We are at a quaint Chinese restaurant in the heart of Chinatown and I am nibbling on my General Tso’s chicken, it’s a bit too salty so I wash it down with my obligatory Diet Coke. I’m sitting across the table from Felix, lead singer and guitar player of Sexy Neighbors, the sensational new band on the come-up in Brooklyn.
He is wearing a hunter green Holiday sweater with white reindeer on them, ripped jeans and boots, how appropriately Brooklynite of him I thought to myself. Andy, the painfully aloof and ever-intriguing bassist sits next to him, fidgeting the way he does. I grab some more Lo Mein and coyly mention their upcoming gig at Lit Lounge (Saturday, Feb. 6th at 8:00pm) and both begin to grin from ear-to-ear.
Sexy Neighbors, the brainchild of Felix, got its name while he was rocking out to some house music with authentic Gospel lyrics (it was blaring from a church in Bed Stuy located just one block from his place), and the name just came to him with the assistance of some gnarly ‘party favors’.
Akin to the sounds of Lake Trout of Baltimore and the Pixies with break-beats, Sexy Neighbors also has a truly unique sound, different than your standard electronic-influenced rock music, check out their MySpace, http://www.myspace.com/sxynyhbrs, and experience it for yourself. My favorite tunes are The Chain and Silent Not Silent.
I’ve been trying to convince them to permanently change the lyrics of Mandy to my namesake Candy, a song that was born while Felix was experimenting with house-style melodies on his guitar, pre-band and back in Buffalo. It maybe too late to get the switch for their upcoming album for King’s Highway Records, but fingers-crossed they grant my wish live this Saturday.
Read on for my exclusive interview with this indie/hipster/electronic/dance/rock band.
Where do you draw your inspiration from, music-wise and lyrics-wise?
That's a tough question since there are so many sources. A lot of the musical intention comes from dance music, especially house. It's sort of the idea that the music should be felt above all else. There's a band called STS9 who play drum & bass and electro using live instruments, I sort of think of us as similar to them except playing rock music. The band Architecture In Helsinki was also real influential for me, they are so great at stripping down songs to the bare elements. The B-52s...there are so many inspirations. 60's garage is also a big foundation for us...that pure energy that carried through through the punk movement, that idea of intensity mattering more than precise technique. And of course everyone brings their own inspirations to the band.
I know that you guys have a album coming up, could you tell me a little about the process of making an album?
It's fun but also very demanding, especially when the money is coming right out of your pocket. We had a limited budget so we did the whole thing in 4 days except for a few overdubs. It's exhausting and cathartic at the same time. Everyone put their heart into the music, and when you're doing that all day it takes a lot. But it's great to finally see the realization of these songs on a recording since some of them are 2 years old. Everyone really played great. Margie only joined the band full time in September and she really stepped it up and learned the songs. She has some cool solos on the album as well.
If you guys could jam with one other band or musician out there, who would it be?
One person I would love to jam with is Richard Devine, who's this amazing electronic musician from Atlanta. He's really sort of a genius of sample creation/manipulation. I think more people should collaborate creatively within the music world.
What are some of the craziest things that have happened at one of your shows?
Well, we actually haven't had that many shows since the current lineup came together only recently, but we had a show at Don Pedro's in Williamsburg that was pretty wild. There was an couple who were heckling us, and one woman yelling at the drummer. I thought they were encouraging us, but Nima didn't see it that way.
What's one thing about Sexy Neighbors that you can only find out here?
We have a band mascot....his name is "Artbarg Yugenol". That's all I'm gonna say right now.
What do you guys view as musical success?
I can't speak for the other guys, but for me, musical success is touring and getting our music out there. No matter how big we get, I just want to pay great music and have people feeling it at show. That's success to me!
What gets you amped to perform? How do you prepare to rock?
We don't necessarily have any pre-show rituals...we just try to stay cool and focus on the music. Maybe we'll eventually develop them. Any ideas? For me personally listening to the music I love gets me pumped. Sonic Youth or the Stooges are good preshow choices.
What's your dream venue to put on a show?
There are so many venues I'd love to play at, especially in NYC. One goal is the Bowery Ballroom, which is sort of the standard for New York bands. I'd love to play at some of the DIY venues in Brooklyn, like the Market Hotel or Death By Audio. If you're reading this, get in touch! Our phone lines are open. There's also the badass banquet hall in the Hassidic neighborhood called the Rose Castle...I would love to rent it out for a show if they'd let me.T
What are your favorite songs to perform and why?
I love playing all our songs...one in particular that's a lot of fun is "Silent Not Silent", which is really a live song. The buildup in the middle was written specifically in order to get a crowd into the music, to get people excited as it gets faster. I think about that stuff a lot...that building up of energy that's such a great part of electronic music and what a DJ can do during their set. We played a great version at a show at Surreal Estate in Brooklyn that really had the crowd into it.
I know you have plans to start a blog about your band, music and other such delights... do you want to talk a little about that and what we can we expect?
We definitely want a legit website at some point...some cool artwork, band info and such. On a personal level I want to start a blog that more about my personal interests, which go outside of music to civic and urban planning issues. You know, another cool site for the internets.
You guys are Brooklyn-based band. Does living in BK influence your music at all? And if so, in what ways?
I would say being a Brooklyn band totally influences our music. First of all there's that sense of place...of the music being rooted in Brooklyn, which is a such a diverse area in terms of the different neighborhoods and lifestyles here. There's so many areas that each have their own distinct culture. I think we reflect that sense of being grounded in that, our own locales. I want people to walk around Brooklyn, say along Broadway under the JMZ, and have the music fit the setting. There's also that sense of urban living, of making things happen with whatever you have to work with. You know, Brooklyn Go Hard.
Anything else you want our readers to know about the Sexy Neighbors?
Our music is best listened to driving at night through the desert, away from something. With your sunglasses still on.
What's the best thing about being in a kick-ass band?
I would say our legions of adoring fans and touring the world in our fleet of private jets. With wet bars and foot massagers. You know, the simple pleasures. On the real tho the best thing is just playing music with a group of kickass musicians, and seeing people dancing at our shows. That's the best!
Where can we catch your next gig? And what else is on tap for Sexy Neighbors?
We have a show coming up on Feb 6th at Lit Lounge in the East Village, with Toi Toi Toi!, Princess Tiny and the Meats, and Mythical Legends. It's gonna be totally bad ass! We're also finalizing the artwork for our debut CD, which will be released soon on our label (King's Highway Records). For now you can stream the whole thing on our myspace (www.myspace.com/sexyneighbors). Check it out!
Sexy Neighbors at Lit Lounge, 8pm, $6, Saturday, February 6th, 93 2nd Avenue