Life Inside Their Brooklyn Warehouse
Saturday mornings can be a struggle, and this past one was no exception. After a wild night at the Bauuer and Just Blaze show on Friday, I awoke at a friend’s apartment by Times Square with a dead iPhone and a slight headache. Most Saturday mornings allow time for damage control with added emotional support from a pair of sweatpants and a bacon egg and cheese sandwich. However, this particular Saturday I was scheduled to interview with Brooklyn’s up and coming punk tribe, The So So Glos. Cue *Get. shit. together. NOW!*
I exited the L train at Grand Street without a clue as to what I was getting myself into. Maybe it was because I was coming from tourist-infested midtown Manhattan, but this neighborhood in Brooklyn seemed particularly desolate. After skeptically following scribbled-down Google maps directions, I arrived just outside of The So So Glo’s venue/crash space, affectionately named Shea Stadium (go Mets!) I took a deep breath and reached hesitantly for the handle on a grey warehouse door, half expecting stacks of discontinued sneakers or baby food to lay behind it.
Upon swinging the door open, my eyes met with one of the friendliest faces I’ve seen in New York in some time. Drummer Zach Staggers warmly motioned me over to the sunken-in couch he was perched on towards the back of the studio.
“I was racking my brain for some Spanish vocabulary to ask your neighbor if this was the right place,” I said to excuse my awkwardness.
“Well, you made it!” Staggers said cheerfully, and began asking me a bit about myself. A couple minutes later, I got around to mentioning one of the interview questions I had written for him. “Oh, so you’re the writer? Awesome!” he smiled.
It was then that I realized that I could have been a complete stranger who had wandered into Shea Stadium off the streets, and to the So So Glos it wouldn’t have made a difference. All the same, they would have generously offered me a cold beer, bangin’ portobello mushroom pizza, and some good company. Now that’s punk rock.
One by one, Matt Elkin (guitar/vocals and brothers Alex (lead vocals/bass) and Ryan Levine (guitar/vocals) introduced themselves with a shared wholehearted yet laid back demeanor. Matt and I spent a good five minutes belting out old Sheryl Crow lyrics –every day is a winding road– and later we all spent time contemplating our list of bodega essentials.
During my visit to Shea Stadium, it seemed that the only thing The So So Glos took seriously was their music. This became obvious after sitting through five or six video takes of the boys performing their latest track, “Son of An American.” Each time they pounded out the underdog rock anthem, it sounded pretty righteous to me: Alex’s bass and vocals powered through the track, occasionally letting out an organic scream at all the right hell yeah moments; Zach’s drumming was on point (he passed on the pizza for fear of playing too slow) and Matt and Ryan backed their homeboys up intuitively with guitar and by chiming in on the chorus. As awesome as I thought it sounded the first time around, the So So Glos were not about to give it one go. “I messed up, I messed up,” Alex promised, requesting for another take. “We could do it better.”
And dude was right. On the fourth time around, I couldn’t help but mouth along to the newly learned lyrics: “Take me out to the ball game/I wanna sit in the stands and scream/I wanna root for the losing team.”
Root for the losing team? *Insert bad Mets joke here.* But in all seriousness, The So So Glos really are underdog advocates. Back in November, they cohosted a show at Shea Stadium with Ted Leo and Titus Andronicus to benefit the National Lawyers’ Guild, who help the Occupy Wall Street movement. Plus, they make a point to keep the kiddies in the loop, declaring Shea Stadium an all-ages venue. Not to mention they probably would have let me crash at their place that night had I needed to.
Though their outlook on life is certainly DIY punk– what with their Mets iron-ons that customize their leather jackets or their latest music video made up of old home movies– they refrain from using that term to define their style. “Every type of music is DIY… unless you’re Milli Vanilli,” Alex joked. But maybe calling The So So Glos DIY punk is simply too obvious. The Brooklyn natives make their own music on their own turf, and the result is realness. Unlike all too many talented bands in the boho-chic area of Brooklyn, The So So Glos aren’t afraid to be accessible. They’re not pretentious, even though they’re good enough to get away with it. They’re refreshing, avoiding cliches and doing their own thing effortlessly. After a photographer on set asked them to flip off the camera, one of them shrugged, “Eh, nah. I don’t really wanna do that.” Right on.
After being on set for a funky but freezing photoshoot on the roof and a long day of jam seshes and and interviews, I was about ready to crash. But the So So Glos were just getting started, gearing up to host a gig that night at Shea Stadium. “There’s a show here pretty much every night,” Ryan said, pushing some furniture across the room. With that, I knew I had to give them some space to get ready and gave them each a hug goodbye. I closed the warehouse door with twenty times more confidence than I came in with, knowing I’ll see it again soon.
Catch the So So Glos on tour:
3.1 NYC Santos Party House w/The Orwells
3.7 Buffalo, NY—The Funeral Home—Impose presents @
3.8 Fort Wayne, IN-Brass Rail ^
3.9 Chicago, IL-The Empty Bottle–Impose presents— w/Cult of Youth, Lazy, Big Ups $
3.10 Iowa City, IA-University of Iowa &
3.11 Dallas, TX- Dada
3.18 New Orleans, LA- Circle Bar =
3.19 Birmingham, AL-Bottle Tree w/ Parenthetical Girls #
3.20 Nashville, TN-The Stone Fox
3.21 Charlottesville, VA- Tea Bazaar
3.22 Baltimore, MD- Club K +
3.23 Philadelphia, PA- PhilMoca w/Parenthetical Girls #
3.24 Hoboken, NJ- Maxwells *
3.25 Boston, MA- Charlie’s Kitchen %
@ – With Big Ups
^ – With Slowpokes & Thunderhawk
$ – With Big Ups, Lazy, & Cult of Youth
& – With Supersonic Piss & Huge Lewis
= – With The Old Ceremony
# – With Parenthetical Girls
+ – With Weekends, Little Viking & EchpHeyHello
* – With The Evermen
% -With Squarehead