How often do you get to hang out with three intelligent, funny, and creative musicians on a weekend afternoon? Honestly, The Britany’s make my job easy. I took a trip from West Harlem to Bushwick (not the easy part) to catch up with the boys in their loft/rehearsal space and talk upcoming gigs, the status of Brooklyn, and romancing Paul McCartney along the East River.
The Britany’s are a trio made up of Lucas Long, Steele Kratt, and Gabe Schulman. They formed in their freshman year of college, and three years later the band is hosting a release party at Silent Barn. Their quick trajectory comes as no surprise; the boys are steadfast in their influences and where they see their careers in music moving forward. Their EP It’s Alright is fun and unapologetic head-banging punk, but the Britany’s gift lies in their outstanding maturity. The sound has greatly evolved from suburban garage rock; dare I say, their concept bleeds into the influences of Velvet Underground and even Iggy Pop circa 1977. So, it was no surprise to walk into their loft and find Gabe strumming on his guitar while Lucas and Steele lounged on the couch with fur-cloaked, stunningly beautiful lady friends. If these guys want the rock & roll lifestyle and all the touring, travel, and experiences that come with it, they’re well on their way. Seminal rock journalist Lester Bangs would be proud — the Britany’s are rich with pure intentions, tenaciously dedicated to unadulterated rock, and successfully deviating from the cult of “cool.”
How many shows have you guys played?
Lucas: All together, I think in the last year a lot. At least 50. We go at least two a month and then it’s like a party out of town — we try to do a party once a month. We met towards the end of freshman year I think in April. We had one show in April before the end of the year and in the summer we played random shows and we were testing a lot of stuff out and that fall we started playing. A lot in the fall.
You said you played parties, do you ever play bars or any other venues?
Lucas: We’ve been slowly building and getting better gigs. It started off smaller. There used to be this place called Yippie Cafe we played there a bunch. Our first gig was at Lit Lounge.
I’m well acquainted with Lit Lounge.
Lucas: That was our first show
Steele: We didn’t think we could play because we weren’t 21.
What did you guys play? Mostly covers?
Lucas: We had some songs and we tried to rehearse as much as we could in four days.
Steele: There were like 10 people there.
Lucas: Recorded at this collective called Mama Coco’s Funky Kitchen and they put on showcases, so we played there a lot starting out. And then we started to play Knitting Factory.
Steele: We played a lot of Knitting Factory shows that summer.
Lucas: Shea Stadium, Palisades are kind of our go-to.
Steele: And we play Silent Barn we’ll be there for our album release. We played Arlene’s a lot too.
Lucas: Piano’s sucks. Arlene’s is a lot better.
What’s your favorite gig been thus far?
Steele: We try to do parties a lot. My favorite one was last February — we had a really good CMJ show, there were a lot of people we didn’t know there and it felt like real CMJ — but my favorite was a party we threw at our friends in February and we had to shut it down because it was wall to wall. And people started getting agitated after we played because there were DJs after. People were peeing in washing machines in the building and we had to help clean up and we shut it down because allegedly someone got a knife pulled on them.
Stop playing parties! Someone is gonna die!
Steele: My friend sucker punched another person too. It was bad but a lot of fun.
Lucas: I dedicated a song to Amanda and she wasn’t even listening she was on the roof [laughs]. Thing about parties, our friends and stuff like that if we say we have a show and you have to pay $10, of course there’s the 10% maybe that’s into going to shows will come out but I feel like the rest want to have a party and a good time and a lot of our friends aren’t 21 and they can do whatever they want. We’re trying a lot now to play with friends’ bands. If we’re just on a bill with random bands and no one really knows us then I don’t know why they seem to have a better time at parties. I don’t know why we’re starting to get more random people at our shows.
So I think it’s safe to say that the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show is someone getting a knife pulled on them?
Lucas: People have been weirdly starting to mosh at our shows. That hasn’t really happened before.
Steele: One of our friends, Larry, got his foot through a wall at a party. He tried to wall jump.
Of course his name is Larry [laughs]. So if you guys could have anyone open for you who would it be?
Lucas: I feel like we’re in the mindset of people we want to open up for [laughs].
Well let’s find out both: a fantasy and actuality.
Gabe: Shit. I don’t know. The Strokes?
Lucas: Oasis’ comeback reunion.
Steele: I don’t know I gotta think about that.
Gabe: The Beatles.
Lucas: I love Jack White. If he wanted it.
Have you ever seen Jack White or The Strokes live?
Lucas: We saw Jack White at Gov Ball. Amanda got me tickets for Christmas.
Steele: I didn’t really enjoy The Strokes because I was getting swallowed in the crowd.
I liked Jack White a lot at Gov Ball because he went into Southern rock and & country and I thought it was badass.
Lucas: I like his whole mentality. Have you seen It Might Get Loud? It’s a documentary about the guitar as an instrument and how it’s withstood time and highlights guitar players from every generation, so it had Jack White and The Edge and Jimmy Page, and they went into each others’ lives. Half of it was their own story — it went to their house to see their guitars and record collections — and the other half was sitting in a room and playing songs. His whole songwriting and guitar stuff is the time we grew up.
Do you guys have that same thing? Like an idol who has changed your perspective?
Steele: Paul McCartney for me. I just think he’s so innovative.
What do you think of his collab with Kanye?
Steele: I didn’t like it. Maybe if there wasn’t autotune on it I would have liked it a little better. But I appreciate that he’s in his 70s and he’s still attempting to do collaborations with relevant artists. He’s always been a pop star, so I guess that it kinda makes sense that he’s pairing up with Top 40 icons. At least he’s still trying to do something.
Gabe: There have been so many different people that and so many different genres that I don’t know if I could pick one.
You don’t have to — you can rattle them off. I don’t need one definitive person.
Gabe: It started with the 60s and jam bands like the Allman Brothers and Grateful Dead, and then I was really into jazz.
Lucas: Gabe is the jazz maestro.
I’m a huge, huge jazz fan.
Lucas: [Gabe] is the musical genius of the band.
That’s funny, I met Ali Jackson & Carlos Henriquez from JLCO and it was sick. They are so fucking cool.
Gabe: My friend is gonna start playing gigs there.
Who would you like to open for?
Lucas: Let’s make that Twin Peaks show happen.
I would fucking wanna do that, that would be a fun show.
Lucas: Orwells would be cool, they’re like our same age. We saw them at Shea Stadium — they’re really fun live. We were supposed to open up for the Orwells. Her friend was working at Live Nation and it turned out we were set to do it, everyone agreed to it, but out of nowhere they said they already found someone even though the band was supposed to find someone. But I think for now those are in the possibility range. The Libertines because they’re getting back together? And I love Pete.
Steele: Tame Impala, Parquet Courts.
What do you think of Kevin Parker’s collab with Mark Ronson?
Gabe: It’s so great — that one song “Daffodils” is so good.
If you could take any musician out for a drink, who would it be and where would you go?
Lucas: Julian Casablancas; some bar in Alphabet City.
Gabe: Thom Yorke [Laughter]
Lucas: He’s in love with Radiohead. Would you say your top band of all time would be Radiohead?
Gabe: If I had to pick, probably.
Steele: I’d take Paul McCartney out on a date.
Would you wine and dine him?
Steele: We’d go to a nice French restaurant and then we would get a bottle of, say like, a nice whiskey or something, and walk along the East River. And then we’d sit on a cool patch of grass, maybe Battery Park, and look at the skyline and talk about life. He’d kiss me tenderly. It wouldn’t be sexual or anything.
Meeting of the minds.
Steele: Connect our brains via the mouth, or something [laughs].
What do you guys have on the roster for the next year?
Steele: Finding someone to tour with.
Lucas: We have a couple songs that we recorded at Rubber Tracks that we have a kind of a release show on the 12th for, and I don’t really like the term release because we’re not signed with a label and we’re releasing our stuff on like Soundcloud. So I don’t really see it as a release — I see it more as demos and stuff because they keep getting better and better. So we have a release show on the 12th at Silent Barn. We’re looking for a place now the following weekend because I’m turning 21.
Lucas: I think we’re gonna try to do that and then in the beginning of March we’re gonna try to open for Ennui — they’re a Brooklyn band — at Bowery Electric, and then we’re trying to play Shea Stadium on the 20th. And Niagra in April [Steele’s birthday party] and we’re gonna try to do Baby’s All Right in April too. We haven’t played there. We did the CMJ stuff and right as that was going on I was like we should probably apply for SXSW and it turned out the deadline was like the week before.
Do you have a favorite bar in the city?
Lucas: King’s County has the smallest penis competition.
Steele: I like Montana’s Trail House off the Jefferson Stop. This guy brought this old barn over from somewhere in the Appalachians and so it’s like this cool little barn. Old Stanley’s is nice too — it’s off Myrtle-Wycoff and it’s got a jukebox that actually works.
Gabe: Those are probably all the ones I’d name too.
What’s it like living together/rehearsing here at the Tea Factory Lofts?
Gabe: There’s always like free-form jazz happening next door or like just some terrible party across the hall where some guy is singing karaoke into a guitar amp at like 4am on a Tuesday.
Do you want to stay in BK?
Lucas: Steele grew up here. Would you ever move into Manhattan?
Steele: I lived in SoHo until I was 15 and then I moved here. Right now I’d live on the LES from 14th to Houston. It’s pretty much the only place I’d live in now.
Lucas: The thing that sucks, is you looked back in the early 90s and you had that whole scene on the LES and everyone was so much more closer together and everyone lived right in that place and I guess its the same in this area of BK now there are a ton of bands and Palisades and Shea but everything is so spread out now you can’t just walk there.
Steele: The other thing is I think it’s too expensive for a scene to really flourish here. It’s so absurdly expensive and everyone knows it . And if you’re an artist and you’re trying to do music or whatever, you want to devote all your time to doing that and if you’re living in NY, because it’s too fucking expensive, so if you’re living in a city like idk everyone always says Nashville but a city that’s cheap
There’s a trend of people migrating to Detroit.
Steele: Like you don’t have to do much to work and you can devote all your time to playing. But if you’re here you’re in school or you’re working and you devote 9-10 hours of your day like 5 days a week and you’re scraping to get by. It’s one thing if you’re scraping to get by and you’re not working all the time in a scene where everyone is there doing the same thing but now it’s so watered down. I’m really tired of Bushwick. I think Bushwick has become such a thing.
Steele: There’s a lot of people that are from ritzy areas in Manhattan or ritzy areas wherever the hell else and they come in and ‘oh my god look at that bar, look at all this nightlife and all these cool brunch spots’ and it’s like it’s fucked up because Bushwick is a family neighborhood and there are families that are getting priced out already but then it’s like you’ve got all these dumb fucking people from other places that are getting shit faced all the time and they think it’s like their cool playground but it’s like these are people’s neighborhoods and I feel guilty living here. And that shit is really stupid because there are some ignorant people living here.
Lucas: You get a working hispanic neighborhood and a bunch of rich kids moving in thinking they can own the neighborhood.
Steele: But it’s like ignorant rich kids who don’t have a clue about it. Like ‘oh sick a fucking bar just moved in there”. Like they don’t appreciate or acknowledge the neighborhood that was there before. There are a bunch of local places that get closed down and a bar opens up. There’s a bar opening up on every other block and idk, it’s fucked up that people move here because of the nightlife scene and that it’s a party and it’s hip.
Lucas: Having said that, though, I think there are a lot of good bands here now too I think there’s places like Palisades that are good DIY places and have good shows. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else. I could see this being our home base.
What are you reading now?
Gabe: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke.
Lucas: He’s a big philosophy guy.
Steele: Tropic of Cancer by Henry Geller, or Frannie and Zooey by J.D Salinger or A Hundred Years of Solitude. Confederate General of Big Sur by Richard Brautigan. Its not what it sounds like – he was one of the last beat writers it was about him and this guy who’s kind of eccentric and they’re bumming around San Fran and they end up in Big Sur and this guy roughs it with him there. He’s a poet mostly so it’s little vignettes.
What’s your favorite movie?
Steele: I like The Deer Hunter a lot
Lucas: Undercover Brother
Steele: And The Internship
Lucas: There was a new one after The Internship, I liked The Interview, too.
Steele: Annie Hall.
Gabe: There Will Be Blood, 2001 Space Odyssey, or Insomnia which is the Norwegian movie that I really like.
Do you have any favorite TV shows?
Lucas: It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia
Steele: I really like Peep Show
Gabe: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld.
Steele: We’ve been known to recycle shows.
Lucas: I started House of Cards
Steele: I’m getting into FRIENDS. I hadn’t seen it before.
Interview and photos by Eva Bandurowski. Follow her on Twitter @ewabando.