Sometimes the Brooklyn music scene is like its own small town scene in a big city. I don’t mean ‘small town’ in the sense of car pool moms and soccer teams and next door neighbors who call the zoning board saying that your mother is building a meth lab in your back yard when she tries to renovate the garage into an apartment to rent to acupuncture students. Okay, so maybe that’s just my experience. What I mean here is that, when you go to shows in Brooklyn, and you have a lot of friends who are in bands in Brooklyn, you end up talking to somebody you’ve already met without realizing that you’ve met them.
That’s exactly what happened with this week’s New Music Friday, when I interviewed Jonathan Daily of Bushwick post-punk band The Black Black. It turns out that Daily and I had already met when he was working the door at Pet Rescue, which is an incredible DIY venue in Bushwick. When he’s not playing shows there with The Black Black, he’s there supporting the local scene, both at Pet Rescue and elsewhere. I talked to Daily about local bands, what a garage party might be, and what’s exciting about their new album, Adjusted I.
“Adjusted refers to the idea of conforming to behavior that fits within the guidelines of society,” Daily said. “Not so much in a classic sense of conforming to fashion or speech or tastes,” he continued, “but more about adjusting your human instincts to modern day society and asking if you really have a choice not to adjust. ‘I’m just so carefully adjusted’ is a line in (our song) ‘Meticulous.'”
The aforementioned “Meticulous” was described by Post Trash as “three minutes of frustration directed at a life with no surprise and no spontaneity.”
On a simpler note regarding Adjusted I, Daily added, “I also liked it as a title because it suggests that the sound of the band is adjusted since the last record, which I also think is true.”
The Black Black has been described as many things. One of them is post-punk, which Daily defines as influenced by original punk music (think Fugazi, says he), though he says that “any genre name is misleading.” They’re also described as having danceable instrumentals and a “garage party” vibe, which we both agreed wouldn’t be accurate without a lawnmower and a couple cans of WD-40 involved. Daily shared a touring anecdote to confirm:
“On our first tour in 2012, we played with Low Fat Getting High. [Editors’ note: check out this split single they did together.] It was just the two bands. We were in Pittsburgh, and the next night we played a house party in Penn State. We decided to make a third band, specifically a Weezer cover band, but with no time to practice. We were staying with my parents, and we opened the garage, set things up, and played a bunch of Weezer songs. There were a few photos taken in my parents’ garage with weed whackers, lawn mowers, etc. I think that counts as a garage party.”
So, there are two cool things about this album. The first is the sound. It’s raw, explosive, and danceable.
The other cool thing is its medium of distribution. The Black Black sells this really rad tee shirt for ten bucks, and with it, you get a download code for the album. We here at Brokelyn give this two-rad-things-in-one deal the Brokelyn seal of approval.
Adjusted I is not the first album from The Black Black. Their debut album, Boogie Nights, came out in 2014. Obviously the name conjures up a lot of images, most notably Heather Graham on roller skates.
“I’m definitely a fan of that movie,” Daily told me, “and I thought that some of the themes on the record worked well with some of the themes in the movie. Also, I just thought that as the title of a record, specifically this record, ‘Boogie Nights’ had a nice feel to it.”
Besides Heather Graham on roller skates, I have another, significantly less porn-adjacent memory attached to the phrase: it’s the title of a Heat Wave song my mom used to sing when she was the drummer/ lead singer of a wedding band in the eighties. She would often remind me of this, while driving in the car, when my only escape from her enthusiastic performance was to shrink down into my car seat. So I asked Daily the obvious question: Are boogie nights always the best in town?
“Obviously they are,” Daily chuckled. “I think it’s hard to argue a better night than a boogie night.”
There’s probably no better place to find a boogie night than here in New York City, and Daily has been here supporting the music scene (especially in Brooklyn) since he moved from Pittsburgh in 2004. He lived at 16th St. and 8th Ave. in the city, and then Chelsea (nice digs if you can get ’em). Finally, Daily relocated to Greenpoint in 2010. He’d started playing music in Manhattan, but had wanted to move to where more music was happening — and where he’d have more space to make it.
Shortly after moving to Greenpoint came the formation of The Black Black. Daily met drummer Tomo Ikuta through a mutual friend, and bassist Sean McRee came into the picture when the original bassist of the band left.
It would seem that Brooklyn is treating Daily well. I asked about some of his favorite venues, and one of them, naturally, is Pet Rescue, the aforementioned DIY gem where we first met.
“There’s kind of [nothing] not to love about Pet rescue. A lot of people in the music community help out. We play shows there, I work the door, I work the bar. Its cheap, it sounds good, you can make it as interesting or as fun as you want.”
As as other favorite venues, Daily mentioned that “the venue situation is changing a lot.” The Black Black used to play a lot at the Tiger Lounge, but since that has become no more, they’ve begun playing at their own space, near Shea Stadium. Daily spoke of the virtue of a venue of one’s own:
“If we set a show up at a bar or a venue, we can’t pay the band for playing with us. But, if we do it ourselves, we can pay the band directly, or at least give them gas money. That’s really important when you’re a band on tour.”
I ask Daily about some of his other favorite local bands.
“I love all kinds of bands. I’m always really impressed with most of the bands I see. I feel like I know a lot of the bands, but every time I go out I feel like theres always someone I haven’t seen. The latest Haybaby record is really good, and I also love Yazan– he’s someone we play with a lot, and we’ve been friends for years. Also I saw this band about like a month ago called Grace Kelly All Day. They blew me away. And I saw Big Ups a couple of weeks ago, they continue to get better and better.”
Want a second opinion? Daily’s favorite endorsement for The Black Black comes courtesy of friend of the band Stephen Perry: “Quite simply, If you like loud guitars and hard driving fuzz bass, The Black Black is for you.”
If that’s not enough convincing for you, check out the track above, “You are my Personal Pronoun.”
“It’s kind of a break up song,” Daily said of the song, “but it’s a little bit like getting older and having experiences with multiple relationships that end over time. There’s a replaceable nature to it. You’re in a relationship and then it’s done, and then you replace it with another, as you get older it all blurs together. In the studio, we all blurred it together in the end, which kind of mirrors the concept of the song.”
The Black Black had their official release show at The Glove in Bushwick on Wednesday, and they’re currently on tour (check their Bandcamp for tour dates). Fear not: they’ll have another show, at their own space, on October 15(check their Facebook for details). And to get one of those sweet, sweet tee shirt records, hit up their website– but the best way is to check them out live.
Lilly Vanek is the music editor for Brokelyn. For more on local music, tee shirts, garage parties, and stories about the time her mom was a wedding singer (they also did bar/ bat mitzvahs), follow Lilly on Twitter. And to pitch Lilly for New Music Friday, email her at lilly [at] brokelyn [dot] com.