It’s 2:15 p.m. My living room isn’t clean, my hair is still wet, and my belongings are only half-way unpacked in my new apartment. It was about 1:45 p.m. when I got home from the store, two boxes of Fruity Pebbles and a bag of marshmallow’s richer. It took a stupid amount of time for me to locate the two ingredients. Do marshmallows really make sense in the baking aisle?
At 2 p.m., I was still in the shower when my phone got its first wave of missed messages; unknown numbers and ignored texts from Dad. I’m sure that’s when the door bell first rang too. The attempts at tidying up before a few people arrived just turned into pacing in circles, from kitchen to living room couch, adjusting and readjusting the same inconsequential items in preparation for the day’s activities.
By a few people I mean eight. RJ Gordon, Yoni David, Jeremy Aquilino, Isabella Mingione and Davey Jones—aka the Brooklyn band Baked—plus their manager Katie Holliday McVeay and our photographer Courtnee Martinez. It’s the day before Debt, Baked’s debut full-length, drops. The band of friends are on their way over to be interviewed but by “interviewed” I mean make cannibutter and a couple batches of their special Big Snow Buffalo Treats.
Jeremy and Katie arrive right on time, with a case of Corona and a freshly pressed copy of Debt on vinyl. The fact that the Baked crew are all old friends takes some pressure off my hosting shoulders as I continue to zoom around preparing the house. Before long, the band—five foundational players in Brooklyn’s fallen DIY venue Big Snow Buffalo Lodge—has arrived. Except, that is, one member who’s been gone on tour.
The Happy Family Reunion
“YONI!” echoes around my living room as soon as Baked’s drummer comes in the door. He looks tired but in good spirits for completing a 45-minute walk from Shea Stadium, the DIY venue in Brooklyn where he, RJ, and Jeremy sometimes work, now that Big Snow is kaput. The gang hasn’t seen Yoni in two months, only recently back from tour managing The So So Glos. Baked’s five members are a tight-knit crew, very much like an ideal nuclear family. It began at SUNY Purchase; RJ, Isabella and Jeremy studied sound production, Yoni bounced around majors while playing music, which put him in touch with RJ and Jeremy. Both of them did sound for shows on campus when out of town bands toured through Purchase. One such band was Davey’s Lost Boy ? . You could say the rest is history but really it was just the beginning.
The history comes in 2011, once RJ, Jeremy and Isabella had graduated. That year Yoni dropped out of Purchase to help RJ, Jeremy and their friend Daniel Arnes start up the star-crossed Big Snow Buffalo Lodge. As RJ recalls, that’s where they met Dan Goldin, the patriarch of one of Brooklyn’s other DIY families, Exploding in Sound Records, and the imprint behind Debt.
“Dan had been putting on (the best shows) at Big Snow and turning us on to some of our favorite bands,” explained RJ. “We eventually got to talking about releasing Debt on EIS and we couldn’t be happier.”
After a hard year for the whole Baked and extended Big Snow crew, this afternoon of straight chilling and celebration is definitely welcome. Sitting in my living room, the day before Debt’s release, is first time most of the band has seen the physical pressing. Those milestones are scarcely mentioned today. Grinning, they look over the sleeve and disc like they’re counting the toes on a newborn baby.
In the Kitchen
The baked good du jour is Fruity Pebble Treats, which forgo the “baking” for stove top assembly and fridge time. Katie explains earlier that RJ made the treats at Big Snow Buffalo Lodge’s biggest parties. Though a bit sad we missed an opportunity for thrice “baked” wordplay, I obliged. A band called Baked knows best in these matters.
Before we hit the kitchen, we hit my roommates bong. While in a coughing fit, I hear RJ considering the pros and cons of his new grinder, it’s lack of a third chamber making it a bit less appealing. He’s somewhat of a mad scientist about the process, particular about each move. It’s not that easy to make weed treats. Or at least, much easier to fuck them up than get it right if you’re easily distracted. It’s apparent that RJ’s got a system down, which reassures me in a THC-induced wave of self-questioning. I’m pretty sure everyone hears me plead with my roommate to help me. Help me, like, socially interact with the gaggle of smiling people offering everyone beers in the other room.
This is to say that the weed is good.
RJ instructs me to stir the pan of butter continuously for almost an hour. “It actually gets pretty zen,” he says. I am into zen right now, a little too stoned to look anyone in the eye. Courtnee takes pictures between the continuous bong rips happening in my living room.
Zen today doesn’t really mean zen-like focus, though and after 20 or 30 minutes, I get distracted from stirring duties. RJ comes in from having a cigarette and smells the butter faintly burning. By the time RJ takes the butter off the burner, I’m in the living room flipping through my records.
“Oh, I’ve never heard that one yet. Play that,” says Davey, pointing to first record in my box, Tweens’ self-titled. I’m pretty sure the bong goes around again. Really, it’s hard to say.
Part of RJ’s scientific approach involved refrigerating the cannibutter overnight—for potency sake—before it made its way into regular recipe use. So we pull the batch he made the night before out of my fridge—like some TV cooking magic—and start on the treats we’ll eat today while the other butter simmers.
Jeremy seamlessly picks up the second part of the treats like RJ’s sous chef, explaining the steps. Stirring is again the crux of the kinetic energy required. Now, though, focus becomes a little more important. Davey jumps into the mix after putting on his favorite Neil Young record, American Stars and Bars. When I tell him that’s my dad’s copy he responds “Well, I basically am a dad… without kids.” And Jeremy chides, “Uncle Davey!”
With the boys in the kitchen, molding marshmallows into edible decorations, Isabella, Katie, Courtnee and I hang out on the couch with our beers and my other roommate’s cat. His name’s Vincent but the fuzz ball’s skinny body and googly eyes inspire Katie to deem him Steve Buscemi. He’s a welcome distraction to fawn over while the Fruity Pebbles cool in their tray and we wait for Bueno, the last piece of the extended Big Snow family and Baked’s tour mates on Rollin’ Stoned 2014. When I let the guys from Bueno inside, I can tell the smell of weed is dominating my whole building. My downstairs neighbor gives me a wink and laugh when he says “you know I have kids down here?” What a fatherly way to put it.
After a quick photo op with both bands, we devour the delicious, unintentionally gluten-free weed treats. Everyone tries not to have seconds and I’m fairly certain no one succeeds. The best weed treats are those that get people saying “I need to make the regular version of these” and these Fruity Pebble treats got people talking, and taking thirds. As we wait to discern how much higher these could get us at this point, I get another text from my own father.
I really want that dinner but I am too high to know what to do with this “oh shit!” moment, so I consult the room. The consensus is invite him over.
“We love dads!” shouldn’t come as a surprise considering RJ’s dad is on the cover of Debt.
Shortly thereafter, the doorbell rings.
“Is this the dad?”
Yup. Enter Poppa Capri while eleven “kids” plus his only daughter are at peak THC. Davey shakes the hand of the man who supplied the Neil Young record. Through blood-shot eyes, I try to gauge my dad’s reaction to this. He tells me later at dinner he was worried about cramping everyone’s style, but in my living room I’m antsy… and suddenly ravenously hungry. The act of reaching for a third treat makes me remember the correlation between these confections and my rumbling stomach.
It’s dinner time now. I send the band off to practice at their affectionately named space, The Bakery, to prepare for their release show coming up that Friday. Before they left, Bueno christened my kitchen with its first dollar bill, posted above the stove, calling the batch of treats a success. The true mark of success wasn’t until the ride home after dinner, when I nod off in the front seat of my dad’s car. That’s when I knew, without a doubt or distraction, that this baking session with Baked was a success.