A couple weeks ago Yellow Fever and Woven Bones were scheduled to play South Street Seaport. You may have heard about this, but Yellow Fever couldn’t make it. Something about a knife and pissed-off TSA officers. Sucks, but Beach Fossils were literally right around the corner, asked to play the show four or five hours before their set. Their snare drum broke the night before at Bruar Falls and I doubt they had time to buy a replacement, thus lead singer James' mid-show quip: “Thanks to Woven Bones for lending us everything they have.”
I’d seen Beach Fossils a few nights before at a Stylecaster-hosted Santos Party House show, which was even more corporate than this, and they seemed to have a bit more energy and pop by the sea. You could tell they weren’t exactly 100% there: It was a corporate event all the way and they admitted as much backstage; you don’t do these things for your love of tourist culture.
Nonetheless, the music from both parties was great. Woven Bones surprised me with upbeat tunes that had lead singer Matty crouching with stiff bass riffs and vocals that growled, spun well into Caroline’s poppy beats and Andy’s bass lines. Beach Fossils brought out their beach-tinged tracks and got the crowd’s heads bouncing. John Pena is a treat to watch on stage – he performs barefoot, and I feel like every musician I see without footwear has more spark in their step, so to speak. (For examples of this: see Wolf Parade’s Hadji Bakara or Prince Rama’s Michael Collins.)
Both acts brought it and the crowd was into it (I couldn’t figure out the bro:hipster ratio but I feel like it was 50/50.) Hey, if the money’s right, why not play some music? (If you’re being asked to play on MTV2, that’s when.) Here’s a group interview with both bands wherein they tell stories of first meetings, encounters with guns and react to the Nobunny shit-punch incident.
Sennott just left Beach Fossils, making this probably the last interview with Sennott Burke-era Beach Fossils. Feel free to cite that in your grad school thesis project about 2010-era indie pop, Columbia student from 2025. You can thank me later.
Names, what you do, what you’re listening to?
Matty, bass player for Woven Bones, I’m listening to Beach Fossils and King Tuff.
Andy Bones, I play drums in Woven Bones and… listening to King Tuff. [Andy actually plays guitar.]
Sennott Burke, I play guitar for Beach Fossils, listening to Heavenly Beat and Woven Bones and Prince Rama.
Tommy Lucas, drums for Beach Fossils, all I listen to is Tool.
James Dustin Pesor, guitar and vocals in Beach Fossils, I’ve been listening to Total Slacker.
John Pena, bassist in Beach Fossils, I’ve also only been listening to Total Slacker. And Tucker Roundtree Solo. And Firepony.
Y’all know Prince Rama, how’d you meet them?
Matty: We met them in different ways, actually…
Andy: That’s how this band was formed… right?
Matty: Yeah, sort of. They were just mutual friends because I’d just moved to New York and didn’t know anybody, and they were like, yeah, this guy seems pretty cool…
Sennott: And then I was away on tour and when I got back I had a message from him, it was like, I got this band, we’re gonna have shows, I need people to play. And I was down.
Matty: Yeah, I had already booked shows and I was like, I need people to play… right now.
How’d each of you meet them?
Sennott: I met them at a show of theirs, summer 2008 maybe.
Matty: Yeah, I… met them over the internet.
Sennott: They were recommended to each other on Facebook.
Any crazy stories from shows?
James: Yeah, I had a house party pulling a baseball bat on us one time telling us to get the fuck out. It was the guy whose house it was, he was the one who threw the party, and he wanted it to be over at, like, 10:40.
John: And the band started at 10:45.
James: Yeah [laughs]. He wanted it over by 10:40, and it went over by literally five minutes and he freaked out and pulled a baseball bat out and was like everyone get the fuck out of my house! He was wigging out.
John: Where was this at?
James: This was in Philly. They don’t have shows there anymore.
Andy: Tell him about Detroit. We were drunk and the dude waved the gun at you?
Matty: Oh, yeah, yeah… We were all standing outside our van at a show one night, and a guy put a- what looked like a gun, it could have been a toy, but it looked like a gun- and just pointed it at me, and I was like oh, fuck, I just froze, but then he just made fake gun noises.
Andy: He said “bang bang.” [laughs]
Matty: Yeah, for a minute I thought I was gonna die.
James: That’s fucked up, did he pull up in a car?
Matty: They were driving by, it was like a drive-by. They were just totally crazy.
Andy: And we were all drunk and looking the other way, and like, Matty’s like, dude, somebody just pulled out a gun, I was like what, really?
Matty: I guess they just like to scare people, I dunno. Detroit’s pretty grimy.
Andy: I wish Robocop was around to help us out.
Matty: Yeah, we really could’ve used Peter Weller at that point.
Did you guys hear what happened at the Nobunny show last night?
Andy: What happened?
Some dude went up to Nobunny and punched him in the face with a bag of shit, literally.
Matty: Like feces?
John: What the fuck?
Andy: That’s pretty funny, that Nobunny got hit in the face with a bag of doo doo.
James: That happened last night?
Yeah, at Cake Shop.
Andy: Somebody hated him that bad that they punched him in the face with a bag of doo doo?!
Yeah, I dunno why. Then this guy from Foster Care points him out, was like, he ran that way, the Nobunny dude shits in a bag, finds him upstairs because the idiot was sitting on a stool upstairs, goes up to him, says “fuck you” and punches him in the face with his shit. And then he tweeted about it or something. Reactions?
John: Fight shit with shit, I guess.
Andy: I’m glad we didn’t play that show.
James: Turd for a turd.
John: Yeah, we’re gonna have to do that to each other on tour. Now that we’ve learned this snazzy trick!
Andy: I need a fuckin’ new tweet, man!
Make that the new bros icing bros, bros shitting bros. Wait, have y’all ever iced each other?
Andy: Was it GG Allin who did that?
Tommy: I dunno what “icing” is yet.
James: What is – what is icing?
John: It’s like, you hide a Smirnoff Ice somewhere, and when they find it you’re like, oh, you’ve been iced! And you have to get down on one knee and chug it.
James: Oh, that sounds so retarded! I dunno.
Sennott: It’s like some Internet craze or something.
James: I think getting punched with a bag of shit’s more interesting than that.
John: Yeah… pretty much.
Matty: “Oh my god, I just found a Smirnoff Ice, I guess I’m gonna drink it.” [laughs]
Do you guys have any favorite venues in New York, or ever?
Tommy: Market Hotel.
Sennott: Really? I like Glasslands.
James: I like Death by Audio a lot. I like the DIY spaces, they’re much better, people fuckin’ freak out at ‘em.
Matty: Bruar Falls was sick last night. [Everyone agrees.]
How was that show?
Matty: It was packed and awesome. People were having a lot of fun.
Andy: People were throwing shit at us, it was awesome. [laughs] Nobody threw shit at us, maybe it’s good we stayed at that show instead of heading to the shit show.
James: “It was a total shit show.” [laughs]
What about favorite venues in the world, not just New York?
James: Probably Pier 17 [laughs], it’s this crazy DIY spot, it’s totally underground. It’s on South Street, y’know? Somewhere around there, it’s totally weird.
Tommy: Pizzeria Uno, it’s right next to it? It’s totally cool. [laughs]
Okay, talk about this show.
James: It was a complete… awesomeness, it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
Okay, actually, don’t talk about it.
John: No, it was fun. We got to hang out with our friends, that’s all you can really ask for.
Sennott: Yeah, it was fun, you can’t complain.
James: I dunno, we got pizza, beer.
Matty: This is the first time we’ve ever played some kind of like, situation like this. With a gate in front of the stage. You were lucky, you got to headbang up front.
Yeah, well, I felt weird.
John: It was the best part about our set except for the teenaged girls like, doing like, “Haaayyy!”
James: What’s up, girl!
Andy: Was there the Texas flag in the background of every shot? [The stage had a huge Texas flag backdrop.]
Matty: Put this on the record: He [Andy] got a request for a kiss from a teenage girl after the show.
John: That’s right! And he denied it.
James: Where’d they want the kiss?
Matty: I think she wanted tongue, man. She wanted to French. No, I can’t say where.
Andy: I got an Evian today for, like, $3. I felt pretty French.
So what’re the favorite songs you guys have recorded? Also, we were just joined by…
From Woven Bones. And you play drums?
Andy: [whispers] Guitar.
Caroline: I play drums… what?
Andy: You play guitar.
Caroline: Oh, guitar… in a very percussive manner.
So what’re your favorite songs you’ve recorded.
Matty: We’re all really ADD and we always like our newest song the best… pretty much.
Andy: Whatever we’re not sick of.
Matty: Whatever we haven’t played a zillion times.
I saw on your set list you had, like, new new and newest? Those aren’t-
Matty: Well, I write the names of the song but we know them as what they are at practice. So, like, when we come up with a new song it doesn’t have a name so it’s just, like… new new, let’s play that one. It’s the second most newest one.
What about you guys?
James: A song that nobody has heard… and nobody will ever hear.
Tommy: It’s called “Death”, though.
Sennott: Well, it’s called “Black”, I thought you told me earlier.
Do you have any pet peeves with how you’re covered by the press?
Sennott: Everyone says we sound like Real Estate but we do not sound like Real Estate.
Andy: That we’re “aloof.”
Caroline: Oh yeah, someone said that we’re aloof at our first show of the tour. Which, it was in Little Rock, and we love Little Rock, and the person must not have-
Andy: “Calculatingly aloof.”
Caroline: We’re not calculated, for sure. He said that we looked aloof and that we weren’t having fun and that’s like the opposite of us. He should’ve just talked to us, you know?
Andy: If we ever look aloof, then we’re just earnestly aloof. We’re just not thinkin’ about it too much.
Caroline: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.
Andy: We’re just playing, and you get to see it, it’s like, some days it might rage, some days it might be eyes closed and you won’t get to see jack shit.
Do you guys want to talk about your recording process?
Matty: I do it and bring it to practice, and we all coordinate everything at practice.
Caroline: I’ve only been here long enough to work on, like, three new songs. I’m still learning the process.
What about you guys, how do you record?
Tommy: We just sit there and work them out.
James: We record them while we’re writing them. It’s pretty natural, we just hang out.
Tommy: Nothing fancy.
James: Our computer’s right there so as we write it we just record it.
Do you record in your house or a studio?
James: Our home.
Do you guys all live together?
Tommy: Nah, but we all live pretty close to each other.
Last question, what’s your weirdest piece of gear?
James: I don’t really have weird gear… well, not stuff that we use in Beach Fossils. I have, like, a broken cello and clarinet and stuff that I like to play- well, I’m pretty bad at ‘em, though. Actually the clarinet’s so broken it hardly even makes a sound so I never play it. But it was fun to try to play it.