Long Neck is the solo endeavor of New Jerseyan Lily Mastrodimos; the name comes from Mastrodimo’s love of dinosaurs, and the band’s records serve as methodical archives of her evolution as a person and musician.
Their sophomore LP World’s Strongest Dog, which was self-released in April 2020, catalogs Mastrodimos’ triumphs, hardships and growth during her late 20s. On it, Mastrodimos is joined by John Ambrosio of drums and percussion, Kevin Kim on guitar and Alex Mercuri on bass and was recorded and mixed by Tom Beaujour.
The record’s opening track “Campfire” is an anthem to building something new, and since August Mastrodimos has been doing just that by booking weekly virtual showcases called “Around the Campfire.” Today, there’s a special Black Friday edition with about 20 artists including Oceanator, Shady Bug, The Cosmonaut Cassettes, Garden and more. We chatted with Lily Mastrodimos about her love of bats, the New Jersey music scene and how science informs her songwriting.
AF: What realizations did you come to while meditating on your late 20s during the process of writing and recording World’s Strongest Dog?
LM: I had a professor who once who told me that I get caught up in the struggle and not the process. I think, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to understand what he meant. I used to be so debilitated by stress and anxiety and depression, but in the past few years I’ve been able to seek help and learn how to manage that struggle. You’ve got to manage the struggle however you can, hold yourself accountable, and be open to the things you learn on the way.
AF: How has the New Jersey music scene changed over the years?
LM: Jersey is such a small state, and I think the music scene actually benefits from that. Everyone knows each other and is so down to help each other out. Some really wonderful booking collectives have popped up (hi Beehive!), DIY venues and community centers have been established in towns that may not get a lot of musical foot traffic otherwise. Jersey has such a rich musical history, and it’s beautiful to see it continue and grow in the way that it has.
AF: Are you still working in a scientific field and has the pandemic changed anything about the work you’re doing?
LM: I still want to work in the scientific field. The pandemic has put my grad school plans on hold, and I miss being out in the field. I’ve been trying to spend as much time outside as I can. I go birdwatching on my off days, and I installed a bat house on my roof this summer.
AF: What is your favorite thing about bats?
LM: Oh God, everything! Here’s a relevant fact for the day: Did you know vampire bats will socially distance when a member of a colony is sick? Let’s learn from bats!
AF: Does your work in science ever cross over into your music?
LM: Oh absolutely. It’s easier for me to dissect my own feelings when I can relate them to ecological processes or animal behavior.
AF: We’ve listed many of your Around The Campfire Twitch streams on here over the past few months. What inspired you to start curating your own Twitch showcases?
LM: Thank you! I started Around The Campfire because I missed booking shows, and I missed going to shows, and I missed that community. I thought I would only do it for August, but the list of bands I wanted to book was just too long and I enjoyed the shows too much. I decided to keep doing it for the foreseeable future. In October we moved all of our streams to our very own website because we learned Twitch is owned by Amazon. The switch has been so perfect, though. I can archive all of our shows and the streams run so much more smoothly. It’s been amazing.
AF: What have been some of your favorite moments from your Twitch streams?
LM: Oh my goodness, it’s so hard to choose! The Diners set is up there, Tyler’s performance was just so fun and wonderful. Anjimile and Billy Dean Thomas put on such incredible shows, and getting to see them play together was wild. I’ve loved all of these sets so much and I’m thrilled that these artists get to share their art with us every week.
AF: What plans do you have for the end of 2020 and beyond?
LM: Long Neck will be releasing a music video soon, but that’s all I’ll say about that! Around The Campfire will continue for the foreseeable future – the December lineup will be announced soon and it’s a wild one. Once it’s safe for “irl” shows again, I’d like to turn Around The Campfire into a live, monthly show. All in all, we’re scheming!
RSVP HERE for Long Neck with Oceanator, Remember Sports, Sailor Boyfriend, Ben Eisenberger, Cinema Hearts, Maya ‘Moon’ Osborne, Shady Bug, The Cosmonaut Cassettes, Evan Diem, Garden Centre, Yvonne Chazal, Erica Freas, Suzie True, sodada, Soot Sprite, Adam Carpenter, Fresh, Me Rex, and Finish Flag on 11/27 at 7pm ET.
More great livestreams this week…
11/27 Girl Skin via The New Colossus Festival YouTube. 9pm ET, RSVP HERE
11/28 Making music Writing Lyrics with Paige of Irrevery via The Coop Workshop Square. 2pm ET RSVP HERE
11/28 Hinds via Moment House. 9pm ET, $12. RSVP HERE
11/28 Dinosaur Jr. via Live & Alone from Look Park. 8pm ET, $15. RSVP HERE
12/1 Weeping Icon via BABY.tv. 8pm ET, $5 RSVP HERE
12/1 Sylvan Esso via NoonChorus. 9pm ET, $15 RSVP HERE‘
12/1 Alice in Chains Tribute Concert with Metallica, Billy Corgan, Ann Wilson, Krist Novoselic & more via Twitch. 6pm ET RSVP HERE