all boy/all girl

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all boy/all girl – Water

I spoke with Brooklyn-based band all boy/all girl via Skype earlier this week. Here’s the transcript:

Joan Sar: Hey there! How’s it going, Nicholas (and whoever else may be peering upon the screen at this present time)?

Nicholas Rahn: Good! We just finished up at our rehearsal space. Hannah Levinson (viola) and Luke Krafka (cello) have left so it’s Jessie Rogowski (vocals), Nicholas Rahn (bass), Tyler Erickson (drums), Joshua Curry (guitar) and Danielle Lovier (vocals and ukulele) here.

JS: Excellent. Hello to you all. How did rehearsals go?

NR: It went really well. It was our first time rehearsing back in New York City since before the holidays. It’s always a challenge to get seven people in a room together.

JS: Beautiful. Well, let’s get the easy question out of the way: seven people are in a band in Brooklyn. The press I’ve read is positive, and I’ve listened to your music a helluvalot since you sent it our way. How does that even happen? How did you guys come to agree on forming all boy/all girl?

NR: Well, I was in a band with Danielle (with whom I am in a romantic relationship) called Olive Juice. We played covers and performed at weddings (we have a YouTube channel worth checking out). A handful of parentheses later we moved to Brooklyn and were tired of being a duo. We wrote a handful of songs and I recorded the demos you’ve heard in my bedroom. Then we had to find people to play all the parts on the recordings. We turned to Craigslist. We had amazing luck. We found some of the coolest people in New York who were all excited about what we were doing.

JR: I had just moved to NYC from Chicago a few months earlier, and when I first moved here, I actively searched for a band or musical outlet I was happy with. I didn’t have success. I decided I needed to find a job first and make some $$$. Then, several months later, there was a day I decided to check Craigslist. I just thought, okay, it’s time. It was then that I saw the posting for all boy/all girl! I met Nick and Danielle the day after and I thought it was a perfect fit!

TE: I was drawn in by the eerie and captivating quality to the demos. I was really drawn to what I had heard and thought it was something really unique and exciting. We’ve been trying to figure out how to translate Nick and Danielle’s strange vision ever since.

JC: I joined the band after the departure of the band’s first guitar player, who happened to also be named Josh and was found through Craigslist. Nick and I are actually from the same hometown and have known each other since we were young, but didn’t start playing music together until college. I joined the band after moving to NYC this fall past.

DL: Nick and I aren’t romantically involved. There was a bet involved about me being so popular and Nick being a big loser . . . you get the picture.

JS: Ha ha, I’m not sure who wins the bet then. So, serendipitous events all around. I imagine, though, that there are stumbling blocks to the translation? I saw a few live videos and they sound great, but what are some of the challenges you guys come across in fine-tuning?

TE: It’s always a fun challenge. We’re a conceptual band based around composition. We’re constantly in a state of trying to tweak our songs. Maybe we’ll solidify everything when we go into recording in March. P.S. What are you wearing?

JS: Ha ha. Classic. A question that reminds me of my awkward teenage years. Ty, I am wearing these horrific off-white pants I bought in a thrift-shop with pressed images of landmarks and newspaper headlines on them. They were flares. My girlfriend hated them, so I cut them at the knee and now wear them as shorts. That, and a blue tee. In fairness, I think it’s a sexy look.

TE: Oh right! It’s summer there! We are all imagining you in those shorts.

JS: I’m glad. Keep that with you forever – especially if you ever make your way to Sydney. You can yell out in concert that you did an interview with a local guy who wears insatiably sexy shorts. I’ll probably be in the crowd and will almost definitely appreciate the attention.

TE: You have our word.

JS: Brilliant. So, tell me: what would each of you say to your first boyfriend/girlfriend now if given the chance?

TE: I am so, so sorry. No, wait – fuck you.
JR: You lied about your age and you thought you were cool. Now, you’re living at home and you’re a fucking loser.
JC: I still love you.
NR: Let’s call it off.
DL: Why didn’t you tell me you were a girl?
NR: Danielle’s one is a true story.

JS: I absolutely want to hear that story.

DL: Gabe went to a different high school than me. We met in the city. We talked a lot online and started dating. He met my whole family and friends. Even all my friends were very jealous of my “hot older boyfriend.” It was mostly an online relationship, but we did hang out. We ended up breaking up a few months later. A year onwards, I met someone who went to the same high school and I asked if they knew Gabe. They said yes, they’re best friends. I say, “Oh, we dated!” They said, “Oh, you’re a lesbian?” Since then, I’ve met a ton of people who told me she was just a girl who dressed and acted like a guy, but it was actually Gabrielle. I’ve been ruined ever since.

JS: Oh, wow. The perils of online dating. I had a couple of those online-centric relationships. A strange dynamic, to say the least. At least Nick is a guy, so far as I know.

DL: Only time will tell.

JS: How about fights? Have any of you ever been in a proper, full-blown tussle? Fists and all? I’ve never been in a genuine fight in my life. They all tapered off after the shit-talk had died down.

NR: Intra-band fight?

JS: Out or in. Either way!

NR: Well, Ty threw one of his friend’s glasses down the slide in the 4th grade. Other than that, we are peaceful people.

JS: Oh, if we’re counting youthful fights, full disclosure: I once injured my friend’s toes because we were playing hide-and-seek and I knew he was hiding behind the bathroom door, so I kicked it open. He was good-natured about it afterwards. Somehow, we’re still friends.

NR: Ha ha, I’m glad it worked out in the end.

JS: I read that you were traveling around Europe for a while, playing on the sophisticated and grubby sidewalks. Tell me about that.

NR: Well, Danielle and I started playing together on the streets of Philadelphia. We have a love for street performing actually. When we went to Europe it was just myself, Danielle, and Josh (one of our other friends came and played drums with us towards the end). It was a blast, but we went in autumn when Europe is really rainy . . . since then, we’ve performed on the streets of NY as a full band. We plan on doing it more when the weather is nice.

JS: How do you find performing in NY? I’ve never been, but my impression from films is a city full of snarky, cynical people. Somehow that sticks. (I’m sure deep down, they all want to be nice.)

NR: Performing in NY is cool, though booking shows is nearly impossible. Everybody in Brooklyn is in a band! Clubs here are kind of shitty because of it – they don’t treat bands well. The audiences here are as good as any other city though.

[Here: Jessie had to leave. We thank her for tale of how she came to join all boy/ all girl and her acerbic spiel towards her first boyfriend.]

all boy/all girl – Summertime

JS: You would hope so. So, another hypothetical question: given the choice – past or present, dead or alive – which musician or band would each of you most like to open for?

DL: tUnE-yArDs.
TE: Prince.
JC: Pavement.
NR: The Spice Girls.

JS: tUnE-yArDs. Nice. Nick, man – The Spice Girls? I guess mid-90s it would have been sweet.

NR: Ha ha, I was thinking 2013.

JS: Ha ha, well that would be interesting. Fingers crossed. I imagine you’ve each indulged in music throughout your lives. Since starting in it as a craft, what have been your high points in music and, in the same vein, your low points?

NR: Well, one time somebody threw rocks at Danielle and myself when we were busking in Philadelphia.

JS: Rocks? Why would they throw rocks?

NR: I’m not sure. It might have had something to do with Danielle wearing a onesie . . . on the other hand, Josh and myself opened for James Taylor once.

JS: James Taylor! Nice. How was that? Did you talk to him, maybe get some golden nuggets of advice?

NR: No, we were singing as part of a chorus so us – and one-hundred other people – opened for James Taylor, ha ha.

JS: Ha ha, still counts. So, who does the song-writing for the most part? Your lyrical arrangements are interesting. Sharp words and saccharine vocals are a good combination.

NR: I do the song-writing. Josh helps me with some things here and there. I’m an awful singer, so sometimes my vocal ideas get misinterpreted – for the better – by Danielle. A lot of the songs go into rehearsal as a rough concept, and the band helps flesh them out. We’re all on the same page with ideas and song-writing which is really cool.

JS: I have arguments with my friends about the importance of lyrics versus instrumentals and vice versa. I’m a sucker for good writing and can ignore the music sometimes if the lyrics are captivating. Do you have similar quandaries? Has moving into a larger band dynamic changed any of your previous ideas about music-making?

NR: We definitely value both of them, however we do put music first – slightly. They’re lyrics, not poetry, so I think we use the crutch of music and chord changes to carry the song.

JS: I’d say it works. Your songs have a free-flowing progression to them. They evolve nicely.

NR: Thank you!

JS: You’re welcome. Also, Danielle plays the ukulele! I adore ukuleles. I bought one on a whim a few years ago. I was in a Beirut phase and wanted to learn “Elephant Gun” on it. Impulse purchases can be fun. I never was particularly successful with the song, though.

DL: I think ukuleles are the instrument that people to buy to learn, but almost always ends up on the wall.

JS: Unless you’re involved with all boy/all girl.

DL: Ha ha, yes! I mean, I think at this point more bands are using them than in a long while. But in most cases, it’s a gimmick. (“A beautiful gimmick, at least”) True that.

JS: Alright, let’s wrap this up: if you were to write for tunetheproletariat, which songs would you write about, and what would you write about to go with them?

NR: Which of our songs?

JS: Any songs! Yours, others, whatever you like.

NR: Well, for our songs what first comes to mind is our song “Water”. We would probably write about a typical 1970s American prom. No one shows up to the prom, though. I don’t know whether that evokes any imagery for you, but we always talk about the idea of a “ghost prom” when we talk about that song.

JS: A ghost prom reads like a gloomy scene . . .

NR: Precisely.

JS: . . . music on the sound-system, balloons on the floor, nobody there to dance.

NR: Exactly!

JS: How about other songs? Which songs do you hold dear, that you could imagine writing about?

NR: The Congos’ “Fisherman“. A little lamb gets lost in the woods and can’t find his way out. He meets a crazy Jamaican dude, named Lee Scratch Perry, and the lamb gets sacrificed and made into an echo box.

JS: I like it! You’re free to write that for us, if you ever feel the impulse.

NR: Ha ha, yes, I’ll be working on it then! Josh said he has some intense, emotional ideas in mind already.

JS: I’m down.

[all boy/all girl.]

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