I may or may not be a fortune teller and not know it. This also depends on your definition of a fortune. When I first wrote about the So So Glos for Alt Citizen, I ended my review of their excellent new album Blowout by saying they had created “one great party and an epic hangover all at the same time, and it’s totally worth it.” The night of their show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn could certainly be described as that.
After one too many tequila shots I spent the end of the night trying (and failing) to make sure I didn’t puke on the J train on the way home. The morning after I woke up with a spinning head, bruised arms from getting shoved into the stage, and “Lost Weekend” stuck in my head. It was definitely worth it.
Zach, you’ve described Sam Cooke as an “original punk.” What other people do you consider to be original punks?
Zach: I think that might’ve been Alex…
Alex: i think that might’ve been final summation.
Alex: it might have been me
I guess what I’m trying to ask is what other people do you guys consider punk who don’t necessarily fit the typical punk aesthetic?
Alex: Original punks? Phew. Well I dunno––
Matt: Lenny Bruce, Robin Williams …
Alex: Woody Guthrie for sure the original punk.
Zach: Link Wray, the inventor of the power chord. He was a Native American guitarist in the 50s and he invented the power chord, and I think he also invented distortion––that was pretty punk rock.
Alex: Susan B. Anthony.
She’s pretty punk rock!
Alex: Teddy Roosevelt.
Alex: Karl Marx!
Alex: Well it’s a tough question you know.
I mean, it’s obvious in a sense that someone like Sam Cooke is a punk but not really in the musical definition of the word.
Zach: I mean really if you were a musician any time before punk you were kind of an original punk. ‘Cause most musicians were playing music to escape some sort of oppression with reality. Physical oppression — whatever it was –they were all doing it to elevate somehow, and I think that in its nature is punk.
You guys are involved in Market Hotel and Shea Stadium, which are two all ages venues in a not all ages friendly area. When I first moved to New York I had to use a friend’s ID to get into shows! I think you guys really understand the importance of an all ages space, so can you elaborate on that?
Alex: Yeah, you know the all ages movement is just something that’s always been important to us. We hold that as one of the pillars of this new movement in Brooklyn just because we grew up kids going to shows.
Zach: When we were kids, there were all ages spots in Manhattan: Wetlands, Knitting Factory did all ages stuff. I think as the rent got more expensive [and] the insurance got more expensive, they couldn’t do it anymore. It kind of fell on whoever was gonna carry that torch. We thought it was important so just started it up.
Matt: Even in Connecticut where I grew up, there was an all ages venue. I don’t think I’d be doing this today if I didn’t catch that fire so early on. I think even doing music as a profession now, I don’t think music will mean as much to me as when I was young and it was like the only thing, the only escape.
Alex: There’s just the time when music hits you really hard and I don’t think that it makes any sense [to say], “Yeah put an age restriction on that moment.” A lot of the times that moment comes before you’re 21––not always but most of the time––so you shouldn’t be denied entry to places where those inspiring moments are happening.
Nasa: Why the name Shea Stadium?
Zach: Adam (Reich, Blowout producer and co-owner of Shea Stadium) is the one that picked the name.
Alex: Well we were originally gonna be Stea Shadium, and then the world needed a new Shea Stadium.
Matt: All the arenas, as we went through high school: the Boston Garden, the Philadelphia Spectrum, Shea Stadium, everything got taken over by these corporate entities. Now they have the hideous names, these sparkling new spots, but they don’t have the grit that they used to.
Zach: Shea Stadium was home to the notorious underdogs: the Mets. I think all ages as a mentality is always gonna be the underdog of philosophies because some people want to prevent some kids from dancing for some reason which I don’t understand.
Have you guys been to a Mets game lately?
Alex: I haven’t been this season, Matt has.
Matt: I went last season when Dickey was still on the team.
Zach: We grew up going to Shea Stadium. We grew up Mets fans. Our father and Adam Reich, who started Shea Stadium with us, his father had season tickets right next to each other so we used to go there when we were like 5.
Matt: We all like baseball and the Mets but we’re not like… I think the misconception is… we’re not fucking obsessed with baseball on a daily basis! Some kid at the show on Wednesday yelled out to me something, and I knelt down and he was like, “DON’T WORRY MAN IKE DAVIS IS GONNA BE OKAY.” I was like, “I don’t fucking care!”
Zach: Adam Reich is definitely the most die hard Mets fan. At the shows, people chant “let’s go Mets!” Well, we’re The So So Glos, not the Mets, but I guess we brought that upon [ourselves] so…
So you guys played on Letterman a few weeks ago. How was that?
Matt: I said this to someone the other day: it was so surreal it was as if it didn’t actually happen. It was a really blurry day obviously none of us slept the night before.
Alex: I don’t even remember it.
Zach: Snoop Dogg was in our dressing room beforehand and it smelled really nice in there. I regret not picking up some of those roaches actually. It was great––it’s definitely a New York institution.
Ryan: Ah it was just a subway ride and one song. No big deal really.
I feel like that’s the first time in a really long time people were excited to see an artist on TV. Well other than Kanye on SNL.
Matt: Really your friends were excited to see us? Holy shit!
Zach: You’re comparing us to Kanye? I’ve seen it and it feels really good, and people have pride in us in a way ’cause we’re from Brooklyn and this small scene and I feel like people have pride in that. That really makes me feel good about what we’re doing.
I know that your parents are a huge part of how The So So Glos came to be. What are their thoughts on Blowout?
Zach: They love it.
Matt: I’ll give you the breaking scoop on my dad [laughs]. He just called me this week, and told me he’s selling the business! He’s been at it since — my grandpa started it — and he’s been there for fucking––he’s been there for like 36 years. He and my uncle who worked there, they inherited it from my grandfather who started it out of the trunk of his car. He was just like, “It’s fine! At the end of the month, it’s done.”
What business is this?
Matt: Tape: adhesive tape. It’s kind of like Dunder Mifflin, you know, like on The Office. He didn’t like his career, he’s always wanted to do something else, and he was just like, “Someone made an offer, so we’re just done.” I was like, “Do you have a plan?” and he was like, “No… I ‘ll figure it out.” I feel like our sort of spontaneity in this, they have encouraged it in a way, to make this dive. I don’t know if that’s true.
Zach: It’s definitely true.
Matt: He’s never been a guy [to say] “I have no plan, I’ll just see what happens” and I think that’s all we’ve done.
I saw a video interview where you guys discuss how a blogger criticized you for playing as if you were playing to a sold out show. Do you still read your press?
Zach: You see stuff that people write about you, we’re not gonna say we don’t look at it once a while. You just gotta brush it off and not pay too much attention to it. It’s cool if someone wants to talk about us, but that’s not really real. What’s real is if someone connects to our music, feels the positive message we’re trying to put out there. All that other shit on the internet… I mean, no offense this will probably be on the internet![laughs]
Ryan: I’d rather talk to people in person than hear what they have to say on the internet.
Alex: I’m not really concerned with what’s on the internet honestly.
Matt: But we also we did take that one blog to heart for like three days.
Zach: Ever since that comment when there’s 3 people there,
we play like there’s zero people there and we feel really bad about ourselves.
Matt: Long story short all the criticism we get on the internet, we find all of it and we take it to heart. Then we change ourselves for the better because of it.
Zach: Because they know best, the internet knows best.
Matt: He’ll (Alex) delegate and be like, “Alright Matt you and Zach try to play good. Then Ryan and Alex, you guys act like you’re not playing for a fucking stadium.” It’s cool we can all collectively or individually cater to everyone’s needs… to every opinion set forth on the internet.
Zach: Really we don’t really give a fuck and do what we want. That’s the first true thing we’ve said so far.
Story & Photos by Alex Martinez