The So So Glos pretty much epitomize the DIY Brooklyn music lifestyle to a T- a ripped tee. The “brothers” hail from Bay Ridge, founded the Market Hotel (and live there, too) with promoter Todd P and don’t have jobs (they prefer to play shows, book shows and go to bars instead). And they love Brooklyn, of course, and even love all the bloggers. The band is about to embark on a big tour with Titus Andronicus and took some time out to discuss political v. social songs, the use of the Market Hotel in the movie “Ghost” and the Oxford Diner in Missoula, Montana. Anyone ever been??
The kick-off of the Titus/So So Glos Tour is this Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Monster Island Basement.
Are you really brothers? Tell me about this.
ALEX LEVINE (vox, bass): Yeah, we are, we’re all some form of brothers and recently we adopted Matt. There’s not that much to tell about all of it really, our parents split up, and we went through their record collections.That’s that.
RYAN LEVINE (gtr): Yeah, but I came out first and then the others. We love, fight – cry with each other.
ZACH STAGGERS (drums): Well doesn’t it go: “second is the best”?
You all grew up in Bay Ridge, what was that like? Do you feel a lot of BK pride, especially in the face of so many transplants?
R: It was like “ey, what the fuck are you looking at!” When i’m in Manhattan I get anxious and when I get back over the bridge I feel like I can breath. The only two places I have ever had that home feeling are Bay Ridge and The Market Hotel.
A: Well, we’ve all moved around quite a bunch. Originally we found ourselves grouped together in Brooklyn.
Z: I think we have 3 out of the 5 Boroughs plus 2 Suburbs under our belt. We still have yet to live on Manhattan or Staten Island- although we did record both albums there. Does that count?
A: Yeah, I can’t count how many times I’ve moved anymore, most all of the moves have been in the greater metropolitan area though. Too much pride is a dangerous thing I think, we’re aware that we’re products of our environment, wherever that may be.
You seem like a “real” punk band, what with the music you play and the lyrics you sing (Fuck the FCC!). How did this happen? Did you always play punk?
A: We grew up listening to a lot of different music and we never learned how to play our instruments, we’ve always had a bit of a tiff with the status quo. Punk is a strange word, and an endless existential debate that we’ll save for some other time. We play music, we write songs, most of the time they’re protest pop songs. We like when people exercise their minds and feet and the same time. Sometimes people call us punks, sometimes people call us scenesters, or whatever.
Z: Yeah, too punk for the “indies” – too straight for the punks. We never fit in. We just got our first “Douchebags” by a blogger. To be fair at the end of the write-up, they retracted the claim. But, labels are labels and just like in everything, people get stuck.
A: So we just call everyone the same- So So Glos, like us.
Would you consider yourselves a political band?
R: A social commentary band.
A: I would say, we are band. A band with ears and eyes, and we’re listening and watching. Oh, and we’ve got a mouth that can scream too.
What inspires you? What do you love and hate?
Z: Well, most things. Save for those fucking plastic packages that you cant open without a laser or some shit – you know the ones.
R: Alex inspires me. I hate bugs. I hate those guitars with two necks. I hate being without my chain. I love my Mom and Dad and my Brothers. I love eyes and smiles.
Z: Oh so fucking cheese! Sorry, I get uncomfortable when he talks like that.
Tell me about the Market Hotel. How did you come about living there? Were you there before Todd P?
R: Well, Me, Joe Ahearn, Zach and Alex found the Market in January of 2008. It’s named after one of our songs. We got us four Glos, and then four of our friends to go into it with us. The Market was the place we wanted but it was too expensive so we invited Todd to go into it with us. We weren’t trying to run a space as much as live in New York
without jobs and that was the only way we could.
Z: Always the Market Hotel! Jesus. Don’t mind then if I share a few fun facts?
1. The Market Hotel facade can be seen in the film, “Ghost”. In fact, rumors do circulate that some scenes were filmed in the Market.
2. When we moved there there, there was luggage that belonged to a Hasid left up there. What was in it you may ask? Well it did include a snowboard. Hasids snowboard apparently. Want another?
3. Ettienne of the famed band “Real Estate” now occupies my old room- room “33”- and we have a deep and lasting bond because of this.
4. Le Rug with the Fiasco kids just recorded a 44-track album in darkness at the Market. Each song is dedicated to a president of the United States. You can download it at Tamur Records.
5. Lastly, to hear the Market Hotel song, which we wrote before we even knew it existed, check out our Daytrotter session. (SONG BELOW!)
There you go. Just some quick little tidbits to satiate the bloggers taste for quirk at The Market Hotel AKA The Bristol Rooms. (SATIATED!)
What’s the best thing about the Brooklyn music “scene”?
MATT ELKIN (gtr): Probably its sheer magnitude. There is never a dearth of shows, of spaces, of new people getting interested and forming their own bands and throwing their own shit. You could play three shows in a given week in New York (which we have, probably more than a couple times at that) and play for a completely different crowd each time. It’s not like that in other cities. Maybe LA.
R: I hate LA.
Z: It all sounds the same in la la land.
M: -That’s why I think New York is such a haven, there’s just so many options and opportunities to both get your start and sustain your thing you’re doing. Another good thing about NYC is that there is never a shortage of bloggers to give us new ‘Google Alerts’ on Monday mornings that my dad can get fully psyched on.
Z: He speaks truths. New York is the best city in the world, we New Yorkers know this, so it makes sense that it has a borough such as Brooklyn that is overflowing with music.
R: Everyone knows New York’s the best. It’s just so diverse. So much going on.
A: We owe a lot to Sleep When Dead NYC, Entertainment 4 Every 1, and every kid who just decided to throw a cheap show somewhere. I like it when our friend Joe gets bands to do acoustic shows on the subway by hijacking a whole car out to Far Rockaway.
What’s a normal day look like for the So So Glos? What are your “jobs”?
M: Normal days for us over the past couple years have been days spent on the road. It actually feels kind of out of the ordinary for us to have the whole summer here in New York. My normal routine these days has pretty much consisted of waking up on the couch I’ve been staying on since June, getting lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in several years, practicing with these guys- we’re working on a bunch of new stuff- and then going to either a show or some bar that I wasn’t of legal age to enter the last time I was firmly planted in New York. I’ve also been booking some shows for people, trying to reciprocate
the kind of treatment we get from certain bands when we’re in their hometowns.
R: No jobs during the day. Wake up hung over, practice, build some new DIY space out (it seems like we are always doing this). Play a show, go to a show, or go to a bar that will give us free drinks, keep going.
Do you drive, bike or train around BK?
M: Ha, all of the above.
Z: I mostly bike in the warmer months. It lends a new perspective to this city and for longer trips, if you are smooth with it, you can ride the subway for free with a bike by going in through the service exit. No questions asked.
You’re about to hit the road for a big tour with Titus Andronicus. Excited? Is this your biggest tour yet?
A: This is going to be great. I think between their “fuck the world” mentality and our “maybe there’s still a chance on this fucked world” there is a really classic debate going on here. Punk Rock 101.
M: I am totally excited. Titus is one of the finest bands out there these days. Quite easily one of my favorite bands to go out and see live. I actually joined The So So Glos the night we first met those guys and saw them play. They were playing a show in the basement of Don Pedro’s. I think maybe I’d have still not said yes to joining this band if I wasn’t completely pumped up because of their show. I actually just realized that. Haha. They are sort of responsible, unbeknownst to them, for bringing us all together.
R: I can’t wait to get out of the city. We have been here far too long. Need to move around. I forgot before that the only other place I feel at home is on the road.
Z: And at the Oxford Diner in Missoula, Montana. That is a magical place. So psyched to show the Titus boys that spot.
Last year’s album Tourism/Terrorism. Are they one and the same thing? How?
A: What do you think?
Z: Yeah, You should definitely add in an editors note here. What does MME think about Tourism/Terrorism?
(I think it’s about fucking shit up, in the name of anything)
Who are some of your role models? Favorite bands?
R: The Kinks. The way Johnny Thunders played guitar, not his arm. People that are nicer than me.
M: I’m just going to make a list of the bands I can’t stop listening to right now – and you shouldn’t stop listening to either.
Surfer Blood: From West Palm Beach, Florida! These kids have mad Brian Wilson channeling through the vocals.They’re coming into town at the end of this month! Playing a handful of DIY shows, not to be missed. Pop pop pop!
Little Lungs: My friends Allison and Jacki, who play in a million other bands too (Each Other’s Mothers, Cheeky, Tin Kitchen, etc.), forming like Voltron to knock your head off. Their new stuff is sooo good, a little bit Replacements, a little bit Jawbreaker, a lotta bit wholly unique otherwise. Riff central! Don’t miss them live if you get a chance. I expect a full-length soon?
The Smith Westerns: From Chicago. You get a little grin on your face hearing the whole Marc Bolan/Bowie thing when each song starts, then everything totally explodes and maxes out and fucks your head up. Powerhouse pop songs. The recordings sound so fucking juicy. Oh shit, I JUST saw their Pitchfork review from TODAY after I wrote this! And they just confirmed to play ours and Titus’ tour kickoff show at Monster Island on 9/2. Hell yes.
Balkans, Carnivores: The two best youngster Atlanta bands out right now. Dudes in Balkans just got through with high school! Spastic post-punk, little bits of a surfy/country vibes here and there, and the vocals are belted out in the best way possible (Wipers meets Walkmen). “Zebra Print” has the tastiest licks I’ve heard in ages. Carnivores make remarkable (and remarkably loud) calypso-driven punk songs. Not dissimilar to Abe Vigoda… BUT waaay spookier, more drenched in reverb and sprinkled with little tinkly noises. I put both these bands on a bill a couple of weekends ago and you suck to have missed them. They melt faces. Vice will be all up on their nuts in like half an hour. They’ve got their (respective) first releases (on the Double Phantom imprint) in Other Music and Academy Records now.
Also, Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers, Sharon Van Etten, and eagerly awaiting the new Jay-Z album. I heard Premier is doing three tracks!
Z: Matt has it covered. Trust that.
The So So Glos: 99 Degrees (Daytrotter Session, original on The So So Glos)