MORNING AFTER: Peaches and Sausage with The Values

Though it feels like it happened 40 years ago, I remember clearly when I first saw The Values. It was in the backyard during Putnam-o-Rama, and three girls passed in matching, spangly sunset-gradient dresses, golds and silvers bleeding into deep orchid. And Sean Jones said, “That’s The Values. You’ll like them, they’re really different.” But I was uprepared. Woefully unprepared.

Because The Values proceeded to pounce on the muddy, murky night with a glitter bomb of soulful voices. While impossible to pin down as one genre – the synth spine of Ladytron, the wardrobe of The Supremes… who even is on this extended family tree? idefk – they never, not for a fucking second, lacked coordination or the ability to dazzle a collection of completely different people in the crowd. Playful lines like “I do my online window shopping, pretend that I have money,” reminded the audience that despite the unrelenting sparkle, they aren’t untouchably manicured. They just try harder, work harder, and play pretty hard as well. It shows.

Different. But inclusive.

So post-set, I ran up to Mason Taub to say “Hi, I’m Mary Grace from the Internet, your band is amazing and we are totally getting breakfast together!” She was all, “That’s great, but also I need to get out of this dress. Do you want to help me warn the crowd that the cops are coming?” “I would be insulted if you DIDN’T invite me,” was my response, and I followed her around the establishment, being generally useless and unpacking whatever That Guy drama I had while she undressed in one of the bedrooms.


That was, not 40 years ago, but July. And now it’s a sunny August afternoon and the cork just hit the ceiling. Won’t you join us?

The Scene: Aside from Mason, who just opened the prosecco, the band is streamlined to a core group: Evan Zwisler (frying up french toast), sisters Nathalie and Mel Escudero, and a drum machine called Little Nicky (after former drummer Nick Ciccantelli from The Lounge Act).

So that’s why we’re in Mason and Evan’s kitchen in Flatbush, their precious pitbull Honey at our feet. “Mel, Mason and I went to a party last night and we got home at 2:30 and we were like, ‘Oh, let’s play some tunes…’” Evan says, before we cheers.

“So did you make sweet tunes?” I ask. No, they just stayed up and watched The Great British Baking Show. Through the chaos and hastily downed mimosas (me, that’s all me) Nat mentions that she had the best key lime pie the other day and that Mason makes a boss lemon curd and hummus (maybe not paired together).

“You guys, like, make food and that’s so strange to me, because I’ve fucked up mac and cheese before,” I observe.

“Macaroni and cheese can be hard because cheese is like, delicate,” Mel offers sympathetically.

“I mean, it was literally a box,” I admit.

Laughter abounds, but clearly I’m a trash human being who’s gonna get the deluxe treatment here.


“Do you remember that terrible bar in Long Island?” asks Evan, in the midst of food discussions. “There were just people in the bathroom doing cocaine…”

“There was a dude in the woman’s bathroom,” Nat adds.

Mason remembers. “That’s when we saw Misogyny The Band.” (Not their real name. I asked, don’t bother Googling).

“The guy was wearing this t-shirt that said ‘Fuck your sensitivity,” Evan remembers.

“And then,” Nat adds, “he would just say in between songs, ‘penis.'”

The kicker, I’m told, was their signature song – something about this dude choking his girlfriend and coming on her neck. Suffice to say nobody was impressed and the kitchen filled with a lot of “ews” and groans.

“Half of the people weren’t even listening,” Mel recalls. “But the ones that were, everyone was looking at each other. They had to look at someone.”

“And then we went up there and we have this song ‘Zombie’ and it’s about abortion, and so the way I always start it is, ‘This song is about an abortion,'” Mason says. “And there were audible groans when I said that.”

“That says everything about this scene and how weirdly sexist it is,” I chime in. “You can choke a bitch and cum on her neck but you mention a song about an abortion and suddenly it’s ‘Oh, god, NOT THAT.'”

There’s often some kind of audible response, but it’s not always negative. The band is playing a lot of out-of-town shows and their college gigs are filled with impressionable youths (I’m only 26 but I’m condescending) wearing glitter highlights (which the band has adopted in their look). And from them, Mason and the band get appreciation.

“I have a lot of girls come up to me, and it’s always younger girls, and they’re like, ‘We don’t ever see bands at our college with women in there, thanks for coming.’” she says.


2:24 We move into Evan and Mason’s room/practice space, hence the wall of guitars and literal piano near the window. The girls and I waste no time devouring Evan’s breakfast: chicken sausage, sliced peaches, French toast and eggs on the way. “You know what’s really funny? Ev is a vegetarian,” Mel says, but clearly one who can make a boss chicken sausage.

“Should the whole article be just recipes that you guys have excelled at?” I ask later.

Mason’s about it. “We should just include our recipes with our album.”

They consider making the cover of their next album a picture of something they’ve cooked, with production credits and lyrics deleted and replaced by just the recipe for it. Full disclosure: I would buy the fuck out of that album, but in case it never happens, here’s a list of other essential Values dishes:

  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • Brie Cheese Pie

Evan can apparently make a mean chicken, too.

Invite them to your next party.

2:34 So Mel’s apparently so vocally talented it once got her abducted.

“There’s a story our mom tells us about when my sister was in pre-school and there was a bus driver who would hear my sister sing on the bus,” Nat recounts. “And she was Columbian like us, so my sister was singing this song from a popular Columbian telenovela at the time. And she was like, in love with my sister. So she took her, didn’t take her home to my parents, took her to her home, had her sing in the living room for her family.”

“I’ve never heard this story,” Mason chimes in.

“How old were you?” Evan asks.

Mel’s pretty nonchalant about it. “I was like, 4 or 5?”


“And my sister’s not aware that she was being taken against her own will. The bus driver took her back home and my mom was like, worried sick,” Nat says. “This was before people took things like this more seriously.”

“Like, kidnapping more seriously?” I ask.

Anyway, we’re all very glad that Mel did not end up a milk carton kid. That really would’ve hindered The Values’ sound.

3:00 The Values are recalling their old rehearsal space in Brooklyn Heights, a hot box in which they had to fit roughly “67” people in a room.

“We were down to our bras in that room and we kept singing,” Mason remembers. “And I vividly remember Phil sitting down and after 5 minutes and I checked him and was like, ‘Are you okay?’ and he was like, ‘I’m not moving, and the sweat is just pouring down my face and I’m not moving.'”

It sounds like a time, but I’m too many mimosas deep to concentrate, and Air is playing, and that was my high school sex stuff music. So.

“I think this is one of the best, funniest songs,” Mason shares. “It still kind of makes me giggle, and just the fact that that’s the hook makes me laugh, ‘Sexy Booooy.‘”

“Well they’re a French band so a lot of it’s just nonsense, they’re like, Oh, yeah, we are a couple of sexy boys. Let’s do it,” Evan jokes, putting on a mangled accent.

“Like Borat?” I ask, confused.

Like Borat.


Eventually it ends up just Evan, Mason and me watching the dorkiest but purest Foo Fighters fan video, cry-laughing the whole way through. I think I’m still too obliterated to make intelligent conversation, but I’m learning that Evan grew up in Shanghai and Mason grew up in New York.

“I think that’s part of why we get each other. We had similar experiences in high school seeing bands and going to bars and stuff,” she says.

“It’s also like growing up in a big city, there’s always more trouble to get into,” Evan adds. They talk about the lure of these communities, a sort of “chase culture” that draws active, adventurous, creative teens like a moth to the flame. More trouble to find, more troublesome people to run with.

“Chase culture.” I don’t know if I’ve grown out of that yet. Sometimes I worry I never will.

“Can I play with the dog?” I ask. The answer, thank dog, is yes.

I check in on The Values twice more before I write this, supplementing their shows as a date plan, as a 25th birthday plan, a plan that I plug into my schedule whenever I can.

“It’s so refreshing to see a band that actually tries,” my friend Joe Mayer says during the tail end of their Knitting Factory set. Word.

It’s a drive-by appearance, as always, but I chat with Nat in the bathroom about how they killed it with their choreography (choreography, HOW). And in a smokey haze, sunken onto the couch in the Green Room, I catch up with Mason, who asks me about how things are going with That Guy. Different That Guy, but always some That Guy.

There’s always a possibility that I’m an easy crowd member to win over. But more likely, The Values are playing with a brighter spectrum of hues than most. And sue me, I like visiting their colorful world.

I think you would, too.

“I do my online window shopping, just to see some beauty…”

You can follow The Values on Facebook, listen to them on Bandcamp, and catch their eponymous EP September 14th!

MORNING AFTER: Ricotta French Toast with Def.GRLS

“I can’t really talk, I’m having brunch with…” I play with my platinum blonde wig and tug the string of my leopard print bikini top while addressing the poor Fios representative at my door. “…clients right now.” Behind me Mark Brickman and Hannah Teeter are picking out our audio-video entertainment (the Go-Go’s are a must, Metalocalypse is a strong contender, but they’re considering all my Buffys) and behind them Craig Martinson is unloading my cabinets. Saturday morning breakfast at my apartment; it’s every guys’ fantasy, and some guys’ very disorienting reality.

But they aren’t guys, they’re Def.GRLS.

Again, that includes Craig (guitar, brought the King’s Hawaiian Sweetbread Rolls, eggs, and syrup) Hannah (drums, brought the Shiny Ruby RedBird beer) and Mark (bass, brought the sriracha and his sparkling personality). And despite the very romantic sitch of this being my apartment/me being half-naked, I targeted Def.GRLS because they are fun AF. Swirling, maddening, neon, glitter-smeared, fun.

What’s funny is that you can actually hear a retro element in their songs. Craig and Mark pair high-pitched harmonies a Beach Boy would be proud of. “FinGRLess Lady” sounds like forty chopped-up Beatles songs smashed back together (is it? Maybe?) AND YET, Def.GRLS is down to tailspin into complete musical psychosis. Surf riffs turn into disco beats and marry robotic overlays, and that’s just in the mouthful of a song, “The Four Horsemen of the Acapulcolypse (War, Famine, Pestilence and Dance).” But while there’s audience awe, there’s never bafflement, just a resounding feeling of “Yaaaaas.”

So I’m bikini-clad with the wonderful Def.GRLS because when the seasons heat up, I prefer to have fun then fall in love.

That’s always my plan, anyway.

The Scene: When we’re scheduling this at Union Pool Mark asked if I come over and make them breakfast, and Craig stressed, “We make her breakfast.” I didn’t correct this, because I am a strong, independent woman who likes having people feed me and do my dishes.

Anyway, we’re at my McGolrick Park-side apartment, which is very Kate Spade-meets-pop-art-meets-pop-culture-meets-clinical depression.

2:51 Charly Bliss’s Guppy is already in my record player so we play side A as a prequel to Metalacalypse-Go-Go’s. Hannah and I are sharing her e-cig (read: I took it from her; I have boundary issues) and among chit-chat about Adam West and teeny mags she explains, “I’m new to the vape pen. Douchebag, what a douchebag,” she rolls her eyes (metaphorically) at the idea. “I haven’t had a fire cigarette in like 33 days, and I was smoking like a pack a day. And this is like…I don’t know. I feel better. It’s crazy. But also everything smells so bad all of a sudden.”

What she’s smelling is New York in heat, but I get the feel. “When I was smoking Njoys religiously I was like, this isn’t a real cigarette, I’m just a fucking asshole,” I confess. We decide to check on the boys who insist we don’t lift a finger, and to get breakfast-ready Craig puts on his matted blonde stage wig.

“Now we’re making breakfast.” “Now we’re making breakfast.” Mark and Hannah overlap each other before we all cheer at this transformation.

“Dude, that wig looks like it’s had some adventures,” I observe. It has.

“For our record release I had a batch of fake blood. I dumped it all over myself,” Craig says. “So every time I sweat at the show I end up stained red. Worth it.”

“Definitely worth it,” Mark echoes.

“You guys are like the funnest band,” I say.

“You are!” Mark shoots back

“I am not the funnest band,” I take a sip of my beer. “That’s just fake.”

3:19 While Mark (unsuccessfully) tries to teach me how to open a beer bottle with a lighter, we compose a Mad Lib. Hannah has the job of reading it back to the group.

“This Mad Libs is called, ‘I Do, I Dance.'” She says. “‘You’re sure to find hairy dancing at wedding receptions. There’s something very special and pubically touching when the bride and dick have the first dance and husband and wet fart.'”

Mark: “Yes, yes.”

“’And doesn’t the father-sadist dance always bring tears to your mega dick?‘”

Mark: “For sure.”

Craig: “Yeah.”

“‘But when the DJ starts playing sexingly the wedding classics, that’s when the orphan fun begins. Who doesn’t love the chicken dance, when you poke out your uvulas and flap them around?‘”


Craig: “That’s actually what it is.”

Mark: “It is now.”

“‘There’s the conga line, where you grab someone by the jumbo dicks, fall in line, and snake around Mary Grace’s house.'”

Mark: “YES, YES.”

“‘The hokey-pokey’s great too. You put your right butthole in, you put your right butthole out, you put your right butthole in and you twerk it all about.’

Craig: “Yes.”

Mark: “Twerk it all about, that’s exactly right.”

“That is how you twerk,” I think. “‘Yes, wedding receptions are where it’s at. Just don’t get so caught up shaking your groove twerk-jerk that you forget to eat a super groovy piece of wedding chunks-blown.'”

More cheers erupt, as we’re all very proud of our verbal Frankenstein.

3:25 The phenomenal Vacation is on, the coffee’s done brewing, and I’m explaining my family tradition of making vomiting noise whenever I pour milk out of a cow creamer. They’ve also selected mugs that speak to each of them on a soul level: Hannah went with the (millennial?) pink mug with the skull and crossbones, while Mark settled on the timeless and elegant piggy mug. And Craig?

“I chose the ‘Queen of Fucking Everything’ mug,” He announces.

“Of course you did,” I reply. Duh.

“I thought the [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Disney] princess mug was yours,” Mark remarks.

“It is mine, I have a Sailor Moon one, too.” I look into the cabinet. “Should I do unicorns or Ava Gardner?”

“Both,” Mark and Hannah chorus.

Cups acquired, I pour coffee and milk-vomit for the gang. Mark oinks when I pour his, which is all I ever wanted.

3:35 So we’re diving into this breakfast of Craig’s design, and he’s explaining how you put ricotta cheese on the french toast first, then fresh raspberries and blackberries, and then top it off with syrup. Tl;dr it’s like taking your taste buds to Disneyland.

BUT ANYWAY, our talk turns to how excited we are about their gig at the GP Stripes Northside Showcase tonight.

“Dude, it’s going to be the best. It’s all my faves. Holy Tunics!” Mark says.

I nod.”Fucking Holy Tunics and then Sic Tic closing it out.”

“Sic Tic! I love Sic Tic.” Mark says (legit everyone’s reaction when I mention Sic Tic).

“They’re so good, they’re so friendly,” Hannah adds.

“They’re good people,” Craig says. “We had two shows back-to-back, they saw us by chance, and they were like, ‘Oh you guys are playing tomorrow night? We’ll come.’ And they did.”

“And nobody ever comes when they say they’re going to come! I was like, ‘WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?'” Hannah throws in before my phone starts to buzz.

“OH, I’m gonna talk to my dad real quick,” I say, excusing myself from the table as Hannah calls, “Hi, dad!” after me.

3:50 Hannah’s talking about her upbringing in Kansas when Mark quips, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

“Good one Mark, that’s really funny,” Hannah deadpans.

“I just made that up,” Mark says. “I’m a joke-writer in my free time.”

“You’re on the Jimmy Fallon team,” Craig confirms.

“All the hits,” Mark tables back.

“Name one.”

Drew Carey.”

“You wrote for a sitcom?”

“Back in my earlier years.”

“You were like 12?”

“All the funny jokes are mine. All the not funny ones were that other guy.”

“Mark wrote Mimi.”

Hannah interrupts their ping-ponging with, “Mimi is what my parents called me when I was in seventh grade and learning how to do my make-up.”

“I think you should bring that back,” Craig says. We decide, instead, to do a Mimi-inspired look for Craig to wear to the showcase tonight. Luckily I have sapphire eyeshadow in droves.

3:59 After I make the switch from Vacation to Beauty and the Beat, I realize how much noise we’re making, and how my Ukrainian landlady can probably hear every horrifying conversation. “But it’s the middle of the day. There’s nothing I’m technically doing wrong, except, like, cooking,” I shrug.

All the while I decide to let my social media feed know that I’m still having fun, so I start composing a status before I need to be a journalist and fact-checker.”Wait, how do I spell Def.GRLS? GRLS is capitalized, right?”

“There’s a period in the middle, no space. We were actually like ‘how annoying do we want to make this’? We decided on maximum,” Craig says. “There’s no vowels, there’s punctuation, GRLS is all capital, it’s very specific.”

“We get so mad when people spell it wrong,” Mark says.

“Well, that’s our job,” Craig replies.

Def.GRLS and I end up separated for an exhausting 5 hours, reuniting (as promised) at their Northside gig, where they brought the madness full force. Partying ensued. But around 2 am I impulsively decided to Irish exit (incidentally leaving Mark with my phone charger). As I stumbled down the street I received a Facebook message from Craig saying that he was sorry they forgot to give me a shout out. But they did write me this song:

Mary Grace

I ate breakfast at your place

Put your makeup on my face

Mary Grace

I had to leave your embrace

For our practice space

Oh dear, oh god, oh no, we’re all going to fall in summer love. Can’t you feel it?

You can stream Def.GRLs on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, and party with them anytime.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

MORNING AFTER: Diner Daze With The Off White

I’m not upset or anything, but Sean Jones got me to profile The Off White under the pretenses of a home-cooked meal. I remember it clearly, and by that I mean I barely remember it at all. I was at Milo’s Yard sandwiched between him and Michael Stuart Grossman. Sean was hand-feeding me a samosa and he was like, “Mary Grace, interview us and I’ll make you breakfast,” and I was like, “Oh my god, I love free things!” The plan was set. But that was before the boys woke up hungover after a gig at Berlin, back in the days when I could stomach food (because it has been a rough week).

Regardless, I’ve broken bread with The Off White before, and it’s always a goddamn party. Long Beach Island troublemakers at heart, these Jersey boys have been crashing the Brooklyn scene for a while, making high-tide waves last summer when I found them at my go-to pizza place. At the time I likely served the same side-eye I used to reserve for my little brother’s friends, thinking “What are all these children doing in my home?” but a few shows, a tequila-saturated night at the Soho Grand followed by a very bohemian brunch at The Lodge later I warmed up to them. And musically? They’re heating up just in time for this summer. They’ve added a little polish to the scrappier psych-punk sound for their upcoming EP, and even showcasing a bit of surprising swagger on songs like “Rave And Drool” (recorded and co-produced by Gods’ and The Parlor Mob’s Paul Ritchie).

It’s like when your little brother’s friends come home from that first year of college, still rambunctious and a bit goofy, but having long shed all their baby fat. You’re impressed, intrigued, and maybe a little bit uncomfortable.

Anyway, 3/5ths of the band are with us today: Sean, Matthew Aidala and David Jensen. Michael Rocco Bongi is absent, and frontman Pat Brenner… I just want to go on the record saying I think Pat is a very charming young man, but for personal reasons I’m malevolently thrilled to write he’s at his diner job today. Also joining us is longtime band associate  Melissa (she’s known the guys for a decade), who looks way too pretty this early in the morning, like it’s criminal.

The Scene: The crew allowed me to pick our breakfast place, and it was a real Sophie’s choice between “the diner next to my apartment” and “the diner next to the G train.” I opted for the latter, mainly because I have to bounce to Penn Station to make it to Jersey for Easter. But diner-ing was entirely necessary, and everyone feels very welcome at Manhattan Three Decker, the Mediterranean mural besides us a reminder of our shoreside routes.

11:11 This feeling of belonging is immediately followed by everyone being seriously disappointed in me.

“Mary Grace, Pat says there’s no booze here,” Sean says. I mumble something about how I think there’s mimosas although now I’m wondering if I dreamed that up. Matt’s V8 juice arrives and he empties it with a manic glee.

They want to make sure that V8 gets an endorsement, so this article is brought to you by V8 and by JD Powers and Associates.

“This article is going to be a V8 sponsored post,” I promise.

“I mean we have endorsements across the board,” Sean says.

“We should get Nascar jackets with all our sponsorships,” David adds. Matt’s now pouring hot sauce into his cup, which apparently makes the difference. Sean and David are adamant about adding butter to it.

“Rich makes coffee and he adds butter and coconut oil,” Sean explains. “It tasted like we were drinking butter. And it was a French press, so it was really strong coffee.”

“What is a French press, anyway?” I ask.

“It’s like this…” Sean gestures wildly. “Kind of like this but a little bigger…” David also mimes the coffee-making mechanics.

Melissa has a more coherent explanation. “It’s like you have tea, but you put in the coffee, it’s the same thing where you’re like, pushing the grinds down.” The bottom line is, everyone’s about this weird, fancy machine.

“Once you start French pressing…” Melissa starts.

“…you can’t go back.” David finishes.

11:23 Shout-out to Mustache’s Bill’s. Sean is trying to tell me, “We all worked at this diner—”

“I didn’t work there.” “I didn’t work there.” “I didn’t work there but I’m sure it’s great.” David, Matt, and myself gang up on that statement real quick.

“Me, Pat, and Bongi worked there,” Sean confirms. “Our boss has complained about being abducted by aliens twice. He’s our biggest fan.”

Incidentally, Pat isn’t just working at Mustache’s Bill’s anymore. Not only is he really embracing his role as a frontman now that he’s not tethered to his drum kit, he’s also working as an insurance salesman, which means he now brings business suits into his stage attire. Last night, he added a cowboy hat to the ensemble (Melissa has the pictures). Again, I’m delighted.

11:26 Our food gets in and there’s a lot of side-eye thrown at Matt’s toast-and-sausage combo. He’s really just not a big fan of anything scrambled, poached or, I don’t know, hollandaise-d. “I don’t like eggs, I don’t want eggs.”

“Alright, Nuge.” Sean says, and everyone laughs. “Dude, Nuge worked at a breakfast joint and just hated breakfast.”

Michael Nugent—friend, bandmate, also of the band Psychiatric Metaphors—passed away back in November, just as he was slated to make the move over to Brooklyn with Sean. It would be inappropriate (and the boys are big on inappropriate, but I like to keep my tactless behavior at a 7.5) to eulogize him so dramatically based on a few conversations about records and that one brunch with the boys. It’s not my style, just like breakfast was not Nuge’s style.

What’s clear is that Nuge is permanently associated with The Off White, tied to the family forever. They carry him everywhere, they mention him constantly, and when they do it seems to be with more laughter than tears.

I never knew Nuge past one brunch, but it’s a safe assumption that’s what he would’ve wanted.

11:35 For whatever reason the diner has completely cleared out (Sean: “We’re too lively for them”) and the band starts talking tour booking. “April… 20-something I have a wedding,” David says. “Or September.” There’s a light ripple of incredulousness that flows throughout the group.

“That’s this month,” Matt says. “That’s in like four days.”

David backtracks with, “Not this month. Maybe the next month.”

“Not this month, but September,” Sean says. “So you’re saying we shouldn’t book anything until September; it could be any of those days.” Eventually everyone stops jumping down David’s throat, and we start talking about how weddings are just so gosh darn lovely. “I’m trying to set up a wedding for Chris and Amy from Little Dickman records,” Sean reveals. “I call them mom and dad, so I’m gonna sett it up for my own personal reasons.”

I perk up at this. “Just like in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston comes to Belle’s house and he’s like, ‘Ok, suprise wedding!’ and she’s like, ‘No, thank you,'”

“Absolutely. I can’t wait. I can’t believe we didn’t do it in Texas when we had the chapel on the ranch.” The boys lament not utilizing their SXSW home-away-from-home in such a way, but said chapel was allegedly being occupied for sex stuff. You didn’t hear it from me. Except… you literally did.


11:53 Sean has some great news:  “I switched over my plan for Verizon and went from like $130 to $80 for like, 16 gigs which I go over all the time. Unlimo!”

“Is this another sponsorship we should add in?” I ask. This article is brought to you by Verizon, and also Sprint.

Apparently they all went from Sprint to Verizon or Verizon to Sprint, so that’s just being fair. I ask if there’s any other sponsorships I should tack on. The short list seems to include Penske, the new 1892 (I think they mean 1893) Pepsi, and Lime-Cucumber Gatorade: the very “essence of freshness.”

Anyway, the band doesn’t just promote fine goods and wares, they’re also promoting their latest record Free, Four, Five, and it’s coming out with Little Dickman records, accompanied by their very first release show. Obviously I love parties as much as I love free food, so I ask when it’s happening.

“We’re saying May,” offers Matt.

“We’re thinking mid-April,” David counters.

“It’s either April or September,” Sean says. It’s going to be a secret release show, too. “You have to win a ticket inside an 1982 Pepsi.”

12:04 Because it’s a day that ends with y, the G isn’t running properly, so Sean offers to drive me to the L in his glorious soccer mom minivan. Melissa is adamant that “this is The Off White” – this van, and everyone in it, is now basically part of the band.

There is a momentary lapse of seriousness on the drive over, as Sean and I chat about the upcoming release. “It’s not lo-fi at all. Our last two were. Everything is clean and upfront and our last two weren’t even mastered.” There’s a faint, almost imperceptible touch of self-disgust at this. “We put out a full-length on Little Dickman Records and we didn’t even master it.”

And there it is, the rough-around-the-edges band shedding their baby fat. Make no mistake, The Off White is far from fully grown and they’re not retiring their rowdy, booze-loving behavior and endearing goofiness anytime soon. But a year since I side-eyed them, less than a year since brunching in the mid-July sun, I’m ready to buy into the party, eager to see what they can do with this newfound bit of swagger.

This article is brought to you by The Off White & Associates.

You can follow The Off White on Facebook and stream their self-title EP at Bandcamp. Their next show is May 22 at Alphaville in Bushwick.

MORNING AFTER: Brinner And Beer With Lost Kingdoms

The family’s all capitalizing on Terry Edelman’s generosity, our breakfast tab running sky high. By “family” I mean half of Lost Kingdoms, John Barber and Dan Keller, scene queen Tarra Thiessen (my sun, my moon, my stars, our mutual friend, and AudioFemme’s Social Media Queen) and my broke-ass self. By “breakfast” I mean “bagels in the late afternoon.” We’re sheepishly grateful at the gesture, even though it’s standard Terry Edelman move—he’s perpetually warm, thoughtful, and strangely dad-like. Of all my subjects, I’ve been pretty well-acquainted with Terry, even before he starred in Sharkmuffin’s “Little Bird” video as Big Bird. Who else would fit the role? He’s both a comforting figurehead in this urban playground of ours, and approximately 8’2” (this might be fake news).

As a whole, I’m still getting to know Lost Kingdoms (which also includes Alex Major, en route with his girlfriend Gisela). So far, aside from being sidesplittingly funny, they put out searingly enjoyable and straightforward rock and roll that takes the occasional swerving detour. Terry uses his voice to solid effect, maintaining a strong yet high timber and then dipping back down into a range that’s surprisingly soulful. Simplified and summarized, my roommate heard me streaming Big Hits and thought it was a new Foo Fighters album.

But I think there’s more below the surface, so that’s why we’re having bagels and beer, on the generosity of one Terry Edelman.

The Scene: We’re taking up space at Bread Brothers Bagel Cafe after being evicted from Champ’s Diner. Though there’s a wide, thrilling variety of cream cheeses Terry and I stick with regular and veggie. Dan got chicken salad on an egg bagel, while John went really exotic: a pumpernickel everything with cranberry walnut chicken salad, lettuce, tomato, and onion. There’s even a pickle, the true marker of a fine dining establishment.

Tarra leaves to do her laundry, Alex and Gisela arrive, “Superstition” plays in the background, and we can launch into this conversation about…weirdly enough, music.

4:24 The brain is the only organ in the human body without pain receptors, according to Dan’s Snapple Real Fact. We’re actually having a hard time verifying this on Snapple’s website but we are learning that the two types of pain are “somatic” and “visceral.” “Emotional” isn’t mentioned, which means I’ve spent many nights weeping at Two Boots Williamsburg over aches that don’t exist.

It’s around here that John asks if I’m a comedian.

“Oh, no, I’m just socially awkward; this is how I survive,” I reply.

We tackle the usual Sunday afternoon subjects: autoerotic asphyxiation and Prospect Park’s Smorgasburg (Alex and Gisela were at the latter). Terry regales us with a tale of how he was scolded for stepping on someone’s shoe at Smorgasburg (“I was blocking her view of Ramen Burger”) and John remarks that Terry being tall did not help him. And then he asks me, “No seriously, are you a comedian? Because I heard you were a comedian.”

Terry quickly clarifies that he said I was funny; I clarify that I’m technically a journalist. “You’re a writer?” John confirms.

“Yeah, I’m writing…this column.” Just so it’s clear what my intentions are.

4:44 We’ve relocated to Tradesmen and are talking fashion. The boys are explaining how Dan has a shirt—an ironic shirt, if you will—from his Japanese friends that says, “I WANT BEER NOW.” But he doesn’t really want beer now. Or like, not with an all-caps intensity. It’s incidental that we’re currently drinking beer.

Briskness is overpowering the sunshine, so John’s wearing a borrowed sweater zipped up to the neck, looking like an author. Specifically the kind who lurks in Starbucks pretending to write the great American novel when really he’s just checking Facebook. Writers don’t really write anymore, anyway.

And I’m explaining how my show schedule gets busier when Summer Mary Grace emerges. That version of me is fully formed around June and blossoms when I begin wearing fishnets in April, without giving a shit that it’s 36 degrees out.

“I don’t really start dressing really slutty until July,” Terry says. “I want to let everyone else broach the whole wave.” That’s a personal choice, and I respect it.

4:54 “Terry, I hear you’re in a band,” John says, deciding to subtly pepper our discussions with music talk. Usually these columns get conversed, not conducted; I talk about horror movies for two hours and then we go home. But sure, hold onto your goddamn hats, because we’re going to do something insane and have an interview. Our first official topic: the meaning behind “End Scene,” one of the newish songs the band has been playing live.

“It’s about mutually assured destruction,” Terry explains casually. It’s that core-of-the-Cold-War mentality, how countries have the power to bomb each other to oblivion and yet nobody does it for fear of the repercussions.

Somehow this briefly segues into chit-chat about owning a television before John asks, “Isn’t ‘Darwin’ about evolution?”

“It’s about the implication of agnosticism,” Terry clarifies.

“What’s the implication?” I ask, in my one exhausting stab of being a journalist.

Terry holds atheistic beliefs himself, but it’s certainly not a fun belief. “If there’s no spiritual realm beyond what we see, that’s kind of frightening,” he admits.

5:02 I’m mainly sipping my beer now and watching this interview unfold, providing random commentary when necessary. Alex suggests “Ten Miles” for the next track summary.

“I know what that’s about,” John says. “It’s about separating from your ex-girlfriend.”

There’s a pregnant pause, and then peals of laughter.

John’s insistent, believing it sounds very break-up-y with lines like “‘I got so much to say, when you’re 10 miles away'”

Except, “That is… not actually the lyric,” Terry says. More laughter.

But no, “Ten Miles” isn’t specifically about a break-up, it’s one of those songs that capture a feeling rather than an actual experience. “I’m very interested in sound, so when I write the melodies I just start sounding things out and then a few phrases emerge from that, and I build the concept around that,” Terry explains.

“What about “Breathe?” Alex asks.

“Well ‘Breathe’ is definitely-”

“I mean by Pink Floyd.”

5:10 “Breathe” is actually more about living in the Donald Trump administration and oh, what a terrible living nightmare that’s been (Dan: “He put us all in an awkward position.” John: “He reminds us that the country isn’t just New York and LA.”) Terry feels more compelled to tackle more socio-economic issues in his art, which is the noble belief held by most of our socially conscious friends. I start monologuing about how I’m insecure for not contributing to the political conversation, that my strength has always been to make people laugh and make them feel less alone when the world is falling apart (which it is, at rapid speed).

“And I feel selfish having this column and directing everyone’s energy somewhere else,” I conclude.

John earnestly believes the distraction is a helpful thing, but Terry knows where I’m coming from: “You do start to appraise everything you do as, ‘What does this actually contribute to society?'”

It’s here that our friend Lisa Mayer walks out to the terrace, to hang and to audit this article. “We’re in the middle of the a very professional interview,” I joke. “I’m not conducting it, but that’s what’s happening.”

“Hi band,” Lisa deadpans, because Lisa deadpans everything – Lisa laughs in deadpan. She asks who’s conducting it. There’s a lot of hemming and hawing at that one.

Terry’s response is the most accurate: “It’s conducting itself.”

5:30 I think we’ve broken Terry.

“I feel like I’ve got two competing camps wanting me to either talk or not talk about music, and I don’t know what’s right,” he says.

“I don’t not want you to talk about music,” I say, in the middle of washing off Lisa’s lipstick. “You just talk about whatever feels right for you, that’s what this is about.”

“Yeah, what do you want to talk about, Terry?” John asks.

“Terry, can you write a song right now?” Alex asks.

But Gisela grounds us, asking, “What kind of emotion inspires your music?”

Terry ponders this. “Stress, desperation, impending doom, I don’t know.” He then goes on to explain that he digs sad music but can’t tolerate sad movies. “Depressing music to me is like, cathartic. You experience these thoughts, but then you feel better.” But an intense TV drama or a heavy-weighted movie will leave him devastated five hours later, and John relates to this: “Every time I think about [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Room] I feel depressed, because – I don’t want to ruin it – but when she gets out – “

“So she gets out,” Lisa says. “You just ruined the entire movie for us.”

“That was actually the subtitle on the movie poster,” Terry offers. Room: She Gets Out.”

The table provides a series of riffs before we stabilize and John can pinpoint why it bums him out: “She gets out and the trouble is not over. It’s more complicated and brutal.” And it’s a bizarre, serious moment, which passes mercifully quick.

5:41 Here’s the deal with Terry’s Ashlee Simpson t-shirt. He and Dan used to have a band called Doctor Baby, a project in a Faith No More, Mr. Bungle vein, simultaneously hard and silly. They complimented that lack of seriousness by picking up teeny-bopper t-shirts at the thrift store. Dan had an American Idol shirt, while Terry gravitated toward Ashlee, and cut off the sleeves all on his own.

“The moment was right,” he says. “I was channeling Ashlee and she gave me the strength and precision I needed to execute it.” I’m moved.

“So what’s ‘Seeker’ about?” Alex asks. (Spoiler: it’s not about finding the perfect t-shirt)

“It’s about letting go of what you think you’re supposed to be in life,” Terry explains, and laughter spills all over the table again. “I’m glad you found that funny.”

6:00 “THE INTERVIEW IS OVER.” Lisa declares, to thunderous applause. It takes a while for all of us to formally disperse, but she ends up walking me halfway back home, amused by how this went down. She likes the way that, even with the show-friends we think we’re well-acquainted with, you don’t really know them unless you sit down with them. Again, it’s the point, the thesis, of this column.

Truth is, everyone has an immediate Brooklyn music scene family: a mother, a daughter, a sister, a husband, a creepy uncle, a stepdad, a mistress, and so on. Most faces, however, are regulated to third cousin status. You greet them in passing between sets, you one-arm-hug and make chit-chat, but you don’t know their secrets, you won’t be invited to their weddings. The shared bloodline is that we love listening to music, but we don’t always take the time to listen to each other.

I don’t know what art will be immortalized within our Brooklyn family, immediate and extended, but I’m grateful to Lost Kingdoms for daring to listen to me (and vice versa, I guess). No doubt they’ll be playing hard on our urban playground, and finding humor in the face of impending doom.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

MORNING AFTER: Hot Cakes With Bloom Waves

There are three ways Bloom Waves’ Ren Julius Reyes saved me before we even met, with the first involving the doldrums of being stuck in Brooklyn during SXSW. It’s not that I even have designs on Texas, it’s just that being stuck in a gray, slushie hellhole during Indie Kid Spring Break is rough when you already despise the cold and people exhibiting happiness on Facebook. The second involves the Union Square Best Buy being closed before our get-together and him directing me towards Adorama on 18th street (“I just checked and they open at 9:30”). So now I have a fab new camera with all the trimmings! Thanks, Ren.

The third way Ren saved me involves tuning intoBloom Waves’ Yumi On The Shore EP the evening prior, a shoegazey flotation tank of an album. Yumi is largely delivered in calming yet still acoustically arresting ripples, subdued with complimentarily elemental lyrics about washing everything away and/or drowning everything far into the sea. It’s oddly pleasant, a dreamy respite that doesn’t solve all your anxieties but certainly tables them for the time being.

So between all this anguish and anxiety, the perpetual wintertime sadness and SX FOMO, I’m grateful to meet Ren in the flesh. I’m especially grateful that he shows up promptly at 11, the nearby bells of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery ringing in his arrival, because I am freezing to death.

Four ways.

The Scene: Hi-Collar came as a recommendation from Ren’s friend in Chicago, and the Japanese kissaten is a different flavor than I’m accustomed to, at least in terms of breakfast-ing. The shelves ahead of us showcase the cafe’s love for juxtaposition, with delicate floral tea-cups on top of complex glass coffee makers. A single counter space guarantees that the place will fill up, and quickly. Sure enough Ren and I are soon shouting over the din of bright-eyed patrons and Jazz Age tunes.

11:12 A.M. From the way he’s explaining it, Ren’s bedroom-project-turned-Actual-Band kind of formed Voltron style, with everything falling perfectly into place. Guitarist Paul Alvarez was a childhood friend, someone who lived down the street from Ren after he moved from the Philippines to Jersey as a child. Somehow they managed to get through decades of a friendship without collaborating creatively, but when Ren asked for him to play in Bloom Waves it was an “instantaneous” yes.

Bassist Seiji Kokeguchi was a connection made from the Japanese shoegaze Facebook group. He serendipitously made the move to New York about a month shy of Ren formalizing Bloom Waves, another instant yes.

Drummer Kevin Francisco was another old-time connection from the days of anime conventions, kicked out at the time for playing music in the hallways. The two had collaborated a couple years prior, and he was more than happy to rejoin forces.

And Ren forms the head.

11:24 “Cheers!” Our iced coffees are here, delightfully sweet and energizing, and we clink our copper mugs before Ren gets back to the story behind the Yumi cover. He designs ads for Broadway as a day job (“Is that like, fun for you, are you having a great time with it?”) but had a brief flirtation with publication design. Yumi draws from that first love, an interest in John Gall’s paperback covers of Haruki Murakami, the album title itself an allusion to the author’s Kafka on the Shore.

So yes, Ren is having a great time with graphic design, as a career and as something that both supports and informs his music. “It’s kind of like putting puzzles together,” he explains. The arrangements are all working out.

11:34 After our hotcakes arrive I shout, “It was AnimeNEXT!” That was the New Jersey-based convention Ren attended, and incidentally the one my ex was at the first time I smoked weed. That’s a long and arduous story I make Ren sit through, but anyway, they might have overlapped since back in the day he was there trying to make money off his art.

Incidentally trying to nail manga was never a style he felt comfortable with. He can do portraits, fan art, high-end digital painting, but not lines. And trying to draw a manga based on a band, merging two passions in that way, was all a little much.

“Drawing guitars, and drawing hands on a guitar is the hardest thing ever, and I just gave up right there.”

11:47 “Have you watched Super yet?” Whenever I mention Dragon Ball Z I’m asked this. And the answer is no, I’m waiting to watch it with my brother and I’m really worried about Trunks’ storyline because I was in love with him when I was 9.

“The story is complex, and it’s actually well-written,” Ren says. Huge sigh of relief. Our talk takes a few twists and turns before we land on the real break-out star of the series.

“Everyone likes Vegeta more than Goku because he’s way more human even though he’s saiyan. Goku’s supposed to be a perfect warrior and he never comes close to that…maybe he’ll get there for an episode,” Ren says. It’s that failure that makes the arrogant prince more relatable because, “it’s the trials and tribulations of a human.”

“The more you grow up the more you become Vegeta,” he summarizes.

“We all become Vegeta,” I concur.

12:09 As Ren’s finishing his coffee, he’s talking about how he tries to bring J-Pop and J-Rock elements to his English music. Even though he isn’t fluent in the language he loves “how the syllables are cut, how they phrase words, it flows so well” and tries to mimic that flow with Bloom Waves (ah, and there’s all that water imagery).

Our talk then turns to why the J-Pop and J-Rock scenes are still so niche in this country, an alternative in an alternative. Our counterpoint is the appeal of music from the U.K., and I have my theories: language barriers, America’s Euro-centric bias, how the baby boomers latched onto the British Invasion, creating a mainstream millennials and Gen Xers would grow up on, how douchey white kid hipsters (me) have a total boner for all that post-punk Manchester stuff. Things like that.

On a mainstream level, the bands that ended up translating here were… I don’t know, Dir En Grey had a moment, Puffy AmiYumi had that Cartoon Network stint… “Shonen Knife, Shonen Knife was I guess a big one in the ‘90s,” is my conclusion. Which is crazy because they’re playing “Alphaville or something” like us mere mortals.

Ren corrects that it’s Sunnyvale (right, right) and mentions that he actually caught their Halloween show at Knitting Factory. Apparently I missed that being a thing, and as such missed Ren’s Halloween costume, which, as he proves via his Instagram, was a full body shark suit.


12:17 Ren and I make friends with the gentlest fuzziest puppers of all time – one of those Pomeranians that look like a orange cotton ball. There aren’t any pictures, so I’ll understand if I don’t win a Pulitzer prize for this piece. Anyway.

12:19 “Wait, so you date pigeons?” I’m trying to understand all these gag dating games that apparently exist on the mobile-verse. He assures me that all these games are not played in earnest, strictly for the lol-factor, and as he’s never actually investigated this one personally. “You should check it out, it is exactly what I say it is,” he says.

“Oh, I trust it’s exactly what you say it is,” I respond. “I’m also horrified.”

This isn’t as ridiculous as Love Sushi Rangers, which Ren explains is a dating game about sushi who magically come to life one night, and from there you have the option of dating gorgeous bishounen men (he went the salmon route, he loves salmon). My question is, is the sushi actually enchanted or is the fish that was part of the sushi enchanted?

“I think it was just the sushi being enchanted,” he clarifies.

“For some reason that’s stupid to me, like the magic fish thing seems less ridiculous,” I counter.

“I guess if it was a magic fish, it’s dead,” he reasons. Fair point.

Our day culminates with some sprawling photos against a shark mural, some talk about owning dogs and a hug farewell at the 6 train (my insistence). Ren and I have had a nice little vacation – maybe not to Austin, but to somewhere splendid, silly, and weirdly serene.

And then I immediately fall back into my agitated, self-absorbed nonsense as I catch the L back into Brooklyn, a trifecta of the Showtime dancers swerving on the poles around me (I’ve been a subway rider for a decade and it’s never showtime, not for me, especially not now), missing my friends, and missing the sun. But that’s only temporary, a seasonal affliction… I think?

Coming out of the underground tunnel for air, I shuffle around YouTube, popping my headphones into my ears. And as the slush melts in McCarren Park, I let the cascade of Yumi On The Shore take me back home.

Follow Bloom Waves on Facebook and stream Yumi on the Shore via bandcamp below.

MORNING AFTER: Coffee And Omelettes With Dahl Haus

“Hey, you’re Blaise, right? Can I talk to you outside for a second?” It’s Goth Prom at Footlight and I’m ambushing Dahl Haus’s leading lady Blaise Dahl with zero chill and a nervous peppiness out of place for the event. We look (unintentionally) identical; blonde hair, sheer top (can’t lose?) but she’s far more composed than I am. And she’s boasting bubblegum pink heart-studded platforms, which she manages not to trip over after I grab her hand and lead her to the bar section.

That’s the story of how I got Blaise to have breakfast to me, or at least the fun, sexy, not-text-message-based version.

Incidentally, I know guitarist Daniel Kasshu—in a very intense, Best-Friends-on-Snapchat way—but I’ve never exchanged words (or pictures) with Blaise. Instead I’ve made assumptions from the sidelines: she’s 1999’s Jawbreaker personified (minus the homicide), she was deemed “precocious” ever since she emerged from the womb rocking blue eye shadow and a thundering bassline (probably half right), she has a sharp sense of humor and a strong sense of justice (true, see her entire Twitter presence).

What’s confirmed, though, is that Blaise’s voice is special: sultry, strong, used to croon lyrics that feel matured past her 22 years. It’s the glaze over the sometimes wavering/sometimes crunchy guitar, the bass with a heartbeat, and the drum machine that was not available for comment in this interview. Sure, you can hear certain influences: Garbage, PJ Harvey, Hole—and that’s her jamming with Court’s bassist Jennie Vee in this “Lips Like Sugar” cover—but most of all you hear Blaise Dahl.

So now we’re getting coffee at a booth in Williamsburg’s most infamous diner, her in a plum thermal and matching lipstick, me in a spangly gold minidress and fur-collared cardigan.

The Scene: For most, Kellogg’s is a hotspot for drunkenly sobbing at 3 A.M., but Blaise has more innocent associations. At age 16 she won a scholarship from ASCAP to attend the first New York-based Grammy Foundation industry camp for teens. They housed her in a nearby apartment, had the campers work out of Rubber Tracks, and Kellogg’s was always on the menu… like, in a bi-daily way.

“One time I might have ventured into french toast/pancake territory,” she says, but really, she’s an omelette girl through and through. As such, we order Mexican and avocado omelettes with coffee and wheat toast galore.

11:49 Blaise actually never went to prom. She ditched public school after ninth grade, choosing to finish her education via virtual private school. She was in the middle of an extracurricular life: dancing, figure skating, and low-key becoming a rock star. Eventually she picked up guitar at School of Rock and before long was touring arenas with their All Stars program.

I ask if she’s like me and feels that Pretty in Pink emptiness about it, before receiving the obvious answer: “No,” she says, laughing, “Absolutely not.”

12:06 It’s always been my conviction that you know you’ve made it when there’s a Barbie doll of you, so I can’t believe Blaise hasn’t made a doll of herself yet.

“I would love to,” she says emphatically. The closest she got was sandwiching her old Bratz dolls in her pedalboard for her 21st birthday show and posting it on Instagram. “And then a friend of mine commented, ‘Oh my god, you look really good here.’ So I probably should take the one that most resembles me and put it in a totally Blaise outfit like, ‘Here I am.’”

She’s psyched Barbie’s getting more inclusive and expansive, from the Ladies of the ’80s Debbie Harry doll to the differing body types introduced last year. But she acknowledges that as a child she never looked at Barbie’s proportions as something aspirational (same, mostly ’cause I already had the neck of a baby giraffe). Instead, playtime was an excuse to craft elaborate stories, likely inspired by her grandmother’s soap operas.

“She was watching The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful,” She recalls. “So I remember doing some really fucked up shit with them, like they were drugging each other, there was a murder plot. One was living out of their car.”

12:36 Delving deeper into our childhoods (we possibly had the same Playskool doll house), Blaise tells me about some early struggles of being a woman in music. That is, the time she got in trouble for wanting to excel at a school lip-syncing show.

At this point Blaise had already developed a work ethic from her dance lessons, and after becoming the leader for a “Get the Party Started” routine she was ruffling some elementary school feathers. Her teacher confronted her mother after school, stating: “Blaise is being very bossy to these children; she’s making them practice at recess.”

“I don’t even think I was necessarily rude about it,” Blaise says. That work ethic was already ingrained in her, and besides, she was way over playing tag at recess. Eventually the group performed the song, even managing to sneak in a curse word (it’s “ass,” guys) when the teacher couldn’t get to the boombox in time.

“And that was a very proud moment for me, that was my first kind of rebel cred,” she concludes.

“Very rock n’ roll. Also with the whole bossy thing, do you think they would’ve mentioned that if you were a guy?” I ask.

“Probably not.”

We joke about it until a dark silence settles over the table, replaced with patter about how we both love coffee. The waiter asks if we want more. “We’re good, but thank you,” Blaise says.

1:10 So it seems the Welcome to the Dahl Haus EP is potentially expanding to an LP in the near future. The material’s there, but she’s worried that the fleshed-out but lo-fi Garage Band-mixed songs won’t sound cohesive with her newer, Logic-mixed tracks, which loses some of that Sparklehorse-influenced sound. She has a million ideas she’s toying with, but the bottom line is that she doesn’t want to release music haphazardly, and that perfectionist streak has not worn off throughout the years. All of a sudden our table is getting cleared, save for 13,000 slices of bread.

“They’re trying to kick us out,” She says, and we start laughing nervously.

“I think we’re fine, we’re patrons, we have our toast,”

“I’ll probably finish it.” (She doesn’t, and I’m sad).

1:16 The Hole Pandora station, at least the last time I checked, keeps redirecting me to Nirvana, and I don’t know how I feel about this. Weird that a woman’s artistry is perma-linked to her husband? Uncomfortable for expecting ’90s girl acts to be lumped together? Maybe she can help me.

“I would assume they would give you Babes in Toyland, L7, or even Elastica,” she muses, remarking that the ‘90s had such a “girl power element” and those acts are finding this moment to be prime for reuniting. “I think we should celebrate women in music,” she adds, but admits she feels conflicted about how “female singers” has become some sort of category, because “‘Male’ would never be a genre.”

She’s especially concerned about how getting a female bassist is now trendy, “like having a trophy wife or something. And there are some people who write material where they want higher up vocal harmonies. But there are also a lot of people who think,” She puts on a slower, alt-bro cadence, “‘D’arcy Wrestzky looked really good in the original Smashing Pumpkins line-up, we want a female bassist.’”

And the coffee flows.

1:21 Blaise has bad skin to go with her doll heart, which I don’t see (my own bad skin is on full display) but she insists that under the magic of make-up it’s there. Tea tree oil usually helps with zit-zapping, but this time she had to go with one of those very Pinterest-y baking soda + water pastes.

Yes, it inflamed her very sensitive skin, but “the funny thing is that it actually kind of worked, and so I may go home and do it again.”

1:40 I’m recounting the night at Footlight and my caginess upon meeting Blaise, and she reveals that she secretly shares similar anxieties, despite that seemingly composed demeanor.

I’ll always push my conversation to the side and try to be understanding of what other people have to do for that reason,” she admits. “But I also see how other people interact to get what they want and that’s not necessarily seen as rude.” Clearly this is an ethos on which Blaise has based her life. She’s always forced herself to get things done on her on terms and—

Aah, goddammit, they’re kicking us out.

2:50 We spend an hour killing time at Norman’s Sound and Vision, flipping through beloved movie soundtracks and adolescent favs (KMFDM reminds her of her “emo phase”) and dishing about our secret love for Marilyn Manson. She’s been remixing random songs for the thrill of it, and apparently “This Is The New Shit” aligns perfectly with “The Ketchup Song.” It’s a grand old time, with chatter at a rapid-fire Gilmore pace. Thanks, coffee.

But her dad finally comes to retrieve her, and as she’s leaving, she shouts that my outfit is fabulous, really “on point.” Huh.

Standing in front of Kellogg’s, I’m in awe of the ways Blaise has used her voice, has fought to use her voice, from the very beginning. I’m impressed she’s retained this strong sense of self from day one, keeping her from being just another “female singer” or the sum of her influences. And I’m also amused, because she never realized I (intentionally) ripped off her stage look from Don Pedro’s a few months back.

Blaise rides into the distance. A doll modeled in her image walks back up Meeker Street.

You can stream Dahl Haus demos below, plus check out some Garbage covers (and more!) via soundcloud, or peruse tour dates via the band’s official website.

MORNING AFTER: Crepes With Darkwing

Darkwing holds a special place in my heart, which is why I don’t throw a bag of donuts through the second story window of Louis Cozza’s apartment. The band is not picking up their phone, and it’s evident why. If I could hear Darkwing’s warbling and smashing from the street, they’re not hearing a cellphone vibrating. But finally Rich Gold says he’s going to buzz me up, flooding my iMessage with “sorries.”

I was force-fed Darkwing via their Lameonia cassette during CMJ 2015. My first snobby, I’m-hot-shit-cause-I’ve-lived-in-Brooklyn-for-five-minutes assessment was, “Ok, they’re basically Soundgarden.” Three tape-flips later and I was eating my words.

Sure, Darkwing borrows (but never steals) essential grunge 101 elements: the seamless shifting between soft and hard, hazy slacker-cool lyrics, riffs that make you slam-sway back and forth, it’s there. But there’s something inexplicable that sets them apart, somewhere between the ironic coos of, “ooh, ooh, ooh” and the casual nihilism. It’s like, when you feel that tremendously heavy drop in “Endo”—yes, feel, not politely bob your head to—it’s life-altering. I wanted to grab breakfast with Darkwing first since they were my first great musical surprise, and because Rich’s recent move to Brooklyn signifies a bold new era. Lyzi Wakefield is touring with Fruit and Flowers and Zach Booth is AWOL, but two out of four ain’t bad.

So yeah, I brought Valentine’s donuts, because Rich is feeling pretty poor right now. But more on that later.

The Scene: The raw wooden stairway has a good “rustic-and-murdery” vibe, but I survive the climb. The apartment itself is clean, with teensy comic store touches all around. Invader Zim action figures here, a stray Pokemon card there, a DBZ sticker on the fridge, et al.

In a shocking twist, there’s actual food on the table: crepes, raspberries, blueberries, peanut butter, honey, syrup, blackberries, it’s like I’m in a goddamn French bakery. This is for Louis’s roommates and Louis’s roommate’s girlfriend (…?), so I politely drink coffee with co-opted almond milk instead of diving into carbs. Not wanting to interrupt the band practice flow, I let the boys resume the jam session as we chat about tomorrow’s video shoot for “Vicious” (quick-cut musicians in dark clothing, Rich’s head hovering Wizard of Oz style). “Why do you wear so much dark clothes?” I ask.

It’s an irreverent answer: “My sister would say I’m metal A.F. But I’m not.” This ultimately inspires Rich to put on our breakfast music, Norwegian black metal band Darkthrone.

1:50 P.M. There’s enough leftover batter and I volunteer to make fresh crepes. It’s okay, I don’t mind the patriarchal undertones of cooking for men; the power dynamic is in my favor because they could easily die eating my terrible cooking. Like, it isn’t my intent, but worst case scenario breakfast manslaughter makes a good chapter in my memoirs. The title I’m partial to is “#Brunchwing.”

Rich interrupts my chain of thought by asking the group what we think of Darkthrone as breakfast music. “It’s real soothing,” I answer. He then switches over to Ugly God’s “Bitch!”

2:18 P.M. The crepes are well-received and Louis has this great money-making scheme. So, it involves purchasing a copy of the exceedingly important game Hello Kitty KruisersApparently, it was a small printing with makes it a rare find, so if we all go in on it, we’d have this very expensive game to profit off of in the future. Nobody takes him up on this, which I think is insane.

2:26 P.M. Rich is lying on the floor, saying, “I’m so broke recently that I’m not eating. And I think my stomach is shrinking. And so now I’ve had two crepes and I’m like…” Holy shit, what if I do accidentally kill him?, I think. But no, he’s just stuffed.

Louis has been New York since at least 2011, and Rich, although he’s been musician-ing for years, just made the formal Leonia-to-Brooklyn move within the past few months. He deems living here “chill,” which I read as “incredibly financially straining, especially as I’m trying to find a new job to facilitate this high cost of living and allow me to pursue my passion.” But I could be wrong. No, Rich is fervently looking for steady income, racking up all the potential bartender/barista/barrister (not really) gigs he would like to get/cannot get.

“I’m not good at jobs, I’m good at rock and roll,” is his summation.

2:35 P.M. “Do you guys celebrate Valentines Day?” Darkwing isn’t my go-to band for love songs, but I have to ask. “I would,” Rich says, and Louis has plans to go away the next day, so he’ll just be packing. Having successfully depressed everyone, I decide we’ll celebrate Valentines right now, passing out conversation hearts and Nerds candy that I have hidden in my purse.

Rich gets a blue “<3 UR Self” heart at one point, because that’s incredibly sage advice for a piece of candy.

2:50 P.M. I peel back the plaid blanket forcefield guarding Louis’s album to look through his records and ask what’s his most special purchase, so he breaks out a plastic-wrapped copy of the scrolling-shooter game Aleste II. Very cool, “But I mean in terms of music,” I clarify.

Within minutes my arms are filling up with possibilities, including Japanese heavy metal band Devil Soldier’s Loudness and Beck’s Modern Guilt. He finally settles on two 7 inches from that dog., their self-titled EP and “Grunge Couple” single, and I cradle them all like they are his flat, round, grooved infants.

3:05 P.M. “Have you ever had Special K?” Rich asks, and because I am a delicate baby fawn and this is a breakfast article I counter-ask, “Like the cereal…?” No, not like the cereal. Ahem.

Well anyway, he grabs a donut and starts talking about this song he composed about a salvia trip. It’s called “Ursa Burster” and obviously I’m dying to listen to it.

3:13 P.M. BUT Rich gets a phone call from his dad regarding his car (apparently it’s leaking oil; “very expensive, bad for the environment,” would be distressing if we lived in a seal-rich neighborhood). He closes it off with, “I can’t really talk right now, I’m in a meeting.”

3:36 P.M. So this salvia song sounds starts off all whale noises and heartbeats. “This is great,” I lie, terrified. Rich is explaining how he was imagining his head floating around, approximately at the point where is voice warbles, “I don’t have a body.” “This is fun,” I lie harder, about to have some sort of secondhand anxiety attack, imagining Rich’s green face hovering all over the apartment. And then like a fever, the song breaks with, “DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE BEAR PUNCHER?”

Oh my God.

3:42 P.M. Louis relocated to the drum set and is over-lapping the track with perfectly-timed beats. Rich is loudly droning over the recording with, “So what? Animals fight, scratch and bite, alright” I’m kneeling on the ottoman in docs and my Grimace-looking sweater, thoroughly rocking out (from the waist up). No, it is great, earnestly great. It’s classic Darkwing.

He backtracks on the trip, recounting, “When you’re going through life, it’s like you’re reading a book, and you’re reading one word at a time. Sometimes you get caught up, you just keep reading that word one over and over.” In this case, Rich read an article about a man who punched a bear in the face and wrote about being fixated on the coolness of that, then out of his high, realizing that, oh yeah, there are way bigger things happening in this sick twisted world. Psychedelia and psychoactivity and the down-sweep of reality.

The bear-punching is still pretty great though.

3:50 P.M. They’re filing through Darkwing demos. The first about a faux-acid trip in Asbury Park. The second has Lyzi at the forefront of a dreamy vocal blend (her and Rich are like, boyfriend-girlfriend, and I can hear it when he appraises the song with “that beautiful voice.”) And we close on a demo that’s bound to be, “a really good pop song,” which they reprise once again on their instruments. I ask Rich if he can repeat the lyrics real quick, and he spells out gooey feelings muddled by jealousy:

“You know I don’t do too well at keeping cool, when some slick idiot comes stepping to my boo, I’m sorry that I yelled, I just want you to know, that when I close my eyes we’re never far apart, a big red he-art-art-art”

Ok, Darkwing isn’t my go-to band for love songs, but they do have a big red heart of their own, crudely cut out out of construction paper. Another great surprise, and how seasonal!

4:03 P.M. The guys walk me back to the G train, Louis to start a shift at National Sawdust, Rich to get his car from Jersey. They’re excited about the video, an album in April, tours in spring and summer. And then Rich stops halfway to debate if he can afford the subway, reminding us once again of the unbearable broke-ness of being a musician. Truth is, it isn’t just him, it’s the problem-of-choice around here.

But that thing that sets Darkwing apart? They’re good at rock and roll. And you can’t underestimate the value in that.

You can follow Darkwing on Facebook or buy their music on Bandcamp.