Sometimes we have so much stuff for our magazine, some things can’t make it in. B-Sides is your opportunity to see what was on the cutting room floor, because of length, timing, etc. Here is our interview with Park Slope.
20 Watts: When did Park Slope form and where did you get the inspiration for the name?
Park Slope: While we’ve only been a band officially about half a year at this point, our history as friends runs way deeper: Jimmy and I went to high school together, our friendship solidified my sophomore year through our mutual love of punk and our respect for one another as musicians. I want to say around my senior year, he joined a band called Drop the Gloves where he met and befriended Dakota. I got along seamlessly with the guys in DTG when I had gone to support Jimmy at one of their shows, and so every time I’d go to a show of I’d hang out with all of them together. Mike grew up a close friend to one of my cousins, and as luck would have it, we also ended up in a band together when I joined his band Atlantis Bound in the summer of 2014 thanks to a mutual friend, who happened to go to the same college as Jimmy at the time. That same summer, Jimmy, Mike and I had started jamming at my place on Sundays whenever we weren’t doing things with our other projects; we had already been hanging out at Mike’s house regularly all summer, so we were pretty inseparable by that point. With time, original songs started being formed, and one day over a group message one of us was like, “Do you guys wanna form a band together?” Everyone was already thinking the same thing so it was unanimous, and that was in the early summer of 2015. We didn’t have a bassist initially and had a few people practice with and play for us, but Dakota ended up joining when he ran into Jimmy and I at a Brand New concert and asked if he would like to be our bass player. He was stoked at the opportunity to play with Jimmy and I, and once he got to meet Mike for himself at our second show, we knew this was the lineup we wanted to have.
As far as the name goes, we originally had a different and really long one at first, but Park Slope literally resulted from a discussion Jimmy and I had on the train that led to me going “Let’s say a bunch of possible names out loud and see if we come up with anything we like.” He was looking at a train map, said “Park Slope?” and it just sounded right to us when we repeated it to ourselves. We passed it by Mike and he had no objections, so we just stuck with it. That’s pretty much it, I wish I could say it was more exciting.
20W: Where is your band based?
PS: We’re based in NYC. All of us are from the Bronx, with Dakota being the only member from Brooklyn. He’s also the only white guy in the group so he’s 2 for 2 on uniqueness right there.
20W: Do you have plans to tour outside of New York State eventually?
PS: We’re hoping that within the next year or two to be on tour across the country. We’re a young band, but we know how to work as a team, how to make connections and network, and how to make use of the resources we’re lucky enough to have at our disposal. If we keep going at this pace and using our passion to drive us, we’ll only be limited by what work we put in.
20W: What kind of equipment do you guys use?
PS: I used to have a Marshall half stack (R.I.P) but I use my Traynor Blue as my main amp these days. My go-to guitar is a Fender Esquire that the original owner modded into a Telecaster by installing a second pickup and a push-pull switch. I call her Baby Blue and she‘s the most versatile guitar I’ve ever had. Mike recently added a Stratocaster to his arsenal of guitars (pretty sure he’s at 6 with this one), and we’re working on getting him a new amp eventually. Jimmy’s drum set is a Gretsch that he actually won from a contest a few years back and it sounds great. Dakota uses a Jackson bass that doesn’t need a case because it’s practically indestructible.
20W: Did anyone in the band go to school for music?
PS: Well Jimmy went to Mercy College for a little while studying audio engineering and production, which is the same as my focus in audio that I have at SU. But if you’re asking if any of us went to school/is studying in music as an art, then no. I’m working on my minor in Music History though and had a chance to take a class on theory, so I guess that counts for something.
20W: Do you write your own music? Do you have designated writers or write collectively?
PS: The songs we write are our own, each one being the fruit of our thoughts and experiences manifested through music. There’s no designated writer in the band, we’ve all played a role in creating ideas together when we jam or building upon ideas one of us brings to the group. I’d say the creative process is equally separate and collective.
20W: What does your songwriting process entail?
PS: What has usually happened is that one of us will get struck by inspiration, record our idea however possible, and present it to the guys either through the group chat or the next time we’re all together. When we get together and the person responsible for the idea teaches everyone else how to play what he came up with, then the song is usually bounced around; some of us may come up with a riff or a pause or something we would like to include/take out, and this will go on for a while until we’re all comfortable with it. Sometimes the end result isn’t that far from the original idea and sometimes it can end up being something totally different, and I think that’s the beauty of it. I’d say the hardest thing is writing lyrics, word choice and melody play a big role in how people hear the song so I do my best to put a good amount of thought into it, for better or for worse. I’ve got notebook for ideas and I’m always writing stuff on my phone so I can get ideas as soon as they come.
20W: Do you plan to record an EP or an album in the future?
PS: Right now we’re on track to start recording our EP which we’re planning to release in the spring of 2016. We’ve had a few discussions about doing a full length as well and it’s something we definitely have our sights on for the near future.
20W: Who are your musical influences?
PS: I know I just don’t speak for myself when I say that our influences are vast and wide: The four of us share a love for all sorts of punk, pop-punk, alternative, grunge, emo and hardcore bands both old and new. If I had to name names: Green Day would be a big one for everyone except Dakota (American Idiot was the first rock album I ever owned, fun fact), Brand New is also way up there along with Blink-182, New Found Glory, Weezer and many others. Sunny Day Real Estate, Jawbreaker, American Football, Lagwagon and Texas Is the Reason are a few of the older 90’s bands we love. We also are deeply inspired by newer bands like Title Fight, Basement, Turnover, Adventures, The Story so Far, Balance & Composure; all bands that are essentially our peers age-wise and that have seen a huge success making great music.
20W: Who do you think you sound like?
PS: To tell you the truth, I can’t say I could pin our sound down to one specific artist. I would like to think that we take a blend of all sorts of sounds and make it into our own. We have some songs we’ve written that you could hear and be reminded of Title Fight or Citizen or maybe even Drug Church, and then we have songs that switch it up on you and can make you think of American Football, Adventures, or Brand New, for example. I once even wrote something that reminded me of a mix between Say Anything and La Dispute, so really so many influences could apply. I’d like to think we sound like whatever you’re meant to hear, at the exact time it’s meant to be heard.
20W: What are your goals as a band?
PS: To pour our heart & soul into this music, play our hearts out at every show, have fun, travel as far or as close as possible, make friends along the way, give back to those who help us and show us hospitality, and most importantly, do our part to keep the scene in NYC alive for the next generation.
20W: What kind of shows have you played?
PS: So we’ve only played three shows so far, but each show has been special in its own way: The first show we ever played was a house show that we actually put together and organized ourselves. We were able to luck out with a location that was in the Bronx and readily available for us to use, it was literally down the block from Mike’s house and about a 5-10 minute drive for both Jimmy and me. The only issue was that the spot had no electricity whatsoever, so we ended up having to rent a generator and prepare all of the electrical stuff ourselves on top of just handling the general show prep and promotion. All of the people we reached out to about performing were either bands or artists we knew on a personal level or whom we had at least shared the stage with before; so many people were down to be on the bill that we actually had to turn down a number of them, otherwise the show would’ve been ridiculously long and probably not have ended till 3am tops. We had about 35-50 people squeezed into that house and the energy in the entire place was unreal, it was like throwing a big party at the end of the summer, kicking it to some great music and getting to enjoy it all with friends. People have suggested to us that we put together a show like that every summer and we would definitely be down for that. The second show we played was actually the prelim round for a battle of the bands where the band who made it to first place would get to open up for Souled Out Fest. We were one of maybe 3 bands there who weren’t a metal band so we stuck out, but we made a few friends in the other bands and those who stuck around for our set ( we were pushed second to last) gave pretty positive feedback. The house show at Casa Roja was our most recent show and probably one of the most fun ones we’ve played: The crowd was awesome and it’s an incredibly comfy and welcoming space, we definitely want to put on more shows there whenever we get the chance 🙂
20W: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened at a show?
PS: Despite the limited amount of shows under our belt, I would say the craziest moment we’ve had at a show so far was during our first one ,when our friends in Another Astronaut were performing their set; someone in the audience kept feeding shots to Nick, the lead singer, cause his birthday was the next day. Funny enough, our set ended at exactly midnight and everyone wanted to sing him happy birthday, so he was literally picked up by two or three people and hoisted in the air as we all sang “Happy Birthday” to him. It was a great moment.
20W: What kind of feedback has your band been getting?
PS: Thankfully we’ve been receiving nothing but positive feedback from people who have either come to our shows or who have had the chance to hear some of our stuff in demo form. It’s also great because so far bands we’ve met with a similar sound to our’s will compliment us on our music and invite us to do shows with us in the future. I’m really excited to see what other opportunities come our way as we get ready to drop these demos and our EP in the Spring.
20W: Did you enjoy playing our show?
PS: HELL FUCKING YEAH we did! It was so much fun, we’re in love with 20 Watts and can’t thank you and your staff enough for working with us to put this show together. Let’s do it again real soon, eh.
20W: Anything else you’d like to share?
PS: Stay on the lookout for show announcements from us starting in January; we plan on playing a lot of upstate shows and will be bringing some friends along, so be sure not to be out of the loop!