Interview: The So So Glos

I’m not sure what you’ve heard about The So So Glos, but they’re a band. They’re a band that plays music, but they’re also a band in the sense that they’re a group of people coming together to form something larger than themselves individually. As singer Alex Levine explains, they’re “a family, a tribe, a gang & a clan”. This attitude shows up in their music, their stage presence, their press photos, their album art, and everything else that The So So Glos do.

Their new album, Blowout, is their second full length, and the follow up to 2010’s underrated EP, Low Back Chain Shift. Blowout was self released digitally by the band earlier this year, and will soon see a vinyl release (along with the rest of the band’s back catalog). Previously mentioned So So Glos singer, Alex Levine, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me this week. The Glos will be playing Friday, October 11th at Bottletree with Nashville’s ludicrously named, and seriously awesome Diarrhea Planet.

Check out the interview below, and stream Blowout over at Spin.

BHAMFM: I’ve seen a bunch of other bands try to wear their own merch on stage and in press photos, and they’re never able to make it work. But when The So So Glos do it, it makes total sense. Why are you the only band that can pull that shit off?

ALEX LEVINE: Hm… Maybe it’s because we’re one part self-promotion and one part self-deprecation. We’re self-aware so so glos, we know how stupid looking cool tends to look.

BHAMFM:  I’ve always been impressed with how The So So Glos come across as a single unit so much more than other current indie/punk bands. Is that a conscience decision to put yourselves forward as a group, rather than as a bunch of dudes that play music together?

ALEX: We’re a family , a tribe, a gang, & a clan. Similar to the WU. We speak easy in our slang ( straight out ‘ the good book ) and have our periods at the same time. We’re not just a bunch of dudes that are playing around together….

BHAMFM: In press and reviews, you guys get compared to The Clash and The Kinks quite a bit, but on Blowout a conversation about NIrvana is used as the intro to the record. Do you think Nirvana and other 90s bands have influenced The So So Glos as much as the older bands you are compared to?

ALEX: Absolutely. We’re 90s’ kids. Those were our most impressionable years and we’re products of the attitudes of those times . That Nirvana sample is me at 7 years old in a real “kill your idols moment”. A nice “so so glo” way to call generational bullshit on our heroes who gave up too soon. I think some of our first collective memories include DR. Dre’s fridge full of 40z and Kurt picking a fight with Axel. The beastie boys will always feel like our cooler older cousins. Those were the days.

BHAMFM:  It’s easy for someone from Bumfuck, Alabama to read press about New York underground music and perceive a rivalry between boroughs. Being from Queens, but now living in Brooklyn do you think that’s true?

ALEX: WE’RE FROM BROOKLYN. Bay Ridge to be exact. While we have spent some time living in nearly all boroughs, (and the surrounding suburbs) Brooklyn is and will always be the home of the GLO. Hip Hop was born in BX, Brooklyn had Harry Nilsson & the Dodgers, Larry David & Woody Allen, The WU runs Shaolin, Manhattan had Jazz and the Lindy Hop, and Queen’s has got The Beets, 50 cent and the 86 Mets. It’s all love between the boroughs, from Staten Island to William S.

BHAMFM: Can you talk about some of the non So So Glos related things that you guys do? Do you find running a DIY venue to be as satisfying as being in a touring band?

ALEX: They’re such different animals. We hunt and we gather. We roam and we also nest… but if you could look me in the eye right now you would tell me that I’m so unsatisfied…

BHAMFM:  Has putting out Blowout on your own been as fulfilling as you imagined it would be? Do you think you’ll sign to another label in the future?

ALEX: We put out the record on Shea Stadium Records and it was picked up for distribution through the great folks at Votiv. As for the future, We’ll see. Was it Dick Van Patten who said , “If you label me, you negate me”? I think so.

BHAMFM: So many bands are doing the “pay what you want” model for self-released albums, what made you guys to decide to steer clear of that route? Do you think having a set price for the album actually helped sales and press?

ALEX: Sales? Press ? Models? Bands? Pay? You want? Decide ? Price ? Everything has got a little price.

BHAMFM: What parts of being in a band do you enjoy that aren’t playing music? Do you enjoy any of the business aspects of being a band?

ALEX: It’s show business, kid. I like the show part.

BHAMFM: Are there any plans for a vinyl release of Blowout?

ALEX: YES. The Vinyl is on the way. As are all of our older albums that have been pulled from the world. COMING BACK SOON. in a few weeks boys and girls.

BHAMFM:  I just asked you a lot of business related questions in a row. Do you get that a lot? Do you understand how Ian Mackaye felt after the thousandth time someone asked him why Fugazi shows were only $7?

ALEX: Yes, I’m sure he felt tired of that kind of thing. Much respect to that guy.

BHAMFM: The lyrical content on Blowout seems to be pretty celebratory, but “Speakeasy” sets itself apart in that it sounds pretty confrontational. Is that song an indictment of New York hipsterism and internet culture?

ALEX: The celebratory tone that you feel throughout Blowout is a bitter sweet, smiling through sadness kind of subtext that really gets me off. I love how dark a pop song can get. I love how laughing and crying come from the same place. I see what your getting at with “Speakeasy” though. That one is a bit more of a finger pointer. In a sense yes, it is an attack on our culture of anonymity where someone can get away with spewing heartless, racist, ignorant and sexist bullshit through a screen because they don’t have to answer to anyone or be held accountable for the words that aren’t even coming out of their mouths. It’s an attack on the cynical attitudes that propel hipsterdom, and the general feeling that showing a little bit of emotion is uncool. It’s a song about taking back accountability and respect and responsibility. It’s an attempt to replace two dimensional screens with empathy and comment boards with real live neighborhood conversations. Let’s take it back to a dingy barely legal show space and work it out. It’s so easy to speak and people are making it so damn tuff nowadays.

BHAMFM: Blowout strikes me as a record that comes from a particular place, rather than a particular time. When you were writing the record was that something you were going for?

ALEX: It was written from a place to change a particular time.

BHAMFM: You guys have played Birmingham several times now, is it a place you look forward to playing when you’re touring?

ALEX: We love Birmingham. Greatest city in Alabam. From the old days at Cave 9, It’s nothing but love for the city when we go back. All roads lead to AL’s.

BHAMFM: Thanks for your time, any parting words?



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