSHORTS (SZ #27, forthcoming) begin their seven-week, cross-country tour! The kickoff isn't in Brooklyn or anything, but we're just damn proud of them. Check out their itinerary here, and see them when they come to your town.


[[THURSDAY, August 28:]]