Alex Levine on The Kinks, New York Mayor Ed Koch and Underdogs
The So So Glos are clever without being cheeky, sincere without being preachy, self-aware but never too in on their own joke. Still, their most endearing trait is a simple one: They make murderously catchy, endorphin-boosting, shout-along guitar music with vigor and zeal. – Pitchfork, Zach Kelly
The So So Glos wear New York on their sleeves as a band of brothers that have been playing together since they were Wee Brooklyn Lads, taking in the sights and sounds of Nirvana and the social angst of the 90’s as well as The Beastie Boys and mixing it with New York’s best punk pioneers, The Dictators, The Ramones with the interweaving guitar techniques of Television and put them in a modern context of socially conscious East Coast Kinks with Hip Hop lyrics.
While at The End this past Monday night, Alex made the comment that they thought about moving to Nashville. Nashville has changed and The So So Glos would bring a different slice of pie to Music City. Alex is not only busy with the band but with Adam Reich and Shea Stadium Studio in New York.
Brad Hardisty / The Nashville Bridge: Tell me what is going on at Shea Stadium.
Alex Levine / The So So Glos: Every band that comes through Shea Stadium is documented and they are recorded by our Producer, Adam Reich who records all the bands and puts them up at Live at Shea Stadium and archives them all.
TNB: Is it similar to the video you had that you did on KEXP Seattle that I saw on YouTube?
AL: Yeah, yeah, it’s like that but, it’s just that all the bands at Shea are up there. You can look at full sets.
TNB: My favorite cut was “Diss Town.” I don’t think you have released that as a single.
AL: It’s going to be the next single. I think.
TNB: I do like the video of “Son Of An American.” I guess that kinda shows you guys growing up playing instruments and all that kind of stuff, right?
AL: Yeah, that’s the way we started. We’ve been together for a while.
TNB: Yeah, you and your brother Ryan and I guess Zach ended up being your step-brother right?
AL: That’s how it all came together. It’s kind of the story of the band in the early stages.
TNB: As far as the sound, I was going to ask you how much Punk rock is around in New York or Brooklyn anymore? Is there a scene?
AL: We started the band about six years ago and we were definitely not in fashion or in style. We were caught up in a lot of the Art scene and a lot of music shit parties and we were kind of always outcasts. There was noise rock or really hip shit. So, we kind of got into the DIY scene in Brooklyn and we helped expand it. It seems like every day I see a new Punk band come out so I guess we were ahead of the times? I don’t know what to say about that.
TNB: Well to me, you are kind of a bridge because, obviously you have newer influences but, when you think of the original Punk that started in New York, I can hear that in your music like The Dictators and a little bit of Television with the interactive guitar work that you guys do.
AL: Yeah, yeah totally.
TNB: I mean do you guys feel you are flying the flag for New York in a way?
AL: In some way. I think the mentality of all punkers is not necessarily what genre you play but, the energy and we are bringing a lot of different styles to the table. We’ve got Hip Hop. I don’t know if you hear that but, a lot of my lyrics are influenced a lot by Hip Hop. We are at the stage in music where it kinda goes and it is just all mixed up in the Pop. But, the energy is Punk Rock. You know, pushing it a little bit toward the future. It is such a community between Rock and Roll and Punk Rock. When it comes to music, I think we try to focus on a lot of different styles and there has been a lot of different kinds of music that we have been into from Motown to Country and Hip Hop as well as Punk Rock and Rock and Roll.
TNB: It is really upbeat stuff.
TNB: When Punk Rock started out, it wasn’t all like bands like Fear and stuff. There were all different kinds of styles. Dictators were kind of cornball and they were having a good time.
AL: Yeah, my favorite stuff that they did was when they had those bittersweet undertones, you know. The Kinks pulled that off a lot, like heavy social commentary and yet it was very poppy and happy in a big way but the subject is this really dark topic. I always like a bittersweet marriage between darkness and lightness, a walk on that thin line.
TNB: I think that is a good comparison with The Kinks. You guys name check a lot of things that put you where your band is from.
TNB: The Kinks talked about socio-economic things in a fun way about where they were from.
AL: Totally. I don’t think there are too many bands that talk about what they see nowadays for better or for worse, you know. They are always trying to do something simple. I think it is in our personalities to talk about it.
TNB: I’ll tell you, starting your video off with Mayor Koch really cracked me up.
AL: Ha ha!
TNB: It was like how did you find that? How did you get permission? It was just hilarious.
AL: It was The Beastie Boys style that got us to think about using it.
TNB: Yeah, the video kind of reminded me of like a Beastie Boys video thing.
AL: Ed Koch, you know, kind of represented the whole of what New York is all about. In New York, you have such a perpetual underdog. We kind of see ourselves as underdogs in the whole music game because, you know, we don’t really have that much of a gimmick. We are what we are. We are not trying to sell much. We are just trying to live with the truth. A big deal to us is being underdogs.
TNB: When I looked at you guys you have this sense of dressing like uptown Beastie Boys but, also kind of like Television, where Television really didn’t have a look after Richard Hell left. They were just a band from New York and this is what we do.
TNB: Anything coming up?
AL: Nothing really, just happy being back in Nashville and having a fun time.
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN thenashvillebridgeathotmaildotcom